Interview With A Daboskabouter
BeerdedBastard continues his RateBeerian interview series
March 6, 2003
Written by beerdedbastard
It was a cool morning in Ontario when the phone rang from a few hours back - a sunny apartment in San Diego.
"Oh no it’s him..."
There were the hellos, some chat about some upcoming events, gossip about an Ontario local’s famous wheat and maybe a shake on a trade when it was time to start recording.
BeerdedBastard: So what’s up with your RB user name? Where did you get that one from?
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DB: Well, it’s kind of a long story. I come from a Dutch background and most of my friends are Dutch. One of my buddies has an old man that’s really Dutch and has a Dutch accent and what not. He was even nicknamed the "Dutch Bastard" at one time. Anyway, whenever I would walk in the room, my buddy’s old man would say ’Paulus Daboskabouter’. So, it kind of caught on, and all my buddies started calling me dabosk or boskabouter. Turns out it means leprechaun or gnome in Dutch and was actually from a Dutch cartoon character called Paulus Daboskabouter. Oh, and my name is Paul, that’s where the Paulus comes from.
BB: I see you are in Ontario, Canada. Please describe life there…climate, population, sights & scenery, etc…
DB: Well, contrary to what some Americans might think, we do actually have summer up here. The weather is only snowy and cold for the winter, well maybe Fall too... and sometimes in spring as well. In Ontario, the population is somewhere around 12 million people and in all of Canada there are only a total of about 30 million. With the huge amount of land and so little population, the opportunity for exploration and wilderness vacation is awesome. Anyone of us in Ontario needs only to travel a few hours in most directions to be in the boonies. There are well-traveled sights like Niagara Falls that are, in my opinion, overrated. The beauty is in the vast wilderness. A group of guys and I traveled ten hours straight this summer and camped at a logging camp near Chapleau. If you ask me, that’s what Canada’s sights are all about.
BB: What is the beer “climate” there? Is it strong or are there other trends, like alco-pops or malternatives becoming more popular.
DB: I’d say that it seems that the beer “climate” has been changing over the past few years, similar to the changes we’ve seen in the U.S, only not on as great a level. The norm is still for most people to chug a Molson or Labatt’s product, but every now and again you’ll see a micro tap on hand at the local mainstream pub.
BB: Please tell me about Canadian breweries. What’s up there? Include the macros as well as other notables.
DB: Well, in my specific region there are a couple of micros. Brick is one, although I don’t know how much of a microbrewery it is anymore, and the other is the Gold Crown Brewery, which although the brewery would tell you different, is affiliated with the Lion Brewery and Restaurant next door. These beers are uninteresting at best. Ontario does have some interesting beers to offer though. We had Denison’s in Toronto, which was known for its Bavarian fare, but has sadly since closed. Toronto also boasts the Granite Brewery, which is known and raved about for it’s Peculiar old ale style beer by the likes of Michael Jackson. Other micros include Church Key, Magnotta/True North, Scotch Irish (they brew an excellent IPA), Black Oak, Wellington and Niagara Falls to name a few. The macros include Labatt’s, Molson and Sleeman, although Sleeman has a way of tricking some into thinking it’s a microbrewery.
BB: How and where is beer bought and sold there? And give some specific examples of costs.
DB: Beer is sold in two places mostly, the LCBO and the Beer Store. The LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The selection of beer is usually slim and regular, but every few months we get some new seasonal releases of beers. The LCBO does a good job of carrying beers from many different countries, but most of these are your standard international lager. We do get some good stuff once in a while. For example, we have been getting seasonal releases of Victory and Rogue and for usually quite a good price. One 750 ml bottle of Rogue Brutal Bitter or Shakespeare Stout costs around $5.50 (CAN.) This is considered quite expensive for one bottle here. When Orval was being sold, bottles cost around $3 each. That works out to quite a steal if it were converted to American, around $1.80! Of course most of us would rather have a bigger selection, but with those prices we tend to just buy more, especially when there is a good beer offered.
The Beer Store is owned by Labatt’s, Molson and Sleeman, so you can imagine the selection they have. They mostly sell large quantities of their own beer, but they carry some Unibroue products and other Ontario micros. The thing is that you cannot usually buy singles, you need to buy at least a 6-pack, if not a 12.
Microbreweries can also sell their own bottled beer, but they need to be designated under the law as a brewpub to be able to serve their beer on tap. This issue has been discussed at length elsewhere, and I don’t think that we have room to begin this conversation. One thing can be said though, that the beer industry in Ontario is a monopolistic one.
BB: How do the Canadian macros differ from the other mega brewers of the world?
DB: I really don’t think that they differ that much. Some say that Canadian macros are stronger in terms of alcohol, but I wouldn’t know, I tend to stay away from American macros let alone Canadian ones.
BB: Are they marketed differently there, than their US counterparts do?
DB: I think that the macros in Canada seem to play on the patriotism (I am Canadian, etc.) wherein the American micros tend to promote machoism more.
BB: How did you become interested in beer? And do you remember what your first one was?
DB:I think that it was more a logical progression for my personality. I have always tended to stray from what everybody else was doing or having. Whether it was the music that I listened to, or the cigarettes I smoked. (I don’t smoke anymore) In terms of what my first experience with good beer, or at least different beer, was, it was probably Sleeman Steam. This led to other beers like Kilkenny, Caffrey’s and Guinness. Another reason for my interest in good beers is my interest in moderation. For the most part I will only drink one or two beers on a night, and only one-a-day during the week. This conviction is of course suspect when I am invited to an Iron Liver session.
