Saturday, 31 December 2011

December 30, 2011

398)  Home:  Grasshopper Wheat Ale by Big Rock Brewery of Alberta:  **;  has a malty, biscuity nose;  very well balanced with a hint of citrus to boot;  the label reads, "sunshine in a glass";  as it suggests, while it would be great in the summer it is interesting enough to enjoy in the cooler months;  a big thank you to my niece for sending it in my direction;

Shame on me - this is the first Big Rock product all year.  They deserve better than that from me.

December 29, 2011

397)  Home:  Black Coal Stout by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  as I said earlier this one is impossible to find (I think they only brewed enough for 600 bottles) but my brother found it so it's three cheers for him;  notes of sweet mocha with a mild hop presence;  it reminds me of the stout I helped brew a couple of months ago at Black Creek Pioneer Village;

Railway City is among my favourite Ontario breweries.  Dead Elephant IPA is a classic and when it is available I always go looking for Double Dead Elephant double IPA. 

Railway City cannot go wrong with dark beers.  Black Coal is the latest example and in a few weeks I am going to start looking for Sham-Bock.  I found it by accident last year at The Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern.  Their taps change so rapidly that the handles do not always stay current so at the risk of sounding foolish, I always ask what they have even though the handles are in front of me (the outstanding barmaids there would never allow anyone to feel foolish so don't be shy).

Speaking of Dead Elephant, I am seeing it in tins now which makes me think the bottles are being discontinued.  I am hanging on to one bottle for the label which looks a lot nicer than the can.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

December 28, 2011

396)  Home:  Winter Beer 2011 by Innis & Gunn of Scotland:  **1/2;  I thought I detected less sweetness than in the Spiced Rum Finish;  there are notes of brown sugar and dried fruit;  dark, rich caramel flavours;  matured for 48 days;

I should use this space to declare that my wife "got" Innis & Gunn long before I did. 

Their web-site has received a good deal of praise of late:  It is worth a visit just for the story of how they came to create their beers in the manner that they do. 

As best I can tell, the only way to get the Winter Beer 2011, not to mention the Spiced Rum Finish, is in the gift pack with the glass and I am sorely tempted to purchase another.  I am starting to see the original Innis & Gunn on draught.  I had a glass at the beerbistro and it is quite a treat on tap.

December 27, 2011

395)  Home:  Utopias 2011 by Samuel Adams Brewery of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:  **; I found the nose to be a combination of fruitcake (my brother-in-law's wonderfully boozy fruitcake in particular) and brown sugar;  tastes of brandy and dried apricot;  my wife, who I think likes this more than I do, said it reminds her of sherry;

I am advised that this is best served at room temperature.  It comes in a beautiful ceramic decanter.   A label on the decanter points out that Utopias 2011 is brewed with maple syrup.  The yeast is a strain normally used for champagne.  This edition is a blend of batches, as many as eighteen years old, aged in a variety of woods.  The casks used once stored bourbon, Spanish sherry, madiera, brandy, cognac and port.  It makes for very complex sipping.  Of the spate of "strong" beers from the last year or two, Stephen Beaumont opines that this is the strongest of the lot that is actually brewed in the manner of a beer - the others are made by a process more akin to distilling.  One reference advised to consider this a beer liqueur.  At 27% (not to mention $114.95 for 710ml) I am treating this as I would a spirit with one ounce servings.

I really should give this a couple more spins before forming an opinion but I don't want to get too far behind in publishing either.

December 26, 2011

393)  Home:  Lager by Dead Frog Brewery of British Columbia:  *1/2;  a fairly typical lager with perhaps a little something special as lagers go, but not particularly distinctive;

394)  Home:  Spiced Rum Finish by Innis & Gunn of Scotland:  **1/2;  finished over oak infused with spiced Carribean rum;  marvelously complex and warming;  aged for 47 days prior to release;  from a gift pack I bought for myself, which comes with a very nice glass;

I have to admit, I did VERY well in terms of beer this Christmas.  People were more than kind. 

I was initially taken aback when my niece advised me that the grasshopper was from her but I was delighted to learn that she meant Grasshopper Wheat Ale by Big Rock.  My brother worked a miracle and found Black Coal Stout by Railway City which is basically unavailable.  My wife checked in with a pair of gift packs and my son presented me (if you will excuse the term) with six Netherworld by Flying Monkeys. 

I will be enjoying my Christmas beers well into January, if not February.  Luckily, at this time of year I am able to store what doesn't fit in the beer fridge in the garage without fear of spoilage by lack of refrigeration.

