Tuesday, 30 December 2014

December 18, 2014

Regrettably, I ought to have been able to predict my final installment of the twelve beers I miss series.  When the 3 Brewers switched from rotating seasonal beers to a "Neighbourhood Beer", unique to each outlet I might have suspected that my favourite of the lot, their Winter Warmer might be in jeopardy.

I am hoping to be able to compare my memories to this month's feature, Festive Amber Ale, but the Yonge Street location was out and Adelaide Street was still on November's beer.  With luck I will have another opportunity for a visit.

Monday, 29 December 2014

December 17, 2014

An interesting story, courtesy my alma mater, the University of Toronto:

No small beer: how lager conquered the world

December 16, 2014

Some sad news today.  The Beer Academy is closing its doors at the end of the year.  One of the possibilities being discussed is re-opening as a Creemore Brewpub but it has been emphasized that nothing has been decided for certain save that the re-opening will take place in the Fall of 2015.

I know it is unfashionable, the Beer Academy is a craft beer front for Molson-Coors after all, and it will cost me whatever craft beer street cred I might have but I always liked this place and the beers they created. I will have fond memories of the Baltic Porter among others

It seems to me that the Beer Academy suffered from much the same set of circumstances as the previous tenant,  Duggan's Brewery, even more so.  Besides the smallish pub/tasting room/retail outlet there was a space for private parties and an events space downstairs.  Neither was used all that often and the rent, rumoured to be rather high, was due just the same.  Back in the day when Second City performed nearby there was a lot more foot traffic in the area.  I still say that the very best use of this particular space was back when Denison's (fine dining) was upstairs and Growler's Brewpub was downstairs.  The snacks coming out of their common kitchen were certainly upscale and it seemed to work for a while.

I am going to miss the Beer Academy.  I don't know if I can bring myself to visit one last time or not.

December 15, 2014

280/1261) Home:  Winter Warmer by Black Creek Historic Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  6.5%;  brewed and purchased at Black Creek Pioneer Village;  brewed with coriander and orange peel;  un-carbonated;   the nose is fresh citrus;  notes of roast, spice, (mild) orange;  bitter oil of citrus after taste;  a great cold weather brew;

December 13, 2014

278/1259) beerbistro:  Old Time Gingerbread Porter by Oast House Brewers of Ontario:  **1/2;  5.5%;  full-on gingerbread nose;  tastes of spice, primarily ginger;  the traditional roasty chocolate notes one associates with porters hold off until the finish;

279/1260) Beer Academy:  Holiday Dubbel by Six Pints Specialty Brewing Co. of Ontario:  **1/2;  7.5%, 18 ibu;  rich, herbal, nearly medicinal nose;  rich, spiced fruitcake taste;

I purchased one of 280 wax dipped bottles to take home.  It is lined up alongside some other delights of the season.

And another reason to love this time of year:

December 12, 2014

277/1258) Rotary Glen, Brampton:  Old Vienna by Molson-Coors of Ontario:  *1/2;  O.V. was brewed by Carling O'Keefe back in the day;  an old school lager;  grainy with a hint of hops;  for old times' sake - a retro choice;

The occasion was the office Christmas party.

December 11, 2014

276/1257) Home:  Allgäuer Oka Bier by Privatbrauereu Höss of Germany:  *1/2;  5.2%;  straw colour;  sweet fruity malty nose;  hint of fruit with grainy malt;

From this rather fun multi-pack:

December 9, 2014

I am advised that I should be outraged.

While I cannot support secret deals sponsored by an accountable government, the concept of a negotiated border between The Beer Store and the LCBO is not causing me to wet my bed, though I cannot speak for other beer bloggers.  I suppose for a paper that would put a video of a dieting politician visiting a KFC outlet at the very top of their on-line edition this makes for Big News but it is hardly Woodward and Bernstein in the real world.

I have written here before that I explicitly do not want the LCBO to be carrying twelve or twenty-four packs.  I am sufficiently annoyed by the preponderance of sixes.  The LCBO is a zero sum game.  Those facings people want devoted to large beer packages are going to push other items off the shelf.  The Beer Store has the room, let them have that corner of the business.  Instead of allowing this to distract us, I think we would do better to focus on ways to improve the methods of beer distribution in Ontario for the smaller brewers.  Let's call it the right decision for the wrong reason and condemn the process, but not necessarily the result.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

December 7, 2014

275/1256) Home:  Jaw Gate by Buxton Brewery of England:  **;  5.6%;  an American style IPA;  "created and named to celebrate a recent 'slight altercation", the details of which remain obscure;  piney nose;  soft piney notes;

December 5, 2014

273/1254) Tracks Brewpub:  Tracks (New) Light by Tracks Brewpub of Ontario:  *1/2;  berry-like nose;  it is quite minerally, almost metallic - it's sort of like a cream ale;  it really is not as bad as the regulars are making out but I fear management has lost confidence with this brew - they are rather aggressively promoting Black and Tans, a mixture of Tracks Light and their Old Mill, as a means of using it up;

A random Tracks thought:  Is Melodie wearing those clear, non-prescription glasses to scare off the wolves?  It's not working.

