Selected Portfolio

A brief history of the first brewery in Toronto

Originally published on blogTO June 27, 2012

Henderson Brewery Toronto


The history of Toronto is closely tied to beer, and while there are varying stories about the exact date and location of the city’s first brewery (and a requisite bit of mystery), virtually all are in agreement that there was a brewery very early in the city’s history.

As the population in Ontario began to spread from early settlements such as the one in Kingston, beer was initially brought over with other supplies like pork and butter on ships from Kingston, the Bay of Quinte, and Niagara.

A letter dated 1801 from a Reverend John Stuart to the Bishop of Nova Scotia, however, makes reference to a brewer from Kingston “removed to York lately” who had obtained a vessel to “transport wheat and other Grain from Kingston and the Bay of Quinte, before beer could be made.”

Who that brewer may have been, and where he may have been plying his trade, however, is not clear. Continue reading “A brief history of the first brewery in Toronto”

Inside Still Waters Distillery

This post originally appeared on BlogTO on May 2, 2012

Still Waters Distillery

Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein, co-founders of Still Waters Distillery, are playing a waiting game. Because Canadian liquor laws require that Canadian whisky is aged at least three years before it can be sold, the duo, operating a small micro-distillery in Concord, Ontario, are patiently waiting for the day that their single malt, rye, and corn whiskies will be ready for sale.

Their oldest whiskies, casked in late 2009, won’t be ready until the end of this year, so until then, they wait. In the meantime, however, the duo has hardly been sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

While they’ve been waiting on their whiskies, they’ve distilled an award-winning single malt vodka. Unique in that it’s essentially distilled from the same spirits they use to make their whisky (then put through the still once more and filtered), Still Waters’ malt vodka is incredibly smooth and retains a semi-sweet malt flavour. I had no problem sampling the product early in the afternoon on an empty stomach, but you don’t have to take my word for it: Still Waters Single Malt Vodka was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards competition in San Diego, California — a blind tasting judged by consumers.

Continue reading “Inside Still Waters Distillery”

How Toronto craft beers get on LCBO shelves

An edited version of this post originally appeared on blogTO on March 6, 2012.

LCBO

The LCBO is about to increase its stock of Toronto craft beer. Coming soon to a liquor store shelves are cans of Kensington Brewing Company’s Augusta Ale and Double Trouble’s Hops and Robbers.

While Toronto beer fans should be excited that we’ll now have a chance to take home a little more local variety from the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene, the accomplishment is all the more admirable when one has a little knowledge of just how daunting the LCBO’s process can be.

Continue reading “How Toronto craft beers get on LCBO shelves”

Realistic Resolutions

These images are from The JoinBKLYN Holiday Guide to Good.

JoinBKLYN is an independent company based in Brooklyn, NY that curates and distributes  blogs about arts and culture. It was founded by two lovely ladies I know and they asked me to contribute to their holiday guide. I came up with the “Realistic Resolutions” content below and these images are what ended up in their guide.

Traditional New Year’s resolutions have never made a lot of sense to me.

I can never understand why, as the holiday season winds down, people are expected to commit to bettering themselves or being nicer to other people. What horrendous timing for self-improvement,really.

The holidays are stressful.

You spend the first part of them worrying about what to buy people, then fighting throngs of other shoppers just for the privilege of spending a ton of your money.

The last part of the holidays is spent surrounded by your extended family—which, sure, is nice in small doses—but in reality it’s a lot of time stressing about where you’re supposed to have the next artery-clogging meal, hearing about your aunt’s ailments, and, usually, watching a handful of screaming kids run around like maniacs smashing their new loud toys around.

It’s frigging exhausting.

Continue reading “Realistic Resolutions”

COPS

The scene embedded below was one I wrote as part of Something Clever, my graduation show for the Conservatory Program at The Second City Training Centre. This video is from the original performance of that show on February 26, 2011 at the Second City in Toronto. My scene-mate is the talented and handsome actor, Andrew Ferguson and this was shot by his equally talented and handsome girlfriend, Mandy Sellers. 

The original script for the scene follows. 

Something Clever Presents “Cops” from Mandy Sellers on Vimeo.

Lights up on FITZY, buttoning up his shirt in a locker room. CHARLIE walks in, drying his hair.

FITZY
Good shower Charlie?

CHARLIE
Great shower, Fitzy.

Continue reading “COPS”

A Letter to the Old Man at the Gym Who Has the Same Underwear as Me

Dear Old Man at the Gym Who Has the Same Underwear as Me,

I’d like to sincerely apologize for the events that transpired today. I’m aware that my conduct was inappropriate and I feel like I probably had an adverse effect on your day.

Clearly, by pointing to the area near my penis, looking at you, and shouting, “Hey!” I have broken not only a number of general gym-etiquette rules, but also an unspoken understanding that you and I have always shared as we spend that little part of our daily routine together in various stages of undress.

Continue reading “A Letter to the Old Man at the Gym Who Has the Same Underwear as Me”

Stone

Submitted to the CBC Canada Writes Short Story Competition, shortlist to be announced February 2012, and winners in March 2012.

“Morning,” John said, hopping into the idling truck, beat-up lunch box in hand.His brother, Bob, handed him a hot coffee.

John was happy the job was in Ilderton today. The quiet of the morning drive, watching the sun chase the frost out of the shadows as his brother listened to the news, had always been his favorite part of the day. And, while he never said so, John had a feeling it was Bob’s favorite too.

In the early morning traffic, the drive went quickly. They had time to hear all of the news from but not enough time that either of them had finished their coffees.

The old truck shuddered to a halt, relieved, under a looming elm tree that had lost nearly all it’s leaves. Two pallets of stone sat awaiting them on the driveway across the street.

As the sun began to rise in the morning sky, the brothers set to work soundlessly, each going about his respective routine with a long-honed, deliberate, and rhythmic efficiency. A gradually sloping hill beside the driveway became a soft, clay-colored trench under their careful shovels as the garage doors of the neighborhood went up and down around them, mini-vans pulled out, and curious eyes on their way to work slowly passed over the brothers.

Continue reading “Stone”