Cheers to National Beer Day!

Lowertown Brewery Shop

Hot off the heels of Bock Beer Day, is yet another Beer Day. Much like the Wine Days we get throughout the year, expect to see more on beer as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beer fan but I am developing an appreciation for the production of it.

We have a wealth of local breweries, using organic produce, at our fingertips here in Ottawa so wherever you live, I would be sure you have one near your back door.

The use of local produce such as grains, is growing fast. Lucky for us, restaurants, grocery stores, distilleries and vineyards are increasing their availability of organic products. Many local farmers, where these grains come from, are registered with Canadian Organic Growers so you know you’re drinking, and eating, healthier.

Local Organic Farms

Against The Grain

You don’t have to venture far to find them! Most Metro Food Stores carry their products which include pancake batter, purple corn chips and various whole grain flour, to name just a few.

I’ll be using their purple corn chips for all of my nachos now since I’ve discovered their great health benefits.

“Studies indicate the antioxidant, anthocyanins, found in purple corn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit abnormal cell growth, promote collagen formation, and improve circulation.”           –Source

Be sure to watch the Pancake Testings! The link is under the ‘extras’.

Their pancake mix also contains purple corn meal, the great antioxidant. If you’re at a loss of how to use any of their products, they provide over 30 recipes for entrees, desserts, pastry and bread here.

Moulin St. Georges Mill

Specializing in corn products, they offer chemical-free and preservative-free grain of different coarseness. The family-owned farm is located east of Alexandria at the Quebec border.

As I browse each Ontario Organic Farm’s websites, I find something unique with each one. Some farms make furniture or woven sheep blankets, some provide guided tours or education programs, cooking classes or offer volunteer programs.

If you’re interested in learning how to grow organic food, grain, etc, the Canadian Organic Growers is offering courses in Ontario and BC. The Ottawa course has been postponed to 2018.

Our own local breweries are increasingly popular. When visiting some of these establishments, it was hard to have extended conversations with proprietors due to the steady traffic of customers. And this is mid-week!

All I can say is, Way to Go Ottawa, for choosing local!

It was a tad chilly that night so I rushed in to the Lowertown and the first thing I noticed was that delicious aroma of freshly burning wood, real wood, and wondered where it came from. Apparently, I walked right by it on my way in. Did I mention it was cold?

The Awesome Barkeep, Matthew, at Lowertown Brewery helped me figure out which kind of beer is best suited to my taste. Despite how busy it was, he kindly took the time to answer my questions, explain the science of beer and let me sample 6 different flavours. All of this in between serving his customers. What a pro!

Matthew helped me discover that I like non-bitter type beers which turns out to be their Dark Lager. Go figure. Never thought I would be the Guinness type. Like my wine, I like them smooth!

Many pubs offer “Flights” of beer, or wine, to sample various flavours. I highly recommend ordering one of these, share with a few friends, and discover your preference.

Might I add that the Lowertown store is open until 11pm. So, if you’ve missed the shut down of the King Edward LCBO at 10pm, you still have time to grab a couple brewskies on your way home.

At Beyond The Pale, the frontman is very helpful and gracious, despite the steady traffic. They sell their cans in packs of 4 at the Hamilton Street facility but you can find singles at LCBO.

I was able to sample 4 different beers but didn’t care for any in particular. This means nothing because it’s not my drink of choice. For those who prefer beer, you will certainly find a brew you like. It’s quite clear they are popular.

Tooth and Nail offers 3 samples of your choice. I particularly requested non-bitter flavours but did not find anything that compared to the Dark Lager at Lowertown. It’s not just a distillery. The pub is full sized and was busy enough to not be able to have a conversation with any of the staff. Again, mid-week. I couldn’t even ask why they are named Tooth and Nail.

They, as well, stay open beyond the regulatory LCBO hours, except on Sundays.

Keep in mind that most local breweries are closed Sundays, some on Monday as well, as it is their brewing day. For sampling, best to visit them Tuesday to Saturday.

Mill St Brew Pub offers guided tours at certain times of the day yet my research team were served the royal treatment by Jeremy. Open for about 5 years, he has

Palomar Diablo at Mill St

been working there for the last 4, he knows every beer inside and out. There seemed to be no limit to the sampling. They brew 4 different flavours on site, the rest are produced at the Toronto location.

Again, my favorite was a dark beer, the Cobblestone Stout. Could have something to do with the chocolate content. Mill St originally started as an organic brewery back in 2002 and has grown to cover every spectrum of flavour from citrus to chocolate to chamomile.

If you sidle up to your local pub, chances are pretty good you’re going to find the Mill St logo if not one of their beers. I’m noticing more of the smaller micro-breweries popping up on the drink menus, too.

