Posts Tagged ‘Heritage Brewing’

What REALLY should be on the label?

Posted by Julie

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

This year, my husband (and Savvy Sommelier) Doug Dolinski and I completed the Beer course at Algonquin College. On one of our field trips out of the classroom, we visited Heritage Brewery located in Ottawa and learned about the information that the LCBO considers acceptable (and required) to place on a label.  At this time, Heritage Brewery was applying for approval for their bitter brown ale now called Corporal’s Bitter Brown Ale. 


Beer maker and owner of Heritage Brewery, Donna Warner (and her husband Ron), explained that when the beer was first submitted to the LCBO, it was returned three times, for having an unacceptable label. Looking at the original design, I can only assume that it was too inhibiting a design as it showed a stern looking Corporal holding a cricket stick and the beer was named “Corporal Punishment”. A picture of this beer with the original label still appears on the Internet however it has now been re-named to Corporal’s Bitter Brown Ale.


This brought back to my mind a symposium I attended at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in April, entitled, “What’s in your wine? Truth in Labeling.”  I found the seminar to be educational and somewhat entertaining when I listened to the facilitators, winemakers, lawyers and educators debate the value of placing all the ingredients on the back of the wine bottle.  I wondered if I wanted my wine bottle to look like the back of a box of dried scalloped potato mix and if as a consumer, I would be interested in reading the label before purchasing a bottle of wine. Or would the list of ingredients dissuade my purchasing a bottle of my favorite wine? Really, does the consumer want to know that the wine was refined by egg white or particles from a sturgeon’s stomach?  Yes you read that correctly and I don’t think so. (these are winemaking techniques thought)


While labeling can lead to more consumer confidence, I’m not sure it guarantees or provides more quality control in giving one label (or wine for that matter) more credence over another. Having said that, the number of governance bodies that would have to agree on labeling is a hiatus that would make winemakers go ‘arggh if this was to be in their future.


Months ago I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen entitled “Information Overload on a Wine label” written by wine columnist and educator Rod Phillips, (who also attended the same seminar with me in Vancouver). He reported that in a five ounce glass of wine, it contains something like 7 mg of sodium, 140 mg of potassium, 4 g carbohydrate, a gram of protein and traces of calcium, niacin, vitamin B6, etc, etc. All of this information raises the nutritional awareness of the ingredients.  He cautioned however, against terms typically used on the front of a wine label such as “Reserve” which are unregulated and said that labeling is complicated depending on the law in force, where it is made and that basically there must be more consistency on labeling before regulations are imposed.


As we know, marketing or labeling does not tell the whole story. Most consumers eyes draw to the country of origin of a wine before checking out the percentage of a particular grape varietal and after that, in my opinion, wine is largely cost driven.  Do we want (or for that matter, need) to know how much yeast goes into a barrique? When it states aromas of cherry fruit, to my mind, it makes the product seem so one dimensional although even I max out when I have more than a few descriptors to read.


Interestingly enough, what prompted this blog was a trip to Prince Edward County last month when Doug and I stopped at Bergeron Estates Winery, to meet up and chat with owner Dave Bergeron. Once again the topic of labeling came up. Dave shook his head when explaining that he wanted his new cider called ‘County Point Cider’ to have a small pistol on the label (an illustration of a Loyalist artifact he found in his apple orchard). The report back from the LCBO: not a chance. Baffled, Dave said, “How come its okay for the bottlers of Captain Morgan Rum to have a swashbuckler with a sword hanging from his waistband, on that label, but I can’t have a pistol on a bottle of hard cider?”


We are all guilty of purchasing a product based on clever marketing. Who cannot be lured by cute little animals and little black dresses. It also reminds me of an instructor of mine from the Sommelier program Algonquin College who said her husband would buy anything with a horse on the label.


All this to say that whether the grapes are organic or aromatic or if the beer smells like skunk or caramel, albeit with a rewarding label, what is placed on the back of a bottle, be it wine or beer, where real estate is of prime importance, for now remains in the hands of the maker.


For those of us who truly savour and enjoy their every day table wine or beer – do we really care what’s on or behind the label?



First ever craft beer tasting won’t be our last!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010


Last week, we hosted Savvy Company’s first craft beer tasting to celebrate the arrival of summer (a heat wave hit that day…and so did an earthquake!) as well as Ontario Craft Beer Week. With the overwhelming response, we are definitely planning more beer events. To receive an invitation to our August event, email me.


I’m the first to admit that I too like to crack open a cold one on a hot summer’s day.  Creating a beer tasting required me to I step a little a bit outside of my usual wine world – yet I was totally comfortable that we were on the right track when the event sold out in less than 2 weeks – and there was a long waiting list of people.  This shows that Ottawa has a vibrant food and wine following, while there is definitely a community who enjoys their craft beer.


In fact, two of our Savvy Sommeliers – Julie & Doug – are learning the nuances of craft beers in the beer appreciation class that they are currently enrolled in at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.



Rave Reviews from our guests…


“It was a superlative event” – Ron Eade, Food Editor of the Ottawa Citizen 
Read his event review & blog posting


“Tonight, I’m looking to try pairing beer with food.  It’s barbecue season & the quality of craft beer has definitely stepped up a level.” –  Diane



“I came tonight to see the variety of craft brews that are being produced outside of the usual mass-produced beer. I find craft beer has more taste & character & I’m interested in variety.” – John


“EXCELLENT EVENT!! A great selection of local craft beers – exactly what we wanted to try out. Chatting with brew company staff was the best part. They provided us lots of info on the beers and events for summer months –all info that is really good to know. Thank you!’ – Monica


“Wanted to say thanks again for having Beau’s at the tasting last night. We had a great response from your guests. My personal thanks to your staff as well for the super help last night. Great event!” – Jen James, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.


“A big thank you to you and your staff for last night. Beer drinkers are such a pleasant group aren’t they!” – Donna Warner – owner of Heritage Brewing & Scotch Irish Brewing

It was a great event. I received some great comments on the evening and our beers.!”– Steve Smellie – representatitve of Hockley Valley Brewing Company


Be the first to receive an invitation to our next beer tasting in August

 Email us