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Master ci­cerone, founder of Beerol­ogy.ca

Canada’s first and only master ci­cerone – the most pres­ti­gious global cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of beer knowl­edge – Mirella Amato is Toronto’s own guru of brew. She founded Beerol­ogy.ca in 2007, a site that guides the cu­ri­ous via sem­i­nars, tast­ing se­ries and food pair­ings, and plans to add a book to her re­sumé in 2014. The up­com­ing re­lease is de­signed to help in­di­vid­ual read­ers dis­cover which beers suit them best.

How do you see your role?

The beer world is a vast one – there’s sci­ence and math and his­tory, which I find ex­cit­ing and stim­u­lat­ing.

I don’t see the point in telling peo­ple what they should be drink­ing based on my per­sonal choice. Be­cause there are so many palates out there, and just be­cause I like some­thing doesn’t mean some­one else will.

You should like what you like, and you should own what you like.

Why has the lo­cal craft move­ment grown so much?

There have al­ways been peo­ple who are into beer, but it’s al­ways been more niche. I at­tribute [the in­dus­try’s growth] in large part to the foodie move­ment. Peo­ple are con­cerned about where their food comes from and what goes into mak­ing it, and they’re more open to try­ing new things.

How do you see the fu­ture of On­tario craft brew­ing?

My hope is that as we follow all the trends, we won’t lose sight of our strengths. Our brew­ing style is very Ger­man and Bri­tish. We’ve al­ways made cask edi­tion ales.

We’re now grow­ing hops in On­tario, and brew­ers are start­ing to use them. As the character of our hops be­comes more ev­i­dent, I hope brew­ers start to come up with styles that are typ­i­cally On­tar­ian.

I’d like to get to a point where we take our own di­rec­tion, and I think that’s a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge. There’s fas­ci­nat­ing stuff go­ing on, and I think that is Toronto. It’s sort of an elu­sive iden­tity, but it’s def­i­nitely there.

Cana­dian brew­eries to watch?

We have such a dy­namic scene right now. The first thing I do is scan a beer list for some­thing I haven’t tried. One of the things I like to ask is how are you go­ing to find your favourite beer if you haven’t tried it yet?

What’s your favourite lo­cal beer?

Pil­sners in hot weather; we have a re­ally solid se­lec­tion of lo­cally brewed pil­sners. Un­less I’m eat­ing food, in which case I’ll choose the best beer pair­ing.

Favourite T.O .wa­ter­ing hole?

It’s hard for me to sin­gle them out with­out feel­ing I’ve left some­one out, but C’est What (67 Front, 416-867-9499, ces­t­what.com) has a spe­cial place in my heart.

It used to be a trek to find some­thing. In all ar­eas of the city there are good beer bars where I know I can find an in­ter­est­ing se­lec­tion. But when check­ing out those new places, don’t lose sight of the ones that have been around for­ever.

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