Monday, 31 October 2011

October 30, 2011

351)  Black Creek Pioneer Village:  Pumpkin Ale by Black Creek Historic Brewery of Ontario:  **;  pumpkin is added to the mash and during the boiling;  flavoured with nutmeg, ginger, cinammon and allspice;  unfiltered and unpasteurized;  very flavourful;

I had the opportunity to be the brewer's apprentice for the day at Black Creek Pioneer Village, dressed in 1860s costume.  I was there seven hours and the time flew by so quickly I didn't think to stop for lunch.  Ed is incredibly enthusiastic and there was not a moment of silence the entire day.  We also had an "interpreter" who served behind the bar and added context and further points of interest for visitors. 

This is North America's only historic brewery and (almost) everything is done as would be done in the 1860s.  There is air conditioning to allow for brewing during the summer months and the heat comes from a gas flame and not burning wood but other than that it is entirely authentic.

We brewed a stout and I was involved in every step from making the mash, transferring it for boiling, adding the hops (twice) and transferring it to the cooling pan and then to the wooden barrel. 

I am waiting for photos to reach my in-box.  My borrowed camera had no power left but an employee pitched in to help me out and now I am checking my e-mail absurdly frequently.

I could go on at (further) length I will leave off the the link:

October 29, 2011

350) Home:  Olde Stout by Black Creek Historic Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  roasty with notes of mocha and a touch of dryness;  a very nice (historic) stout;

October 28, 2011

Again, no new beers today.  I am trying to enjoy every last moment of October to the point where I am missing out on sleep.  Today was the Phantoms of the Organ - an hour of spooky music played on Canada's largest pipe organ (Metropolitan United Church on Queen, East of Yonge) played mostly by students with just a couple of esteemed veterans thrown in for good measure.  The Minister pitches in with a scary tale.  It is as much for laughs as chills and the subway ride there and back is worth the price of admission.

The scariest part of the evening had to be the look my wife shot at me when my one litre stein arrived during the snack afterwards.  I didn't do a good job of being surprised at the volume.

October 27, 2011

A bit of a complaint today.  I am one of the last individuals who ought to be saying this but it would be helpful if certain places would update their web-sites a bit more frequently.  The Volo does a pretty good job of staying on top of things even with a chalkboard that changes daily.  Others are not so good and I have to hear about monthly specials elsewhere, if at all.  I don't get downtown as often as I wish and my dollars tend to go where I am reasonably certain there is going to be something I like.  I know I can generally count on seeing a number of things I like at certain places but when it's there on the web-page it means so much more.

October 26, 2011

349)  Home:  Nektar by Banjalucka Pivara of Bosnia-Hercegovinia:  *1/2;  pours a clear, golden colour with a head of very fine, delicate bubbles;  grainy nose;  grainy notes with a mildly bitter finish;

October 25, 2011

348)  Home:  The Celebrated Oatmeal Stout by Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) of England:  *1/2;  a bit non-descript compared to other stouts I have enjoyed this year;  I found the flavours rather muted;

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

October 24, 2011

347)  Home:  Stonecutter Scotch Ale by Renaissance Brewing Company of New Zealand:  **;  pours with a soft, creamy head;  the nose is toffee with a hint of chocolate;  these flavours continue in the tasting with a bite of alcohol/licorice coming through;  a very hearty Scotch Ale;

October 23, 2011

346) Home:  SuperCollider IPA by Flying Monkeys Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  very nearly insane;  an extra strong beer (10.5%) and 160 IBUs (International Bitterness Units);  I am told that much like sunscreen SPFs, beyond a certain number IBUs cannot be reliably measured and the count is more theoretical than anything;  absurdly aggressively hopped;  a great glass but somehow I still prefer Smashbomb Atomic (on tap or especially on cask) - I think there is a little bit more going on there beyond very up-front hops;  the test then would be to find SuperCollider on cask or on tap;

October 22, 2011

345)  C'est What, Toronto:  Oaktoberfest by Black Oak Brewery of Ontario:  **;  pours clear with minimal head;  nutty maltiness with notes of dried fruit; 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

October 21, 2011

344)  Caffe Volo, Toronto:  My Bitter Wife by Great Lakes Brewery of Ontario:  **;  not to be confused with My Bitterer Wife double IPA mentioned earlier;  this IPA is very aggressively hopped with dry, bitter flavours and a floral nose with scents of pine;

October 20, 2011

343)  Home:  Funnel Blower by Box Steam Brewery of England:  **1/2;  a porter with vanilla flavours - my second vanilla porter of the year and like the first it is very nice; 

The label relates the tale of the largest ship in the world in 1859 suffering an explosion that blew off of one of five funnels.  While lesser ships would have gone to the bottom of the sea the Great Eastern carried on.  The cause was determined to be a build-up of steam.

October 19, 2011

No new beers today.  It's a mixed drink/on the rocks kind of day on account of seeing a re-creation of the Rat Pack at the Rose Theatre.  I mixed myself a salad when we got home.

