Brews News: Love turns Ontario native into Florida brewer

How far does the influence of Ontarians reach in the craft beer world? Well, at least as far as the Florida Keys.

That’s where former Burlington, Ont., resident Craig McBay has set up an impressive, family-friendly brewery, pouring the likes of Flakeys Belgian wit, Kritter IPA, Hurricane Hole Irish red, and Mooseknuckle, a maple bacon porter made with Canadian maple syrup brewed annually for the local Moose Lodge Bacon Fest - writes

McBay, whose Ontario hometown boasts one of the province’s best, Nickel Brook, fell into brewing beer via fire suppression. Career One was fire fighting systems. Career Two, involved beer and the Florida Keys, the former thanks to a homebrewing kit and the latter due to marrying Cheryl, an American with salt water in her veins who creates art from bottle caps.

NEW AND NOTED:Cowbell’s Shindig has run the LCBO gauntlet and is widely available. Packaged in 473 ml cans, Shindig is brewer Stephen Rich’s nod to traditional local lager.

Putting on his beer historian hat, Rich notes lager history thusly: When the pilsner style was first brewed in 1842, export and domestic versions were created. The export pils was five to 5.5 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV) and bitter; this is the success story beer that became known as pilsner. The domestic version was exclusively brewed for the local communities around those breweries. This 3.5 to 4.5 per cent ABV version, with less bitterness, was known as “pivo.”

Shindig, which seems brewed with both the local farmer and the Lake Huron cottage and campfire crowds in mind, is a pivo lager, 4.2 per cent alcohol and a paltry 14 IBU (International Bitterness Unit).

The name Shindig once was a common term in rural areas to describe large, celebratory parties. Think of it as your grandparents’ term for a bush party.

The summer seasonal Shindig is $3 at the LCBO.

MORE BEER:Stephen Beaumont is the dean of beer (and spirits) writing in Canada. He’s written or co-written 10 books on beer, including his latest Will Travel for Beer. He’s insightful. Beaumont’s Twitter handle is BeaumontDrinks .

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist in London.

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