Monday, 26 December 2011

December 25, 2011

391)  Home:  Bah Humbug! by Wychwood Brewery of England:  **;  "Christmas Cheer!";  I was saving this one for today;  while the label indicates that this is a "strong beer", at 5% I think they are referring to the bold flavours;  said label indicates that it is brewed with cinnamon but it doesn't appear on the list of ingredients, though cloves and coriander do;  a very warming brew;

392)  Home:  Nut Brown Ale by Dead Frog Brewery of British Columbia;  **;  sweet, malty nose;  the sweetness carries on to the taste with notes of chocolate and roasty malts;  my favourite so far from the Winter Mixer pack; 

There have been comments about "carrion beer" what with Dead Frog, Dead Elephant, Dead Guy, etc.

Allow me to add, belatedly, Merry Christmas to all my readers.

December 24, 2011

389)  The home of someone else:  Bavaria of Holland by Bavaria Inc. of the Netherlands:  *;  grainy, bready;  in one of his books, Nicholas Pashley suggested that the Belgians send us Stella Artois in the hope that we will keep our hands off their good beers and I suspect the Dutch are doing the same thing here;

390)  The home of someone else:  Kronenbourg 1664 by Brasseries Kronenbourg of France:  *;  another grainy European lager;

December 23, 2011

387)  The Crown and Anchor, Brampton:  Lowenbrau Original by Lowenbrau Munchen of Germany:  *;  a very ordinary lager;

388)  Home:  Pepper Lime Lager by Dead Frog Brewery of British Columbia:  *1/2;  similar to the Mandarin Orange Amber Ale in that they use the oil of lime, as well as black pepper;  I can't help but thinking this would go well with Mexican food and it would probably be good to use in cooking;

Yes, I sort of knew what to expect from the Lowenbrau.  I was a tiny bit curious, though, having seen it advertised so much.  I was at the Crown and Anchor because I knew they had cider on tap and I was enjoying my visit so much that I used it as an excuse to stay longer.  I don't thnk the one barmaid stopped laughing the whole time I was there.

Another beer I think would be good to cook with is Dieu du Ciel's Route des Epices (Spice Route), a rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.  I think it would work with my hamburger stroganoff recipe.

December 22, 2011

385)  Home:  Mandarin Orange Amber Ale by Dead Frog Brewery of British Columbia:  *1/2;  this is brewed with "pure orange oil" instead of juice or pulp which lends more subtle flavours;  in the manner of my visit to Gambrinus in London, I can't help thinking that this would be great in the summer with fish and chips;

386)  Home:  Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale by Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) of England:  **;  has a bready aroma;  lightly spiced, this is the perfect way to mark Winter's arrival (at least it is in this time zone);

I was hoping to be able to mark today with Dieu du Ciel's Solstice d'Hiver (Winter Solstice), reviewed earlier, but I would have had to make the journey to Toronto to find it.  With luck I will come across it locally in short order.

Yes, after being promised as far back as April, Dead Frog has finally arrived.  Their Winter Mixer pack is in a few LCBOs but none are handy to me.  I picked it up instead at the Beer Store.  The website promised inventory at two nearby locations a couple of weeks before anyone actually had any but at least when I did visit they had heard of it and they knew what I was talking about.  In one store they went so far as to suggest other brands to try, seeing as how I liked the out of the ordinary beers.

I am seeing more of the smaller brands at the Beer Store of late, the Paddock Woods and others.

December 21, 2011

On Saturday, I finally was able to pick up my bottle of Sam Adams' Utopias.  This was as much of an adventure as reserving the bottle was.

First off, the store never did phone me to let me know it was in.  I was fishing around the LCBO site on the previous day (which was four weeks after I paid for it) when I saw mention of how to get the free glass that was to come with the Utopias which implied to me that people were receiving their bottles.  I used the contact function and received a very fast reply informing me that it was indeed at the outlet I had chosen to pick it up from.  They just hadn't called yet.

I was without a car as I had plans to go into town and was taking the bus to and from Union Station but the next to last Friday before Christmas was not going to be any less busy than the next day.  It was quite a wait as the individual they sent to retrieve it not only seemed to wish he was doing something else but he had no concept what he was looking for.

At any rate, I did not drink it in the car on the way home and the beautiful ceramic bottle sits soon to be opened.  The tag on the neck of the bottle advises it is best consumed at room temperature,  I hear tell that when the beerbistro has Utopias they ask $20.00 for an ounce, but they do take your photo with the bottle.

Without having tried it yet, I think it is a safe bet that I will try to buy it again next year.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

December 20, 2011

384)  Home:  Grande Reserve 17 by Unibroue of Quebec:  **1/2;  very Belgian, brewed in the Trappist style;  aged in French Oak and re-fermented in the bottle;  a dark ale with sweet fruity notes and warming alcohol (10%); 

The signifiance of the "17" is that this was first brewed in 2001 to celebrate Unibroue's seventeenth anniversary. 