As far as brew pubs go, I highly recommend BDT – Brasseur Du Temps – in Gatineau. Beautifully located by the water on the historic site of the first brewery in the area, their unique style and attractions keep me going back. For your seating, choose the side bar that overlooks the factory and the kitchen. Before you leave, visit the museum below where they house antique artifacts of beer production. It keeps the same hours as the pub and you’re free to browse.

It’s a must see!

Why No Mention Of Standard Beer?

We spend all week trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to our food or cleaning products then by Sunday morning we’ve undone all the good we’ve accomplished by having a few drinks Saturday night with friends or family.

Alcohol is metabolized by the body differently than food. It bypasses the digestive system, is absorbed into the body and goes straight to the liver. Your liver is the main fat-burning organ in our bodies so if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol will deter this. Your liver chooses to metabolize the alcohol first before it tackles any fat cells. Your liver also removes toxins so if it’s overloaded with alcohol, it has a hard time eliminating the toxins which can lead to rapid aging, loss of libido and other conditions.

Do You Know What You’re Drinking?

Beer, being in 2nd place after water and tea as a favorite beverage, is not required by law to label their ingredients on their products. Check your beer bottle or can. Calorie levels and alcohol content are only sometimes on the label. They are under no obligation to disclose their ingredients to anyone.

I couldn’t encourage anyone to ingest anything that is unhealthy which is why I am restricting this to organic.

Commercial Beer

The government regulates what can and cannot be present in beer. Lucky us, this is the list of “Legal” Ingredients Allowed in Commercial Beer:

MSG – an addictive mixture of sodium and amino acid glutamate which can cause headaches, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, chest pain, nausea and heart palpitations.

Propylene Glycol – also found in anti-freeze.

Calcium Disodium EDTA – made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.

Sulphites and anti-microbial preservatives – have been linked to allergies and asthma.

Natural Flavors – can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland. (Still convinced you’re drinking the right beer?)

BPA – Bisphenol A is a component in many tin can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.

Animal Based Clarifiers -Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk).

FD&C – Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Carcinogens – Newcastle beer apparently heats ammonia and sulphites under high pressure which creates carcinogenic compounds in the caramel coloring they add. These compounds are known to cause cancer and tumours in rats and mice.                                                                                         – See the Full List

So, if you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard for, look for non-GMO and additive-free food and alcohol products.

Still not convinced? The few commercial beers available without GMO’s are Heinekin, Sierra Nevada and Amstel Light.

My next beer will definitely be local, organic from the tap. However, I’m not rushing out for one. I’m completely beered out – a big thank you to my beer testers for helping me not to consume too much. You know who you are and you rock!

What Else Can You Do With Your Beer?

Once you’ve found a good organic beer, you can do more than just drink it!

Butterflies and slugs are attracted to it. So if you want more butterflies and less slugs leave some leftover beer out in the garden.

Rinse your hair with it to benefit from the Vitamin B and natural sugars to add body and shine. It will help increase vitality, resilience and hold.

Remove stains by pouring some on coffee stains, blot and it should come out.

Marinate meat and mushrooms but you probably know this one already.

Polish your copper pots.

Beer vs Prostitution.

They say the oldest profession is prostitution well…beer making may be the oldest! Apparently prostitution is estimated at 5,000 years old. Beer is estimated to be 7,000 years old, originating in Iran. Some even say it began 12,000 ago.

What Caused The London Beer Flood?

In 1814 London, 570 tons of beer, equivalent to 1 million pints, exploded from a vat that had too much pressure build up. 8 people lost their lives in that huge mess. “Not only did the brewery escape paying damages to the destitute victims, it received a waiver from the British Parliament for excise taxes it had already paid on the thousands of barrels of beer it lost.”       – Source

In the Middle Ages many other mixtures of herbs were added to beer for  bitterness and flavour prior to the use of hops. These mixtures are referred to as gruit, beer produced from botanicals. Hops were cultivated in France as early as the 800s. The oldest surviving written record of the use of hops in beer is in 1067 by writer, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Germany: “If one intends to make beer from oats, it is prepared with hops.”

What Are The Hops For?

We’ve all heard the term but how does it affect beer. Hops is the flower from the cone-like hop plant. A member of the hemp family, a hops vine grows to about 7 feet tall in just a few months.

Once compressed for beer making, it is a green pellet ready to add bitterness to the sweet tasting malt to create the perfect balance.

Different types of hops will have different levels of bitterness. It also acts as a preservative.

Hops on the Rhine! Prost!

The first documented use of hops is from 7th Century Europe in Germany in the Hallertau region.

Close to one of every two beers worldwide is brewed with one of the more than 20 types of Hallertau hop.

Hallertau is a region in Bavaria, between Nuremberg and Munich, where plenty of breweries can be found.

