Food & Drink Fest Foodie Spotlight: Hot Mamas

Interview conducted with Sue Plumbohm, Owner of Hot Mamas

Company Name: Hot Mamas Foods Inc

Company Motto: “We’ll Add a little spice to your life!”

Visit Sue, owner of Hot Mamas in booth #205 at Food & Drink Fest

Visit Sue, owner of Hot Mamas in booth #205 at Food & Drink Fest

Tell us a bit about where and how your jellies and sauces are created. Hot Mamas Foods Inc is a 100% Canadian Family owned business started in 2005. Our red pepper jelly was our initial product—a secret family recipe that my Mama brought from Jamaica. We use scotch bonnet peppers grown on our family farm in Pefferlaw, Ont from our heirloom plants from Jamaica as well as we import directly from Jamaica on a weekly basis. Our red pepper jelly is unique in flavour and our customers say its the best one on the market. As the years  went on we added more jellies, hot sauces and BBQ sauces. We now have 11 spicy pepper jellies, 5 No Salt Hot Sauces and 5 Low Sodium BBQ Sauces and 3 No Salt Spice Rubs.
Our hot sauces are unique on the Canadian market place as they are 100% Salt FREE—and all of our products contain No MSG or Gluten! Our customers are loving that too!

We are an envirnmentally aware company—as our new kitchen facility is supplemented by solar panels. A large portion of our electricity is derived form the solar panels on site.

What is a “Did You Know?” fact about Hot Mamas you would like to share? Our hot sauces are unique in that they contain No Salt! They are growing in popularity and we hope that more people will appreciate the flavour of the scotch bonnet and the healthy aspects of hot pepper sauces created with NO SALT!

Get Your Hot Mama Jelly at Food & Drink Fest 2011

Get Your Hot Mama Jelly at Food & Drink Fest 2011

For people new to the world of “Spicy”, what are your top tips to incorporating hot n’ spicy to one’s palette?

1) If new to “Spicy” we suggest starting with the basics—sweet and spicy pepper jellies and working your way up to the really hot stuff

2) Pair the spice with other food items: incorporate as an hors d’ouevres or with meats, cheese..they are an excellent way to train your palette.

3) Don’t take too much at once …small amounts are best and work your way up. Its all about moderation…so adding a few drops of two of the hot sauces to your soups, stews, chillis—to  appreciate the taste of the scotch bonnet pepper…They can also be added to your favorite cocktail….adding a splash of Hot Mamas to your Casear—-you’ll be hooked!

Over the years, what has been your favourite dish or drink at Food & Drink Fest? Definitely Koi Restaurant’s coconut shrimp with our red pepper jelly —yummmy!

Hot Mama Foods display

Hot Mama Foods display

Be sure to visit Sue and her full line of Hot Mama’s jellies and sauces at

6th Annual Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste!

Hot Mamas Booth # 205

April 8th, 9th, 10th, 2011

Copps Coliseum


The Most Delicious Way to Carbo-Load in the Winter

Ah Canadian Winter. Long, dark days, snow covered EVERYTHING and bone chilling temperatures.  And boy this year, did we get a duesy! My recipe for keeping warm: warm, hearty foods like chili, stews and homemade soups.  One of the “make or break” aspects to this type of meal is the bread you serve with it.  Bread is the perfect accessory on cold, wintry days; offering carbs for extra insulation (haha) and acting as the perfect tool to soak up all the yummy juices off your empty plate.  I have included my current top three bread recipes below.  All of them are fairly easy to make and I have included some of my own tips as well. Keep Warm!

1) Laura Calder’s Bacon and Olive Apperitif

Tips: I would serve this bread with a run-o- the mill noodle soup. This apperitif brings together many rich, strong flavours and you certainly do not want anything fighting with them.

-I found the olive flavour to be more prominent than I expected.  If you are not an olive lover, don’t add in the full 2/3 of a cup….or double up on the bacon;)

-I’ve also substituted these three ingredients for roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and rosemary…divine!

2) Chuck’s Day Off Cheddar Biscuits

Tips: For those who are sensitive to spicy foods, these do pack a bit of a punch. However, the great thing about the cayenne spice in these biscuits is that the heat builds slowly so you have an oortunity to tasty the buttery buscuit and sharp cheddar flavours as well.