December 19, 2011

383)  Home:  Kozel by Pizensky Prazdroj of the Czech Republic:  *1/2;  bready, grainy nose;  a standard central European lager, brewed in Pilsen (!);

December 18, 2011

382)  Home:  Dominus Vobiscum Double by Microbrasserie Charlevoix of Quebec:  **;  comes in at a warming 8%;  bottle conditioned;  sweet and yeasty in the Belgian style;

December 17, 2011

381)  Home:  Bog Water by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  thie Eastern Ontario Gruit is a winter seasonal;  wild bog myrtle is used in place of hops which lends flavours of herbs and roots;

Beau's is located in VanKleek Hill which is 45 minutes or so east of Ottawa.  Their wares are uncommonly popular in Toronto and much credit must go to a fellow named Rob whom I have met on several occasions.  He is very friendly and engaging and he has done a lot to get the word out.

December 16, 2011

380)  C'est What, Toronto:  Deviator Doppelbock by Cameron's Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  for all the build-up I found it rather non-descript;  malty with a touch of sweetness;

December 15, 2011

Readers may have gathered that I have many fond memories of a location on Victoria Street in Toronto, between Queen and Adelaide.  I liked it as Duggan's Brewery and particularly as Growlers. 

Growlers was fun because, perhaps unintentionally, it was extremely kid-friendly.  An enormous chesterfield snaked its way around the outer perimeter in a jagged fashion creating numerous enclaves and corners to limit a young one's ability to scamper off. 

The food was generally appetizer sized which was ideal for kids and people like me who couldn't make up their minds.

The latest attempt to make a go at this location will be coming from the Six Pints Specialty Beer Company, which is the division of Molson-Coors that operates their craft brewing lines like Creemore Springs and Granville Island.  The idea is to house their offices, use the brewing facilities for one-off beers and there is talk of a brewing museum on site.  It doesn't appear that there will be a pub to speak of but there will be kitchen facilities for events.

I am a lot less impressed with Creemore Springs than I once was.  This could be snobbery kicking after they were purchased by Molson's, or maybe my tastes have changed or maybe the background against which I am judging has changed.

Friday, 23 December 2011

December 14, 2011

379)  Navigator by Dutch Export Breweries of the Netherlands;  it has a yeasty nose, reminiscent if Belgian beers, with hints of alcohol and spice;

December 13, 2011

378)  Home:  Dark & Handsome by Box Steam Brewery of England:  **;  rich tasting with hints of berries and roastiness;

December 12, 2011

376)  The 3 Brewers, Toronto:  The Holiday Ale by The 3 Brewers of Ontario:  **1/2;  described as "a festive amber brew rich in malts and hops";  it is nicely spiced;  I have been back a couple of times specifically for a glass of this one so it ranks pretty close to three full stars;

377)  beerbistro, Toronto:  Maudite by Unibroue of Quebec:  **1/2;  strong (8%) and warmingly spiced in the sort of way you wish every fruitcake was spiced;

December 11, 2011

376)  Home:  Imperial Stout by Nogne Ø of Norway:  **1/2;  the nose is expresso and alcohol;  bitter coffee flavours with a touch of caramel;  if you are keeping score, this one weighs in at 9%;

December 10, 2011

One of the hazards in attempting to come up with new beers to drink is that names change.  I have already covered the matter of the matter of Elora ESB going by Patrick's Pick for St. Patrick's Day and now I have learned that Muskoka's Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout has been re-named Winter Beard.  The new bottle looks great, though.

December 9, 2011

374)  Home:  New World Tripel by Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, USA:  **1/2;  the nose is yeast and champagne;  a sweet, yeasty Belgian style tripel;  aged in oak barrels;  another strong (10%) warming winter beer; 

December 8, 2011

373)  Home:  Weissbier by Denison's Brewing Company of Ontario:  *1/2;  the nose is grainy and the taste features notes of cloves, banana and yeast, though not nearly so bold as the wheat beer back in the day at Growlers;

Thursday, 8 December 2011

December 7, 2011

372)  Home:  Organic Lager by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  *;  an ordinary lager, unredeemed by the "organic" appelation;  not everything from Mill Street is a winner but I had to buy this one in the seasonal sampler package in order to get the ESB and Franconian Bock;

December 6, 2011

371)  Home: St. Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout by McAuslan of Quebec:  **1/2;  another terrific RIP, a style I have become very fond of;  this one weighs in at a very warming 9.2%;  the nose is expresso with a touch of alcohol;  rich bitter coffee flavours with a hint of chocolate;  aged in bourbon wood;

In light of the recent surge in Russian readers (Russia now places third in terms of page views per country) I stood at attention, facing East, and toasted my friends not yet met from Russia with this dark brew.  I will be thinkng of you on Monday at Toronto's Gardiner Ceramic Museum as I visit an exhibit called The Tsars' Cabinet - a collection of "decorative arts" from Imperial Russia.