Oh, yes, and I was mocked mercilessly for sniffing my glass and recording tasting notes.  A Rat Pack style sense of humour is useful if you sit at the bar at Tracks.

274/1255) Home:  Black Wych by Wychwood Brewery of England:  **;  a "spellbinding porter";  5%;  brewed with barley and oats;  grainy roasty nose;  flavours of grain, roast with chocolate notes;

December 4, 2014

272/1253) Home:  Warlock by Southern Tier of New York. U.S.A.:  **;  from Southern Tier's Blackwater series, an imperial stout brewed "to counterpoint our Imperial Pumking";  it weighs in at 8.6%,  which is the same as Pumking;  brewed with spices but no pumpkin as opposed to Pumking which uses both;  for fun I tasted these side by side:  Pumking is clear and the presence of pumpkin and spices is reflected in the nose;  Warlock is dark and opaque and while it lacks pumpkin it tastes of pumpkin pie spices;  flavours associated with stouts like roasty malt makes its presence known at finish with mild chocolate notes;

December 3, 2014

271/1252)  Home:  Pumpkin Ale by Steamworks Brewing Co. of British Columbia:  **1/2;  6.5%, 25 ibu;  brewed with pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves;  clear, very low carbonation;  perhaps a bit spice heavy but only a bit;  tastes like Mom's pumpkin pie which is to say, outstanding;

December 2, 2014

269/1250)  Home:  Kürbis-Bombe Märzen  by Six Pints Specialty Brewing Company of Ontario:  **1/2;  5.5%, 16 ibu;  purchased at the Beer Academy;  brewed with forty Fairytale Pie pumpkins (roasted) and added to the mash, spices added to the boil;  fresh pumpkin nose with spices;  flavours are an ideal blend of pumpkin and spices;

270/1251)  Home:  Eureka Cream Ale by Bell City Brewing Co. of Ontario:  **;  5.8%;  a pre-prohibition style cream ale brewed with four malts and four hops;  malty nose with a mild hop edge;  tastes a bit sweet with a mildly hoppy finish;

December 1, 2014

267/1248) Home:  Fat Jack Double Pumpkin by Boston Brewing Company of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:   **;   8.5%;  brewed with pumpkin - 28 pounds per barrel - , cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice; spiced nose - there is pumpkin but it is largely over-shadowed;  after letting it sit for a bit, the pumpkin becomes more present in the nose;  flavours of alcohol and a blend of pumpkin and spice with the spice winning out; spiced after taste;

268/1249)  Home:  Downhill Pale Ale by Collingwood Brewery of Ontario:  **;  5.4%;  nose is fresh, floral, earthy hops;  similar flavours;  I've had the same sort of thing, much more aggressively hopped, and this is a welcome alternative;

Some more seasonal beers:

Some tinned beers:

Sunday, 7 December 2014

November 30, 2014

266/1247) Home:  Paranormal Imperial Pumpkin Ale by Flying Monkeys of Ontario:  *;  10%;  brewed with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, roasted pumpkins;  very strongly spiced nose;  tastes over-overpoweringly spiced;  maybe aging would take the edge off but for now it is scarcely drinkable;

November 28, 2014

264/1245) Home:  Monster Mash by Barn Door Brewing Company of Ontario:  **;  7.5%;  deep chestnut colour;  creamy head;  dark sugary nose;  dark burnt sugar notes;  hints of root beer, even chocolate;  surprisingly complex;

265/1246) Home:  Saphir Hop Ale by Alexander Keith's of Ontario:  **;  5.5%;  clear; nose like Chinese tea;  hints of tannins, citrusy notes;  black tea notes;

November 27, 2014

262/1243)  C'est What:  Perry Loved Mary by Old Flame Brewing Co. .of Ontario:  **;  6.3%, 81 ibu;  very floral hoppy nose;  sweet, herbal, floral, almost gingery hop notes;  there is an underlying sweetness in spite of the high ibu figure;

263/1244) C'est What:  Cuckoo For Cocoa Husks by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  on cask;  a porter brewed with cocoa husks added directly to the mash;  very thin mouthfeel;  persistent beige head;  mild mocha nose with milk chocolaty mocha flavours;

I drove an hour to Guelph to buy this, and then I turned around and headed back home but I hadn't had a chance to try it yet and when I saw it on cask I had to taste it that way.  It was necessary to call up a Youtube video from 1974 in order for my son to appreciate, if not get, the joke.

