I joined Toastmasters last month, because I want to get good at public speaking for my next job. Even if I don’t end up speaking on stage in front of large groups of people, I want to be decent at it. Toastmasters is a club that allows you to do just that: get good at public speaking through weekly challenges. Your first speech, also known as the Icebreaker, is a simple introduction to who you are and what you’re into. What better opportunity to talk about one of my greatest passions: craft beer. Here’s the speech I gave this last week.

Why I Love Craft Beer

Good evening Toastmasters and most welcome guests. Tonight I am talking about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. It is something that I am so passionate about, I even do it for a job. Tonight I am talking about why I love craft beer. Wikipedia defines a craft brewery as an independently owned small-batch brewery, with an emphasis on quality, flavour and brewing technique. My love for craft beer can be broken down into three main elements: creativity, community and taste.

First, Creativity:
Craft beer is a community that encourages creativity. Whether that be with recipes or design, pushing the boundaries and experimenting is encouraged. As a creative person, this excites me.

For example, I work at a brewery called Halo Brewery, Canada’s first open-source brewery. Our co-owner Callum comes from a computer science background, where learning is encouraged through open-source coding, so he decided to do the same in a brewing capacity, and provides the recipes for our beer online. Halo has only been open for five months, and the recipes are continually changing. Callum is always experimenting with new types of hops and yeast, which I find exciting: there are no rules other than making delicious beer. Creativity allows us to try new things: new beers are released every couple weeks. I enjoy asking what’s being made, and what new ingredients they’re experimenting with.

Another example of craft beer’s creativity comes through in its label designs. Both recipes and design are a big part of a craft brewery’s story: it helps them express who they are.

karma

Here is a can of Great Lakes Brewery’s Karma Citra IPA. This beer features the fruity Citra hops, and is released once a year. The label is designed by Garnett Jerry, who draws all of the Great Lakes labels. He was told to come out with a label that wasn’t scandalous in any way, so he mocked up a few drawings. He had stacked three drawings on top of each other, and when he held them up the sun shone through them. As you can see, the label now features the hand, sunflower and hop cone, and it is beautiful.

The second main element of why I love craft beer is Community.
I have met a lot of inspiring people through the craft beer community. One sub-community is the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies, also known as the SOBDL. The SOBDL was started by five ladies who work in the beer industry, which is a male-dominated and still very sexist industry, who decided to create events for women to network and enjoy craft beer in a safe space. They host monthly events — basically mini beer fests — which are highly successful and have introduced me to some amazing ladies, one of whom I am going to Belgium with next month.

The other person who I am going to Belgium with I also met in the craft beer community, at an event called Cask Days, (which happened to take place again this past weekend). Cask Days is an all-cask (i.e. unfiltered, uncarbonated very small-batch) beer festival hosted by the Bar Volo family at the Evergreen Brick Works. It is in its 11th year, and is the most ambitious and successful beer festival in the country. I look forward to attending Cask Days every year, not because I particularly love cask beer, but because I know I will see so many of my friends, and brewers from my favourite breweries, many of whom I haven’t seen in a long time. And I’ll get to cheers them with some really great beer.

Finally, the third main element of why I love craft beer: Taste.
Getting into beer is not just tasty, but it challenges and develops your tastebuds. For example: I present to you my journey with sour beer. If you didn’t know, now you know: sour, funky, cheesy, barnyardey, manure-y beer is a thing. At first it is a weird thing, and then it (ideally) gets more and more enjoyable. Your tastes develop the more into it you get.

My first funky beer was given to me by a friend who was then my supervisor at a bartending job. He was the first big beer geek I had met. He had a lot of rare beer, most of which he aged for years. The one he gave me was a trappist beer — a Belgian beer brewed by monks — called Orval. This beer is bottle-conditioned — which means it continues to develop in the bottle — with a wild yeast called brettanomyces. It gets funkier the longer it ages. It develops in flavour, with earthy, floral and fruity notes. When I first tried an aged bottle, I shared it with a friend and we poured it out because it tasted really off — we thought it had gone bad, or been infected. I didn’t have the palate for it then. Ironically, I am currently aging a bunch of bottles of Orval.

When I tried my first sour beer, another Belgian called St. Louis Gueuze, I thought it tasted like vinegar. Since then, I have tried many funky and sour beers, and they have become my favourite thing. I seek out the best ones, even travelling halfway around the world to get my fix. Seeking out, learning about and trying these beers makes me so happy.

In conclusion, I love craft beer because of the creative ethos it inspires, community that it encourages, and tastes that it develops. If you’re into craft beer, I encourage you to come tell me about it, because I love hearing other people’s stories.

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