-Serve warm! Obvious, I know, but there is a drastic difference in the taste of these biscuits when they are cold.  The warmth seems to emphasize every flaky layer.

-After the butter bath, I finish my cheddar biscuits off with a sprinkling of sea salt

3) Anna Olson’s Cheddar Crackers

Tips: Perfect with homemade tomato soup or for a more savoury treat, serve with a smear of garlic cream cheese.

-I have switched out the extra old cheddar cheese for Asiago. Still very tasty but the sharp sweet/but strong taste offers a unique new layer of flavour




6th Annual Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste!

April 8th, 9th & 10th, 2011

Copps Coliseum


YEP Hamilton Presents The Skate at Pier 8

Join YEP (Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals) Hamilton for a night of skating and socializing at Pier 8 in Downtown Hamilton!

WHERE: Watefront Discovery Centre, 57 Discovery Drive

WHEN: Wednesday February 9th, 2011 @ 6pm (networking event at Williams Pub starts at 7pm)

Treats are being provided by Ola Bakery, James St N. So even if skating is not your thing,  please come for the treats and coffee from Ola Bakery! Ole makes the best and FRESHEST Portuguese pastries and Nadas in town….oh and you will meet a ton of connected, fun and energetic young professionals as well;)

YEP Hamilton Skate @ Pier 8

YEP Hamilton Skate @ Pier 8

The Skate @ Pier 8 Event sponsored by CarStar Automotive Canada and Ola Pastries and Bakery

Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Shop Local for the Foodie in Your Life

You hate the mall and your gift recipient in a major foodie?  Here are some great gift ideas (big & small) from Hamilton’s independent artists and entrepreneurs….mall free!

For Under the Festivus Pole: You have several foodie forward stores in the  Hamilton area to find your loved ones the perfect foodie gift. From Pure, The Keeping Room, The Causal Gourmet, to Greensville Gourmet; there’s a plethora of shoppes at different prices ranges that offer good quality but unique kitchen ingredients and gear.

For  instance, as one of my gifts this year I purchased a pizza stone and ornate pizza cutter from Greensville Gourmet along with a couple fabulous flavoured oils.  Included with the present will be one of my favourite pizza dough recipes, a bottle of local wine (I’m loving Strewn wine right now) and a movie I know that person will love. Not only does this give the gift recipient a valuable kitchen tool to use and enjoy over and over again, but the inclusion of the wine, recipe and DVD gives a certain “event” quality to the gift.  I just planned a date night for my friend and their spouse…and all under $30 dollars!

The Foodie Experience: Give them a restaurant tour! I’ve done this for a couple of friends/family members who aren’t big on “stuff” but love experiences.  Buy gift certificates from several local restaurants for your your gift recipient to try at their leisure. I usually like to include a gift certificate to one of their usual favourite haunts and then add in one or two certificates to a restaurant they have either wanting to try or one totally off the beaten path.  The gift recipient has the ability to try some delicious new dishes, has the excuse to have a couple nights out with different friends and family and to explore a part of the city they may not frequent very often.

Some great restaurant choices: WASS Ethiopian Restaurant, Mex-I-Can, August 8, La Piazza etc.

Authentic & Local: Many people don’t know this, but the third largest industry in Hamilton is Arts & Culture, which means th city is bursting with talented artists and their crafts are readily available for the holiday season.  Now, where to get such artworks? Art Gallery of Hamilton has a gift shoppe full of locally created art, and actually much of the art is centered around entertaining and food. From wine glass charms to hand-crafted wooden salad bowls; one can browse for hours in just the gift shoppe! This Friday AGH has a Moon Light Madness Shopping Experience just in time for the holidays.   Or talk a walk down James St N and slip into the many art galleries to pick up a local crafted treasure.

