Saturday, 23 November 2013

November 18, 2013

281/929)  Home:  Bourbon Stout by Innis and Gunn of Scotland:  **1/2;  7.4%;  matured 50 days over bourbon infused oak;  sweet bourbon stands out in the nose;  sweet vanilla notes, spiced oak and warming alcohol;  another sipper for a cold evening; 

From the Innis and Gunn Connoisseur's Oak Collection 2013.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

November 17, 2013

279/927)  Home:  Pale Ale by Okanagan Spring of  British Columbia:  *1/2;  malty, bready nose;  a standard old school malty ale;

280/928)  Home:  Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery of Oregon, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  5.2%;  the label reads, "Crafted for explorers";  nose features malt, alcohol, chocolate;  very malty with roasty coffee flavours;  people rave about this but I found the maltiness over-shadowed what I like best about porters;

November 16, 2013

278/926)  Home:  Winter Ale by Okanagan Spring of British Columbia:  **;  pours dark brown;  malty, grainy nose;  malty taste with vanilla notes;  reminds me of the Granville Island Lion's Winter Ale with those vanilla notes, as opposed to their Winter Ale which is more chocolatey;

November 15, 2013

More details have become available. 

Brian's last shift will be Friday the 22nd.  I expect there will be tears.  I may well be Exhibit A. 

I have come up with a cunning plan to avert fisticuffs.  My idea is that at last call, Brian should pour a pitcher and the server looking after the floor will pour glasses from it for those in attendance to whom the idea of drinking the last beer Brian poured at Tracks is important.  That may be a smaller group than I think but, then again, I'll bet it isn't.  

Brian's going away party will be on the 30th.  Whatever we do for him will be inadequate but it is important to try.  

November 13, 2013

277/925)  Home:  i-Stout by 8 Wired Brewing of New Zealand:  **1/2;  10%;  created by a Danish brewer based in Marlborough, New Zealand;  a Russian Imperial Stout;  raisin, licorice, dates in nose;  tastes of black coffee with notes alcohol, dried fruit;

I had no idea Apple was in the brewing game. 

Yes, I did work on that one for a while.

But enough levity.  As I was leaving Tracks (Wednesday is cheap beer night) Brian met me at the doorway and informed me that he would be giving his notice at the end of the shift.  As I have said before, Brian is the finest of his kind - the very best bartender fortune could favour anyone to meet.

We could see it coming.  In spring he moved an hour north of us and now with winter approaching he has purchased a fish and chips operation about a half hour away from his new residence.  His first shift at Tracks Brewpub was March 25, 1986.  I work with people who were not born then.  He has worked in the kitchen and he was even brewmaster for a time.

He will be missed but I have thought about myself enough.  We all wish Brian the very best in his new venture. 

November 11, 2013

275/923)  Home:  Porter by Six Pints Specialty Beet Company of Ontario:  **;  4.9%;  as I mentioned earlier it's the first beer they brewed so it's odd that I haven't tried this one earlier;  light coffeeish nose;  sweet milk chocolate and coffee notes;

276/924)  1516 Bavarian Lager by Okanagan Spring of British Columbia:  *;  pours very pale;  bready nose;  somewhat bland with a very muted touch of Euro-hops;  a lawn mower beer, little else;  not unpleasant, just uninteresting; 


November 10, 2013

This month we will have a dual entry in the joints I miss feature.  Amsterdam and its sister pub Rotterdam were part of the first wave of Toronto's craft beer scene.  Amsterdam was located on John Street in what is currently known as the Entertainment District.  At the time, which is to say prior to the opening of the Skydome (now the Rogers Centre), the area featured little more than warehouses.

I'm not exaggerating to state that at the time, Nut Brown Ale was the flagship beer of Toronto's microbrewing scene. I had a lot of amusement there largely because my job at the time gave me days off during the week and there's a fun, conspiratorial air in a pub in the afternoon.  People imagined that I really ought not to have been there either and that we were enjoying sharing a secret.

Amsterdam was to become Al Fresco's, still a brewpub.  These days it is a Jack Astor's.  I cannot attest but I suspect I cannot drink a nut brown ale there.

Rotterdam was the sister brewpub and after Amsterdam closed it housed the main brewery and bottling plant.  They had in excess of three hundred beers on their bottles menu.  We engaged a barmaid in conversation one day and she confessed that at any time they were out of as many as one hundred choices.  She also surprised us, informing us that the two litre beer going for $120.00 was rather popular.  She said a half dozen guys would come in and drop a twenty dollar bill to be able to say that they had drank from a one hundred and twenty dollar bottle of beer.  You could get a good burger there back in the day.

Today the location is a Bier Markt.  I have never been to any of their spots, not being one for waiting in line to drink beer.

