The End of World of Beer

Jack Curtin was right, as it turns out. This blog will never be a “temporary” home for World of Beer. In fact, it won’t be World of Beer at all for much longer.

As was my declared intention some time ago, I have sold the URL No longer will typing in that phrase lead you to this blog; rather, it will take you, for now, to a GoDaddy placeholder. After close to two decades of Internet use, I am no longer World of Beer.

So stay tuned for:

– A new site;

– (Before the end of this year. Really. I mean it. Don’t you start with me, Jack!);

– More content with greater regularity;

– A broader focus;

– And I believe what the marketers call “a fresh new look!”






In Which the Stars Align and Mr. McL and I Go Head to Head…

In Which the Stars Allign and Mr. McL and I Go Head to Head…I mentioned earlier an upcoming Toronto event called The Brewer’s Plate. It is an excellent occasion and one I have enjoyed greatly in the past, even when I was wishing the assembled chefs had paid a little more attention to the beers with which their foods were being partnered.

Well, I hear now that not only will this year’s edition be held in the most comfortable confines of Roy Thompson Hall — where, by the by, I shall be again in May with the* Spirit of Toronto — but also that my frequent food and beer pairing foil, Mr. Alan McLeod, shall also be present. Yes, the Good Beer Blog curmudgeon and frequent beer and food sceptic, oft-referred to in these pages as Mr. McL, will be in attendance. At a food and beer pairing event. Will wonders never cease.

I have yet to determine with certainty whether I will be in Toronto or Dallas on April 18, but it’s looking much more like the former than the latter at this point. And if I am in Toronto, rest assured I shall also be at The Brewer’s Plate. And I shall dog Mr. McL’s every step, or alternately stay one step ahead of him, until I hear from his locavore lips an admission that at least one food and beer pairing was to his taste.

* Unfortunately cancelled.

Farewell 2011, Welcome 2012

Yesterday sort of got away from me and today will largely be spent assembling tonight’s gala dinner ingredients, so my “Looking Back”  series of posts will continue next week.

Am I sorry to see the back of 2011? No, not at all. Although in many parts it was a great year, it also presented some definite challenges, both personal and professional. Besides, why look back when the future remains unwritten?! I am confident that 2012 will be both challenging and rewarding, and my wife tells me that the Year of the Dragon, which begins auspiciously enough on her birthday, is set to be stellar!

So take care of yourselves and your loved ones, all. Spend tonight with just the right mixture of abandon and restraint, and welcome tomorrow with anticipation of what is to come!

The “Full Beaumont” Reference

Some folk around these parts have decided to make this year’s MOvember into BEAUvember with a competition to grow the “Full Beaumont,” ‘stache and soul patch included. So for all the players in this game, I offer the following as a reference shot:

Note that the mustache should not drop too far below the corners of the mouth and extra points will be awarded for a careful half-circle shape on the soul patch.

Final judging will take place at The Burger Bar in Toronto on November 30. Gentlemen, stop your razors!

Very, Very Good News

A couple of years ago, I was honoured to be asked to contribute to a volume of essays published in celebration of the life of Michael Jackson, the world’s pre-eminent beer and whisky writer. It was not to be a collection of reminiscences, but rather an assembly of critical writings on the two liquid subjects that Michael brought to such literary prominence. My august company within its pages included Michael’s partner, Carolyn Smagalski, and  (in alphabetical order) Dave Broom, Ian Buxton, John Hansell, Julie Johnson, Charles MacLean, Hans Offringa, F Paul Pacult, Roger Protz, Lucy Saunders, Conrad Seidl and Gavin D Smith.

The resulting book is entitled Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser, and I’m very pleased to report today that it is sold out!

Pleased, because the book, which was organized by Ian Buxton and supported by whisky brand, The Glenlivet, was published as a benefit for Parkinson’s UK, and the more books we sold, obviously, the more money the organization received.

Final accounting was emailed to me today by Ian and, in total, Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser sales raised in excess of £13,000 for Parkinson’s, which is by Ian’s estimate is around US$21,000.

I am very proud of this effort and beholden to Ian for all the work he put in to making an idea become a reality for a very good cause. To all who bought the book, thank you for the support and I hope you enjoyed what I think is a terrific bunch of essays. And to all my fellow authors, give yourselves a pat on the back!


Beer & Whiskey & Whisky in 2012

That’s what I’m calling the 11-day cruise I’ll be hosting aboard the Silversea Silver Whisper in May of next year, even though the official title is “Whiskeys & Beers of the British Isles.”

I’m not going to lie to you, this is an expensive cruise aboard an ultra-luxury yacht, but what a cruise we have planned! Stout tastings, pub crawls, distillery tours, whiskey and whisky tutorials and more, all on a 382 passenger ship best described as a sort of floating boutique hotel. What’s more, everything is included, including airfare (out of Toronto, Vancouver and select U.S. cities), all transfers, all food and beverage onboard, $1,000 shipboard credit, 24-hour room service, minimum 287 square foot suites with butler service and complimentary personalized mini-bar.  Consider what you’d spend on a two week European holiday, including Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux quality meals and luxury hotels, and it starts to look rather reasonable.