December 5, 2011

370)  Home:  Past Masters XX Strong Ale by Fuller's of England:  **1/2;  the nose is alcohol with a touch of dried fruit;  strong, full-blooded flavours finishing with bitter alcohol notes;  matured for three months then bottle conditioned;  this is the first of the Past Masters series and dates from September 2, 1891;

December 4, 2011

369)  Home:  Old Winter Ale by Fuller's of England:  **;  lightly spiced nose;  tastes of English hops with a mildly bitter finish;

Fuller's is the featured brewer at the LCBO these days.

December 3, 2011

368) Home:  Past Masters Double Stout by Fuller's of England:  **1/2;  brewed following a recipe dated August 4, 1893;  the nose is bitter coffee, expresso and alcohol;  roasty taste with coffee and alcohol notes;  I was reminded of Dieu du Ciel!'s Peche Mortel;  a very warming 7.4% octane; 

This is the second of a series.  The label informs that since 1845, their head brewers have kept a book of recipes.

The skating rink at Gage Park will be opening any day now.  This will be nice to come home to after a few kilometres of skating. 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

December 2, 2011

I am afraid I let my team-mates down this past evening.  Believe it or don't our Branch Manager set up three teams for "boat races" at the staff Christmas party.  I have never believed that drinking should be a spectator sport so this was my first such experience.  I think my captain thought that what with all my training and experience drinking beer I would perform better but this was not the case. 

For starters it was a slender half pint glass and not the usual pint glass I drink from.  To be kind, the beer was not my brand.  The glass indicated it was Moretti but whatever it was, it tasted of mass production.  I found myself fighting the urge to sniff the contents periodically and make withering, scornful notes which did not make for speed.  It serves them right for making me drink this sort of stuff.

December 1, 2011

The main point of this exercise is my desire to have goals and I do have several on-going.  As of today I am able to state that in 2011 I ran outside in short pants every month of the year and that I also drank beer on the patio of Tracks Brewpub each month of the year. 

Goals need not be virtuous or praise-worthy, it's enough that they are goals.

November 30, 2011

367)  Home:  Ayinger Celebrator by Brauerei Aying of Germany:  **;  a Doppelbock with a somewhat yeasty nose and a sweet yeastiness that almost takes one to Belgium with warming alcohol notes;  it seemed appropriate what with me having so much to be celebrating these days;

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

November 29, 2011

366)  Home:  Honey Brown Mild by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  **;  a 3.3% session ale;  the nose is honeyed caramel;  tastes of sweet honey and caramel with hints of mocha;  the honey comes from a local apiary;

Another seasonal from Railway City, supplied by my brother.  This is my answer to anyone who might suggest I took it easy on myself by not doing this in a leap year. 

I can hardly wait until it is time again for their Sham-Bock seasonal.

November 28, 2011

365(!)  Home:  Roundhaus Pilsner by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  pours a clear, pale straw colour with a soft, scanty head;  grassy, a little bit sweet with a hint of ginger;

This is a seasonal beer and a tip of the hat goes out to my brother, Peter for supplying me with beer number 365.  It has been quite a journey and the journey is not over yet.

November 27, 2011

I am working my way through the first growler of "my" beer brewed at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  I think I could make a case for counting this as a "new" beer, distinct from the product available at the LCBO.  For starters it is brewed at a different location and using a different process, not to mention differently sourced ingredients.

The final product is quite a bit different.  I don't mind the lack of carbonation but it did put my wife off.

November 26, 2011

I did make it out to C'est What tonight but I did not arrive until after 10PM so I missed the Toronto Beer Bloggers Social entirely.  This means I didn't get the chance to collect opinions on where to take this next year or how to add some sparkle to this site.  I received two invitations, one when I requested a spot and a second as a reminder, yesterday.  One indicated a 7PM start while the other gave a 6PM start so I guess the positive side to this is that had anyone been around, I would have been interacting with people who had been drinking beer for three or four hours, depending.

Since I was there, I stuck around for a bit and I was delighted to see Train Wreck Ale from Gananoque.  It is great to think that this one might be catching on.

The bartender mentioned that whenever he sees C'est What written up in a blog, the blogger is always complaining so I hope he comes across my site because I have only good things to say about C'est What.