October 18, 2011

342)  Home:  Waterloo Amber Premium Lager by Brick Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  the tin indicates that this is brewed by Waterloo Brewing Company but this is in the Brick line of products;  the nose is Bavarian hops;  starts slightly sweet, notes of fruit soon kick in followed by a mildly dry finish;

Monday, 17 October 2011

October 17, 2011

341)  Home:  Dominus Vobiscum Triple by Microbrasserie Charlevoix of Quebec:  **;  bottle conditioned, 9%, with a sweet, yeasty Belgian nose that carries on to the tasting with a fruity finish;

I had occasion to attend a Latin mass in memory of my mother-in-law and her sister.  When the phrase "Dominus Vobiscum" was chanted I kept the secondary significance to myself.

October 16, 2011

340)  Home:  Berthold Kellar Premium Lager by Brwery Martens of Belgium:  *1/2;  there's not a lot typically "Belgian" about this one;  it is a continental lager with slightly fruity sweetness, finishing with mildly dry bitter notes;

October 15, 2011

338) Home:  Maple Stout by Cannery Brewing Company of British Columbia:  **;  tastes of sweet maple - real maple not your grocery store artificially flavoured syrup;  I could almost feel the crunch of the sugar;  nicely balanced by coffee notes;

339)  Home:  Ghosttown Stout by Brasseur de Montreal of Quebec:  *1/2;  this is an odd one;  it is flavoured with absinthe which gives it very strong notes of herbs and roots;  isn't absinthe the drink that drove Vincent van Gogh mad?;  no matter, I didn't feel the need to post my ear to anyone;

It did remind me that since absinthe became available in Canada the experience has been on my list (says the guy who wouldn't pay $60 for vodka) if I can be certain I am doing it right, with the small spoon and the sugar.  It reminds me of the routine to drink Yerba Mate.  That took me a couple of tries before I got it right.

October 14, 2011

I pulled this off the LCBO website a number of months ago:

"Why is Crystal Head Vodka not available in your stores?

"As a socially responsible retailer, we feel it is inappropriate to sell beverage alcohol bottled in the shape of a human skull in our stores, especially its common assication with death and poison.

"We try to balance our committment to making products available and responsibly serving our customers.  Social responsibility is an important factor when considering products to offer for sale and this extends to their packaging and promotion."

Any guesses as to where I purchased Dead Elephant, Dead Guy Ale, Double Dead Guy Ale, etc.?

This past week, what should I see on a display of Hallowe'en beer but Crystal Head.  I guess Dan Ackroyd got the job done.

A visit to the LCBO website offers this explanation:

"The LCBO is pleased to offer Crystal Head Vodka initially in 70 select stores starting late September / early October 2011.  Other stores can order this product should they have customer requests for it.

"The LCBO has been working with Crystal Head Vodka to bring this product to Ontario.  The producer of Crystal Head Vodka and the LCBO are focusing on the premium quality of this product more than its packaging.  In this regard, the producer worked with the LCBO to make some slight changes to their marketing strategy.  The LCBO and the producer are both pleased to be able to offer this award-winning, premium vodka."

At $59.95, it really didn't matter either way to me.

October 13, 2011

337)  Home:  Oktoberfest Brau by Garrison Brewing of Nova Scotia:  *;  a marzen style Oktoberfest beer;  there was something vaguely off-putting about the taste that I couldn't quite put my finger on;  perhaps it was not stored properly on the trip from the maritimes;  in general I like Garrsion's products so I expect I will give this a second chance at some point;

October 12, 2011

335)  Mill Street Brewpub, Toronto:  Helles Bock by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  **;  Helles is German for light, in the sense of pale, and this pale bock is quite malty with warming alcohol and sweetness;

336)  Mill Street Brewpub:  Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  **;  rates in my top three pumpkin ales this year;  nice pumpkin flavour and mildly spiced;

Another Oktoberfest meal - I really cannot get enough of this month.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

October 11, 2011

334)  Home:  Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard Brewing Co. of Maine, USA:  *1/2;  here again, the flavours were a bit muted but not so much that one would notice the 9% alcohol (perfect for a fall day);

For me, the winner in the pumpkin ale stakes to date is Pumpking by Southern Tier.  It's $9 for a 650ml bottle which makes it perfect for sharing.  I would place the St. Ambroise effort in second.

October 10, 2011

333)  Home:  Highballer Pumpkin Ale by Grand River Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2; I finally caught up with this one on my third attempt;  I found the pumpkin and spices to be a bit muted - a tiny disappointment, though if the Volo has it on cask again (and I get there quickly enough) I will definitely give it another try;

It's just as well that I am not keeping track of expenses because then I would have to include the subway tokens I have used, particularly the ones I have used to no avail.  The Yonge & Eglinton LCBO seems the best place to find most anything by Grand River.  I learned a lot about this brewery at the Brewery Market event they were featured at.  It turns out that Grand River Brewing is basically a retirement project for a couple of erstwhile farmers and they are determined not to go into debt.  This means if they don't have it, instead of going to the bank for a loan they save up for it. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

October 9, 2011

I always have a look at the statistics when I update, particularly the figures for where visits originate.  To date, 82.1% of visitors are Canadian.  A further 12.4% come from the U.S., 2.3% are from Germany and 1.1% are from the U.K.