November 8, 2013

273/921)  Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  Amber Ale by Flying Monkeys of Ontario:  *1/2;  malty nose with a slight hop edge;  malty with a of touch sweetness;

274/922)  Get Well, Toronto:  Three Stage Extra Pale Ale by Northwinds Brewery of Ontario:  **; resinous, piney nose;  dry, bitter rooty flavours;

I saw some hipsters drinking Molson Stock Ale.  I'm getting worried.

Today is International Stout Day, in spite of my poor manner of marking it.  In my defense I wasn't necessarily planning on being out but then I heard that Edwin Huizinga and Philip Fournier were performing the music of Bach at the Oratory, Holy Family Church.

Some examples of what I might have been consuming had I better observed the day:

November 7, 2013

271/919)  Home:  Oloroso Cask by Innis and Gunn of Scotland:  **1/2;  7.4%;  from a batch of only 300 barrels;  matured in rare Oloroso sherry casks for 60 days;  Oloroso is produced in Jerez, Spain; soft spice, sweet nose;  caramel sweetness, ever so slight touch of hops;  layers of sherry flavours;  a slow sipper for a cool evening;

272/920)  Home:  La Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout by Microbrasserie Charlevoix of Quebec:  **1/2;  milk chocolate nose with espresso, alcohol;  flavours of sweet chocolate tempered by alcohol and dark coffee notes;

November 4, 2013

269/917)  Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  Shadowplay by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  a black lager;  malty & rich at start (like a stout in appearance also) with a mild hop bite at finish;

270/918)  Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  Mosaic IPA by Cheshire Valley of Ontario:  **;  gingery, floral nose;  strong floral notes; 

Readers will recall a similarly named IPA from Great Lakes Brewery.  They are distinct beers, named for the variety of hop being utilised.  The Cheshire Valley version is a collaboration with an individual from Toronto Brewing, a home brewing supplies store.

I have to say, the service at the Monk's Kettle is very good.  They are genuine beer lovers there.

November 2, 2013

268/916)  Home:  Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale by Rogue Brewery of Oregon, U.S.A.:  **;  pours dark;  candy banana/peanut butter nose;  my eldest son offered two quotations:  "tastes like madness" and "like a chocolate bar";  I really can't top his words except to add that along with the flavours comprising the name, I thought I detected a touch of coconut;  not nearly so bad as their last effort if you are in the right mood or the right company;  I daresay, I rather liked it;  I wonder what they will do next;

Monday, 18 November 2013

October 31, 2013

267/915)  Home:  Spook's Ale by Shepherd Neame of England:  **;  4.7%;    ruby red colour;  fruity nose;  a bit of fresh fruit, a bit of spice;

Quite a lot to read on the label:  'The official Ghost Brew for All Hallows",
"Drink if you dare";
"Brew of Protection
Gall of Shepard
Slip of Neame
Silver'd in the
Kents moon beam
Double double boil and bubble
Hops brown & barley stubble",
"The memory of this beer will haunt you forever"

What with this and their Christmas Ale, Shepherd Neame seem to have a handle beers for special occasions.

Some Halowe'en beers:

October 27, 2013

266/914)  Home:  Enlightenment Great Punkin by Renaissance Brewing of New Zealand:  **;  7.2%;  brewed with roasted 'pumkin' (sic),  spices and NewZealand  Fuggles hops;pours a deep red/orange;  nose is mild pumpkin, hops;  like many pumpkin beers, the spices are more prominent than the pumpkin though, to be fair, the same is often true of pies;  the pumpkin flavours come into their own at the finish;

October 24, 2013

265/913)  Beer Academy:  Brewed Awakening Porter by Six Pints Specialty Beer Company of Ontario:  **1/2;  on cask - a first for the Beer Academy;  an Espresso Porter infused with twenty shots of espresso and one half pound of coffee beans;  the nose is dark coffee grounds;  the flavours are a blend of coffee and espresso;  thin mouth feel, not unusual for a cask;

This was the opening night celebration for this limited edition cask and the re-introduction of their very first beer, a porter.  I took home a couple of bottles of this as well. 

I was in town for a CD release event featuring Mike Murley and the University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra.  As he was signing my disc I related my story of the first time I encountered him.  It was a hot day in 1984 and I was intending to go to Paupers (I still haven't been).  I heard this incredible racket coming from the Brunswick House and there were three saxophones, a stand up bass and a drum kit and the musicians were all clad in loud shirts, berets and sunglasses.  I have been a Shuffle Demons fan ever since.