November 25, 2011

One feature of my day as the brewer's apprentice at Black Creek Pioneer village that I didn't mention was that Ed led me out back to where they had some hop vines planted and he dug up three rhizomes for me.  I have planted these in my back yard where they can climb and I am waiting to see how they fare.

The next step is to plant some barley, if things go according to plan.

November 24, 2011

Beer lovers across the Greater Toronto Area have breathed a sigh of relief as Smokeless Joe's has re-opened at a new location on College Street.  I haven't been yet but it can only be roomier than the John Street location.  The old spot was crowded with a dozen people inside. 

In the day, it was a distinguishing feature not to permit smoking but of course no one allows smoking indoors these days.  It was also known for the owner's collection of jazz music and his insistance that coats were to go on hangers and not on the backs of chairs.  That would be the "original" Joe.  He has since sold the establishment to another fellow named Joe and you can leave your coat where you choose.  Many of the records stayed behind, though.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November 23, 2011

It has been on haitus for a while, too long really, but I am happy to report that is back.  I never did delete that bookmark and I was in the habit of checking now and again, just in case, and I have been vindicated.  It is as good as ever.  Top marks, as per usual, for his "epic blind tasting' of fourteen Belgian Quadrupels.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

November 22, 2011

Great news!  Gananoque Train Wreck Ale was on the chalkboard at the Volo!  It was only there for a day and long gone by the time I would be able to get there but it is good news just the same.  I can only hope to see this more often.  Otherwise, I am seriously considering a visit to my East.

Monday, 21 November 2011

November 21, 2011

I had in mind to achieve my goal tomorrow in honour of my father's birthday but I have suddenly been offered a Plan B.  There is the possibility of a special beer to come my way and if this is the case it won't arrive for a few days so there may be a few "ah"s before the final "ah-choo!".

November 20, 2011

364)  Home:  India Pale Ale by Fullers of England:  **;  the nose features mild English dry hops with a hint of toffee;  tastes of those same mildly dry hops with a touch of soft caramel sweetness;

November 19, 2011

I have snagged an invitation to the Toronto Beer Blogger Social to be held one week from today at C'est What in Toronto.  I expect to show up late but with luck I will meet a few people and get some ideas as to where to take this in the new year.  I also hope for some pointers to add a bit of sparkle to what is admittedly a rather plain looking effort.

November 18, 2011

A great day today.  Samuel Adams Utopias became available today at 9AM, phone orders only.  The LCBO brought in seventy bottles last year which were sold off by way of a draw.  This year it was first come first served for a shipment of two hundred bottles.  I watched CP24 until the time read 9:00:00AM and I was off.  After two busy signals and learning that hitting re-dial gave me my brother-in-law's number, my third dial struck paydirt.

I got though at 9:02 and remained on hold, listening to some acutely annoying music repeating every fifteen seconds, for some nineteen minutes but thanks to (Amazing) Grace, I have secured a bottle to be delivered to my local LCBO.

The catch is it won't arrive for four or five weeks.  The worst case scenario puts the arrival date to the Friday before Christmas.  Normally I am very well stocked prior to this date to avoid having to visit during the rush but I will make an exception.  The other catch is that it will set me back $114.95 for a 710ml bottle.  I think the phrase is "more money than brains" and I am not particularly flush.

Watch this space for a full report.

November 17, 2011

Looking for some of those hard to find Quebec craft brews?  Try visiting <>.    Keep Six is operated by the fine people at Caffe Volo and serves as a conduit for ordering a select few brands at any given time.  The drawback from where I sit is that the minimum order is twenty-four bottles but if you know someone willing to go halfsies it's the next best thing to driving to La Belle Province.

November 16, 2011

363)  E.S.B. by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  Extra Special Bitter;   malty nose with notes of caramel and a hint of chocolate;  this and the Franconian Bock are from the Mill Street Seasonal Sampler six-pack;  I don't recall seeing either of these in bottles before, only on draught;

November 15, 2011

361)  Home:  1715 by Lvivska Brewery of the Ukraine:  *1/2;  a typical East-central European lager;  the nose is grassy, grainy;  taste is malty with a slight hint of ginger;  the significance of the name is that 1715 was the year Lvivske began brewing;

362)  Home:  Franconian Bock by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  the nose is sweet dried fruit with notes of fruit and caramel in the taste;  very nice - darker than the Bock I had last month at the Mill Street Brewpub;  of the two, I think I prefer this one;

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

November 14, 2011

360)  Home:  Bacchus Flemish Old Brown by Brouwerij Van Honsebrouk of Belgium:  **;  a "sour" beer, of the variety that Volo proprieter Ralph Morana has been quoted as saying is the next big thing, once extreme IPAs have run their course;  the nose is bitter sparkling wine;  tastes is tart and champagne-like;  very thirst-quenching;  the packaging is unusual - the bottle is wrrapped in paper which is twisted at the top:  a keeper for sure;

Monday, 14 November 2011

November 13, 2011

I dropped by the Black Creek Historic Brewery today to return my growlers.  When I learned that the stout I had brewed two weeks back was available I picked up a couple.  I think I would be a hit at the next office potluck if I could present a jug of beer that I had participated in the creation of .  I had best give it a taste first, though.  I cannot promise I will be able to resist the temptation to finish both bottles waiting for a potluck to be scheduled.

