Posted on January 9, 2014 by Marina

If you’re a beer enthusiast and from the “Tri-cities” area, you’ve heard of Beertown. The beer-themed spot  is a fusion of a retro public house and a modern bar, built around a ‘chef-driven’ kitchen. And you guessed it – they focus on having a great selection of beer and quality of food to go along with it.

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We love to spotlight unique places with a great beer list so we chatted with Jody Palubiski, managing partner  at The Charcoal Group to give us some insight into Beertown.

1. How would you describe Beertown to someone who has never been there before?
One of our guests once said, “you feel like you are gathered in one place with tons of friends, even though most you have never met” which was really gratifying. We always set out to create spots that we like to go to ourselves. In this case, what we had in mind was a spot with a strong social component, a place where you could share libatious discoveries and handmade food. It seems there are too many places these days where what’s on the television is more important than who you are with, or what you are enjoying.

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2. What inspired the concept for Beertown?

Having been in the industry for many years we have seen the massive shift in preference towards quality crafted beer. One aspect of our business that we really enjoy is meeting suppliers and producers who are truly passionate about their products. What is happening today in beer is much like what occurred in Ontario with wine in the late 80’s/early 90’s. The guests are so much more educated and ‘in the know’. Beertown is very much an extension of that – a place that can showcase ‘craftsmanship’ – amazing beer, graphic design, glassware, branding – each with their own story. But that mentality extends to the food we serve, the interior design, the service, the playlists, etc as well. I suppose Beertown was born out of the love for the art of craftsmanship. Our restaurant group —made up of Jody, Tim, Tom & John—has a reputation for paying attention to the smallest details and we take great pride in that. It is important to us that elements such as the tin ceiling tiles we use, come from a guy who crafts each one by hand 20kms down the road from us. There may be a dent here or a scuff there that shows true craftsmanship and authenticity, which is what we find truly exciting.

3. How do you choose what beers to feature on the menu?
Well, of course they have to taste great! So much of deciding which products fit the Beertown ‘program’ starts with meeting the people from the brewery. Are they excited about their product? Are they passionate? What are the elements about their beer, their packaging and their company that they want to share with us? If our tasting team (tough job – we are presently not accepting applicants) walks out of a discussion really pumped about a product and a company -that enthusiasm will definitely ignite an excitement in our team that will positively affect our guests’ experience.

We believe a beer is even more enjoyable when it is served in a cool glass, with a great coaster by a server who is passionate about the product and it’s story. Steam Whistle is the perfect example of this – top notch quality beer, fascinating story, strong packaging/branding and an amazing company culture.

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4. What are some of the best dishes and beer pairings?

We love the Steam Whistle Pilsner so much, it puts the ‘BEER’ in our Beer & Cheddar soup. Carbonation in beer creates a light acidity and lifts the fats in the cheese off the palate that is why it is one of the best food pairings with beer. Beer can interact with many food flavours because of it’s complexity, so we took that into consideration with the Chef when developing our menu selections. Some of our favourite pairings are: grilled meat (goes nicely with our Warm Cheese & Pretzel board) as well as our Tuscan Grilled Chicken Fish and Salad (allows our Salmon and Beergarden Salad to compliment nicely). Also the Spicy International cuisine is great as hops seem to cut the spice and let the beer flavour come through.

And don’t forget Dessert, the spicy flavours of our Sticky Toffee Pudding bring out the best in beer….or is it the other way around?

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5. What is the fusion tower?

I’m pretty sure one day the creation of the fusion tower will rank right up there with the x-ray specs and the flux capacitor. It is easily one of the most profound and important inventions of our time. There are only 6 in existence in North America and all 3 of our Beertown locations have one. Developed in Mathew Kyle’s garage (a beer-loving, college drop-out entrepreneur, do-It-yourself’r) in Pennsylvania. Matt had sourced a glass company in Cambridge, ON to manufacture the actual ‘fusion cylinder’ portion of the system. Jody (owner) flew to Tampa to meet Matt and do a demo and bought three of the towers after an hour of Krispy Kreme doughnut hole infused Southern Pecan Beer. We have a new flavor & beer combination every week at each Beertown. We can use anything from bacon, to cinnamon buns to herbs and fruits – you name it – we can fuse it.

6. What are some upcoming events you have planned for beer lovers?
We are so enthusiastic about what we do, it’s always fun to come up with new events and promotions. One of the most exciting things we are putting together is our Thursday night 5 O’Clock HOP STOP featuring Casks. Every Thursday we will be featuring a brand new one…so the exclusive and highly drinkable beer inside will only be available for purchase until the Cask runs dry. What makes this exceptionally exciting is that it gives us the ability to introduce breweries and brewmasters that our guests may or may not be familiar with. So… you will want to check our social feeds & website for info on this upcoming promo.

One of our biggest events is our FeBREWary. Basically we re-named the month, made it look pretty and now we hope the world jumps on board with us. It is our compliment to Oktoberfest and is jammed with special events and offerings surrounding beer and crafted food. Our chef develops a FeBREWary inspired feature menu, we decorate, dress up and have a lot of fun. We believe everyone—restaurants, pubs, breweries, you name it— should celebrate FeBREWary with us. Spread the good word!

7. Favourite beer quote?
There are so many great beer quotes out there but the one we particularly like to hear time and time again is, “Another round of beers please!”

See you for a pint soon! 

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