BB: What do you look for in a beer? What makes one good for you?
DB: First of all I look for balance. I don’t like a beer that overemphasizes its hoppiness, its sweetness, etc. I tend to gravitate towards the bigger beers, such as imperial stouts, but I find that the subtle complexities of many blonde ales (La Chouffe) and some lagers (Christoffel Robertus) can be quite delicious and complex.
BB: List some of your favorite brewers or breweries, and why you like them?
DB: I really like Kalamazoo/Bells, they seem to be most consistently brewing good beers all the time. Any brewery that makes over 10 stouts is okay by me. Another brewery that I have consistently rated well is St. Peter’s Brewery from England. It’s not that all their beers are great, but they tend to get above average ratings more than most that I’ve tried. Other favorites are Unibroue and Victory.
BB: What do you think of the blossoming US craft brewing renaissance?
DB: I think that it’s fascinating. I try to get to the States as often as I can, but usually only get to Michigan. Growing up in Ontario, I find it amazing that you can travel one hour (when you live in the States) and try like 12 new beers. But, I also think that sometimes they are headed in the wrong direction. Often the goal is to make everything an extreme; extreme hoppiness or astounding alcohol content. I don’t think that this is just a beer thing though. It seems to be a characteristic of today’s society. Bigger is better... progression is always good. I don’t buy that, I think that a beer brewed with a moderation of ingredients and a balance of flavors is often one hundred times better than an over-the-top brew.
BB: How did you become aware of Ratebeer.com and what do you get from coming here?
DB: I think that I just found the site by looking up on the internet different beers that I’d tried. What I have received from coming here has changed over the years. At first, I gained other’s experience and opinions, now I have gained a database for myself and access to others that were as interested (or more interested) in beer as I am. This site provided me with the opportunity to meet people who have the same interest as me.
BB: I noticed you have a strong preference for Belgian Strong ales, and that they were your favorite style for a time. What do you like about them ? And tell me some of your particular favorites.
DB: It’s not even so much that I love Belgian Strong Ales, I like most Belgian-style ales of any kind. I find that there is usually an astounding complexity of flavors in a good example and that they all come together as a whole to compliment all the other parts. I love it when I’m taking notes and I have to keep adding, because more flavors materialize over time. It’s so much easier to make yourself look good with Belgian’s, it’s not just “hops in the nose, hops in the body, hops in the finish…”. Some of my favorites are La Terrible, Rochefort 10, La Chouffe and Brugse Tripel.
BB: I recently noticed that you now list Baltic Porters as your favorite style. What do you like about them?
DB: The thing I like about Baltic porters, at least those that I’ve tried, is that they never try to push the limits. They have a high alcohol content, but not for the sake of it. It’s to compliment what’s going on around it. Instead of a big hoppiness, the Baltic porter depends on its roastiness and an underlying malty sweetness to sell itself rather than depending on an excess of certain ingredients (read hops). I think my interest started with Zywiec Porter and then followed with a delicious Sinebrychoff Porter. I then started to pay attention to the style and had the opportunity to try two more at one sitting; Limfjords Porter/Double Brown Stout and Wiibroe Porter. Both beautiful beers, complex, balanced and delicious.
BB: What was the strangest (but good!) beer you ever had?
DB: The strangest I’ve had, that I liked, was Vetters 33, a doppelbock weighing in at 10.5% ABV. The strange thing about this beer was its gravity, 33 Plato. The beer was syrupy, smooth and thick and very sweet, but not cloying. It was an interesting tasting experience, I don’t know if I could drink it all the time but it would definitely make for a good dessert beer. Another strange beer I’ve had was the Midas Touch Golden Elixir. Another that I didn’t like was the Kongens Bryg Juleøl.
BB: What is your fondest beer memory?
DB: I guess my favorite beer memory is my trip to Michigan last summer. Two buddies and I had the opportunity to visit many good brewpubs including New Holland, Kraftbrau and the best of all, Kalamazoo. That was fun.
BB: And finally, I have to ask…If you were doomed, by some prohibitionist movement, to a strictly regulated single beer made by a single brewery. What would you want that beer to be and why?
DB: That beer would probably be the 99 Expedition Stout I had the opportunity to taste this past year. The best beer and the best imperial stout I’ve ever had. This beer aged beautifully and was so complex, but I only got to try a small sample of it and I fear that I’ll never have the opportunity again. Oh well... I don’t know how drinkable this would be all the time though. Maybe I could just have La Chouffe?
BB: I appreciate you taking this time, and I have learned more about the beer world we live in. Is there anything else you’d like to add that I didn’t ask?
DB: I guess I’d just like to encourage everyone to drink less...to drink better. The reason that we drink these great beers is because we believe that beer should be tasted and enjoyed. The best way to do this is to be somewhat sober.
BB: Thanks dabosk.
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The strangest I’ve had, that I liked, was Vetters 33, a doppelbock weighing in at 10.5% ABV. The strange thing about this beer was its gravity, 33 Plato. The beer was syrupy, smooth and thick and very sweet, but not cloying
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