Continuing in order, coming in under 1% are Russia, India, Malaysia, Hungary tied with Indonesia and finally Hong Kong.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

October 8, 2011

331)  The beerbistro, Toronto:  Oktoberfest Marzen by Hacker-Pschorr of Germany:  **;  sweet, fruity (berries) aromas and flavours;  6%;  I spend much of the year looking forward to the Oktoberfest menu at the beerbistro;  this came in a one litre stein;  it is something of a challenge to maintain the socially required one-hand grip in the early going especially with a bit of oil on your fingers from the hot, soft pretzel I ordered (with sinus-clearing hot mustard);  one year I will remember to divide the work among the right and left;  a great pre-concert snack;

332)  The 3 Brewers, Toronto:  Munich by the 3 Brewers of Ontario:  **;  the nose is muted hop bitterness;  there is a hint of yeasty sweetness which almost takes one to Belgium, and a dry lingering hop bitterness;  another annual specialty beer that I look forward to;

Saturday, 8 October 2011

October 7, 2011

I earned that Oktoberfest yesterday, as well as the Delirium Tremens that followed.  For an idea what I was up to visit

Before they take you up you have to blow onto, not into, what looks like some sort of a handheld device to check if you have been drinking and they have a wand to brush against something you have touched recently, most commonly a phone (but I don't own one so they used my backpack) to check for narcotic use.  My thinking is that a couple of beers would come in very handy prior to stepping out 356 metres above Toronto without a railing in front of you.  I must investigate if zoning laws would permit a small outdoor bar at that level.  I have a feeling it would do very well.

October 6, 2011

330)  Sin and Redemption, Toronto:  Oktoberfest by Paulaner of Germany:  *1/2;  a central European lager with prominent - in a German sort of way - hop bitterness;  it's little wonder October is my favourite month;

October 5, 2011

329)  Home:  Porter by Sleemans of Ontario:  *1/2;  malty with a dry taste;  it's certainly an acceptable porter, it's just not among the best out there and there are some pretty fine ones out there;

October 4, 2011

It's been a quiet few days on the beer front.  I am coming off a bit of a cold.  Last time, I tested the alleged cold-fighting properties of hops to little avail.  This time I simply behaved for a couple of days.

October 3, 2011

I can imagine three possibilities.  David Ewalt might have quietly abandoned his 1000 Beers in 365 days quest.  He might have a back-log that he hasn't posted yet.  He might be planning a binge to put Toots Shor to shame. 

What is not being imagined is the fact that he is approximately half way into his alloted time and the last report I have spotted from him is dated July 27 and he is at number 77. 

Maybe it's not as easy as it looks, even when a taste is enough to count for a "tick".

October 2, 2011

I learned of a documentary called "Beertickers:  Beyond the Ale" filmed by Phil Parkin.  It follows his attempt to reach his 500th tick.  The catch is the "official" volume for ticking is an astounding 28 half pints - some three and one half growlers of beer.  In his blog, Appellation Beer, Stan Hieronymus comments, "This does not seem like a good idea."

What may be a good idea is to convert this site to a ticking log once the new year rolls around.  I had been wondering what to do once I reached my goal and this would keep me active and involved and with luck, I will pass up fewer favourites for the sake of getting closer to my goal.  Or not - a huge part of the fun has been trying new things and taking another look at beers I had once dismissed.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

October 1, 2011

327)  Bryden's, Toronto:  St. Ambroise Cream Ale by McAuslan of Quebec:  *1/2;  rich, malty with a touch of sweetness;

328)  Home:  Stout by Hockley Valley Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  a bit thin with sweet carbonated chocolate notes;

It may be worth repeating that Bryden's of Toronto is not associated with Bryden's of Milton, according to the individual behind the bar in Milton.

September 30, 2011

324)  C'est What, Toronto:  Conker's Ale by Neustadt Springs of Ontario:  **;  on cask;  pours clear with a retro-candy, gingery sweetness;  most unusual;

325)  C'est What:  Harvest Bitter by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  **;  rich and malty;

326)  Home:  Pumpkin Ale by Great Lakes Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  the pumpkin flavour is there but it is less spiced than other pumpkin ales;  almost bland by comparison; 

I have been encountering a fair bit of frustration in my search for Grand River's pumpkin offering.  I am wondering if I will find it this year or not.

September 29, 2011

323)  Home:  Pedigree V.S.O.P. by Marston's Beer Company of England:  *1/2;  Very Special Old Pale;  nose is mildly bitter English hops against a malty back-drop;  taste is dominated by those same mildly bitter English hops;