Category Archives: beer history

Happy International Gruit Day

IGDFebruary 1 is International Gruit Day.

Here is an explaination of what gruit is from

What is Gruit Ale?

Centuries ago it would have seemed odd to consider using only one herb to spice beer.  Dozens of plants, such as bog myrtle, yarrow, mugwort, heather, and juniper were commonly used in ancient brewing, providing beer makers with a wide array of aromatic and flavourful options.  These beers were known as Gruit or Grut (German for herb), and a brewers’ spice blend was a proprietary and carefully guarded secret. However, after the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Purity Act of 1516) ordered that only hops were to be used to spice beer, and the Bavarian style of brewing took hold in most of Europe, the Gruit Ale gradually faded into obscurity.

Luckily, several craft breweries have rediscovered this ancient form of brewing. Craft brewing is based on the notion that beer should not be limited by the conventional norm – that beer should be about discovery and experimentation, and Gruit Ales are one of the best examples of this pioneering spirit.

The craft brewers who produce Gruit Ales have banded together to mark February 1st as International Gruit Day.  On this day, brewers and beer enthusiasts around the world pay homage to our brewing past and our exciting future as we rediscover the taste and excitement of this ancient libation.


Leave a comment

Filed under beer history, gruit

Vintage WW2 Heineken Ad

Interesting ad I came across today from

Leave a comment

Filed under beer ads, beer history

Happy International Stout Day!

November 3rd is International Stout Day. I’m going to go home tonight and crack open 2 stouts I have chilling in my fridge –  Victory Storm King Stout and Southern Tier Choklat!

Here’s a bit of history about stouts from

Before going into the history and description of Stouts, one must first give props to its predecessor, the Porter.

Porters, a dark ale favored among London’s working classes, was first developed in the early 1700s. Street and river porters provided an eager market for this new, energizing beer. The word “stout”, after the fourteenth century, had taken on as one of its meanings “strong”, and was used as such to describe strong beers, such as the Porter. “Stout” as in stout porter, was the strong, dark brew London’s brewers developed and the dark beer that gave us what we think of today as the typical stout style.

The first stouts were produced in the 1730s. The Russian Imperial Stout was inspired by brewers back in the 1800’s to win over the Russian Czar. “Imperial porter” came before “imperial stout” and the earliest noted use of “Imperial” to describe a beer comes from the Caledonian Mercury of February 1821, when a coffeehouse in Edinburgh was advertising “Edinburgh Ales, London Double Brown Stout and Imperial Porter, well worth the attention of Families”.
Guinness had been brewing porters since about 1780 and are famous for their Dry or Irish Stout. Oatmeal stout beer is one of the more sweeter and smoother of the stouts. And for proof that we live in an evolving society, there’s Oyster Stout and Chocolate Stout. The first known use of oysters as part of the brewing process of stout was in 1929 in New Zealand.

Originally, stout meant “proud” or “brave”, but morphed into the connotation of “strong” after the 14th century. Why on earth should this brave and strong beer style not have its own day of celebration?

Have a good one!

Leave a comment

Filed under beer events, beer history

Beer History: Bloor Street

Read this in The Star today:
Bloor Street: If you have ever enjoyed a beer on Bloor, the man it was named for may have been looking down with a smile. Joseph Bloore was one of the city’s earliest brewers. He built his brewery in 1830 and when he sold it in 1843 bought land in what would become Yorkville. City historians are not sure why the ‘e’ was dropped when Tollgate Road was renamed Bloor Street in 1855.

I started googling to find more information on Joseph Bloore but couldn’t find much. I found this out about a brewery called Severn that was located in Yorkville:

Located in Rosedale Ravine east of Yonge Street and north of Davenport Road, Severn’s Brewery occupied a four story stone and brick structure. John Severn, its proprietor, emigrated to Canada from Derbyshire in 1830 and worked briefly as a blacksmith before establishing himself as a brewer in Yorkville in the mid-1830s.