Or make it easy on yourself and take the tour. Be sure to catch at least one castle!

Hallertau is the world’s largest hop cultivating region. If you’re so inclined, watch this quick 3 minute video on the cultivation, filmed in Bavaria with it’s fields and fields of hop gardens.

Whether you’re here or there, enjoy a brew today! See you next time! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 7, 2017

Stained Glass-Patty Boland's

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s International Earth Day!

How on EARTH can this be connected to travel and drinks?

Earth, being part soil, is the blood and nutrients for our plants. The fruit of some plants are distilled into liquor and voila! we have organic beverages.

So Today, This is the “Organically Grown Travel By The Glass” Way

With the increasing desire for organically grown and non-GMO produts, distilleries and vineyards are contributing to the cause by reducing or eliminating additives for a healthier product.

The basic guidelines that are followed when producers claim Organic:

No fertilizers

No hormones

No antibiotics

No pesticides

No herbicides

No GMO’s

We are avoiding these chemicals because they don’t make us feel good. If you get headaches from red wine, despite staying hydrated, it could be an allergy to something in the wine.

It could be the chemicals. Try organic wine and test the results.

It could be a product that ends up in the liquor naturally.  For example, sulphites, in wine, are chemicals used as preservatives to prevent browning and discoloration in foods and drinks.

Are you the type to have a headache after one glass of wine? Sulphites are not the culprit. More sulfites are generally added to white wines than red wines and most headache sufferers complain after drinking red wines. Sulphites can cause asthma symptoms.

The 3 main evil reasons you might experience a headache when drinking wine

Evil Factor#1: Tannins – naturally found in grape skins, stems, seeds and oak barrels. These antioxidants are also found in dark chocolate!

Try this test to see if you’re sensitive, or allergic to Tannins:

  1. Brew a cup of black tea, lettting it steep 5-10 minutes longer than usual.
  2. Drink. If you get a headache, you know you’re sensitive to tannins since black tea has alot of tannin.

If you are sensitive to tannin, also avoid walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, cinnamon, clove, pomengranates, grapes, acai berries, red beans and quince (a pear shaped fruit usually found between October and January in ethnic markets, if you’re lucky)

Sadly, these would be your wine options:

Choose a red with low tannin such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot, Barbera and Primitivo. Or cut out red altogether – I shudder with the thought.

Choose white wines instead especially the ones that have not been aged in oak barrels  since the wood will create tannin.

I’m very thankful I don’t get headaches from reds in general.

Evil #2: Sugar

When alcohol and sugar are combined, a headache can happen if you’re not properly hydrated. The extra water is needed to help process both substances. If you’re lacking hydration (#1 reason for headaches), you body pulls the necessary water it needs from other parts of your body-head included. When the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache starts. A way to prevent this? Avoid sweet dessert wines, ie ice wines semi-dry and cheap wines. They have much higher sugar content. Cheap wine producers add sugar during fermentation to boost alcohol. Choose dry.

Evil #3: Histamines

Sources of Histamines and Tyramine

Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines. Histamines are chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and can cause that runny nose, dry eyes and headache.

If you know this is the reason for your headaches (you’ve ruled out Evil 1 and 2) and you’re serious about getting into that bottle of wine, take a histamine blocker, ie: Claritin, to prevent one.

 

Evil #4 Tyramines

Tyramine constricts then dilates blood vessels and Sauvignon Blanc and Charddonay are lowest in this chemical. Tyramines are found in aged foods ie: cheeses and meats.

To sum all of this up, when choosing an organic wine, choose one with low or no sulphites. Avoid the oak barrel flavouring if you find you’re sensitive to the tannins. And drink lots of water! Hopefully this helps you kick your headache issue.

Who Is Making Organic Alcohol?

There are approximately 2000 producers of organic wine and organic liquor and the numbers are on the rise.

I discovered many organic producing distilleries but Tru Organic Vodka’s “going green” conscientiousness goes beyond their liquor. They use less glass products and what glass they do use is all recycled. They’re not done yet….They use synthetic corks, soy-based ink and packaging that turns into a shelf!

Juniper Green Organic Gin produced the first organic gin in Clapham, London, right down to using organic juniper and coriander.

Tequila Alquimia boasts 39 gold medals at spirit competitions. They produce organic tequila with no added chemicals or flavorings. Their distillery is located in Camarillo, the town next to my father’s. If anyone is interested in purchasing a bottle, I could bring some back on my next trip there.

Organic Section at LCBO

The closest we can get to these actual brands is the United States so let’s see what our LCBO carries:

Spirits

Toronto based distillery, Toronto Distillery Company, produces organic spirits made from wheat, rye and corn. Their soil is rich in nutrients-if you’ve ever noticed how red the soil is near Toronto. LCBO carries their Wheat and Gin versions. Organic alcohol tends to be a bit pricier, for example, a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff costs $27.25 when TDC’s shelf price is $39.50 for a 375ml bottle.