October 23, 2013

264/912)  Home:  St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale by McAuslan Brewing of Quebec:  **;  5%;  very up front apricot nose;  sweet, fruity against flavors against a wheat backdrop;

October 18, 2013

259/907)  Caffe Volo:  Snap, Crackle and Hop by Parallel 49 Brewing Company of British Columbia:  **1/2;    9.3%;  an Imperial Rice IPA;  sweet, citrusy nose;  touch sweetness with a bitter hop bite at finish and in the after taste; 

260/908)  Caffe Volo:  Lord of the Hops IPA by Parallel 49 Brewing Company of British Columbia:  **;  7.2%;  citrusy nose, though less so than the above;  mild citrusy hoppiness;  less dynamic than the Rice IPA; 

261/909)  Caffe Volo:  Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest by Parallel 49 Brewing Company of British Columbia:  **;  5%;  the nose is like pumpkin pie filling;  starts out with pumpkin flavours;  the finish and after taste lean toward the spices;

262/910)  Caffe Volo:  Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter by Parallel 49 Brewing Company of British Columbia:  **1/2;  6.5%;  nose is a blend of chocolate, pumpkin and espresso;  mild, astringent spices;  I am at risk of losing count of the pumpkin ales I have enjoyed this season;

263/911)  Caffe Volo:  Robust Porter by House Ales of Ontario:  **;  dark coffee nose with a touch of mocha;  forward mocha flavours;  a solid porter;

Not only was tonight the evening before Cask Days but the Volo was also holding a Parallel 49 event (they of the un-Paralleled six-pack experienced earlier) with the owners and brewers present and, yes, as per usual there were half pints tonight.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

October 17, 2013

258/906)  Concordia Club, Kitchener:  KW Oktoberfest Ale by Brick Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2; grainy nose;  malty taste; 

Believe it or don't, this was my first Oktoberfest.  Our Kitchener branch organized it and it was certainly a good deal.  The bus ride was part of the price, which might have been part of the problem.  I would have been happy to leave at ten but the bus wasn't scheduled to show until midnight.  I am glad I had the Oktoberfest experience but it does not necessarily need to be repeated.

October 16, 2013

257/905)  Home:  Siamese Twin Ale by Uncommon Brewers of California, U.S.A.:  **; 8.5%;  brewed with "Belgian techniques and Asian spices";  the tin also reads, "Uncommon beer for uncommon people";  brewed with Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass & coriander;  sweet malty nose;  it looks like pale coca cola;  the coriander is especially strong in the nose - it's  strong to the palate also, largely overshadowing the lemongrass;   it is also herby and rooty with licorice notes;  it's an odd one to be sure;

I really do want to experience this one again to try to figure it out.  I suspect it would be good to cook with.  For those who break up multi-packs at the LCBO (not me) you will need to carry tin-snips.  Aging is recommended - I will test this.

Today is Tim McCarver's birthday, for baseball fans.

October 15, 2013

255/903)  Home:  X-Porter, a collaboration between Midtfyns Bryghus of Denmark and Brouwerij De Molen of the Netherlands:  **1/2;  8%;  this collaboration rose from the two brewers sharing a stand at the 2010 Copenhagen Beer Festival;  the nose is licorice, raisin;  flavours of fruit, raisin, mild alcohol, with espresso notes;

256/904)  Home:  Tailset Ginger Ale by Grand River Brewing of Ontario:  *;  grainy nose with muted ginger;  not especially gingery, more malty with Euro-hops;  compared to the recent wealth of ginger beers, quite disappointing, especially from a favourite brewer;  come to think of it, I wasn't all that keen on their bock lately, was I?;

A porter and two stouts:

October 14, 2013

October's installment of places I miss features the Burger Bar and Tequila Tavern.  This was a western-themed joint right down to the décor.  I thought the service was great and their beer selection was top flight.  I was a fan of their Oh My Goodness This Just Might Kill Me burger and people would rave about their onion rings, with panko breading.  They even had space set aside for stroller parking.

I have related the tale of how Brock was a mixologist hoping to run a mixed drinks sort of a place but the craft beer crowd moved in and he so enthusiastically supported them that he sold the business to operate the Kensington Brewing Company. 

They closed on New Year's Day but you can find Yelp reviews dated as late as July 4.  It is possible that these are really reviews of Templeton's Café which opened in the same spot in May, without any signage that I could spot.  Templeton's has a reasonable beer selection - I chose Conductors Ale by Junction City the night I visited - but the menu is quite different.  The crowd is a lot younger, too.  It is a shame to lose a place like that but we are still not lacking in choice in Toronto   

October 13, 2013

254/902)  Home:  Hockley 100 by Hockley Valley Brewing Company of Ontario:  *1/2;  4.2%;  the tin reads, "Geography is the mother of invention";  brewed using locally sourced and ancient grains;  grainy, malty nose;  grainy with fruity, berry-like notes;

October 12,2013

253/901)  Fionn MacCool's, Brampton:  Halleroder by Schlossbrauerei Au-Hallertau of Germany:  *1/2; a German pilsner;  malty with Euro-hops;

