NORM ! visits Campbellford


From the Desk of Ken Jeffries, East Central Ontario Editor


Cheers star in Campbellford for documentary

By Mark Hoult
Community Press

CAMPBELLFORD, Ontario — A locally-brewed beer has received a stamp of approval from a famous bar-stool warmer.

George Wendt, who played the laid-back Norm Peterson in the long-running sitcom Cheers,was at The Stinking Rose pub in Campbellford recently to film a segment of History Television's new series, Name This,set to air in the fall.

Wendt sat at the bar, surrounded by a bustling History Television film crew, talking beer with pub and Church-Key Brewery owner John Graham. Blindfolded, Wendt did a taste test, picking out a new Church-Key beer recently brewed by Graham using local barley, wheat, and Durham wheat.

The result of Graham's latest efforts is a French farmhouse ale, Bière De Garde, or Beer For Keeping.

"This is good, very good and very different," said Wendt after tasting the new craft beer. "It's quite tasty, quite amazing. Beer for keeping. I love it."

The day's shooting wrapped up with Wendt announcing the name of the new beer to a cheering crowd of Stinking Rose regulars.

"I think this new beer is going to be called The Great Gatsbeer,"he said, raising his pint glass.

Graham said an online competition was held to name the new beer. The winning name is a perfect choice because it is in line with the brewery's tradition of naming some of its beers using literary references, he said.

Graham said he is proud that History Television's researchers chose his pub and brewery to do a segment on the naming of a new beer.

"It's definitely an honour. There are 30 very qualified and capable breweries in Ontario."

Graham said he learned just before Christmas that George Wendt was to be the celebrity taking part in the History show.

"It just worked for him. He was finishing up some Broadway, and was on his way home to L.A., so it all worked out pretty good."

Graham described Wendt as "a gentleman of a man" and a genuinely nice person.

"And you can tell it's really not an act, not a game; he truly is a beer lover, and he knows and understands his beer. Anybody who takes the time to educate themselves about beer is all right in my books."

Wendt has even written a book about his love of beer, Drinking With George: A Bar Stool Professional's Guide to Beer.

"It's a humour book based around beer and beer stories and my relationship with beer, but there's also a lot of information about beer, and anecdotes from my life," he said.

"To paraphrase the late Father Flanagan, of Boy's Town, 'there's no such thing as a bad beer,'" Wendt said. "I think it's all good."

Wendt said Campbellford is one of the communities fortunate enough to have its own local brewery, "where people take tremendous pride in their craft." The beer brewed at Church-Key "is very representative" of the fine beer being brewed throughout North America and of "good beer in general."

Wendt, who visited Rubb's Restaurant and The Stinking Rose the evening before the shooting, said he thoroughly enjoyed his stay in the town.

"My stay in Campbellford was brief, but fantastic. I got to sample some of the local fare and meet some of the folks of the town, and I thoroughly enjoyed it."