First, what is ‘Know Your Bartenders’? It’s a new feature that will be on TheBrewHead.ca where we will ask a few questions to know them. Don’t be afraid to ask your bartender about what’s new on tap or for recommendations. Do you know a bartender and craft beer enthusiast that should be featured on Know Your Bartenders? Drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The third edition of ‘Know Your Bartenders’ will be focusing on Marissa at Corner Bar & Grill (777 Bank St.) in Ottawa, ON.
Marissa Bégin grew up in a small town called Kemptville, Ontario. She moved to Kingston, ON to study Hospitality Management to return a year later to manage a small bistro. Unfortunately, the bistro closed and forced Marissa to have a small career change (to welding) but she missed the hustle and bustle of restaurants. She’s back at it, bartending for Corner Bar & Grill in the Glebe in Ottawa, ON. She’s known for starting a popular craft beer blog called The Beer Gypsy.
What brew got you into the craft beer industry?
It’s hard to say, I could go with the first ‘craft beer’ I had but I don’t know if one specific beer got me into the industry. The first restaurant I ever worked at only sold Ontario Craft Beer. I can still remember the draught list and the reps that would come in. I loved the sense of community- that’s a big reason why I started to drink ‘craft beer.’ My first beers were Beaus Lugtread & Heritage Dark (I know, two completely different styles). I remember being caught off guard that something so good could be produced locally. My Uncle also used to brew beer in his basement so I had a pretty open mind when it came to beer.
Besides bartendering, what’s your favourite hobby?
I guess I could say my biggest hobby is beer blogging, but it’s slowly turning into more than that. Drawing & Painting are a big muse for me though, and playing guitar. I’ve always had a big focus on the arts.
If you could only have one style of beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Well that’s a toughie. I don’t think I could stick with one style of beer for the rest of my life. What a boring life that would be… I am hop head though, give me anything with a good hop and I’m a happy girl. A good IPA or Imperial IPA goes a long way with me.
What is your favourite craft brewery at the moment?
Ahh there are so many to choose from! The Ontario beer scene has exploded! The amount of new breweries in Ottawa alone is incredible and then you always have the hustle and bustle of Toronto as well. In the Ottawa area, I’m all about Beyond The Pale. They have some stellar regularly produced products as well as incredible one offs. I also recently stopped by 5Paddles in Whitby and have to say I had one of the best Imperial/Black IPA’s I’ve had in a really long time (Midnight Paddler, if you were wondering).
Do you prefer cask or draught?
It really all depends on the style of beer. I love casks, and if the opportunity is given, I’ll take it over draught but it really all comes down to what’s being offered.
Most importantly, what’s your message to craft beer drinkers?
Open your mind, there is a ton of different beers out there. Just because you don’t like one specific beer doesn’t mean there isn’t a beer for you. I firmly believe there is a beer out there for everyone, it may just take some time to find a beer that suits you taste. Ask your bartender or server the next time you’re out for dinner for recommendations. If it’s a good establishment they should be your best guides to discovering a beer. Educate yourself, read books, watch documentaries, go the breweries, do tastings- there is so much to do and you can never stop learning. Cheers!