There’s a whole lot of cool stuff going on beer-wise in Canada these days. I recently finished up a roundup of grisettes—a wheaty, near-extinct style originating around Belgium’s Hainaut province (the style’s been seeing a whole lot of brewing activity lately)—for my column over at All About Beer. I’ll typically reach out to breweries for maybe a dozenish samples to try and get a sense of the substyle’s terrain, and these grisettes tended to be pretty darn tasty overall.
A key challenge is always sourcing beers from afar. One standout, a delicious take on grisette entitled Ping Pong Wizard—with perfect balance of spice, citrus and honey—was brewed at Brasserie Dunham in Quebec (in collaboration with the fine folks at Cambridge Brewing Co. in Massachusetts). Given the surprisingly diverse number of issues one can have shipping in beer internationally—breakage, unexpected custom fees, leakage, no-explanation returns, any number of tedious middle-man calls to the effect of “Is this yeast samples, or something?”—we’d opted to source that grisette via handoff at the recent RateBeer Best Fest in Santa Rosa.
Brasserie Dunham (RateBeer Best’s 2016 top Canada brewery) and Bellwoods Brewery (the year’s top Ontario brewery) were both in attendance—pouring delicious sours, strong beers and hop vessels—and I swung by on media passes with our mag’s managing editor Jon Page. My long, complicated, so-not-for-this-column history with RateBeer aside, they did a heck of a job (again!) curating, especially showcasing international creatives: Beavertown, Cloudwater and Buxton from England; De Struise (from Belgium), Kiuchi (from Japan), Omnipollo (via Sweden)—plus some breweries I got to hang with down in Brazil: Dum Cervejaria and Way Beer. As I try to regularly remind myself: there’s so much creative stuff happening elsewhere in the world—even if it isn’t the easiest to track down. Make a point to remind yourself, too.