Barley Nectar?
Can I Buy You A Barley Nectar?

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!”

T. S. Aitchison.

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.

 

The question of 2017
What will you choose?

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.

 

Message from The Anarchist Brewer
A pasted message found in a bathroom at the Calgary Airport

 

 

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.

 

Beer Invasion!

 

What would it take to invade the Heart Stop Lounge taps with REAL Barley Nectar?  From my preliminary investigation I concluded that the only possible option was going to be Molson products which consists of:  355 ml can of Molson Canadian, 355 ml can of Coors Lite, or a tall boy of Molson Canadian Cider.  Keep it simple for simple folk.  However I think the beer drinkers are a bit more sophisticated than that.  For craft beer enthusiasts this is a dim future.
Craft Beer Enthusiasts Beware
Should this be a greeting at the door?

The Pie In The Sky

At the end of the day I’m an optimist so I’ve dreamed up bigger plans.   The first step may be a shared position on the roster, unfortunately, the bigger sponsors may not like this.  So here is another scenario to consider: what if there were no competition in this area of sponsorship?  What if Mr. Big Name sponsor was getting the exclusivity option at a bottom of the barrel price?  The answer would be an alliance of craft brewers in the area to forward and contribute to a craft brewery expo.  Before you get too excited I’m strictly thinking out loud here, and the major plan and strategic details needs to be worked out.  As a group we would need to raise $60,000 price tag on a gold sponsorship class entitled “the craft-brewer awareness fund”.  This would knock it out of the park.

Participation Required

All the participating brewers could send product to be sold during the week of the 2017 Scott Tournament of Hearts.  Its not clear whether keg beer would make sense here or just breweries that have gotten into cans.  Another potential hurdle would be a price point.  Booze tokens always fall into the $6 range.  Currently you get a small can of Canadian for $6. Word on the street is that the quantities of beer consumed do not justify the entry fee associated with getting your product into the lounge. Despite this bump, I would like to see this as more of an opportunity for the craft-brewing community to pull together and make a hostile take over for this brew throne.  This attempt may cause the big beer sponsor to up the ante, but the effort is worth it.  It will be a battle of David and Goliath proportions.  Maybe a Kick Starter would be in order?  Raise money for the hostile beer take over to provide Angus McStone with the perfect pint of Barley Nectar – at least a choice.
Barley Nectar Invasion
Who Would You Want To Invade The Heart Stop Lounge?

How many would it take?

There also would be opportunities within the Meridian centre itself.  Currently Silversmith has a tap in the centre itself, so there may be more space available.  Outside the lounge, and surrounding the Meridian centre, craft-brewers and restaurants supporting craft beer culture would benefit from acclimatizing to the wave of Scotties Fans that will fill the area during the event.  An early estimate is that 60,000 people could move through town during this particular week.  Groups include fans, players and their entourage, media, 300 volunteers, and paid Curl Canada staff, and finally sponsors looking to wine and dine clients.

Want To Get Noticed?

Participate in the Scotties red Tee-Shirt Fridays program.  Become a sponsor friend, or buy a ticket package for your staff on condition they promote your place?  Or better yet take on a bronze package with its associated benefits.  As always let me hear your thoughts, positive or negative, and feel free to ask me questions.  Cheers!

6 thoughts on “BARLEY NECTAR AT THE HEART STOP LOUNGE

  1. Fantastic post, I really like your writing style. The only slight error is that Angus McStone is actually Curling Canada’s answer to Arnie the Viking, although McStone’s national status gives him more visibility, Arnie was around first.

    Again, great post and I’m sorry Arnie missed a selfie with you.

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