Niagara College’s multiple-award winning historically inspired craft beer, Butler’s Bitter, now has a page in history – or, more specifically, two pages.
The beer is featured in a book released in October in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, called 150 Years of Canadian Beer Labels. Published by TouchWood Editions, the book was authored by Laurence Sherk, who dedicated his life to Canadian breweriana, and showcases a selection of beer labels that celebrates Canada’s long-time love affair with beer.
Butler’s Bitter was among 150 other beer labels, from the 1860s to the present day, curated to represent this history. The book is organized by decades, beginning in the 1870s, and Butler’s Bitter is one of 10 labels selected to represent the current decade. The label is featured on the right side of the spread accompanied by an explanation of the college and the beer on the left.
“I picked Butler’s Bitter because of its historical feature and because it tells the story of the school,” said Sherk, who lives in Toronto. “I have known Steve Gill [manager of the College’s Learning Enterprises] since the brewing school was established. I was born in Sherkston and have relatives living in Port Colborne, St Catharines and Niagara Falls.”
The book displays the artistry of the earliest vintage labels from iconic brewiers like Dow and Labatt, and chronicles the history of brewing in Canada. Through the artwork of ales, porters, lagers and malts from east to west, it shares origin stories of Alexander Keith and Son, Big Rock Brewery, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, Mission Springs Brewing Company, Molson Brewery, Moosehead Breweries, Phillips Brewing Company, Sick’s Regina Brewery, Sleeman’s Silver Creek Brewery, Steam Whistle Brewing Company and many more.
In the book’s forward, Ian Coutts describes author Sherk as “collector zero, the first-ever guy, way back in the 1970s, to think that the detritus of Canada’s long beer history was something worth collecting and preserving.” He noted that the Sherk’s donation of pre-1945 labels to the Thomas Fisher Rare Library in 2011, led to the library’s designation as a National Treasure under Heritage Canada.
150 Years of Canadian Beer Labels is available online and in stores. It is also for sale at the NC Teaching Brewery retail store.
About Butler’s Bitter
Developed as a celebration beer for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Butler’s Bitter is a modern take on the traditional bitters style of beer based on recipes that were used in the 1800s by English brewers. A well-balanced beer with caramel malts and English hops, it is 4.4% alcohol and has proven to be a palate pleaser in the competitive arena on a number of occasions, including:
Gold – Ontario Brewing Awards, Amber Ale Category (2013)
Gold – US Open Beer Championships (2012)
Gold – Canadian Brewing Awards (2013)
Silver – US Open Beer Championships (2011, 2013, 2015)
Silver – Dublin Craft Beer Cup (2013)
Bronze – Dublin Craft Beer Cup (2014)
Bronze – World Beer Championship (2014)
Bronze – US Open Beer Championships (2013)