October 11, 2013

252/900)  The 3 Brewers:  Pumpkin Ale by The 3 Brewers of Ontario:  **;  6.8%, 25ibu;  strong, fresh pumpkin nose;  the spices outshine the pumpkin in the tasting, however;

October 10, 2013

251/899)  Home:  Ontario Wet Hop Ale by Nickel Brook of Ontario:  **1/2;  5.3%;  hops are added the day of harvest;  this has a wonderful floral nose;  floral flavours with fresh citrus, especially at the close;  a superlative pale ale;

October 9, 2013

250/898)  Home:  Georgian Bay Beer by Midland Beer Works of Ontario:  *1/2;  marketed as Georgian Bay Dipper;  Midland Beer Works is located in Tiny, Ontario;  that is Georgian Bay Tartan on the tin;  grainy, malty with a touch of fruitiness;

A few tins I picked up lately:

October 7, 2013

I learned yesterday that Molson Stock Ale is on tap at Ethel's Lounge in Waterloo.  I never imagined I would see it on tap again.  I dare not say how long it has been. 

I am starting to wonder if Molson Stock Ale is going the route that Black Label took in the 1980s when it was the favourite among Queen Street West trendies.  It pretty much killed the brand when they moved on. 

Ethel's is an ultra-casual neighbourhood diner/bar and as such the beer list is not too bad.  Someone like me will usually find something of interest.  The menu is heavy on the comfort foods and Tex-Mex.  It's the sort of place you don't mention visiting when you're seeing your doctor if the prescription pad is within reach.  No statins for me.

October 6, 2013

249/897)  Lion Brewery at Heuther's Hotel, Waterloo:  Pumpkin Ale by Lion Brewery of Ontario:  **;    a wonderful blend of pumpkin and spice; it's like drinking a slice of pumpkin pie; 

I love October.

October 5, 2013

247/895)  Caffe Volo:  Country Bumpkin Pumpkin Beer by Oast House Brewers of Ontario:  **1/2;  5.5%;  nose is pumpkin pie spices;  rich,, full pumpkin and spice flavours;  a superlative pumpkin ale (and by now I've had a few of those);

248/896)  Caffe Volo:  New Zealand Pale Ale by Silversmith Brewing of Ontario:  **;   6.5%;  brewed with a variety of hops including Nelson Sauvin which originated in New Zealand;  what it unique about these hops is their sauvignon blanc nose;  the result is a slightly west coast style taste with a strong malt presence;

This was post Nuit Blanche.  It seems to get busier every year.  As the evening progresses the party children begin to dominate the crowds so I checked out at about midnight.

October 4, 2013

A Tafelmusik concert took me west of Spadina so I thought a trip to Kensington Market was over-due.  One of my goals was to locate a statue of Al Waxman.  Much as it was with my quest to locate a bust of Jan Sibelius, I learned that I had been painfully close in the past and had missed it by that much.  He was between two park benches and his right hand was slightly extended so I took it as if to shake it and I said, "What a guy!".  I resisted the urge to sing the theme to King of Kensington only because I feel a dance should go with it and I haven't entirely worked it out.

That done my second goal was to locate a place I had heard of called Thirsty and Miserable on Baldwin Street.  It styles itself a beer geek dive bar.  There are no employees, only the proprietress and she strikes me as a hoot.  The night in question the joint was packed with a plethora of twenty-something empty-skulls who had evidently invented drinking just a few minutes earlier and she seemed a bit put out at the thought of pouring tiny shooters all night.

The furniture is mis-matched, not to mention unbreakable, and the beer list is written in marking pencil on a piece of corrugated cardboard torn off the side of a box.  I chose a Junction City Station Master's Stout.  It is an impressive beer list and her refrigerator holds just as many treasures. 

I hear tell that there is a menu, comprised of frozen Swanson microwave dinners at $21.95 but I gather this is in the interest of keeping a certain variety of license.  It is rumoured that if one asks after food the owner lets it be known that there is a burrito joint next door and she will not take offense if you were to come back and eat in front of her.

It is useful to know in advance that it is cash only.  My main quibble is that, owing to the presence of a fish market next door, the air is a blend of incense and raw fish.  I don't know that I would want to visit in August and I cannot attest to the loos as I did not have the courage to go down the stairs.  No matter - I will definitely return to Thirsty and Miserable and if my wife will visit the Cloak and Dagger she will enjoy the character of this place, even if we will be among the oldest and not the youngest as was the case at the Cloak and Dagger.

October 2, 2013

246/894)  Home:  Two Weeks' Notice by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  7%;  a German Porter;  brewed with lager yeast;  mocha-ish nose;  grainy mocha flavours;  makes for an interesting contrast to London Porters;

September 30, 2013

245/893)  Home: Mr. Hyde by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  7%;  a Roggenbier;  brewed with barley and rye malts;  Doesn't have the bite of some roggenbiers;  rye is present in pleasant force, it's not over-powering;  mild peppery notes of rye;  the nose is surprisingly malty;

September 29, 2013

There has been much talk lately of the possibility of a craft beer bubble set to burst.  On August 30th David Olive raised the issue in the business pages of the Toronto Star.  His bullet points include market saturation, falling beer consumption and buy-outs, among others.

