Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers – The Sipping Society

For a good part of my childhood I had the privilege of living in Jordan Station. One of the things that I loved the most about the area when I was growing up was the amount of fruit trees that were present in the area. We always had fresh fruit, from local farms, except of coarse in the winter time. However as I grew up there was a time when, many of those same trees were being pulled out, to make way for subdivisions and other uses. It was very sad to see.

Dillon’s Sipping Society Fall Shipment.

So fast forward to 2018. Thanks to my wife, she knows that her husband, is somewhat of the adventurous sort, she put me on to a small local business that I see big things for in the coming years. While she was checking her social media feeds as well as looking for a potential Christmas gift for me, she stumbled across Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers. She thought I should check them out, and as they say, the rest is history.

Dillons Bitters

Dillon’s Bitters

So going out on a limb, and at the encouragement of my wife, I decided to go heavy and jump right in and become a member of the Dillon’s Distillers Sipping Society. Up until this point, I have had a total of Zero experience with any of Dillon’s products, so I was taking a chance. I Liked the fact that the distillery is local and conveniently situated between Vineland and Beamsville Ontario. I really liked the fact that they use locally sourced fruits and products for their wide array of adult beverages. One of the products that caught my eye was the Pear in Bottle Eau De Vie. That was one of the clinchers for signing up for their Sipping Society, it had the appearance of something that had to be tried. As part of membership there are perks that are well worth the price, like quality locally produced products shipped right to your door four times per year. The promise of members only events, advance notice of new products and the chance to be the first to try new items. The personalized journal and Sipping Society T-shirt are also great additions as well. . The price for a yearly membership is 500.00 for the first year, and 400.00 for follow on years. To me when you include a great quality product with a group of people, that clearly love what they do, then the price is well worth being paid.

Speaking of great people, I also had the opportunity to visit Dillon’s Distillery, my wife and I thought we would take a road trip out to my old stomping grounds and see what all the hype was about. I got the opportunity to me some of the staff, as well as Natalie, who is the Sipping Society contact, or Concierge would be a better term to describe the position that she holds. By all accounts they were great, friendly and answered all of my questions. I got a bit of a crash course on “Bitters” and their uses. To be honest I have never used bitters, so my knowledge of them was absolutely zero. However my lack of knowledge was not a problem, because of the attentive staff. At our visit we sampled and purchased some Cherry Gin, tried out some Peach Schnapps, as well as some Lemon Chelo, and while there I took the opportunity to purchase a book about the creation, history and uses of Bitters.

I believe this is the first year that Dillon’s has had its Sipping Society, but I don’t think its going to be the last.

 

Facer Street European Festival 2018

Facer Street European Festival 2018

Today I had the opportunity to visit the area, during the annual Facer Street European Festival. It was a hot day, but my wife and I, with hats and sun screen, braved the temperature and ventured out to the historic community. We weren’t sure what to expect, as we had never been to this festival before. We were pleasantly surprised.

The festival was a mixture of Polish, Ukrainian and Italian heritage and this was reflected in the music, food and festivities that ran the length of Facer street. Everything from Pirogies to Pizza and Ice Cream to Sour Kraut Soup could be found. There was an abundance of good food that left an abundance of full stomachs and broad smiles.

There were two stages set up for various forms of entertainment. There were a couple of venues that were licensed for the sale of alcohol, The event was well attended even in the stifling heat, nothing can prevent a great party.

For my wife it was a little walk down memory lane, it had been quite some time since she had walked the streets that she had lived on as a little girl. She showed me the “swear” corner, the place at the corner of a church no less, where as a child she got into trouble by her mother for using less than savoury language. She is still not really sure how her mother found out about it though. We strolled past where she used to live and she pointed out where here friends used to live, and then passed her old school. She showed me how she and some of her friends used to walk to school. It was a little look back into her past.

A place like Facer Street is a community unto itself. Even thought it is part of a larger city, it is the parts that make the whole. It is the small places that contain the stories and creat the memories that make the reality of the place.

Books and Brews: Chapter One

A good time was had by all …

Museum Chat

Book Club PicksThe first meeting of our new “Books and Brews” book club was held this past Tuesday, July 19. Not only was this our inaugural session, but also my first foray into the world of book clubs, so I thought I’d share my experience and impressions here for those of you who are book club pros and those who might be thinking of joining in! For our first session, we discussed Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road.

It’s not as intimidating as you think.

