Ever Wanted to Tour Goose Island’s Brewpub?


Inside the brewery at Goose Island’s Brewpub in Chicago.

Our previous episode of Bar Towel Radio was a live recording of Goose Island’s Black Friday event at their brewpub in Chicago.  And now we’re thrilled to release the second part of our “Live at Goose Island” series, with a live recording of the Goose Island Brewpub tour!  The tour, recorded in November 2014, includes a visit to the brewhouse, located at 1800 N. Clybourn in Chicago, as well as a tutored tasting of a handful of beers that were available at the pub.

Within this episode I also have outlined a number of can’t-miss beer destinations in Chicago, making it a helpful beery companion when visiting this great city.  You can listen to it below or via iTunes:

Live Brewpub Tour from Chicago’s Goose Island

Stay tuned for the next episode of Bar Towel Radio, where we’ll have a one-on-one interview with a special guest from San Francisco!


Stone in Ontario: A Sign of the ‘Taps’?

footer-logo Next week marks the official launch of famed California brewery Stone into the Ontario market, with a pair of beers arriving on draught: Stone IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale. Not only are these beers a great addition to the Ontario beer scene, but they continue a recent new strategy with a few U.S. breweries, namely to debut via draught versus bottles.

The draught importation business in Ontario is a web of stickiness, as the LCBO has granted and maintained distribution rights exclusively to three private companies (Premier Brands, Premium Beer & Diageo), all of whom are importers themselves. The Beer Store, by nature of their overarching beer presence in Ontario, also has rights to distribute draught. So that means that any draught beer not made in Ontario must pass through the hands of one of these entities. This makes importing draught beers very complex, challenging and costly – and is a major reason that many of your favourite beers you find on draught elsewhere are not available here.

However, importers and brewers are persevering. As evidenced by the debut of Stone, along with the recent debuts of Sierra Nevada, Atwater and Redhook, these brands are hitting the street first by way of draught, as opposed to a seasonal release at the LCBO, which has usually been the case for the past few years.

Let’s hope this strategy pays off, as it means better beers for Ontario consumers, and hopefully more awareness of how the draught importation game is played in this province. (Side note: we’ll have more to say about the draught game in the future, but for now let’s enjoy some tasty Stone.)

Stone is launching with multiple events across Ontario – see below for details.  More information and times can be found on Stone’s Ontario event page.


  • Monday, February 23rd: Launch Party at Bier Markt Esplanade
  • Tuesday, February 24th: Meet the Brewer at beerbistro
  • Wednesday, February 25th: Beer Feature Menu at Indie Alehouse
  • Friday, February 27th: “Cut Out of Work with Stone” at Bar Hop
  • Friday, February 27th: Beer Dinner at Amsterdam BrewHouse


  • Wednesday, February 25th: Meet the Brewer at Winking Judge


  • Wednesday, February 25th: “Look Who’s Rolling into KTown” at The Brooklyn


  • Tuesday, February 24th: Introduction Party at The Bent Elbow


  • Thursday, February 26th: Meet the Brewer at Hungry Brew Hops


  • Monday, February 23rd: Launch Party at Bier Markt Ottawa
  • Tuesday, February 24th: Introduction Party at Brother’s Beer Bistro

Join us at the Brewer’s Backyard today!

PrintJoin us as the 2015 season of the Brewer’s Backyard kicks off today with our cold-weather event, the Winter Hibeernation.  Today’s breweries include Great Lakes, Beau’s All-Natural and Indie Alehouse, alongside food by Urban Carnivore and Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.  There’s going to be around 15 beers available, including the lineup of Beau’s FeBREWary releases, Great Lakes’ Pompous Ass and Long Dong Pilsner, and Indie’s Rye So Sour, amongst others.  It will definitely be a delicious way to spend this chilly Family Day!

The Brewer’s Backyard runs indoors from 12-5pm in the Young Welcome Centre area of the Brick Works.  The event is all-ages and family friendly, is free admission and no tickets are required.  We hope to see you there!


Trillium Flyer_Spring 2015_RevTrillium Chapter: Brewery Collectables Buy/Sell/Trade show at Great Lakes Brewery on March 28th. 

11am – 2pm ~ Free Admission ~ $5 GLB beers

Booths with brewery items can include labels, coasters, tap handles, growlers, posters, signage, bottles, cans, trays and more. Come out and see Canadian brewing history in person.

Have any interesting old brewery items? Bring them out on the 28th for collectors to see and possibly buy/trade with you. 

Great Lakes will also have an in-depth display of their history, including bottles, tap handles, posters, glassware, packaging, etc

Jordan St. John, author of “The Lost Breweries of Toronto”, will be on-site selling and signing copies of his fascinating look at Toronto’s rich & storied brewing past.

Questions – troy.b@greatlakesbeer.com


Listen to Bar Towel Radio Live from Goose Island

IMG_6583Bar Towel Radio returns with a special episode recorded last November at Goose Island’s Black Friday tasting event, featuring their famed Bourbon County Brand Stout series of beers.