On the 20th of September The Brewers' Association released an article on the topic which was cited by Steve Beaumont and the reaction was swift, though I confess I am reminded of the barbs that realtors fire out any time someone mentions a housing bubble.

The concept is hardly new and I have always imagined it was natural.  Oddly enough, I have been making notes for a while on the matter so now is as good a time to commit to print as any.

I have been drinking craft beer since the first half of the 1980s, when we called them microbrews.  I can remember when it looked like there would be brewpubs in every town in a few years.  That bubble burst and they didn't disappear altogether.  They continue to open, just at a slower pace.

What causes a bubble to burst?  Briefly put, the trend-chasers find something new.  One day those who follow craft beer because it is fashionable will finally be convinced that Armagnac is the next big thing, though likely not until after the Armagnac folks give up trying and, Heavens, they are persistent.

There are a good many signs that we are experiencing a bubble but it was an event in Toronto this past summer that convinced me.  I want to be careful naming names but from the initial announcement and a release of "additional information" (five drink tickets instead of one with your $25 admission - two to three tickets buys a half pint) it dawned on me that the craft beer movement has been reduced to fleecing hipsters in order to sustain expansion.  Who else will pay what regularly works out to twenty dollars or more per pint for something brewed in a corner of a restaurant's kitchen?

Another example:  When a television show resorts to stunt casting we know the end is near.  Of late we have witnessed brewing collaborations with Tom Green, Barenaked Ladies and others.  Brewers are going to extremes in order to be noticed in this manner, with their packaging and their names. 

Herbert Stein's law states simply that something that cannot continue will stop.  So it is with the craft beer boom but don't worry.  Working in the financial industry has taught me that a boom is not necessarily a good thing.  Does anyone else remember the days of irrational exuberance when junior gold explorers were rebranding themselves as tech companies?  Today we see beers brewed with beef jerky, Brussels sprouts and pink salt and this sort of thing will, mercifully, be gone when the craft beer bubble bursts.  We will still be left with plenty to choose from and I will continue to enjoy craft beer so let's get over it.

September 28, 2013

244/892)  Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  Princess Wears Girl Pants by Sawdust City Brewing of Ontario:  **;  8%;  This is a combination Belgian Ale and Belgian sour, brewed with wild yeast;  there is a tart, sour edge to nose;  sugary, fruity malt flavours;

September 27, 2013

241/889)  Beer Academy:  Dunkel Weiss by Six Pints Specialty Beer Company:  **;  pours soft brown;  notes of clove and banana;  reminds me a lot of the Dunkel I used to get at the same location when it was Growlers;  perhaps this is a bit richer;

242/890)  Caffe Volo:  All City by House Ales of Ontario:  **;  4.5%;  "Toronto People's Beer";  opaque;  nose is fruity;  crisp tasting with mild citrusy hops, a touch of ginger and a bit of malty sweetness to balance;  a pleasant, flavourful session beer; 

243/891)  Caffe Volo:  Pie-Eyed Pumpkin Ale by Nickel Brook of Ontario:  *1/2;  on  cask;  the mouth feel was a bit thin;  surprisingly malty back-drop;  muted spice nose, sweet muted pumpkin flavours;  against such numerous and such fine competition I regret the low score; 

The Beer Academy was holding a celebration marking the return of their Dunkel Weiss.  While I was there I sampled some triple filtered brewer's water.  Maybe it was in my mind but I found it particularly refreshing.

Yet again my notes comment on how very dark it gets inside the Volo.  I must confess my goal was to have a glass of Black Katt Stout but I missed by a couple of hours. 

September 26, 2013

A very successful hop harvest.

September 25, 2013

240/888)  Home:  Forest Fruits by Wychwood Brewery of England:  **;  sweet candy like nose;  sweet peach flavours, notes of berry and a retro-candy sort of taste ;  in spite of myself I am giving this two stars; 

I really was not expecting I would like this - it's just not the sort of thing I usually go for.