Full disclosure, I’ve shied away from book clubs in the past because I’ve been worried that I wouldn’t have anything to contribute, but discovered that fear was unfounded – the other participants and our moderator created an environment where everyone’s opinions, no matter how varied, were welcomed. Our moderator, Museum Curator Kathleen Powell, had a good mix of discussion questions addressing “big picture” themes and connections to our…

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Night at the Museum – Books and Brews

My wife went out on a limb and purchased tickets for the Books and Brews Book Club event as a Father’s Day gift.  As it turns out it was a perfect gift as I like to read and drink beer. I had never been part of a book club before so I didn’t know what to expect, I have to say that I was very pleased with my first experience.

As the name of the event suggests it was a combination of  some beer, wine and light snacks provided by Mahtay Cafe and Lounge located here in St Catharines , and books that have a consistent theme. This was the first event of this type that was put on by the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canal Center and from my limited knowledge of book clubs, this event  appeared to be a wonderful success.

The first reading selection for this club was a great book written by Joseph Boyden called the Three Day Road. It is a story of war, tragedy, and in the end some redemption. It is a story of diversity and of the hardships faced by indigenous peoples of Northern Ontario in the early part of the last century.  Mr. Boyden does an excellent job in drawing the reader into the lives of the main characters Xavier and Elijah  as they enlist and head off to the First World War to fight fight as warriors for King and country.

Our first meeting took place on July 19th 2016 and the chosen location for this meeting couldn’t have been better.   The setting for this meeting, of our freshly minted book club, was in the museums exhibit entitled “Doing Our Bit: WWI from St. Catharines to the Western Front”.  For me, discussing this book surrounded by artifacts of the era in which this story takes place served to reinforce the enormity of the conflict and the hardship the main characters had to face. I have to thank the Museum Curator Kathleen Powell for an informative curators tour of the exhibit  prior to our book discussion, accompanied with some wonderful tasting craft beers. The exhibit itself gives a good cross-section of what life was like for those Canadians that went off to fight an empires war. If you haven’t seen this exhibit yet I highly recommend that you do so.

I found, as I’m  sure most in attendance did, the question and answer discussion very insightful specifically with the answers that were given by participants. I found that discussing this book was for some, a window into a history they had never known or knew even existed. I am not speaking of the history of the war itself but of the treatment of indigenous peoples, while in the service of Canada.

I am looking forward to the two follow on meetings in August and September where we will be discussing Emancipation Day written by Wayne Grady and The Danger Tree written by David Macfarlan. I think a book club in the museum is a great idea and whoever came up with the idea should get a pat on the back for a job well done.

An Adventure Can Start In Your Own Home Town

One of the things that I often hear from friends and acquaintances is that traveling to faraway places is too expensive to the point where it is cost prohibitive.  So they don’t go anywhere or do anything that they would consider “traveling”. I think this view is very wrong or a the very least a bad attitude when it comes to what I call the Vagabond Spirit.  What I mean is that the spirit of travel should start with the person, and at home, where they already live.

An adventuring spirit can start right in your very own home. You don’t really need any expensive equipment, just a will to explore. I usually start with a good old fashioned book. Yes I said book. The kind that has numbered pages and crazy stuff like that. The book can be about anything really but they are usually what give me my ideas on what to write, or about places I would like to go. Once the seed is planted the rest just kind of happens. One thing leads to an other and the next thing I know I am out the door.Fountain Montebello Park

To illustrate the point, on the last occasion where I needed to quell the Vagabond Spirit, I took a walk and found myself in a park in my area. Montebello Park in St. Catharines, Ontario for those of you that care to look. I had been in this place a hundred times before but on this occasion I found that I was looking at it through different eyes. It was a place of beauty and quiet, in an otherwise  busy little city. I snapped a few photos and and just sat in the park and watched the world go by. For those that have never tried this I highly recommend this because it is such a simple pleasure.

After my little visit to the park, I recalled that someone had once told me that this park was designed by a famous landscaping architect. So I thought I would take a look and see if there was any truth to the story. Well after a quick google search I found that the story I was told is in fact true. The park was originally designed and created by Frederick Law Olmsted. I found that our little park has lineage with places like Central Park in New York City, the Grounds of the US Capitol Buildings and Mount Royal Park in Montreal.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

This little piece of quiet in the city has 25 varieties of roses in a well-kept rose garden, and peaceful fountain in the center. It’s a great place to spend a few hours with a good book, on one of the many benches or to listen to music at the many festivals that are held throughout the year.

This little story just serves to show that you don’t need crazy amounts of money or an expansive budget to have a little fun and adventure. It can start with a simple step out your front door.