I want so badly to begin with an off-topic story… but, it’s just too far off-topic. I have to hide it at the bottom of the post.
Andrew and I enjoy a good beer, and we enjoy visiting brew pubs. So, when our friend in Kitchener, Elena, told us we should stop at Abe Erb Brew Pub, we agreed: “Yes! We should!”
I know very little about Russian Mennonite history which is ridiculous since I’m of that descent and live in Steinbach which is largely populated with my fourth and fifth cousins BUT I know even less… like, WAY less, about Swiss Mennonites. For example, Abe Erb was listed in Elena’s Mennonite recommendations for us while we were in the area. Okay wait, this is a Mennonite name?
It wasn’t until I recently started reading Sam Steiner’s book Vicarious Pioneer: The Life of Jacob Y. Shantz, that I was reminded of our time at Abe Erb Brewing Company by this line: “Abraham Erb, mill owner and school philanthropist”. I gasped and at that moment realized this had been an actual person and not just the name of some beers that we’d enjoyed this past summer.
Continued reading conveyed to me that Abraham Erb must’ve been close with Shantz as the latter had been a trustee for the legacy of the former: “a mill owner in the neighbouring hamlet of Waterloo. Erb had stipulated in his will that interest from 125 pounds sterling be used to pay for the education of poor children at the Mennonite schoolhouse.”
And now, following our visit, I’ve finally visited the actual website of the brewery, and sure enough, they do have a page that mentions “the ol’ story”, suggesting that Abraham Erb was a Mennonite who helped found Waterloo and was an important figure in “pioneer education”.
I’ve gotta say though, the connection seems tenuous at best. I mean, the whole time we were there, I saw nary a sign of anything Mennonite about the place — not the names of the beers, not any of the dishes outlined on the menu. I dunno, maybe it was there but I missed it. I mean, I was still pretty exhausted from our misadventures the previous day.
Yeah, here’s the off-topic part. Andrew and I had tickets to see the Rolling Stones when they were in Toronto last July. That’s why we were in the area. But you know, instead of having a concert at a venue within the city like a sensible legendary rock band, they booked an outdoor venue, Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte north of the city (which must be lovely when it’s not overrun with 50,000 extra people). We bought tickets for a bus to bring us from a location near our hotel in downtown Toronto direct to the location, and then back again after the concert. The trip there was fine. But the hours and hours in the hot sun certainly added up. I was excited to see The Beaches and Sloan perform leading up to the headliner, but honestly by the time the Rolling Stones made their appearance I had difficulty caring. Andrew was immovable near the front, but I desperately needed time away from people, so I left and took a breather. Upon my return, I couldn’t find him! Desperate to locate my husband, I pushed my way very far to the front of the massive crowd… and then I got stuck. The crowd was so thick I could not move and that’s how I spent the duration of the concert: frantically looking every which-way for Andrew. I swear at one point when Mick Jagger strutted out on that walkway into the crowd (which I happened to be near, in my hunt for Andrew) — he caught a glimpse of me being not very into his performance and cast me a brief but disgusted WTF look. (For the record, Andrew does not believe this story.) When the concert finally ended and the crowd dispersed, there was Andrew. Turns out I was much closer to the front than he had been. I way overshot it. Reunited at last, we thought our day (and night) was finally over and we’d be back at the hotel soon. NO. The bus we had pre-arranged and pre-paid for was missing. Everyone who had purchased wristbands to go back to T.O. on this bus ended up being herded around the field/parking “lot” for about an hour before a bus was found. Was it the very nice motor coach we arrived on? NO. It was a school bus. I hadn’t been on one of those since I was a kid. A school bus chock-full of barfing adults (Andrew and I were not barfing, but the aroma & atmosphere was hideous). Traffic was hopelessly snarled. We sat in that very wretched bus for four miserable hours. We were very tired but also filled with rage. When we finally were released in downtown Toronto, it was 3:00 AM. We walked the short distance to our hotel, strolling by a nightclub. The next evening we took it easy at Abe Erb Brewing Company, and while we sipped their good beers and ate tasty appetizers, we saw the news coverage of the previous night’s Rolling Stones concert on the TV above the bar. Thus we learned it had been a massive disaster departing the venue (not our imagination). And the next news story covered a murder that had taken place within that very same nightclub we’d just walked by. Evidently that murder was nice and fresh when we were right outside those doors. And that is the story of our time in Toronto. Anyhoozle!
Other posts about beer & Mennonites:
More Stuff About Mennonites & Beer
Making Beer Like A Mennonite Pioneer!