Stocking Stuffers: For a little extra treat, or even a hostess gift, head down to the Hamilton Farmers Market. Beanermunky Chocolate Experience is there to fulfill all your chocolate needs (my personal fav is the chocolate covered pretzels) and Blair Elements has dozens of types of organic and delicious teas. Red Hill Coffee will have a stand in the Farmer’s Market in 2011, but you can pick up some of his coffee currently at the Cossart Exchange in Jackson Square.  Red Hill Coffee is actually made right here in Hamilton and is a satisfying and interesting gift for the coffee lover in your life (who knew there was delicious and rich coffee made in your own backyard?!). All these companies offer locally crafted treats, under $15!

Hope this helps! Happy shopping…don’t forget to taste test!



“The SnowBall”

With the chilly weather and holiday season upon us, everyone seems to be looking for a fun, festive way to keep warm.  This morning my co-worker (and friend!) Jenn and I were doing our “Weekend UpDates” and I told her how I indulged with a little kahlua in my Sunday afternoon coffee. Boy did she one up me!   Jennifer and her group of girlfriends came up with a fabulously decadent drink to warm your spirits and satisfy your sweet tooth. Here it is!

The Snow Ball


-2-3 cups of 2% milk

-1 cup of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

-1/4 cup of Peppermint Liqueur

-Medium carton of whipping cream

-Dash of vanilla

-Pinch of sugar

-Crushed Candy Canes

“The To Do List”

-In a sauce pan, warm your 2% milk over medium heat

-Slowly stir in the Godiva White Chocolate and Peppermint Liqueur

-Keep on a a medium heat for a few more minutes while you stir consistantly and make your whip cream

-For whip cream, pour your cream in a medium sized bowl and add in a splash of vanilla and pinch of sugar) Beat with a blender for 2-3 minutes until frothy and WONDERFUL

-Pour your milk/chocolate mixture into your favourite mugs and top with a generous dollop of whip cream.

-The finishing touch: sprinkle of crushed candy canes over the whipped cream…..and a cozy blanket and a good book!

The Snowball

The Snowball -Picture Courtesy of Jennifer


Recipe courtesy of Jennifer & her friend Heather! Thanks Ladies







Dessert Hors d’oeuvres

People normally don’t think about dessert as a go-to appetizer choice, but I definitely live by the mantra “eat dessert first”!

With the holiday season upon us and our calendars filling up with office pot lucks and house parties; everyone is scrambling to find something easy and delicious to proudly present as your contribution to the party. While pig in a blanket or frogs in a blunder are very popular and delicious choices to bring, why not try bringing a sweet dessert hors d’oeuvre? It stands out in the crowded world of finger foods and supplies the much needed sugar rush before the main course is served.

Here are two of my recent dessert hors d’oeuvre favs:

Salty Sweets

Salty-Sweet Treats

Salty-Sweet Treats

  • Pre-heat your oven to 350 and grease a 13 X 9 pan (approx. size)
  • Layer your pan with either gram cracker squares or saltine crackers (I would recommend using a double layer of the saltines)
  • Sprinkle your base evenly with whatever toppings you want! I find nuts work best (pecans, almonds or pralines). I usually do a cup of whatever toping a choose, then set aside
  • Over medium heat, melt together 3/4-1cup of butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • Once the butter/sugar mixture has been combined, evenly drizzle the entire mixture over your pan
  • Pop your pan in the oven for 8-10 min and you are done!
  • I would recommend you don’t let the dessert sit for too long in the pan, and it does get fairly sticky. Chop them up on squares, trianglesor other interesting bite-sized shapes.  The combo of the crispy caramelization of the butter and sugar with the saltiness of the cracker and nuts is heaven!

The Hello Dolly Bar Rip Offs

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 and grease a 9 X 9 pan
  • Your Base: mix together 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4-1/2 cup of melted butter. Evenly pat down into the bottom of the pan
  • Now just add layers…..
  • Cover the graham cracker bottom with 1 cup of walnuts (toast them for extra flavour)
  • Then add a 1 cup layer of coconut
  • Add a layer of 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Lastly, smother the layers with a can of condensed milk
  • Thrown it in the oven and bake for approximately 45min, or till the edges are golden brown and the centre looks set. You are done!
  • Chop them in bite sizes pieces and serve them up to your friends and family. They are a delight!

This holiday season indulge in the lifestyle of “Eat Dessert First!” The great thing about these recipes is you are serving them in appetizer portion sizes, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your waistline!