November 12, 2011

I am so confident that I will reach my goal that before and after the evening's concert instead of scouring the beer list for something new I had a Spearhead Hawiian Style Ale.  It is most unusual for me to drink the same beer twice in a row, unless I am at Tracks Brewpub, but I decided I would go absolutely mad today.

November 11, 2011

359)  Town Crier Pub and Halfway Beer House in Toronto:  Grimbergen Dubbel by Brouwerij Alken-Maes of Belgium:  **;  dark with a sweet, yesty nose;  friuty and sweet with notes of bubblegum;

Locals may recall that the site of the Town Crier Pub and Halfway Beer House used to house The Fat Belgian.  It is just a couple of doors down from where Smokeless Joe's used to be until very recently. 

This is another installment of what just might become an empire -  the same individual owns The Village Idiot Pub and, right next door to the the VIP, Sin and Redemption, which is still one of my favourite places.  On this day I had intended to dine at Sin and Redemption after an afternoon spent at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Marc Chagall exhibit) and prior to a concert by Tafelmusik but I couldn't even find a seat along the bar.  The place was packed.

The Town Crier and Halfway Beer House has a beer list and menu very similar to Sin and Redemption's - almost identical in fact, but not quite.

November 10, 2011

358)  Home:  1845 by Fuller's of England:  **;  bottle conditioned;  aged 100 days;  rich and malty with a dry English hop finish;  the nose has hints of chocolate and faint, bitter alcohol notes;

1845 is the year in which Fuller, Smith and Turner began brewing.  This beer was originally conceived to mark the 150th anniversary but it proved popular enough to keep brewing.

November 9, 2011

I have hit a very exciting milestone.  Beer number 365 is sitting in my mini-fridge.  I haven't officially decided which one it will be - there are a couple of candidates in the running.  Even if I don't get out for the balance of the year - a long-shot, that - I can still achieve my goal, God willing.

November 8, 2011

357)  Home:  Sinha Stout by Lion Brewery of Sri Lanka:  *1/2;  like many stouts from warmer climes, this is very sweet, but not cloyingly so;  still, Sinha is very nearly syrupy and this is only slightly off-set by coffee notes;

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November 7, 2011

I am starting to see the annual beer gift packs at the LCBO.  There are a number on my list.  Even though I am acculumating a sizable collection of glasses, I will keep seeking out several of them as this is the only time of year, and the only manner in which I can find some of these beers.

I don't get tired of saying that certain beer gift packs make for splendid Christmas presents and if you are lucky enough to be born in the first month of the year there are still a good number available when your birthday rolls around.

November 6, 2011

356)  Home:  Brown Ale by Black Creek Historic Brewery of Ontario: **;  an unfiltered session ale;  the second growler I brought home with me the day I was the brewer's apprentice;  light, smooth with mocha notes;  this was brewed in-site:  the bottles available in the LCBO are brewed under contract in Barrie, by the folks at Flying Monkeys;

I didn't think it would be right to count the growler of Porter I have spent the past couple of days enjoying as a "new" beer even though it was brewed at a different location, and to a different standard. 

November 5, 2011

There are stirrings about that the LCBO will soon be featuring Winter beers.  There is something special about Winter beers, and to an extent Fall beers as well.  When you aren't so concerned about cooling down or replacing fluids and electrolytes you can really savour a beer.  To quote Curley Howard, "I can hardly wait!"

November 4, 2011

I am pinching this from the label of one of the growlers I left the Black Creek Historic Brewery with as I couldn't have said it better myself.

What to expect:
1) This beer has a richer flavour than what you may be used to.
2) This beer has cloudiness due to little filtration.
3) This beer may seem flat compared to modern beer, as 1860s method uses less carbonation.

November 3, 2011

I have learned that this is International Stout Day and was invited to "celebrate the malty goodness that is stout".  To mark the occasion I consumed a second bottle of Ghosttown and I am still not certain that I get it but I am resolved to buy a bottle of absinthe before my birthday and see how it goes.