Check out the details here: Silversea_Whiskeys.

Hope to see you onboard!


Portland This Sunday: A Time for Remembrance

My friend and colleague Lisa Morrison sends word of the following wake to honour the memory of Don Younger. If you plan to be in the Portland, Oregon area on Sunday, February 13, I strongly encourage you to drop by the Horse Brass at 4534 SE Belmont Street.

Wake to Honor Horse Brass Publican Don Younger

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Horse Brass Pub announced Tuesday that it would be closed for regular business on Sunday, Feb. 13 for a wake to honor its owner Don Younger.

Younger, who passed away Jan. 31, was well-loved worldwide in the beer community and throughout his hometown of Portland.  He is credited as a true “beer pioneer,” having owned the Horse Brass for nearly 35 years, and literally taking it from a one-tap tavern to a beer mecca featuring more than 50 taps and often named among the best beer bars in the world.

The Celebration of Don’s Life, will be held from 2-6 p.m. at the Horse Brass. The back parking lot will be tented to allow for more people to attend.


Predictions From World of Beer and the Wench

Well, okay, just from World of Beer. A pingback from the Wench’s blog this morning informs me that not only is she sick as a dog, but also now gainfully employed by Bison Organic Beer, which suggests to me that I won’t be getting any predictions from her any time soon. (And, sadly, neither will she be contributing to this space again any time soon, since the WoB anti-conflict of interest policy precludes any receipt of monies from breweries or distilleries or importers. Sorry, Wenchie.)

In deference to her illness, however, and celebration of her new-found stability, I will refrain from the public humiliation of the Wench in the form of made-up predictions, which I fully intended to do on her behalf, and present instead only my own, now month-old prognostications for 2011.

My predictions:

An Easing of the Hops Craze: It will come as a shock to no one that craft brewers in North America and beyond have been going mad for hops of late, producing “double,” “triple” and even, I seem to recall reading lately, “quadruple” IPAs. Well, in 2011 I suggest that we’ll see the start of an anti-ultra-hoppy backlash, with greater appreciation of balance and nuance coming slowly to the fore. Not that it will happen all at once or eclipse high-intensity IPAs any time soon, but a seed will slowly begin to take root.

The Re-Emergence of Germany: For the past few years, the dominant European beer countries have been old powers like the U.K. and Belgium, and new blood such as Italy and the Scandinavian states. In 2011, however, I suggest we’ll witness renewed interest in what’s happening in Germany, as new breweries open – yes, it’s actually happening, after years of nothing but closures – and German beer culture begins to be redefined. I’m certainly not sure what form it will take – I don’t think anyone is – but something is gestating over there and it will be interesting to witness what comes of it.

More Branding Focus for the Big Brewers: Led by the example of Anheuser-Busch InBev, I expect that the world’s largest breweries will begin jettisoning marginal brands, or allowing them to slowly die of their own accord, so that they might focus more intently on a core range of brands. Many of these ignored or smothered old brews will simply disappear, but others I expect will be sold to smaller breweries that will market them with imagery that veritably oozes nostalgia.

Waiting on the Wench

Over a month ago, I promised you two sets of (possibly) contrasting beer predictions, one by the jaded old geezer (yours truly) and the other by the fresh, youthful and energetic Beer Wench. And so far, nothing.

Not my fault, mind you. No, I’ve been waiting on the Beer Wench, Ms. Ashley Routson herself, who has been busy relocating, finding herself a job and, judging from her frequent Facebook status updates, doing almost everything except casting a gaze upon her crystal ball. I’ve cajoled, I’ve threatened, I’ve pleaded, and nothing.

So here it is, Wench, your final and very public warning. I give you but 24 hours more before I post my own predictions for 2011, alongside three of what I will guess might be your predictions. You may wind up looking sage and savvy, or you may…not. The only way you can be sure if to get me three legit prognostications before 9:00 a.m. EST tomorrow.


Coming Up in the Next Week or Two

I’m determined to be more conscientious in my blogging this year, aiming for just under six posts per week on average, so with luck there will be plenty to read in this space in 2011. Including over the next seven to ten days, the following:

  • Old Guy/Young Wench Predictions: I’ve asked Ashley Routson, the Beer Wench, to provide me with three predictions for the international beer market for the coming year. I will match these with three of my own, so you’ll be able to see the difference in outlook between an old, grizzled curmudgeon and a spritely, fresh-faced optimist.
  • A Decade of Predictions: Anyone can crystal ball gaze for 12 months at a time, but i’m going to try for a full ten years of prognostication.
  • Catching Up on Tasting: Assorted end-of-year obligations led me to fall behind in my tasting notes, which has resulted in a bit of a backlog around the office. I’ll be clearing this up shortly.

Plus the usual assorted kvetching, observing and reporting. Stay tuned!