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January, 2013:

Second Draught: Nickel Brook’s barrel-aged imperial stout

Old Kentucky Bastard from Nickel Brook

As the wine world moves away from barrels–few white wine categories are growing faster than “unoaked Chardonnay”–the beer world moves towards it. Craft beer and bourbon are cut from the same cloth in two senses: Before it’s distilled whiskey is essentially a rough beer; and they share a similar ethos that focuses on ingredients, bold flavours, and tradition. Makes sense that when distillers are fielding calls from people looking to buy used bourbon barrels it’s often a brewer on the other end.

The ones Nickel Brook’s Ryan Morrow uses for his Old Kentucky Bastard beer come from the Buffalo Trace facility in Kentucky. As I mentioned in the original piece on, Ryan’s intention is to keep his barrel programme growing at a steady clip.¬† (more…)

Second Draught: Granville Island’s Winter Beer

For craft breweries identity is important–and occasionally controversial. A central question in that debate is: Can a craft brewery keep that label after it is bought by a large, multinational brewing company? For instance, Ontario’s Creemore Springs Brewery was bought by Molson is 2005 and then B.C.’s ¬†Granville Island Brewing was in turn purchased by Creemore in 2009.

Both companies have kept many of their fans despite the takeover by Molson Coors. I think this is especially true when it comes to special or seasonal releases. Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale is a typical example.¬† (more…)