At its core, craft beer is all about community. The people in every city and town that support this incredible industry in ways big and small. Whether you’re a blogger extolling the virtues of the brewpub down the street, an Instagrammer taking gorgeous shots of brews, or an educator spreading the gospel of great beer, we love seeing how you bring your passion and personality to the table. In our Supporter Spotlight series, we’re getting to know some of our biggest fans around the world, and finding out what they love about beer so much.
First up: Dan Grant (@brewscout), co-founder of RunTOBeer and Prud’homme Beer Sommelier
A staple in the Toronto beer scene, Dan seems to have his hands in projects all over the beer world. He co-founded the largest free running club in the country, RunTOBeer, which takes runners on weekly routes to craft bars and breweries. You get your exercise, you get your beer, what more could you want! RunTOBeer has since expanded to Ottawa with Ashley Kokelj of Yoga On Tap, and has created an awesome community of beer-loving runners in both cities.
Dan is also a Prud’homme Beer Sommelier and teaches introductory Prud’homme classes. He is an avid home-cook and posts his mouth-watering vegan creations to Instagram, always perfectly paired with a tasty beer. This October, he’ll attempt to set the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon run in a lumberjack costume (complete with work boots and beard.)
We asked Dan a couple questions about his love for craft, and how he manages to make such delicious meals while staying true to his vegan lifestyle.
What was your first introduction to craft beer?
When I was 19, going to school in Southern Alberta, Big Rock Traditional appeared at my favourite Country bar. That’s more than a quarter of a century ago but I still remember the first sip. It was so different from any other beer I had tasted previously (ie. it had flavour).
What is your favourite aspect of the Ontario craft beer world?
My favourite thing about the beer world is pub culture. I used to be a model scout, travelling across Canada looking for “new faces” (how I landed on my social media handle, @BrewScout). When work was done I would head to the local brewery or craft beer pub, pull up a stool and talk to whomever else found themselves sitting at the bar at that particular hour. I’ve done it across Canada, in the U.S. and parts of Europe and the tradition is the same everywhere: booths and tables are for private conversations, but the bar is a forum for sharing stories. And because beer is so much more accessible than cocktails or wine, you get a more interesting cross-section of the population.
I’m a Beer Sommelier, so craft beer is a huge part of my daily life. Every meal I make is done with consideration to what beer(s) would pair well. I cook with craft beer, I make craft beer vinegar and craft beer mustard. I recover from my daily runs with craft beer and teach it as a Prud’homme Beer educator.
You’re a big proponent of food and beer pairings, and you’re a vegan. What are the biggest challenges or misconceptions you face when working within the limits of vegan beer pairings?
The biggest misconception is that that vegan food pairings present challenges. Humans season their food. We harvest spices, create sauces and grow herbs to manipulate the flavour of what we put in our mouth. So it’s not like your stuck with whatever beer goes with a green salad. I can maple-glaze some firm tofu and pair it with a Wee Heavy or coat it with Indian spices and enjoy it with an IPA. In the case of my vermicelli salad — which also brings together several fresh vegetables, peanuts and smoked tofu — I toss that in a sweet chili sauce, then pair it with Nickel Brook’s Raspberry Uber. In no way does being a vegan limit what you can do with flavour. It’s not a sacrifice, it’s just a different way of living.
What do you wish more people understood about beer?
I wish more people understood how fun it is to play around with beer. Try adding a bit of a Lambic beer to a Dunkel (dark lager). Cut up some fresh mint in a Belgian Wit. Dice up an apple and pack it in a refrigerated mason jar full of Fruli for a few days. Beer vinegar on hash browns? Hell yes!
What was the last beer you drank?
Nickel Brook Uncommon Element (Brett Pale Ale). [Ed: We didn’t ask him to say that, we swear!].