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.