The event, held annually at their brewpub in Chicago to coincide with the launch of Bourbon County Brand Stout, is a live tasting of the BCBS lineup, hosted by brewers and other staff from Goose Island.

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the Black Friday tasting and was permitted to record the event for Bar Towel Radio.  You can listen to the episode below or via iTunes:

Live from Goose Island’s Black Friday BCBS Tasting

This is the first part of a special two-part “Live from Goose Island” series, and our next episode will be a live recording of the brewery tour from Goose Island’s Chicago brewpub.  Stay tuned for that one, and in the meantime enjoy this episode!


Let’s chat about The Beer Store!

Well, today’s been an exciting day for beer, with the surprise announcement from The Beer Store that “ownership” will be offered to brewers in Ontario.  And there’s no shortage of opinions and discussion about it online and in the media.  Join in the conversation in our Forum and chat about The Beer Store’s announcement, and stay on top of what everyone is saying about this development in the craft beer scene in Ontario.


Toronto Bourbon Week Returns on Friday

BW-Toronto-Def-Eagle smallOnce again, The Bar Towel is happy to be involved in Toronto Bourbon Week, launching this Friday, November 14th and continuing until November 20th.  And then on the very next day, the first-ever Ottawa Bourbon Week begins and runs until November 27th.

This years’ Bourbon Weeks feature 20 events across Toronto and Ottawa, each at a different venue and each having its own unique theme, including a number pairing bourbon with bourbon barrel-aged beers.  The events in Toronto include:

An in Ottawa:

The events are a mix of ticketed and general admission, so check the specific event listing for more details.  We hope to see you out this year at Toronto & Ottawa Bourbon Week!


Join us at Hintontoberfest on Saturday


Our Beer Lineup for Hintontoberfest

Our final Brewery Market of 2014, Hintontoberfest, promises to be an amazing wrap up to the season on Saturday, October 25th from 12-6pm at Hintonburg Park in Ottawa.

We’ve got a stellar lineup of over 45 beers from 9 Ontario breweries, including Flying Monkeys, Bicycle Craft, Turtle Island, Nickel Brook, Dominion City, Broadhead, Lowertown, Stone City Ales and Whitewater.  Check out the roster of beers here.

One of the special beers available on Saturday is the debut of “The Amarillo Chainsaw Massacre” Red IPA, a Pro-Am collaboration between Broadhead and homebrewer Andy Morrison, which Andy won the opportunity to brew as part of the National Capital Homebrew Competition.

We’ll also be serving delicious sausages by Sunnydays Gourmet Dogs and Sula Wok will be there with tasty Asian tacos.

As always, the Brewery Market is free admission, goes rain or shine and is all-ages and family-friendly.  We’re on from 12-6pm at Hintonburg Park, and proceeds help support the great initiatives of Ottawa Riverkeeper.  Beer and food tickets can be purchased with cash or credit card.

We hope to see you there!


Join us at Torontoberfest tomorrow

PrintOktoberfest isn’t over yet, and we’ve got one more Globe and Mail, CTV, Where and CityNews-approved bash in Toronto to celebrate.  Join us tomorrow, Monday, October 13th for the final Brewer’s Backyard of the year, Torontoberfest at the Evergreen Brick Works.

We’ll have up to 22 different beers available from our participating brewers Beau’s All-Natural, Black Oak and Junction Craft.  Plus, we’ll have a selection of sausages freshly grilled up by WVRST.  You can see the entire menu for Torontoberfest here.

As always, admission to the Brewer’s Backyard is free, and we run from 11am-4pm at the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works.  The event runs rain or shine, and Holcim Gallery is covered so we can all stay out of the rain in case it’s wet.  The Brewer’s Backyard is an all-ages and family-friendly event.  We hope to see you there!


Listen to Bar Towel Radio live from Beau’s Oktoberfest

BeausOktoberfest2014-smlThis past weekend I was at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, with the great privilege of moderating two panels at the “School of Bock“, an entertaining education-focused program at this fantastic event.

With the return of Bar Towel Radio after a prolonged absence last month, we felt it was a good time to keep the podcast party going!  So, we recorded both sessions live if you’d like to listen to (or relive) them.

The first session, entitled Dr. Beerlove (Or how we learned to stop working and start drinking more beer), was a lively chat about the history of Beau’s, with great stories told by Steve Beauchesne, Tim Beauchesne, Matt O’Hara and Jordan Bamforth.  Listen or download the episode here:

Dr. Beerlove live from Beau’s Oktoberfest 2014

The second session, entitled Beau’s Brewer’s Battle Royale, was a raucous debate where four pilot beers were tasted, which were made by different staffers at Beau’s, competing for a production run in the Wild Oats series. Listen or download the episode here:

Beau’s Battle Royale live from Beau’s Oktoberfest 2014

Note: as the audio was recorded live in a large room, volume levels are variable and not all audience questions are completely audible.

If you’d like, feel free to listen to or subscribe to Bar Towel Radio via iTunes.  We hope you enjoy them!