It is a healthier choice in most cases. For those who indulge in more than 1-2 drinks per month, it might be worth considering organic. However, you’re defeating the purpose plus you’ll still have a bleeding hangover if you’ve had 10 glasses of organic wine.

Brand new on the scene is Last Straw Distillery in Concord, Ont. Restrictions and regulations are the biggest challenges a start up distillery in Ontario faces. Last November, Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, introduced Bill 70. This includes a 61.5% sales tax for retail stores owned and operated by Ontario’s distilleries. Ontario wine is taxed at 6.1%! British Columbia taxes by the litre which doesn’t hurt the smaller-producing distilleries. As their production increases so will the province’s revenue. No surprise there are many popping up in BC lately. I’m going to get all political on you, maybe even a bit Trump-ish, by saying, “Hello, Ontario Government, new distilleries will create jobs and revenue for our province, as it is doing in BC!” A small distillery, in it’s first critical year, is not taxed in BC for its first 50,000 litres produced. We all know Ontario would gauge, gauge, gauge until they were forced out of business.

Ontario distillers are now allowed to market their products at LCBO, however, the distillers fork out the costs of distribution. LCBO still applies its full 140% markup to the products. “The LCBO makes more margin on small micro-distillers’ offerings than on anything else they sell – so much for supporting local!” says Greg Lipin, co-founder of North of 7 Distillery in Ottawa.

Read the full report from Last Straw. They’re not looking for handouts only fairness between their industry of spirits and the beer and wine industry. Book your free tour during regular business hours.

North of 7 In-Store Products

North of 7 is a new Ottawa distillery with a conscience. They keep it local, additive free and they are involved in charity work. Almost all of the grains used are from Alexandria, Winchester and some from Wakefield. The Winchester farm, Against the Grain, supplies only organic produce and the juniper they find in Alexandria which grows wild and naturally. They’ve been hard at work producing their first whisky which will be ready this May, after 3 long years! There is a White Dog version at 62.5% alcohol! Ahem, moonshine to some, gut rot to others but, aside from the powerful punch to the system, I thought it had an interesting taste. Only available at their store since it is the rye straight from their still.

Please offer your support and drop in for a tasting! You’ll be pleasantly surprised and you’ll help to keep them operating!

Store hours: Noon-5pm Monday to Wednesday and a bit later for the rest of the week, closed Sundays. Located at 1733 St. Laurent Blvd

“For each bottle of Leatherback Rum sold, a portion is donated to the Canadian Sea Turtle Network – a charitable organization based in Halifax that is working to conserve endangered sea turtles in Canadian waters and abroad.” – North of 7

The owners, Greg Lipin and Jody Miall, genuine entrepreneurs, are avid rock-climbers and bourbon lovers. They are living their dream…they own a distillery and Coyote Rock Gym right here in Ottawa. Greg was the first one to open a rock climbing gym in Ottawa in 1992. Jody joined later on.

My sons and I, personally, have gone rock climbing and can say it is a very cool experience!

After speaking with Jody last week, I was surprised to learn their products on-site are no cheaper than what’s charged at LCBO. License to sell obviously means it must be sold through the liquor board so they get their cut, too. He says there is slight improvement in red tape but the taxes charged by the Ontario Government is still heavily unbalanced.

3 other ways to celebrate Earth Day the Travel By The Glass way:

Hmm, this took some thought.

  1. If we are encouraged not to use our car to keep the air cleaner, then we are free
    Caleshea’s Garden Centre

    to have a couple of drinks at the corner pub.

  2. Get your own garden growing. You’ll have truly organic parsley, thyme, basil, mint, yes, mint for your Mojitos!
  3. Be a tourist in your own neighborhood. Walk, don’t drive. You’ll notice things that you usually drive past.

I encourage you to submit your ideas!

Here is a list of links for events:

Toronto

Ottawa

Canada-wide

Earth-Friendly Events Across Canada

We get another Earth Day on April 22 so if you miss this one, use this link to see what’s going on next month.

Today is the first Earth Day which is celebrated every year at the Spring Equinox on or around March 21st when night and day are exactly the same length of time. This one is organized by the Earth Society Foundation. The foundation was founded by John McConnell, a conservationist who worked at a plastics factory and saw the environmental damage it caused.

The 2nd Earth Day, on April 22, is organized by the Earth Day Network. Both were launched in the spring of 1970. 20 million people participated in activities on that day 47 years ago.

Compliments of Caleshea Marfurt & Family

Keep It Green and Please Drink Responsibly

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 20, 2017