Happy baking!


6th Annual Food & Drink Fest…the Fesitval with Taste!

April 8, 9 & 10, 2011 ~ Copps Colisuem

Cheese Shoppe On Locke Makes Awesome Sandwiches

Cheese Shoppe on Locke has created quite a stir since they moved into their Locke Street South location last fall. Their cheery yellow facade brightens up the street and their retro but chic interior reminds me of the many high-end boutiques in Napa Valley….I love the wine barrel chandeliers they have!

Wine Barrel Chandeliers at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Wine Barrel Chandeliers at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Since they’ve opened, I’ve frequented Cheese Shoppe for numerous little purchases, such as their locally made jam, buttertarts, salsa and of course, a various selection of cheese for racoulette parties or sandwiches. However, I never had the delight of tasting on of their homemade sandwiches until yesterday.   And man, can they make a sandwich! Here’s my foodie story for the day….

The Sandwich: I believe there were 5 choices of sandwiches you could choose from (then of course you could build your own from the deli selection). One of my dining companions and I chose the grilled vegetables and goat cheese and our other lunch date went for the fig and chicken salad sandwich. Both sandwiches were served on a crispy locally made French baguette that literally melted in your mouth because it was so fresh. I could have eaten the bread alone and been a very happy lady! However the toppings certainly did not disappoint.  The grilled peppers, eggplant, red onions and zucchini tasted incredibly fresh and unlike some grilled veggie experiences, you could still taste the individual flavours of each vegetable. This freshness not only added many layers of simple flavour to the sammie, but it also made each bite a bit of a surprise based on what what veggies you got in that mouthful.  The sandwich was topped of with a substantial amount of fresh goat’s cheese. Since it was served warm the goat cheese was gooey, creamy and oh so good.  The sweetness of the veggies combined with the tart of the cheese made me feel like I was eating a gourmet grilled cheese, which was perfect on such a chilly day.

Grilled Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich

While I didn’t have an opportunity to try the fig and chicken salad, my friend gushed about it….and he is a pretty picky eater, so it must be good! The chicken salad was mixed with bits of finely chopped fig and celery and was finished off with thinly sliced Brie and Granny Smith apples. Nobody had a problem finishing off their lunches.

Atmosphere & Food Accessories: We were seated at one of their little black cast iron bistro tables, but there was also the option of saddling up to their antique wood bar to enjoy your lunch.  On top of the table was a refinished wine barrel top that had been turned into a Lazy Susan.  The wine barrel top took up practically the entire table, and our lunch was actually served on it. My two dining companions shared, so they kept spinning the table top to switch plates, which was kinda cool.

Grab lunch at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Grab lunch at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Since The Cheese Shoppe doesn’t sell wine, we finished our meal off with a sparkling apple and blueberry spritzer. The blueberry added a lovely smooth aftertaste which actually worked very nicely with the bite of the apple.  The Drink was called McIntosh Sparkling Juice.

The Price Tag: Sandwiches were approximately $8.00 each.  While some many baulk at the price, I assure you, it is worth it! Considering that fact that many fast food restaurants are charging equivalent prices for sandwiches made from ingredients lacking in taste for the same price, I certainly believe both of these sandwiches were well worth the money.  With A Cheese Shoppe on Locke Sandwich, you are getting a unique dinning experience, and yo’re eating quality, local ingredients and a lot of them! As an example, I didn’t eat dinner since I was still so full from lunch.

The Timeline: Make sure you are not in a rush.  The sandwiches were made with care while we waited and it did take a bit longer than expected with the lunch-time rush.  The great thing is The Shoppe is epitome of sensory overload! You certainly aren’t bored while you wait and have a ton of different boutique food products to paruse (and some to taste test too!)

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

For more information on the Cheese Shoppe, check out an interview I did with the owner, Torsten last year.



