Will a good wit smooth over divisive politics? Is beer good for what “ales” the nation?
We shall soon see as Karen Vecchio, Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, and London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos co-operate to brew a beer at Labatt in London.
The two will be at the brewery Wednesday to take part in Election Brew, an all-party national brewing competition. The competition supports Equal Voice, which advocates for more women in politics.
The two MPs will get a beer-making tutorial before brewmasters work with them to develop a beer recipe — say a Belgian wit, sour ale, or bitter IPA.
The beer they brew will represent Ontario and be pitted against other MP brews from across Canada at a tasting in Ottawa on May 29.
Last year, Ontario politicians were in a similar friendly competition at Mill Street Beer Hall in Toronto’s Distillery District. Then-NDP candidate Suze Morrison not only won the beer contest with her Toronto Centre of the Universe IPA, but later won election to Queen’s Park for Toronto Centre.
The point is to shine a light on efforts to elect more women at all levels of government, partisanship be damned. Hand in hand with beer making, Labatt will be making a cash donation to Equal Voice to help get it done.
They do it in Muskoka — and now in Hamilton.
Collective Arts, purveyors of cans too pretty to crush, is getting into the spirits of things by adding distilled drinks to its impressive lineup of beers and ciders.
In May, Collective Arts launches its flagship Artisanal Dry Gin and a seasonal Rhubarb and Hibiscus Gin. They’re selling both through the LCBO starting May 1. After that, they will be sold in other Canadian markets, Chicago, New York and Connecticut.
Like its beer cans, Collective Arts gin bottles will feature and promote work by rising artists. The art will change with each seasonal gin and every batch of the flagship.
“The wonderful thing about gin is that we can amplify our mantra of ‘creativity fuels creativity,’ recognizing artists and creating a product that acts as the paintbrush for a mixologist or drinker to make their own cocktails,” Collective Arts co-founder Matt Johnston said in a release.
Gin bottle labels will peel off to reveal original art.
“Distilling has been part of our dream from the very beginning,” he said. “We’ve focused on gins because they are a kindred spirit to craft beer; they are all about the creativity and the quality of the ingredients.
“Like craft beer, we can play and produce limited releases to push the limits of what gin can, and should, be. There are so many ingredients we are excited to work with and there is no shortage of inspiration.”
On the beer side, Collective Arts will be getting into barrel-aging.
Muskoka Brewing previously branched out from beer to gin, distilling with Legendary Oddity traditional dry gin, Docker ready-mixed gin and tonic, and now Pink Peppercorn. Pink Peppercorn is distilled with hibiscus, Brazilian pink peppercorn, juniper berries, orris root and heather tips.
New and noted
Hans and Franz, the popular German pilsner from Forked River, is back at the London brewery. It pairs with bratwurst and yard work.
London Brewing is aging beers in bourbon and chardonnay barrels. An early result: B’urban Legend Oatmeal Stout, aged for five months in Buffalo Trace Kentucky bourbon barrels. Love the name, haven’t tried the beer.
Lake of Bays of Baysville in cottage country north of Toronto has been shuffling its lineup. Gone are Broken Axe APA and Oxtongue IPA. Arriving are Starboard New England IPA, Paddle On 4.5 per cent alcohol session ale, Glitz and Glamour Sparkling IPA, and a peach-flavoured milkshake IPA.
Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.