September 24, 2013

The winners of the Golden Tap Awards were announced on the 18th.  The results from on-line voting were: 

Best Microbrewery in Ontario – Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company, Vankleek Hill

Best Brewery for Cask-Conditioned Ale in Ontario – Great Lakes Brewery, Toronto

Best Bar for Draught Beer Selection in Ontario – Bar Hop, Toronto

Best Bar for Bottled Beer Selection in Ontario – Bar Volo, Toronto

Best Bar for Cask Ale in Ontario – Bar Volo, Toronto

Best Brewpub or Tied House in Ontario – Bellwoods Brewery, Toronto

Best Regularly-Produced Beer in Ontario – Muskoka Mad Tom IPA, Bracebridge

Best Seasonal or Specialty Beer in Ontario – Kensington Fruit Stand Watermelon Wheat, Toronto

Best Cask Ale in Ontario – Granite Hopping Mad, Toronto

Best Beer of the Festival (based on votes at the event) – Amsterdam Space Invader APA

The Editor's Circle Awards, chosen by a committee featuring Cass Enright, were:

Beer 4 Boobs

Joe Sacco, owner of Smokeless Joe

Great Lakes Brewery Tap Takeover at Pub Milos

JP Fournier, founder of National Capital Craft Beer Week and Winterbrewed

Amsterdam Adventure Brews

September 23, 2013

239/887)  Home:  Steam Works Pale Ale by Steam Works Brewing of British Columbia:  *1/2;  5.2%;  malty with a mild hop finish;

September 22, 2013

236/884)  Home:  Skull Splitter by Orkney Brewery of Scotland:  **1/2;  "5000 years in the making";  named for Thorfinn Hauskaluif, a 7th century Viking Earl of Orkney;  spiced nose with dried fruit notes;  spiced, gingery, brown sugar notes and fruit flavours;

237/885)  Home:  Pauwel Kwak by Brouwerij Bosteels of Belgium:  **1/2;  8.4%;  malty, slightly fruity nose;  spicy fruity flavours; 

238/886)  Home:  Oktobock by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2; 7% abv; Wild Oats #24;  a Maibock reinterpreted;  malty, peppery, almost smoky nose;  malty with a peppery finish;

I suppose I didn't have the full Pauwel Kwak experience.  The is supposed to be consumed out of a tall glass supported in a wooden stand but I wasn't keen on spending a lot of money on e-Bay to buy this.  Some day I might try it at the beerbistro where I think they have the proper gear or Sin and Redemption where I know they do.

September 21, 2013

Toronto Beer Week is winding down so we worked in a visit to the Cloak and Dagger.  There was a rib festival going on but there was also a TBW pub crawl stopping by and this may have had something to do with the fact that they were out of ribs by the time we got there.

The Cloak and Dagger is an odd place.  It caters to two distinct crowds, older Molsons/Labatts drinkers and the craft beer crowd depending on the hour and the day.  My wife says it has character.  It does not lack for characters, either.

September 20, 2013

234/882)  Blue Bay Café, Toronto:  Upper Canada Dark Ale by Sleemans of Ontario:  **;  it's been a long time since I've had one of these (and since I've been here);  rich  malty nose;  roasty malty flavours'

235/883)  Home:  Vintage Ale 2012 by Fuller's of England:  **1/2;  8.5%;  each vintage is different, in particular hop with regard to the variety of hops;  rich, dried fruit nose;  a bit spicy,a  touch of sweetness, fruitiness;  I am saving a second bottle for aging;

Upper Canada Brewing was one of the first small independent microbreweries in Ontario.  They had quite a story featuring an IPO and eventually they were absorbed by Sleeman.  A number of the big players ended up at Steam Whistle.

The Blue Bay Café is a Mauritian restaurant.  Given the history of the island the cuisine is influenced by India, China France and others.  We used to go a long time ago and it is nice to know they are still around.  Judging by their hours the owners have other things going on during the work week.

September 19, 2013

231/879)  Home:  Sea Dog Amber Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery of British Columbia:  *1/2;  brewed in Victoria, as a tribute to the West Coast Royal Canadian Navy;  malt and central European hops dominate the nose;  malty with a mild hop finish;

232/880)  Home:  Smokin' Banana Peels by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  *;  Wild Oats #11;  4.9%;  pours a  cloudy yellowy colour;  smoky bacon nose;  very smoky taste reminiscent of bacon over-powers mild clove and banana notes;  as I have said before, smoked beers do not work for me, except as a marinade - your mileage may vary;  from Beau's Oktoberfest four pack;

233/881)  Home:  Brooklyn Pilsner by Brooklyn Brewery of New York, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  "brewed in the style favored by New York's pre-prohibition German-American brewers";  strong Euro-hop nose;  a malty lager with a bite of central European hop at the finish;

September 18, 2013

228/876)  Home:  Blanceh des Honnelles by Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs of Belgium:  **;  brewed with coriander, ginger and orange peel;  a strong (6%) wheat ale with just a hint of spice;  full flavoured with ginger yielding to orange at the finish with a honeyed after taste;

229/877)  Home:  Biere de Miel by Brasserie Dupont of Belgium:  *1/2;  8% abv;  this is a bottle fermented organic beer brewed with honey and indeed there are sweet malty honey notes to the nose;  sweet honey flavours are balanced by a bit of tangy spice and sweet bubble gum flavours;  I'm not entirely sure what to make of this one;

