An Ancient Game of Honor
Then to the inn they a’ repair,
To feast on curlers’ hamely fare—
On beef and greens and haggis rare,
And spend the nicht wi’ glee, O!
And there owre tumblers twa or three,
Brewed o’ the best o’ barley bree,
They sing and jest while moments flee,
Around that social tee, O!”
The Cold War Has Begun…
No matter how fierce the battle, there is a common tradition in curling that the winners and the losers sit down to a pint of warming fluid. It’s in this moment – bellies full of Barley Nectar that the best stories get told. Two such tales have unfolded between the most unlikely of characters, a quiet feud deep in the heart of the 2016 Scott Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie, Alberta. While the mass media has focused on the lovely ladies in the curling rink these battle scarred foes have tested their resolve.
The Barley Nectar Story!
The first story focuses on an ancient Scottish Highlander pulled from his home long ago through a time portal into our time – his far future. Rather than weep at his plight, he turns his attention to helping Curl Canada get couch potatoes “off their duff’s” to live it live at the event. It’s a great strategy and ultimately it was the argument with a fan on his duff in his own living room where I got the idea for the name of this blog. After consulting The Google it’s clear that Buck’s County Brewery beat Clark Stanley to the punch by brewing a “Barley Nectar Vanilla Porter.” On-the-other-hand kudos to Clark Stanley for the social media attention.
The Mead Story!
The second story was of a lonely Viking warrior estranged from his kin by an avalanche. Through a twist of fate, Arnie the Viking makes a miraculous journey across time – frozen in a slab of ice, smack dab in the middle of small town Grande Prairie. Hanson Ford came up with this fantastic story. As a new employee of the Hanson, Arnie co-incidentally finds himself required to challenge the “other” warrior counterpart Angus McStone. The two warrior tales tie in beautifully. One loves the Barley Nectar, and the other I’m guessing should love “Mead”, however i’m totally guilty of putting words in his mouth. Instead of a curling match, Arnie should have challenged Angus to a drinking match. That being said I love the story and the effort the car dealership put into coming up with their answer to Angus McStone.
Arnie The Viking’s Challenge
I was pleasantly surprised to see Angus McStone answer Arnie the Viking’s curling challenge on the Curl Canada You Tube channel. The rapport is beautiful between the two characters. Although I saw a fleeting glimpse of Arnie in the sponsor’s lounge over the weekend, I was tied up in a meeting and could only look over longingly as he left without a selfie opportunity. Maybe I will get to catch up with Angus in St. Catharines when the Scott Tournament of Hearts shows up to town in 2017.
Post Game Beverage Choice
What happens if you head over to the lounge to buy the losers a drink and they cannot find your beverage of choice? If Angus won and offered to buy a mead for Arnie, would he get a cider instead? Not only can he not find it, most wouldn’t even know what the heck mead was. And after a few rounds, when the fiery tempers have cooled that good conversation develops. The conversation that I would like to hear is which is better mead or Barley Nectar? If you are confused as to what either of these two beverages are, rest assured you are not alone. Trying to define what mead is or isn’t is a long conversation in itself. While Craft beer is gaining traction in the curling clubs, I haven’t seen mead around yet. The only commercially available mead I’ve seen has been out of Trafalgar Brewery in Oakville, ON. And unfortunately this stuff doesn’t come close to the quality hand made mead that I’ve tasted.
To Bee Or Not To Bee
Every ounce of golden mead has a story of when and where it came from. Because of mead’s scarcity, and the high level of husbandry involved, it’s important to reveal the story before consuming. It takes a ton of hands on labor – and from my own experience – more so than beer. I’m not an expert, but I’ve now been involved in bottling, and the initial primary fermentation and stirring stages. Mead seems to have a few more intricate steps than beer, and your attention span needs to be a bit longer – like around two years. Does Mead actually take that long to brew? There are varying reports on this, but after tasting a young mead (under two months old) and then tasting a two year old, I will stick to the mature stuff hands down.
Craft Beer Revolution
Co-incidentally I looked down on the counter in the Calgary Airport bathroom and I found the lovely rant above. It’s got an edge – and it’s pasted in a bathroom – so take it with a grain of salt. The anonymous author does have a point. There is a growing discrepancy between the available beers in Ontario and the Niagara region and what’s on the menu during a big curling event like the STOH. In Grande Prairie I had a choice between Coors Lite and Molson Canadian. This was a huge disappointment as a Barley Nectar connoisseur. Thankfully there was an Earl’s across the street from the arena if you wanted to get a craft beer fix. In this observation I mean no disrespect to the big beer sponsor. I am a fan of brewing in general, however, it’s a time of choice. Prohibition is over and there are a bunch of flavorful beats out there, you just gotta listen. The big boys need to up their game.