Today begins the a series of brief interviews with members of Canadian Premier League supporters groups across the country. Each supporters group was asked the same basic questions, in an attempt to get a proper feeling for the similarities and differences that we’ll see from supporters across the country when the league officially kicks off in 2019.

In addition, supporters groups were asked to provide a local beer, or a beer that best represents their group. As a result, these articles will have two parts: The Interview and The Beer.

As Hamilton’s Barton St Battalion kicked off the growth of supporters groups, they were first on our list.

The Interview

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and the Barton St Battalion.

A. James Hutton, proud Hamiltonian, soccer fanatic and Battalion member.

Q. What brought you to the group and soccer, in general?

A. The group was founded on passion and impatience. After eight years of supporting the hot pile of garbage that was Toronto FC, I grew tired of watching a team that didn’t invest in first team Canadian players and disappointed fans week after week. The passion for soccer and growing the sport in Canada remained, but I wanted something more local. A group of Hamilton based TFC fans that I watched away games with decided we’d support a Hamilton CPL team over TFC and we moved forward with the supporters group. We knew the league was coming, we knew the team was coming, there was no reason we couldn’t start early.

Q. Are there any specific values and supporters vision attached to the group?

A. Community Support & Inclusiveness. Its important to us to provide community support, especially in the places we’re most connected to. This year will be our third year volunteer coaching with Grassroots Hamilton, a free weekly soccer program for youth living in the surrounding neighborhoods of Tim Hortons Field. Over the holidays for every item sold we donated $4 to a Barton Street eatery that sells quality food at a loss to people in need. While we help build support in Hamilton for soccer it’s important to us to support the other movers and shakers in Hamilton looking to make their city a better place.

This leads into our idea of inclusiveness. While we’re building our group and getting involved with other projects its paramount that we’re accepting to all groups and individuals. Part of that is reflected in the price of our merchandise. All of our hats, shirts and scarves are all $20 and I want to keep everything equally affordable for as long as I can so that price isn’t a barrier of entry to the group. Hamilton boasts a population of diverse background and income, and its important that anyone can purchase a scarf and come support with us.

Q. With no Canadian Premier League teams playing in 2018, is there another team that your group has been supporting?

A. Timing is everything,  this summer we’ll be able to attend Hamilton’s first League One women’s team and hopefully a men’s team next year. What’s most exciting is by 2019 Hamilton may have a clear, local path to pro with OPDL, League One and CPL hopefully all in place. The more local soccer the better, both from a supporter and a development point of view.

Q. Without a current CanPL team, how do you explain your passion to other people who may not understand the time and resources you dedicate to Barton St Battalion?

A. The sales pitch to locals explains us as a soccer version of the “Box J Boys”, a group of hardcore Ticats fans that always bring the noise. We’re the soccer equivalent, we build community, create atmosphere and have a good time doing it.

Q. When I contacted you, I asked that you send a local beer, or a beer that best represents the supporters of Hamilton. Why was this your pick and where could our readers go to try some?

A. I sent along two brews from our biggest local craft brewery, Collective Arts. Aside from the beer, CA has adapted an innovative and supportive initiative to incorporate with their merchandising. On every can is a different piece of art from an artist from around the world – this can be a sketch, painting or album cover. The idea is while people drink beer at art shows, concerts and with their friends, Collective Arts gives back to them buy accepting art for their beer, paying the artist for it then providing a conversation piece to those indulging in the brew.

Like Hamilton, the beer support diversity, supports local and gives back to those who support it.

Q. Let’s face it, bars and pubs are definitely big for local and visiting supporters. Tell us a little about the pub or bar that the Barton St Battalion prefer, and a place where you might recommend a visiting supporter try.

A. I’m not going to speak for the group on favourite bars, our group is too diverse to pick one bar in our city to latch on to. Instead I’ll give some loving to bars who show soccer around the city. They are as follows:

  • Ye Old Squire: Place to be for EPL, England and Scottish national team 
  • The Pheasant Plucker: Rangers Supporters Bar
  • Irish Club of Hamilton: Celtic Supporters Bar
  • The Lion’s Head: Scottish National team
  • Vasco Da Gamma: For all your Portuguese soccer needs

Q. Besides the home supporters section during a match, is there a place that visiting supporters may be tempted to visit, but should actually avoid. Why?

A. If you’re coming to Hamilton for an away day here are some of the hot spots you can see in the day leading up to the game.

Leave your downtown hotel and grab brunch on James Street North. I recommend Jack & Lois or Saltlick Smokehouse to give you good value for your money.
Hop in a cab and venture up the mountain to Sam Lawrence park for your first photo opp of the day. From the escarpment edge, view out onto the City of Hamilton proper. Spot the stadium, McMaster, the steel mills and the waterfront. Get back in the cab and head to Tiffany Falls (Or Albion, or Sherman, etc.) and take in one of Hamilton’s stunning waterfalls. All three listed are easily accessible from parking. Then grab a snack on Ottawa Street at the very first ever Tim Hortons and take in their upstairs museum. Get ready for the game at one of the bars near the stadium at Endzone, Touchdown or Mosaic. Then, from the top corner of Tim Hortons Field, watch your team lose while the Battalion celebrate below.

Q. Finally, how can people join your group? And is there anything else you would like to add?

A. Buy a scarf, make some friends and show your support. We’re a group gaining lots of momentum heading into 2019 and we’d love to have you along for the ride.

The Beer

Barton Battalion chose to send over a couple of different beers from Collective Arts Brewing. Pictured to the left is a photo of Prophets & Nomads, a Sour Gose.

I drink a lot of different beer, and I drink it probably more often than I really should. So I was a little surprised to find a type of beer that I’ve never had the opportunity to taste. Having lived for 3 years in the beer mecca of Victoria, BC, you would think I would have sampled at least one Gose, but Prophets & Nomads represent my first sampling.

Gose is a top-fermented beer, originally out of Germany. They typically have a moderate alcohol content, and are unique in their use of coriander and salt. According to almighty wikipedia, “Gose belongs to the same family of sour wheat beers which were once brewed across Northern Germany and the Low Countries. Other beers of this family are Belgian Witbier, Berliner Weisse, and Broyhan.”

Collective Arts Brewing’s “Prophets and Nomads” was definitely a bit of a lighter drink, with a sour, yet salty taste. In my opinion, this Gose is a good drink for hot weather, which will make it a perfect addition to a day of watching Hamilton play in the Canadian Premier League. I found myself savouring this beering, taking my time while drinking. This makes it great if you’re not looking to down a lot of alcohol, but still want something to enjoy over time. If Prophets and Nomads are anything to go by, there’s no rushing a Gose.

This bright and tart drink earned a 3.00/5.00 from me on Untapped, but sits at 3.53/5.00 overall on the beer drinker’s social network. I’m a newish user on Untapped, so most of my extensive beer drinking experience isn’t recorded, but feel free to add me there and suggest new & fantastic beer to try.

Are you from Hamilton and have different suggestions for visiting supporters? Let us know in the comments

If you think a different brew would better represent the area, feel free to message the author for his mailing information and send him a can.

The next article in this series will be released in 2-weeks. Be sure to check back.

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