Monthly Archives: April 2015

Dark Lord Day, Big Freedia, and Giving the Finger to LGBT Discrimination

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As many readers who have been following this site for a while have known, LGBT representation in the craft beer world is something that is on my mind quite a bit. I adore the conversation that is currently happening surrounding women in the craft beer scene, but one of the least talked about topics has been making the sign welcoming LGBT folks a bit bigger. A select few people who read last year’s post (mainly, surprise surprise, straight white dudes) not only saw no issue with how things currently were, they didn’t seem to get that when talking about an interest group, there’s still social obstacles to get through (So the argument of “it’s just beer” is invalid. I’m not talking about the beer, I’m talking about the group of people that drink and enjoy it). An example I gave on what would be great to see more of are the amazing gestures of inclusivity by breweries that not only show acceptance, but also support for LGBT folks. Two examples that sprung to mind in the post were Sam Adams backing out of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade after the parade announced the exclusion of LGBT marchers, and BrewDog creating a special beer to protest Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.

Well, I’m happy to find that I can now put Munster, Indiana brewery 3 Floyds on that list of breweries who are Doing It Right.

For those who are unfamiliar with Dark Lord Day, it is arguably one of the biggest brewery events in the U.S. An entire festival, with music, beer, and fantastic food that is the only day you can acquire 3 Floyds’ Dark Lord Imperial Stout. Tickets sell out almost instantly and for weeks until the event they are regarded by some as a kind of currency. Despite how good the beer is, it’s safe to say Dark Lord Day is a pretty big deal. Additionally, if you follow the news, you’ll know that 3 Floyds’ home state of Indiana is currently under some controversy with the recently put in Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act which, among many things, will allow Indiana businesses to refuse service to LGBT folks on the grounds that it would be against their faith (I know, I know).

So with that in mind, 3 Floyds, who adore the many wonderful people in their home state and hate seeing what is essentially a bullshit law tarnish the state in the eyes of the world, decided to give the finger to Indiana politics in the only way that made sense to them.

They called up the infamous and openly gay New Orleans “Queen of Bounce” Big Freedia to be a special musical guest for Dark Lord Day.

When news of the Fuse television star’s performance being part of Dark Lord Day’s protest against Indiana’s discrimination laws got out, the response from the beer community was overwhelmingly positive. “It’s been awesome!” Big Freedia says to me in a phone interview. Lots of energy, lots of love, and lots of supporters.” Not surprising, as the idea of the event becoming a sort of protest came about through 3 Floyds’ many fans, who wanted the brewery to make a stand.

Along with the performance at tomorrow’s event (accompanied by Freedia’s Divas), the folks at 3 Floyds worked to craft Big Freedia Ale, a Pink Daiquiri Belgian Ale. “They called me and wanted to know a few things like what flavour I wanted, and I think I picked Strawberry.” Freedia said. “Its just exciting to be on the beer and have something named after you. I’m excited to try it!”

This kind of gesture on 3 Floyds’ part is pretty amazing. In the small picture, it will show the many visitors that come by for Dark Lord Day that not all of Indiana’s fine citizens are for Gov. Mike Pence bringing in this “religious freedom” law. In the bigger picture, the publicity and overwhelmingly overt public advocacy for the rights of the LGBT community may inspire other breweries (and companies) to lift up their welcome sign a bit higher as well.

“Everything has a reason and a purpose.” Big Freedia says. “And I think that it definitely will help open some doors in different ways. I definitely think good will come out of it all.

Big Freedia’s show “Queen of Bounce” can be seen on the Fuse channel Wednesdays at 11/10 Central. Her memoirs, titled “God Save the Queen Diva” will hit shelves on July 15th and is available for pre-order. While a new album is slated for release in the Fall, Big Freedia has recently collaborated with LA-based Lazerdisk on a remix of “‘Ol Lady”.

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The Montréal Notes

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Recently Sawdust City sent some beers my way, some of their current fantastic offerings. But there is one in particular that I didn’t read the can of until now, and that’s of the “There’s No Way of Knowing” Can-Conditioned Saison. It reads like this:

As ‘Ol Man Winter begrudgingly releases us from his icy grip, Sweet Lady Spring swoops in and softly serenades us with her song. The snow slowly recedes, the days grow longer and we once again head outside to feel the warmth of the new vibrant season. What does the new season bring us? What does the future hold? Really, there’s no way of knowing. With the bright effervescence of a spring day and flowery aromas of fresh citrus, There’s No Way of Knowing Saison brings us all we love about this season. Light and breezy, it’s the perfect accompaniment to new beginnings.