230/878)  Home:  Grapefruit Ale by Whistler Brewing Company of British Columbia:  *1/2;  brewed in Paradise Valley;  a blonde ale brewed with grapefruit zest and coriander;  malty nose with a touch of citrus;  sweet honey citrus flavours with a spiced finish and a citrusy bite in the aftertaste;

Thursday, 14 November 2013

September 17, 2013

225/873)  Home:  IP'Eh! by Russell Brewing Company of British Columbia:  **;  gingery, almost sweet hop nose;  thin mouthfeel;  a sessionable IPA (possibly);  hoppiness is offset by maltiness but it wins out in the finish and after taste;

226/874)  Home:  Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale by Sierra Nevada of California, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  5.5%;  roasty nose with a touch of smoke, notes of chocolate;

227/875)  Home:  Switchback IPA by Lighthouse Brewing of British Columbia:  **1/2;  grapefruit nose withpeach notes;  a great west coast IPA;

Seeing as how I am half-way through the pack, it's time for a photo:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

September 16, 2013

223/871)  Home:  Pale Ale by Dead Frog Brewing of British Columbia:  *1/2;  nose is malty with a touch of sweetness;  full malty taste with a faintly hoppy finish

224/872)  Home:  Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge by Brouwerij Bockar of Belgium:  **1/2;  spontaneously fermented;  matured 18 months in wooden barrels;  nose is tart, cidery;  fizzy, dry with notes of cherry tart apple cider;  a bit late for Zwanze day but who cares?;

September 15, 2013

221/869)  Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  Black Lager by Silversmith Brewing of Ontario:  **;  mildly hoppy with a touch of dark coffee and a hint of chocolate;

222/870)  Bryden's, Toronto:  Mosaic IPA by Great Lakes Brewing of Ontario:  **;  very rich floral nose;  luxurious floral hoppiness;  part of the Best of the West Toronto Beer Week event;

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

September 14, 2013

213/861)  C'est What:  Rosin Bag by Left Field Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  6.5% abv;  grapefruit nose;  slightly resiny with a touch of tropical fruit hoppiness;  

Left Field has quickly become one of my favourite brewers.  So much so that on my Golden Tap Awards ballot, I entered them for an Editors' Circle Award as best newcomer.  I still haven't tried Maris* but I am looking forward to it, much the way I do to any Left Field offering.  Yes, baseball historians, there is an asterisk after the name Maris.

214/862)  C'est What:  Gingerbread Winter Ale by Flying Monkeys of Ontario:  **;  7.6% abv;  it really does smell just like gingerbread;  very warming with gingery flavours;

215/863)  C'est What:  Platform 13 IPA by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  **;  6.7% abv;   mildly grapefruity against a malty backbone;   bitter hoppy after taste;

216/864)  C'est What:  Autumn Hop IPA by Amsterdam Brewery of Ontario:  **;  5.5% abv;  this is  Amsterdam's Harvest Ale;  pleasantly hopped but not over-powering;

217/865)  C'est What:  Old Kentucky Bastard by Nickel Brook of Ontario:  **1/2;  10.5% abv;  another barrel-aged selection;  sweet, bourbon nose;  a complex blend of alcohol, coffee, bourbon and espresso;

218/866)  C'est What:  Corduroy IPA by Northwinds Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  6.1% abv;  I found the hops were over-powered by the sweet maltiness;

219/867)  C'est What:  Tilt Ale by Kensington Brewing Company of Ontario:  *;  4.4% abv;  this pinball themed wheat ale didn't really work for me;  wheaty nose;  rather bland;

220/868)  C'est What:  Rhyme and Reason by Collective Arts of Ontario:  *1/2;  5.7%;  crisp malty summer lager;  Rhyme and Reason is best known for its label art which is not terribly easy to attest to on draught;

This was the second night of C'est What's Festival of Craft Brewers.  I was dining with my wife so I behaved a bit better.  Save for the first one (I was pretty sure I would like it) these were all three ounce samples.

Monday, 11 November 2013

September 13, 2013

This looks bad.  Allow me to explain.

Today was the opening evening of Toronto Beer Week 2013 and C'est What's 25th Annual Festival of Craft Breweries.  Save for my first drink, a pint of Texas Tea on cask (a bit thinner than I remembered it), everything here was a three ounce sample, give or take.  By my calculation six or so makes a full, C'est What sized pint so go easy on me.

I had planned to do some beer shopping first, which I did, and then visit Cork's at Longo's for a cask ale event.  Yes, the Longo's at Maple Leaf Square features a pub and it serves genuinely good Ontario craft beer.  The atmosphere is a bit lacking, you're in a grocery store after all, but this is off-set by the mood you are sent into at the thought of imbibing where your instincts tell you that you really shouldn't be raising a glass.  They have a special during the first few days of the week where a ten inch pizza and a pint go for ten dollars - quite a deal.  They discourage tipping but I ignore that.  People have to make a living.

