How I Met Craft Beer – Brian

My first conscious craft beer purchase was a bottle of La Fin Du Monde on my 19th birthday in 1996 (yeah, I’m old) that I picked out because it was large, had a fancy-looking cork and was 9% ABV. For perspective on my drinking habits at the time, I probably spent the rest of my budget on some 32 oz bottles of Schlitz or some 6 packs of Laker.

This is the Very Glass of Beer that Made Me Want to Blog
This is the Very Glass of Beer that Made Me Want to Blog

My friends and I were confounded by the sediment and I literally said “WTF is this shit?” when I poured it into whatever clean glasses and mugs we had in our apartment. After tasting it (and feeling the effects of such a strong beer) however, I knew this was something special.

A couple years later I moved to Ottawa. The import market was really taking off and Hoegaarden was my staple drink at the local pub many still refer to as the “Dirty Oak”. I didn’t know anything about the beer business at that point, I just knew that the beer was better than whatever swill was in cheap pitchers on any given night.

I started to become adventurous during my beer store visits while living in Centretown. There weren’t exactly a ton of non-Brick craft options, but I gravitated towards a brand called Gritstone, an earthy English pale ale that was made by the now-defunct Niagara Falls Brewing Company.

I lived in the Glebe for a while and the LCBO there carried the two Heritage Brewing Company brands. Those stubby 6 packs started to pile up in our kitchen along side the James Ready and Molson Canadian bottles of my roommates.

I basically quit drinking beer for a few years while I dealt with some serious health issues and was on a pretty powerful, sleep inducing medication. When I did drink, I’d just pick up a four pack of something familiar like Guinness or Kilkenny.

Once that was sorted out, my wife and I moved to a building Britannia area (where I still live today) that several of our friends happened to live in. We played a lot of SingStar and Rock Band and the burgeoning OCB section at the local LCBO was well-represented in my apartment with brands like 10w30 and Devil’s Pale Ale being personal favourites to drink on those raucous evenings.

It was in 2009 however that I felt the need to become part of the craft beer scene. My wife and I were in Toronto to see a few Blue Jays games and I found a six pack of Brooklyn Lager in a small and sweaty LCBO in Union Station. That night as I was drinking it from a hotel glass and having my mind blown by the fact I was drinking a great beer from the USA (the middle of New York City even!), I decided I needed to tell the world that there was all this great beer out there and started to write reviews at Beer Advocate.

Once I started to learn how to describe beer, learn about style and most importantly the business, I was hooked. I published my first review in May of 2010 and in hindsight, it was terrible and I knew next to nothing compared to now.

I’m still learning about beer every day, took up homebrewing in 2013 and have been blessed to be introduced to a great group of like-minded beer fans here in Ottawa that I’m happy to call friends.

About Brian J. Papineau

Stay-at-home dad, novice beer and cider homebrewer, avid cook and video game enthusiast. Brian started writing beer reviews in 2010 at his blog bryehn.net @bryehndotnet

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