The Bread Bar Experience

If you are a frequent visitor of the Locke St District, you know that newest and hottest spot on the trendy Hamilton street is The Bread Bar.  The “artisan bakery by day, pizzaeria by night” has quickly formed a loyal and eclectic following.  Every time I have frequented this place, I seem to run into someone I know and have been in for some great people watching (fabulously dressed people and hilarious conversations occurring at every table! I know, I’m a creep) The decor is a beautiful arts and crafts mixture of vibrant photographs, prints of Hamilton cityscapes, and found objects creatively arranged throughout the space. The vintage, mis-matched furniture juxtaposed with the artful decor gives the restaurant goer the unique experience of feeling like they are eating in a chic urban art gallery, while still experiencing the comforting familiarity and warmth of one’s own kitchen.  The restaurant setting and atmosphere does a wonderful job of mirroring the philosophy of local community and locally grown food and encourages the restaurant goer to escape the hustle of the day, chat with your dining companions, meet your dining neighbours (the tables are fairly close together) and linger over a home-cooked meal.

While I have heard complaints of the noise level in the restaurant (there seems to be a bit of an echo when it is really busy), I personally love the soundtrack they have playing.  Abandoning the usual dinner music repertoire, Bread Bar plays a fabulous mixture of upbeat English pop, rock, folk, alternative and a little jazz.  I’ve heard everything from The Jon Bon, Mother Mother, to Wintersleep coming through their speakers.

Joe chowing down on a the Bacon & Scallion Pizza

Joe chowing down on a the Bacon & Scallion Pizza

Food for Thought: The Bread Bar’s food philosophy is largely based around Celebrity Chef Jeff Crump and Pastry Chef Bettina Schormann’s cookbook Earth to Table, in that they believe that good, fresh and local ingredients matter (not to mention taste so much better!).  They have put many of the “green” recipes in their cook book to the test and serve them up at the restaurant.  For more information about their food philosophy and their cookbook, visit

The Main Attraction: Pastry Chef Bettina Schormann’s mouth-watering bread and pizza dough recipes are the decadent base for many of my favourites on the menu. The pizza dough is fresh, light, crispy, of a medium thickness and has a slightly buttery aftertaste.  It quite literally melts in your mouth.

My recommendations

Salads: Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad: an explosion of many different flavours and textures coming together

Pizzas: You really can’t lose on this one.  They are all fantastic.  For a more traditional pie, go for the Classic Pepperoni or Bacon and Scallion.  If you are more adventurous try the Potato Bianca (LOVE THIS ONE!)or the Popeye.

Rami enjoying a signature Bread Bar Pizza

Rami enjoying a signature Bread Bar Pizza

Bruschetta: I really like the Eggplant or the Tomato.  Tip for the Tomato: ask for half the ricotta.  The impact of flavour will be so much stronger because you will be able to taste more of the inch and a half thick homemade bread they serve it on.

Desserts: They have an entire counter top filled with freshly baked goods, made with local ingredients for you to choose from. Some of my favourites include their ginger cookies, chocolate chip scones and their in season fruit pies.  I’ve gone and had dessert first! I wasn’t disappointed.

Cappuccino and Chocolate Chip Scone from The Bread Bar

Cappuccino and Chocolate Chip Scone from The Bread Bar

Beet Salad from Bread Bar

Beet Salad from Bread Bar

For their full menu, please visit

Last tip before sending you off to The Bread Bar, make a reservation! They work fast, but they are always busy

PS if you are in the mood for some backyard BBQing, pick up Bread Bars Hamburger buns! Amazingly fresh with a smattering of sunflower seeds across the top.  You’ll have an instant gourmet burger on your hands!



Just a pinch of Coconut!

On a busy corner in New York stands one of the yummiest bakeries EVER: Magnolia Bakery.  Their secret to their baking creations being so darn tasty is that they take baking back to basics and stick to unassuming but quality ingredients…one of them being coconut.  Coconut, while it certainly isn’t a new ingredient in the world of baking, it is one of my new favourite “go to” ingredients. I got hooked on the coconut craze after visit and dutifully (haha) taste-testing several items at Magnolia Bakery.  My coconut obsession continued back at home while trying out numerous recipes from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook (while I highly recommend the book, I swear this is not a plug simply for Magnolia!) Several of the cookbook’s basic cookie and bread recipes called for coconut, which I was a bit weary of in the beginning. However, after attempting the Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies and the Banana Bread with Coconut & Pecans, I was in dessert heaven. Not only is the coconut’s fresh nutty flavour an added dimension of taste to your desserts, but I find it  adds juiciness and a lovely complex texture to cookies, custards, breads and beyond.  Coconut is also quite versatile in that the texture it creates can be either crunchy or chewy and light. In addition, the hearty texture and health benefits of coconut oils, flours and flakes are a fabulous substitute to gluten-free cooking.

