Tag Archives: The Wooly


I was enjoying a Wellington SPA on the patio at the Wooly with my good friend R.  “There’s a fly, or wasp, in your pint” I commented.  “That’s the least of my concerns” was his reply. And he proceeded to keep the not-so-little insect in his drink.


“What a good attitude”, i thought to myself. Why squabble over something as innocuous as an insect that just wants some slightly hoppy pale ale today. We can certainly coexist. This little bee is certainly not ruining my day in any respect – maybe we can just get along.  R gets his pint and the wasp gets his fermented sugar.

A couple of days later i found myself in 20 degree weather sitting on the OX patio. There wasn’t much space but 4 women were very nice and allowed me to share their table. I assured them that i was there to read and have a pint and wouldn’t bother them. They allowed me to coexist in their space in that little oasis in downtown Guelph. That’s when this happened.


Yes, a black fly in my “chardonnay” [Alannis], or rather Royal City dry hopped IPA.  My first instinct was to remove the little pest.  Then i remember the kindness of others. My friend R allowing the wasp to stay, my new writer friends allowing me to sit with them in the sunshine.  Monsieur la mouche [french] wasn’t really bothering anyone. Earlier in the week my daughter M and i had the “killing one fly doesn’t change the world for the better so why not let him live” conversation. So i let him coexist.  If i’ve learned anything from M, R, and my new patio friends at OX, it’s that maybe we can all get along and that makes for a better world.

IMG_9815Maybe you find that a little uncomfortable to think about drinking a pint with a fly in it – but i decided to coexist and it felt good.  Try it yourself sometime this week.

PS – i realize that it looks like i was writing about coexisting and friends and learning stuff from my daughter, but i did recommend two excellent patio beer that you might want to try. See what i did there?

Bob’s Book

Wednesday I went to a book launch by local author, and Guelph celebrity in his own right, Bob Desautels – who most of us know as the owner of The Wooly [or the Woolwich Arrow as nobody calls it], or as I call it, “The Home Court”, as it is the closest pub to my house.  As usual I’m already not talking about what meant to talk about – Bob’s book.  I went to the launch, got a copy of Bob’s book, got it signed,  then sold it on eBay two hours later for a profit.  First edition? Author’s signature? eBay gold!

WineSense is the name of Bob’s first book. Subtitled “the three keys to understanding wine” it reads like a series of lecture notes on the topic of wine. Lecture notes interspersed with witty anecdotes and clever quotes.  I appreciated it both as an educator and somebody who knows just enough about wine to consider myself interesting in a wine conversation [I can hear brother-in-Spain shouting, “interesting to who?”].

Three weeks ago my daughter, wife, and I were sampling ales at the Wooly when Bob came over very excited to have had the first books delivered to him that very day. He brought one over like a new grandchild and gave us an introduction.  I have been anticipating getting a copy ever since.

Three favourite quotes for from the introduction of WineSense …

  • The one indisputable thing about wine is that it will cheer you up [agreed Bob, unless it’s mulled wine – i’ve got nothing good to say about mulled wine]
  • Wine just helps to bring people closer together [true, i pack 50 people in a space designed to seat 8 at my Beaujolais Nouveau party]
  • Champagne is known to be the only drink or food that a person who is seasick can digest without vomiting [after my bout with the flu I wish I’d know that 5 days ago]

I think you can learn a lot about the authors intentions from the introduction. Bob is unpretentious, knowledgeable, and his  good guy-ness comes through.  It’s an easy read and a great course in wine education.  Well done Bob.  You can order the book from Friesen Press, but don’t – buying at the Wooly seems only proper.


From the Friesen website …

Wine is a muse for poets and ordinary folks alike, a great seducer and lifelong friend to many. It’s integral to some of the finest cultures on earth. But as simple and lovely as wine may be, the wine world can be intimidating. Many so-called experts perpetuate an elitist approach to wine, with their explanations so jargon-filled that the wine gets lost in the analysis.

WineSense cuts through the jargon and complexities wine can present. In this common-sense guide, Bob Desautels offers straightforward information on types of wine, tasting, wine history, grape varieties, approaches to winemaking, and more. His Three Keys to Understanding Wine allow the everyday wine enthusiast and the beginner to truly grasp the subject while increasing their appreciation of wine.

The ultimate purpose of this book is to teach you how to find good and consistent styles of wine that suit your palate. You’ll be able to look beyond the safe choices and search for local wines that have the best qualities of your international favourites. With a deeper understanding of wine, you’ll gain true WineSense, offering you a newfound confidence in choosing the right wine for the right time.


Aw Shucks

How often have you used the words “Shucks” or “Shucking” in conversation this month?

You will if you get to the Woolwich Arms on a Friday night in December. It’s one of the first miracles of Christmas. My shucking man will stand there and keep shucking a dozen Malpeques as long as you keep handing him a $10 bill – or until he runs out.

How good are they? “They taste like another dozen” [R.I.]

Also, a year ago I started a tradition of slipping the first oyster into the bottom of my stout.  The salty protein marinates nicely until it is his turn to go down.

Yep, I’ve been there both Fridays already this month.

So slip over the to Wooly and slip an oyster into your stout this Friday – you won’t be sorry.


A finished Oyster is a beautiful thing

Arkell’s Best

Bear with me while I  bring you through seemingly unrelated drivel on England, the BBC, country vet James Herriot, and then back to Arkell before making my point.  Hang in there – you already clicked on this url, why quit now? Besides, I talk about my favorite local ale at the end of this story.

Although my penchant for French food and culture has been well documented, what isn’t widely known is my love of England. I feel quite romantic about  historical BBC productions.   I have quoted Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice more than I have quoted the Simpsons and Futurama combined (which is alot), I have opened Champagne to celebrate season 3 of Downton Abbey, and I love James Herriot.

HerriotWhich brings me to my point.  My favorite scenes in All Creatures Great and Small, involve the denouement of almost each episode; the conversations which take place at the Drovers over a pint of best bitter poured out of a pitcher.  The point – Wellington Brewery makes a fine best bitter – Arkell Best Bitter – a real ale, a cask conditioned ale that is low on carbonation and big on taste that I make “my regular” at the Woolwich Arms.  Where other pints are “packed” in the keg with CO2, the Arkell Best Bitter is “poured” through the lines sans gas.  It really drinks like a pour out of a pitcher.  If you want to feel old school “Yorkshire Style” and experience a real ale – next time is the time to do it.