Instead I went directly to C'est What which was a good decision because even though I arrived at the appointed hour for the festival to kick off, I had to wait in a bit of a line.

I met a friendly and congenial fellow named Radek who was a key player in the history of RateBeer.   We found a corner to set up camp and visited the bar in turns and compared notes.  It made a great night even better and so what if he walked off with my pen.  I follow Miss Legge's advice given in grade nine to always carry two or three, though she was speaking the context of writing an exam.

198/846)  C'est What:  Bourbon Barrel Breakfast Stout by Indie Ale House of Ontario:  **;  8%;  dark brown, cloudy;  strong bourbon nose;  sweet boozy bourbon notes; 

199/847)  C'est What:  Toronto Beer Week Belgian Quad by Great Lakes Brewery of Ontario:  **;  10%;  dark, very carbonated, almost fizzy;  very faint clove notes; sweet yeasty nose;  a Quadrupel brewed to mark the 4th anniversary of Toronto Beer Week;  Radek took it upon himself to ask who brewed this which is how I came to know.

200/848)  C'est What:  Grindstone Amber Ale by Broadhead Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  4.8%;  hazy amber;  a touch of fruit to the nose;  very crisp;  almost dry, club soda-like;

201/849)  C'est What:  Honey Oat Stout by Church Key Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  8%;  pours black with a  sweet honeyed nose; sweet mocha flavours with dark coffee notes;  Church Key is located in Campbellford to be precise.  I know a couple of people who are from the area.

202/850)  C'est What:  Kolvoord Hopburst by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  8.6%;  on cask;  wonderfully strong grapefruit nose;  delicious hop notes - one of my favourites of the evening;  It turns out that the name is a goof on the Kolvoord Starburst which is a hazardous, forbidden manoeuver performed by light spacecraft from that other Star Trek series.

203/851)  C'est What:  Test Flight 7 by Bush Pilot Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  14.0% - they like their beers strong at Bush Pilot;  on cask;  pours dark amber;  the alcohol is very well concealed;  raw sugar nose;  very complex:  dried fruit notes, rich, herbal, rooty;  my notes read, "wow!";  I concluded that it  must be barrel aged and indeed on inquiry I learned that it is an Eisbock aged in Swedish whiskey barrels;  I think three ounces is probably the ideal serving size for this one.

204/852)  C'est What:  Distillery Ale by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;    6%;  a grainy, old school ale;  The significance of the name is that the Mill Street Brewpub is located in Toronto's Distillery District.

205/853)  C'est What:  Royal George Brown Ale by Barley Days Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  4.5%abv;  a grainy, bready, old school English, or North American English ale with a touch of sugar;

206/854)  C'est What:  Harvester by Junction Craft Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;   5% abv;  this one was a favourite of Radek's;  grapefruit nose, mildly citrusy flavours, which only intensify during the aftertaste;

207/855)  C'est What:  Ginger Spiced Ale by Cheshire Valley Brewing of Ontario:  **;  5% abv;  hazy with a gingery nose and gingery flavours;  very much a ginger beer in the traditional sense - great for summer;

208/856) C'est What:  Un-filtered Pilsner by Steam Whistle Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  5% abv;  perhaps I'm stretching things to say this one is new to me and here's to Dad, by the way who worked in the roundhouse when it housed steam trains;  as you might expect, it's cloudy and a lot like Steam Whistle but I think it is a bit better for being un-filtered;

209/857)  C'est What:  Cinnamon Spiced Porter by Cheshire Valley Brewing of Ontario:  **;  5.6%abv;  nose is that of a typical English porter:  coffee, mocha;   the spices reside in the flavours and they are particularly strong in the after taste where cinnamon is especially prominent;

210/858)  C'est What:  Belgian Stout by Spearhead Brewing of Ontario:  **;  6% abv;  pours very dark brown;  a mildly yeasty stout with faint clove notes;

211/859)  C'est What:  Fenugreek Brown Ale by Black Oak Brewing of Ontario:  **;  5.1% abv;  on cask;  fenugreek is a medicinal herb used for a variety of ailments;  sweet maple syrupy nose;  syrupy flavours with a maple after taste; 

212/860)  C'est What"  Remarkable Light by Gananoque Brewing Company of Ontario:   *;  3.9%abv;  I ordered this out of fondness for Gananoque Brewing and their Train Wreck Ale in particular;  slightly grainy nose and flavours with a bit of fruit;  OK for a light beer, I suppose;

Egads, it really does look as though I mis-behaved so I feel the need to repeat that these were three ounce samples consumed slowly.  It was a great bus ride home, though.