I have included some of most favourite coconut based recipes thus far for you to try out.  I know for many people, coconut is an acquired taste, but trust me; with the recipe links listed below, even the coconut nay-sayers in your life will be asking for seconds! Happy Baking

Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies Tip: I had about a half cup of Skor pieces to the mix.  When the Skor melts, it caramelizes the oatmeal and coconut. Plus, I add about a ¼ cup more coconut than is called for

Banana Bread with Coconut & Pecans Tip: add some milk chocolate chips (of course!)

Gluten-Free Coconut Layer Cakes

Caramel Heavenlies



Beer & World Cup: The Perfect Pairing

With World Cup just around the corner, it is expected for beer consumption to double, quadruple…basically just go through the roof.  According to The Beer Genie, an extra 21 million pints of beer will be consumed during Englands three group games alone.  Whoa! I’m not even a beer drinker and I’m stocking up!

People I’ve been talking to are selecting their beer of choice in many different ways. Some are choosing based on the teams that are playing.  For instance, sip on a Carling or Fuller’s London Porter when England takes the field, a Bud or a Brooklyn Lager for the good ole US of A.  Crack open a Foster’s for Australia, or cheer for Mexico by chugging back a Dos Equis.

Others don’t have as much of a choose in what beer brand they go with, as their decision is based on what their pub of choice happens to have on tap.

For a third option, why not try some of the local craft brewers to celebrate World Cup! If you happen to be having people over to watch the game or if you stumble upon a pub that carries a great selection of craft beers, give some of the following local beers a try!

Taps Vanilla Wheat – A creamy, full bodied unfiltered wheat with a natural golden haze and hints of Madagascar black bourbon vanilla with underlying notes of banana, clove and citrus

Taps Chuck Noris RoundHouse IPA Prepare to be round-housed in the tastebuds. This is a North American style India Pale Ale. It has an intense North West Pacific-hop character from a ridiculous amount of hops added to the brew-kettle, and then dry-hopped later on during conditioning. Citrusy, floral, and fruity flavours take front stage, while the caramel accented malts give it some balance. Chuck Noris IPA is the reason that Waldo is hiding.

Cameron’s Cream Ale: A North American style cream ale that combines the full flavours of an ale with the drinkability of a lager. Our Cream Ale has a light, malty body with a distinct fruity backbone, and a clean finish that makes this beer truly refreshing. Bronze Medal Winner at The Canadian Brewing Awards 2005

Nickel Brook Beers Maple Porter: dark, ruby porter, brewed with a blend of five malts, toasted barley and infused with pure, dark maple syrup. No additives, no preservatives. Naturally carbonated for a smooth creamy finish. Nickel Brook Maple Porter is a uniquely Canadian interpretation of an ancient classic. 5.5%A.B.V

Iron Spike – Copper: A decidedly rusty copper, pours a thick and frothy cream coloured head.  In the nose, caramel malts meet toasty spices. Notes of chestnut here with a nice fruity component leaning towards plum.

Iron Spike-Dead Elephant Ale: Food Pairings include Burgers, Chilli, Chorizo, Crispy/Spicy Duck, Spicy Indian dishes

  • If you are in the Hamilton, Ontario area, check out Augusta’s Winking Judge, as it stocks about 22 different types of craft beers at any given time.
  • Also check out Ontario Craft Brewers, which is offering a Discovery Pack, showcasing a new selection of great OCB brands, and is also unique in offering them as a four-pack of cans. It’s ideal for a bringing to a friends house to watch a game. Brands that are currently being featured in the Discovery Pack: Wellington Trailhead Lager, Muskoka Hefe-Weissbier, Trafalgar Elora Grand Lager, and Great Lakes Devil’s Pale Ale.