All posts for the month August, 2012

Have you ever thought to yourself “I’d really like to spend a weekend where I could check out a Kiss coverband, enjoy a Bavarian breakfast, get a guided tour of a beer museum with over 2,500 bottles, get the chance to attend a pay as you go beer sampling, attend a beer tasting seminar hosted by Acadie-Broue’s Patrice Godin and have some inflatable games (a.k.a. bouncy castles) and other events for the kids”?  If so, you should plan to head to Northern N.B. Labour Day weekend.

The third annual OktoberFest des Acadiens will take place in Bertrand, New Brunswick (near Caraquet) August 31st, September 1st and September 2nd.  A website for the event has been created but is only available in French.  Here’s a run down of the festival for those qui ne peuvent pas parler français:

(All events take place at the OktoberFest site in Bertrand unless otherwise noted)

Friday, August 31st:

7pm:  Official Opening / Tapping a keg

8pm:  Oktobershow – Kiss cover band “Love Guns” and “Body Grove” (based on the video on the event’s website they are a cover band as well ranging from Disco, B-52s, Black Eyed Peas, U2, covers of “Skake that Body”, “Maniac”, “I Want Candy”, “My Sharona”, “I’m So Excited” and some songs I don’t recognize).  Tickets are $22 taxes and handling charges in.

Saturday, September 1st:

9am – 1pm:  Bavarian breakfast available at 3 area restaurants:  Resto Chez Isa in Bertrand (basically next door to the Beer Museaum) and 2 restaurants in nearby Caraquet:   Le Caraquette et Le Grand Bleu de Caraquet.

10am – 1pm:  Guided tour of the local Beer Museum ( Musée de la bière) which is located next to the Tourist Information Centre in Bertrand. I stopped by to check out this place a few weeks ago and was really impressed.  It’s only 2 bucks to get in and there are over 2,500 bottles on display and other beer related paraphernalia.  There are bottles for the John Allen Brewing Company Hemp Ale (the precursor to Propeller Brewing Company) and older bottles from several local companies including Garrison Brewing Company, Pump House (man their packaging has improved!),  Picaroons and the memorable subliminal message Red Dog bottle (look at it upside down)  in addition to many other interesting bottles from the around the world.  The most remarkable thing about the display is that none of the bottles have been opened!  What a waste of beer….  It’s too bad there isn’t more information (1 newspaper article) about Acadie-Broue’s Patrice Godin from nearby Maisonnette.

1pm – 2:30pm:  Speaking of Patrice…. He’s hosting an introduction to beer tasting at the Bertrand Community Hall.  It’s $15 to get in and has a maximum of 30 entries.  Tickets were supposed to be reserved by August 18th at 506-727-2982.  You can always check to see if they’ll take late entries (I’m assuming the event is in French only).

1pm to 5pm:  Inflatable games, face painting and other activities for kids are taking place at the “Hansel and Gretel” portion of the Oktoberfest site.  This event will take place at the nearby Ola-Léger school in case of bad weather.  This is free for kids under 13, $5 for those 13 and older.

1pm to 6pm:  Beer tasting.  $5 to enter the site, $8 for an optional mug and $1 for each 2oz sample.  Beer list expected to be posted in the near future.

1pm to 6pm:  Local bands playing  at the Oktoberfest site.

2pm:  Washers tournament – If you don’t know what washers is you’re missing the game that was meant to be played with a beer in one hand.

2:30pm:  Vilgur the Clown show (in French) – free at the Oktoberfest site.

8:30pm:  Two French bands will be playing, Noir Silence and Vilain Pinguin.  Tickets are $24 taxes and service charges in for this event.

Sunday, September 2nd:

9am-6pm:  Essentially the same schedule.  A few differences:

1pm to 2:30pm:  Introduction to Beer Tasting (Intermediate Level) hosted by Patrice Godin.  I’ve had the chance to sample a variety of beers with Patrice and he really knows his stuff.  Yours truly will be in attendance so if you’re having a bit of a hard time with the français at least someone is there to help with the translation.  Same deal as Saturday session ($15, maximum of 30 participants, reservations were supposed to be made by August 18th).

4pm:  Crowing of King and Queen of Oktoberfest based on best costume.

830pm:  Jam session with local bands

Dave Evans, a.k.a. Beer Maven, is based out of Sackville, New Brunswick and writes reviews about beers from around the world on his blog  (you can also follow him on Twitter @CdnBeerMaven). I’ve recently exchanged emails with him in order to produce the following Q & A:

Atlantic Canada Beer Blogger (ACBB):  Tell me about your blog and why you decided to start one.

Beer Maven (BM): I started blogging about beer about two and a half years ago. I started off collecting bottle caps for one of my younger cousins but in the process of drinking a wide assortment of beers for their bottle caps I started to realize that were lots of wildly different kinds of beers and lots of them were really good so I started writing down some descriptions and decided to put a couple descriptions up on the web.

Like most new bloggers, I pretty much forgot about my blog after two posts but, following an eye-opening three days in Brussels, I soon decided to fire up the old beer blog again. I was living in Norway at the time and saw it as a way of sharing with my friends and family back in Canada the cool Norwegian beers that I had come across.

Now I post reviews of beers brewed by everyone from mega to micro-breweries from all over the world at least twice a week (sometimes more). I have taken a shine to reviewing brewpubs I visit and their often fantastic sample trays so they are often the focus of a post. My goal is to provide a vicarious beer experience so people can make informed decisions about whether they would appreciate a beer before they actually buy it. When reviewing a beer I do my best to understand it through the lens of what the brewmaster was trying to accomplish rather than my own personal preferences. I have nearly one-hundred posts up and more than one hundred unpublished reviews waiting on my computer and my blog has been visited by beer enthusiasts from 106 different countries.