By 1867 the brewery employed twelve men in manufacturing 6-7000 gallons of ale and porter each week. Dissatisfied with the local water supply from Severn Creek (also known as Castle Frank Brook), Severn apparently had water piped from Summerhill through wooden pipes. 

A restless entrepreneur, Severn travelled to California to establish another brewery in 1854, leaving his Yorkville business in the hands of his eldest son George. Returning to Canada in 1859, he sold his business to his sons George and Henry and travelled to Iowa to establish another brewery. Four years later, in 1863, he returned again to Toronto and repurchased the Yorkville business from his sons; he continued to operate the brewery until his death in 1880. Severn served as both Reeve and Councillor on the Yorkville Council; the beer barrel on the Yorkville coat of arms commemorated his years of service.

Severn Brewery (Reproduced from the Toronto Public Library website



Filed under beer history

German Style Wheat Beers

This week I facilitated a tasting on 4 German Style Wheat beers for my  Level 3 Prud’homme Beer Certification Course.
To help me prepare I facilitated a tasting at home first. In this picture you have (from left to right) Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Schneider Weisse, Paulaner Hefeweissbier and Muskoka Summer Weiss – then they repeat going in the opposite order.

The BJCP guidelines for German Weissbier:
Appearance: Pale color that ranges from straw to very dark golden amber.
Taste: Strong banana and clove flavor, some flavors of citrus, bubblegum and vanilla might be in existence.

Here is a bit about German wheat beers:

  • They have 50-65% wheat.  Germans insist that at least 50% wheat is included unlike other wheat beers that can have as low as 40%.
  • The original wheat beer is from Bavaria known as Hefeweizen.
  • in 1516 the Bavian Purity Act stated that beer be made with hops, barley malt and water – Brewing wheat beer was illegal!
  • The German Royal family were the only ones who were exclusively allowed to brew and consume wheat beers.
  • in 1872 Georg Schneider (Schneider and Sohns) acquired the rights to brew wheat beer and started up his own brewery with his son.

A bit about each beer and the brewery:

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier  – Weihenstephaner  is the oldest operating brewery in the world. it has been operating since 768. It acquired it’s brewing license in 1040. This beer smells and taste like banana bread. Has some nutmeg upfront and slight salty notes in the last sip. It has a big finish to it.

Schneider Weisse is the oldest wheat beer brewed in Munich. In 1944 it was bombed during the war and relocated 2 hours north to the city of Kelheim. This beer was the darkest beer of all four. Its aroma smelt more like ripe bananas. There was a bit of clove in the inital sip and in the end had an orange peel flavor to it.

Paulaner Hefeweissbier – Paulaner brewery has been in existence since 1634. Monks use to brew beer with a high alcohol content (known today as Bock beer) to help them get through Lent. They would sell the leftover beer in their taverns and it became vastly popular in Germany. In 1800 the Monastery was taken over by the State of Bavaria. Six years later a brewer bought the monastery and turned it into a brewery and continuing brewing this original Bock beer. This hefeweissbier has been brewing since 1984. What is interesting to note about this brewery is it is the first brewery in the world to brew a non-alcoholic wheat beer. Both the aroma and the taste in this hefeweizen are dominated by clove flavors. It is also very spicy and grainy. The banana is in existence but very faint.

Muskoka Summer Weiss – This is Muskoka’s summer seasonal release. You can read my review here. An excellent summer beer that is true to style.

Out of all of them preferred the Paulaner Hefeweizen the best. I liked that it was more spicy over sweet and didn’t seem as heavy as the other 3.

Leave a comment

Filed under beer history, personal beer

History: LCBO

On June 1, 1927 the first LCBOs opened up in Ontario. A total of 86 stores!

Leave a comment

Filed under beer history

History: Kash/Cash

The Egyptian pyramids were built on beer. Stonecutters, slaves and public officials were paid in a type of beer called ‘kash’ – which is where the word ‘cash’ originated.

Leave a comment

Filed under beer history