1512299_905676996160008_7806778772935007977_nAnd I gotta say, this is the first time the copy on a beer can has distinctly given me the feels. The main reason being that I’m currently going through a new beginning myself at the moment. You see, I’ve left Toronto to stay in Montréal for two months. Not for any beer-related reason, it was just one of those times where I was looking at my surroundings, my outlook on things, and my level of contentment and decided that I really, really needed a change of scenery. So I found some places on AirBnB, packed up my things, and hopped on a train. As for work, I’m fortunate enough to be able to fit all of my careers in to a single messenger bag (thank the gods for tiny external 1TB drives, dropbox), so I can work pretty much from anywhere. I’m currently typing this post from my April home, a wonderful 1930s three floor walk-up in Westmount, a pretty English-speaking neighbourhood with more parks than I can count and with no shortage of markets, bakeries, and cheese shops. Some 1920s jazz is playing on my little Bose speaker, the sun is shining brightly through the windows, and after two weeks I’m starting to think that this sort of new beginning was a fantastic decision. All that is to say that, while unpacking the luggage in my home for the next two months, reading this can kind of hit me in a spot that had me feeling a bit emotional.

But anyways, back to the beer stuff. Because of COURSE I’m going to do some beer exploring while I’m here.

So far my first impression of the beer scene here in Montréal has been incredible. There are many breweries here doing some amazing things and many of them, as well as the local drinkers, seemed to have fully embraced the concept of “simple DSC_0700_1done well” while also having a deep appreciation for the experimental and out there. Here the concept of going to a bar with a book to unwind is very strong and as a result, I’ve been happy to find that some of the more trendy beer spots have been incredibly spacious, many of which still have tables available on a busy night. The combination of not being claustrophobic and not having my thoughts drowned out by too-loud music or people yelling was refreshing to say the least.

I haven’t been to too many spots, but the ones I’ve been to have been winners. Dieu du Ciel, often on the top of the list of places to visit when in the city, was understandably packed and filled with many of their incredible beers on tap, including a one year-old version of their famous Imperial Stout Péché Mortel, a selection of refreshing and complex wheat beers, and Gospel, which may be one of the best nitro Stouts I’ve ever had, featuring a creamy mouthfeel that is expected with nitro stouts, but a very dry finish that just makes me want more.

Second up was Vices & Versa, which so far has become my favourite pub to visit. A startling 35 taps on rotation featuring some of the best beers and ciders that the province has to offer. With two huge rooms and a backyard patio that locals flocked to once the weather went above 0°, I have never had a problem finding a table to sit at, and the ability to order a half pint has made for a really nice budget-conscious evening of experimentation. Some highlighted beers I’ve ordered from that have been the Dunham Saison Rustique, a beautiful saison with a taste that matches the aroma of citrus, flowers, and pepper, and the Transylvania Pale Ale by Kruhnen, a unique IPA blended with spices that was so well put together I ended up having a few pints of it.

The other three places I didn’t spend much time in, but Broue Pub Brouhaha, which will be a ten minute walk from my place in May, has an incredible selection, constant events going on, wonderful ambiance (Think David Lynch’s America designed by Punk Hellbillies), and every Tuesday has a “Randall Night”, where a selected beer is mixed with different ingredients for a whole new beer experience and left to go on for a week. Now it’s on to the places of note I went to with local beer writer David Atman and visiting Manitoba blogger Cody LobreauIsle de Garde has an ambiance that I would normally expect in Toronto bars. Dimly lit, clean, minimal furnishings, jam-packed with people (Apparently there is often people waiting at the door for a spot to open up), but once in there, you’re in for a relaxing time and the house’s own Bitter is mind-blowing. And finally, Le Cheval Blanc is a fantastic microbrewery that I’ll be visiting again soon for a full flight of heir selections. I ended up having the Framboise when I was there and it was wonderfully subtle and refreshing.

So that’s all I have so far, but stay tuned to the site, folks. There will be a LOT more activity on here than there has been recently. I’m exploring new things in a province that I’ve never spent more than a weekend in before, so I’ll have a lot to report back on and a lot of people to talk to, and a lot of fantastic beers to sample.

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