Details can be found at 

A search for International Porter Day came up empty.  Shame, that.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

November 2, 2011

355)  Home:  Porter Baltique by Les Trois Mousquetaires of Quebec:  **1/2;  a very warming 10% octane;  the nose is roasty with coffee scents;  flavours of coffee with a tart cherry finish;  very nice, indeed;

November 1, 2011

353)  Home:  Hobgoblin by Wychwood Brewery of England:  **;  the nose is sweet, malty and fruity, just a hint of berries;  the fruity flavours are muted with a dry bitter finish;  From the label:  "Traditionally crafted legendary ruby beer"

354)  Home:  King Goblin by Wychwood Brewery of England:  **;  this is the smoother of the two;  less malty with more berry notes and sweetness;  just a hint of alcohol (6.6%);  "Special reserve";  the label informs that this is only brewed under a full moon;

Another face-off, for All Saints' Day.  Of the two I prefer King Goblin, by the smallest of margins.

October 31, 2011

352)  Home:  Wychcraft Blonde Beer by Wychwood Brewery of England:  *1/2;  yeasty, malty nose with just a touch of hoppy bitterness;  malty flavours with a dry English hop finish;  brewed with three hops and tree malts;

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;

Thursday, 29 September 2011

September 28, 2011

322)  Home:  Bronze Crafted Ale by the Celt Experience of Wales:  **:  malty nose;  opens quite malty but finishes with lingering notes of bitter English hops;

September 27, 2011

I imagine it is worth noting that Smashbomb Atomic IPA from the LCBO now has a front label to go with the back label.  I'll bet there is a story there but, then again, life is short.

September 26, 2011

321)  Home:  Peculiar by the Granite Brewery of Ontario:  **;  this was the other two litre growler I purchased at my last visit;  it pours a bit flat, as is usually the case with a growler;  wine-like nose with a touch of mocha;  very dark with hints of chocolate and sweet mocha;

The Granite turned twenty this year.  Last year, to celebrate turning nineteen they had a terrific special going on.  Anyone who visited on their nineteenth birthday received not only their first legal pint on the house, but they got to keep the glass and they took home a two litre growler of their choice (no deposit - a further four dollars ahead).  My son was in town from University for his nineteenth birthday last Hallowe'en so where to do lunch was an easy decision.  The best part was when they came to take his drink order.  The Granite only carries their own beers on tap so with me sitting next to him and his mother sitting across he was asked what sort of beer he usually liked to drink...

The growler he chose was the Peculiar.

September 25, 2011

319)  Home:  English Bay Pale Ale by Granville Island Brewing of British Columbia:  *1/2;  Granville was Canada's first bottling micro-brewery, as they were called at the time;  it was bought by Creemore Springs in 2009, which in turn is owned by Molsons;  malty backbone, with biscuity nuttiness;  very mild flavours;

320)  Home:  Dubbel by Brouwerij Afflige of Belgium:  **;  this abbey ale undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle;  fruity and spicy;  I was wishing it was cooler outside as I drank this;

Sunday, 25 September 2011

September 24, 2011

Looking back, I would have to say that the highlight of Toronto Beer Week for me was discovering that the fellow sitting next to me at the Burger Bar and Tequila Tavern was none other than Stephen Beaumont.  I am proud to own his Great Canadian Beer Guide and I refer to it often. 

September 23, 2011

315)  The Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern in Toronto:  Double Dead Elephant by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  stronger with more bitterness than Dead Elephant and less butteriness;  malty nose;

316)  Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern:  Fish Eye PA by Kensington Brewing Company of Ontario:  **1/2;  this was a test batch of what is to be their second offering;  prominent hop nose with flavours of gingery hoppiness;  I was reminded of Train Wreck, though I prefer the Gananoque brew;

317)  Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern:  Country IPA by Barley Days of Ontario:  **;  mildly earthy nose;  finishes with a hint of chocolate followed by an earthy after-taste;

318)  Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern:  Imperial Mild by Indie Ale House;  **;  slightly wine-like nose;  sweet mocha-ish notes;

It was unlikely that I would get through Toronto Beer Week without mis-behaving but as is my wont, I should point out that there were half pints this evening.  It was fun that Brock substituted a continuous running of Bob and Doug McKenzie's "Strange Brew" (the only movie to my knowledge ever filmed in Hoserama) instead of the regular black and white westerns on the monitor.

