Nothing takes you back down memory lane better than a slideshow, or a slideshow at a wedding that is. To put this in context, my fantastic sister just got married a couple of weekends ago and I was tasked (among a few things) with making a slideshow of her growing up, as well as her now husband and my brother-in-law! So many fun pictures of us growing up together and of Nick growing up with his brothers flooded my brain with memories.
Firstly, I recall that my sister, Victoria, and I were super close as kids, and remain to this day. This is obviously fairly odd for a brother sister duo, but the thing is, we just had so much in common that it would have been more irregular if we didn’t like each other. We both love music, arts, crafts, heck even Victoria likes beer enough to go out for a pint or two with me. We were both fortunate enough to be on stage in musicals together during public school and high school in our local theatre company (Original Kids Theatre Company, which our cousin is now in!). We were also both extremely lucky to attend Queen’s University for Bachelor of Music (Victoria BMus ’15, me BMus’17(but like really, “18)). Victoria was kind enough to let me live with her for my first two years of University. This is where I really got to know Nick, which hallelujah, the dude loves craft beer too! It wasn’t until I was living with Rachel did I actually begin to invest into craft beer, and actually write more about it.
Though, that was just one of the memories that flashed through my mind, while at the wedding plenty of friends and family attended. Even though we hadn’t seen each other for a long time we partied together like we had just hung out last weekend.
As a journey down memory-ville I think about visiting little ole Delaware, having awesome bon fires and swinging on a “totally safe” swinging rope. Or always asking is we could play GTA on the PS2 because I wasn’t allowed to have that game or making our own horror films in the basement.
Parallel to those memories are those of visiting Bayfield, swimming in Lake Huron, or going to the Albion for a wee pint. Coincidentally, also playing GTA on the PS3 because I was still not allowed to have it. When we weren’t playing we were working in the kitchen at the Brew’n Arms, me being the dish pig/cob salad extraordinaire. Funny what only a few pictures can bring out of a mind. It’s like what they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. However, I also think a beer brings all of the senses back to memories, possibly even more than a picture.
For this I tried going to memory town for a few of the first beers I had when getting into Craft beer. Because this was around 2013 Ontario had less than 150 craft breweries, let alone only a dozen of them available in the LCBO. Mill Street was on the top of the mountain and was readily available so, naturally I grabbed some Mill Street Organic. I remember thinking just how cool it was that there was an organic craft beer, from Toronto! Wowie! The nice things about these memories is that in hindsight this is still not a small feat. If anything, I respect Mill Street even more because of how difficult it is to achieve organic status. Mill Street has since been purchased by Labatt’s, but personally I have not noticed a quality difference. I’m sitting here, just having finished a new can of their Organic Lager and it tastes exactly the same. Light flavours, hints of lemon, a wee bit of honey and no gross preservative aftertaste like you would find in Labatt’s Blue.
A very specific and odd memory comes to mind when I have the Organic Lager, and in fact remind me of another (decommissioned) beer Mill Street offered, Stock Ale. Surprisingly difficult to find on their website this beer was described as the best “lawn mower” beers around. Somehow, I still remember how it tasted 6 years later. That memory is of watching Game of Thrones Season One. Every time I have that beer I am distinctly reminded of the opening music, while sitting on the couch in our little Emery Street house, with the DVD copy borrowed from the library playing on our half decent 42” HD tv. No way I should be remembering it so distinctly, but here we are, an empty glass and already too many memories, but wait, there’s more!
In early 2015, Mil Street released 100th Meridian, an Amber Lager that was also Organic. At this point I had begun this long journey into loving all kinds of Craft beer. I was so hyped that there was a beer that (I think) was named in part for the barley they get their beer from, but also a Tragically Hip reference. In fact, 100th Meridian was my first beer post on Instagram, I like to think I’ve developed a better writing style since then, but I are REALLY hope my taste has maintained consistency. This Amber Lager also appears in the newest Mill Street pack, with an updated can design. Similar to the Organic Lager, there is a very subtle amount of lemon, but a heavy amount of malt, a little sweeter on the sip and a longer after taste but not an offensive one.
This is the part where I preach about cans and the design they bare.
I had planned to write a blog post purely on can design, but found that the entertainment value to effort value was not balanced so here is a condensed version:
Cans come in 3 different styles. Busy, Simple and Everything Else.
Mill Street has gone from Busy, to everything else with this shift to a standard can style. I’d describe their new style as neo-art deco, but toned down. These cans do inch into the simple category, but because of just how simple many cans are it just doesn’t feel right to stick these cans in there. When I say simple I refer to cans like Anderson Crafts Ales, Ace Hill, Side Launch or Refined Fool. All of these breweries decided to find one theme and stick to it for all of their cans/bottles. Anderson Craft Ales is an extreme case of simple, almost too simple considering the only visual differences on the cans are 2 lines of colour and the in bold the name of the beer. Ace Hill changes the whole can colour, and on their Radler adds some cute little fruits. Side Launch achieved a good amount of simple. They slapped a big ole boat on the side and used vibrant colours to identify their different beers.
When I say Busy, I immediately think of Flying Monkey. They have achieved ultimate “whatever” on their cans. As a marketing standpoint they made a great choice by making their cans stick out like a sore thumb on the shelf. Collective Arts has some of the best cans out there featuring some beautiful art on their can with a small slice of classy info in between.
I consider the everything else category in two parts, themed or random. Many breweries aim towards themed where all of their cans or bottle match each other slightly, or at least, complement each other. For instance, Stone City has a very dainty style of art on their labels, mostly all matching, but definitely all fitting with each other. Muskoka Brewery could almost fit into busy, especially with their Detour Can, but they have a great use of pattern in their cans, each one tying into the last. Lastly, Great Lakes Brewery has a stand out art style, partially because their current resident artist also does editorial cartoons.
I consider myself lucky that I have many happy memories that come back via slideshow or beer. I hope everyone who reads this also finds some happy memories. It’s important to hold on to them as it is having access to them. It’s also important to make new ones with old friends and new. I know it may be cliché but give a friend a call and ask them to hang out for pint and share those memories together. No point in keeping them cooped up for yourself.
Oh and Radlers:
- Moosehead Radler (Optional: Add 1 Shot of Gin to enter flavour town)
- Ace Hill Radler
- Waterloo Radler (any of them, they are all great)
- Stiegl Zitrone Lemon Citron Radler
- Big Rig Bongo Radler