November 26, 2014

261/1242) Home:  Jumpin' Jack India Pumpkin Ale by Tree Brewing of British Columbia:  **;  6.5%, 65 ibu;  nose is sharp, earthy hops - the spices are almost entirely over-shadowed; opens with spice but hops quickly rush to the front throughout the finish and after taste with just a touch of spice remaining;

November 25, 2014

260/1241) Home:  Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  2014 Reserve St. Ambrose Russian Imperial Stout by McAuslan of Quebec:  ***;  9.2%;   rather than using chocolate malt, the barley was roasted;  there is so much going on in both the nose and the flavours but  what I took most from this was how warming it was and how long the flavours lingered - one of the longest finishes I can recall;  the nose is wine and coffee;  flavours of sharp red wine, molasses, raisins, figs, chocolate, vanilla;  it was quite an experience;

In recent years, the LCBO has alternated on an annual basis between carrying McAuslan's Vintage Ale and their Russian Imperial Stout.  Last year McAuslan came up with a work-around and released three vintages in one package.  This year, the year of the 25th anniversary of their Russian Imperial Stout, it is not listed at the LCBO.  McAuslan responded by shipping twenty-five kegs of the Russian Imperial Stout to twenty-five Ontario pubs and set a time of 8:25 at which the kegs will be tapped.  I was expecting a count-down like New Year's Eve but it was all very subdued.  Best of all, I managed to get the very first glass.  Quite a number of samples were handed out but that's the sort of place the Monk's Kettle is.

This very nearly did not happen.  The previous night an unusually heavy thunderstorm knocked out power in Etobicoke and the Monk's Kettle was without refrigeration. They set three kegs on ice, including this one.  It made for sparse selection for those not drinking the RIS.

November 23, 2014

259/1240) Home:  The Witty Traveller by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  4.2%, 15 ibu;  brewed with malted barley and wheat, orange peel zest, coriander, white pepper;  the tin reads, "The Witty Traveller has finally arrived!  With spices from the East, the fruits of the South and yeasts of the North enveloped in tastes and aromas of far flung places"  clear pale colour; coriander, peppery nose;  tastes of spice with a touch of smoke;  I suspect this would be even better to cook with than to drink;

November 21, 2014

256/1237) Beer Academy:  Imperial Stout by Six Pints Specialty Beer Co. of Ontario:  **1/2;  9.07%. 50 ibu;  aged for 6 months;  their suggested pairing is "cold nights and great friends"  nose is bitter dark chocolate and mocha; notes of alcohol, mocha, roast, rich and smooth;

This became available today - I had been hearing about it for quite a while.  This is the draught version but I also took a bottle home.

257/1238)  Thirsty and Miserable:  Weendigo Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout by Forked River Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2; nose is dark roasted coffee, wine, bourbon, oak;  flavours of deep, dark, rich espresso, oak;

258/1239)  Thirsty and Miserable:  Saison du Gilligan, a collaboration between Great Lakes Brewing and Bar Hop, both of Ontario:  **1/2;  a cloudy saison brewed with guava;  the aspects I do not care for in saisons are ably masked by the addition of guava;  fresh tropical fruit nose;  delicious guava flavours with a bit of a hop bite at the finish;

I was thinking at the time, and clearly it's a two-beer plus idea, but as I am more likely at this point in my life to be blessed with grand-children than with children, if I put a twenty dollar bill in an envelope every time I am paid, in a couple of years I will have one thousand dollars in cash with which I can reward the first child of mine who presents us with a grand-child named Gilligan.  I will accept it as a middle name.

The above is a good representation of the sort of mood that Thirsty and Miserable puts me in.  Katie's latest chalkboard entries read, "please be advised we do not provide lemons, limes or straws", "stuff that is not beer - if it is not listed here we do not have it" and "we do (not) serve pitchers".  I have been trying for several months without success to tout a family or work event there.

November 20, 2014

255/1236)  Home:  Dial "Z" For Zwickel by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  5.7%; Wild Oats Series No. 44;  the German Beer Institute defines Zwickelbiers as "essentially an effervescent form of a Bavarian Kellerbier but generally brewed slightly weaker and less hop-accented";  I dare say, I like this more than most Kellerbiers I have tried;  the nose is pretty much a equal blend of hops and malt;  almost pilsner like flavours;  Euro hops are blunted by malt, followed by a bitter after taste;