ACBB:  How did you develop your interest and knowledge of beer?

BM:  My go to reference book is Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher but I also use Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion. By and large, my knowledge of beer and brewing has been as a result of a large number of public and private brewery tours of the years, a private tour of a Canada Malting plant, brewery websites for terminology and conversations with countless other beer geeks.

As far as developing my interest: I think three days in Brussels will pique most people’s interest in beer.

ACBB:  Do you have any interesting or unusual experiences related to your blog or beer tastings?

BM:  A marketing rep for Molson contacted me through Twitter and sent me a pair of cans of Rickard’s Blonde to review which was pretty cool. But the most rewarding beer blog experiences I’ve had are when a reader emails me or leaves a comment that my review helped them appreciate a beer or make a decision about whether or not to try a new beer.

ACBB:  Have you ever gotten into homebrewing?

BM:  I do make homebrew now and then but for the moment am only using off-the-shelf kits from my local brewing store ( A friend of mine started growing hops this summer so by next summer I hope to be able to add some fresh hops to ‘spruce’ up the kits; pun intended.

ACBB:  What are some of your all-time favourite beers?

BM:  My all-time favourites include Garrison Spruce Beer, Maredsous Brune and Esrum Kloster by Skands. Hacker-Pschorr’s Hefe Weisse, Gahan House’s 1772 IPA, La Fin du Monde by Unibroue and Lagunitas’s Hop Stoopid are some of my current favourites.

ACBB:  What are some of your preferred styles of beer?

BM:  Belgian and especially Trappist ales, wheat beers, IPAs are probably my favourite styles but I enjoy just about any kind of beer.

ACBB:  Where do you get some of the more exotic beers that you review that aren’t available locally?

BM:  Local options for exotic beers not available at NB Liquor that I frequent are Marky’s Laundromat Bar in Moncton and Premier Wine and Spirits in Halifax but other than those two places I make a point to look up breweries and beer stores whenever travelling. Also, I’m lucky to have some great friends and family members that often bring me hard to find beers when they visit or return from travels.

ACBB:  Do you have a favourite brewery?

BM:  Really hard to pick just one but I’ve been impressed by everything I’ve tried from Lagunitas though there are plenty of fantastic breweries out there and right here in Atlantic Canada. I really like the Pump House Brewery in Moncton, Sea Level Brewing in Port Williams, Gahan House in Charlottetown and Propeller, Garrison and Rock Bottom in Halifax all make great beer. With the craft beer revolution still going strong, it is a great time to be a fan of beer.

ACBB:  Are there any beers that you refuse to try again?

BM:  Schnitzer Brau. I’m pretty sure “Gluten free and terrible” could be their motto.

ACBB:  What is the best time to sample a new beer? Do you have any particular habits during your tastings?

BM:  I personally think the best time to sample a beer is in mid-afternoon and when I am hungry because I feel like that way my tongue naturally seeks out the different flavours and complexity. Also, being hungry lets me see the flavours in the best possible light and guarantees my palate will be clear.

Usually when I review a beer I’m sitting in front of my computer with the beer, my reference books and usually an INAO Official wine tasting glass or a Weissebier “Vase”. After I’ve formed my own impressions of the beer and written my review I often share a drink and ask my girlfriend (@KTara691) her opinion and read my review to her. She acts as my sounding board and does a good job of keeping my reviews grounded so that they don’t get too esoteric and so they don’t fail to mention any flavours that I might fail to mention for being too obvious.

ACBB:  What are your beer related plans for the rest of 2012?

BM:  For the first time I’m headed to the Sea Port Beerfest in a few days and am getting really excited about that. ( Editor’s note:  I received the info prior to the festival but only posted it afterwards).  I’ll be spending the last half of August on vacation in Southern Ontario and while I’m there I’ll be searching through beer stores collecting as many craft beers as possible to bring home and review over the next few months. I’m also looking forward to trying some of the top rated Belgian beers as I work my way through that section of Premier Wine & Spirits.

One other thing I’m really excited about is a project that is really a spinoff of my beer blog. A local restaurant (Pickle’s European Deli) and I have partnered up to do a handful of guided beer tasting evenings. We already did one and plan to do another in September. If the interest is there it’s something we would like to continue doing every month or so. I’ve been doing these for friends and family as preparation for the paid events and am hoping to do more of these intimate tastings for groups of 4 or 5 in people’s homes.

As for the rest of the year and part of 2013, I’m planning to start pursuing some more formal training and certification in beer tasting. Also I am registered in a university level chemistry course with an eye for potentially entering a brewing sciences program in the future.

I had the chance to attend my (shamed to admit) first Seaport BeerFest yesterday afternoon.  Other than less than ideal weather (it drizzled most of the afternoon) it was an excellent time.  Even if it had been a torrential rain or snow storm, as long as there is a great variety of beer, and their was, it’s impossible not to have a blast at a beer festival. I also had the chance to put a face to some names I’ve followed on Twitter and have a quick chat with Stephen Beaumont.  Overall an excellent time.

In terms of the beers I sampled, for the most part I stayed away from beers I have tried before with a few exceptions.  Due to the rain I didn’t take detailed notes but here’s my list of favourite beers from the festival:  Saint Bock Malédiction Stout, Rockbottom Fathom IPA and Jackstar Stout (I have had these 2 before), Garrison’s Comet Double IPA and Hell Bay Smoked Rye Ale.  My only disappointment was that some of the beers I really wanted to try were not available (Brew Dog beers and Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout).  Hopefully they’ll have more on hand next year.  Other than that everything was fantastic and I’m already looking forward to the 2013 Halifax Seaport BeerFest!