September 22, 2011

314)  Home:  Rum Cask by Innis & Gunn of Scotland:  **1/2;  aged for 57 days in a rum barrell;  prominent, but not over-powering notes of rum lend it a slightly fruity, slightly spicy taste;  at 7.4% it makes for a very warming glass;  this would be perfect in the middle of winter - I think I will buy another bottle and let it age for 6 months or so;

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

September 21, 2011

313)  Jack Astor's, Brampton:  Octoberfest by Samuel Adams Brewery of Massachusetts, USA:  **;  brewed with five varieties of malted barley;  beautiful red colour;  the malty sweetness is off-set by just a touch of hop bitterness;

September 20, 2011

311)  Caffe Volo, Toronto:  Oktoberfest by Mill Street Brewery of Ontario:  **;  a marzen;  sweet, biscuity maltiness;  the season is beginning and I am very happy about the entire situation;

312)  Home:  The Great St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale by McAuslan Brewing of Quebec:  **1/2;  brewed with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and pumpkin;  the spices are very prominent but it's not overly sweet;  very fresh tasting;

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

September 19, 2011

310)  Home:  Best Bitter by the Granite Brewery of Ontario:  **;  tastes very fresh coming from a two litre growler;  notes of hops (the web-site says they are Fuggles hops);  mouth feel is a bit thin but it is very English, a great glass of beer;

Sunday, 18 September 2011

September 18, 2011

309)  Wychwood Barns in Toronto:  Pan Ontario Collaboration by Grand River Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  a one-off brewed in collaboration with Beau's, Great Lakes, Amsterdam and Flying Monkeys, all of Ontario;  aged on bourbon barrels;  quite a lot going on;

This was the second of the Brewery Market series that I have been able to attend.

September 17, 2011

305)  The Granite Brewery and Restaurant in Toronto:  Hopping Mad by the Granite Brewery of Ontario:  **;  on cask;  moderately strongly hopped;  notes of citrusy lemon;  very smooth;  well balanced;

306)  The Granite:  Traditional India Pale Ale (IPA) by the Granite Brewery:  *1/2;  on cask;  well hopped with sweet maltiness;

307)  The Granite:  Keefe's Irish Stout by the Granite Brewery:  *1/2;  dry and in the Irish style;

308)  The Granite:  Gin Lane Ale by the Granite Brewery:  *1/2;  a barley wine with notes of apple cider;  very much like a wine in appearance and taste;

This was the September Cask Social.  I also returned three growlers for the deposit and went home with two, which will be making their appearances in short order.  I didn't think to ask if they would give me $4.00 for that growler from Duggan's Brewery that I was stuck with when they closed for good.  It might be a collector's item some day, which experience teaches to translate as trading strictly on the bigger fool principal. 

Forgive the repetition but every time I chalk up a number like this I feel compelled to point out any place I go to sells half pints so I am not necessarily misbehaving to the degree one might think. 

September 16, 2011

304)  The 3 Brewers, Toronto:  Multi-Grain Ale by The 3 Brewers:  **;  brewed with five grains;  the nose is malty and biscuity with a hint of sweetness;  tastes very Belgian with yeasty sweetness but finishes with a touch of hops;

September 15, 2011

303)  Home:  Goliath by Wychwood Brewery of England:  **;  the nose is very malty;  tastes of sweet maltiness, balanced by Goldings and Fuggles hops;  "The beer to slay a mighty thirst";

September 14, 2011

302)  Home:  Imperial IPA by Garrison Brewing of Nova Scotia:  **;  strong (7%):  unfiltered; the label reads, in part, "intense hop bitterness with a lingering citrusy finish" - I don't know that I could say it better;

September 13, 2011

301)  Home:  Lancaster Bomber by Thwaites of England:  *;  a typical bottled English ale;  something a bit mass-produced about this one;  I found it unremarkable;

Monday, 12 September 2011

September 12, 2011

300)  Home:  Harvest Ale by Muskoka Cottage Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  dry hopped;  prominent hop aromas and flavours with a pleasantly bitter finish;

September 11, 2011

299)  Home:  Festivale by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  Beau's summer seasonal;  an alt or old beer, which is to say a very old style of (German) beer;  finishes with just a touch of bitterness but otherwise I found it a bit subdued;

September 10, 2011

298)  TA Bar and Grill, Brampton:  Mr. Huff Persuasion Pilsener by Hop City of Ontario:  **;  a central European style pilsener with a hint of spice (ginger);  a refreshing end of summer type of beer;

I cannot be held responsible for someone else's sense of humour.  I think the "A" stands for Aldina.  This place was closed for well over a year but now it is back with a newish name (it used to be T & A Pub Grub...) and a surprising number of former staff.  I haven't met the "T" yet but I made Aldina's acquaintance many years ago at a different joint.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

September 9, 2011

296)  Caffe Volo in Toronto:  Night Marzen by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  their Fall seasonal:  an Oktoberfest lager;  a bit yeasty with a touch of fruit;  there should be an umlaut over the "a" in Marzen;

297) Caffe Volo:  Conductor's Pale Ale by Junction Craft Brewing of Ontario:  **;  on cask;  brewed with five malts and five hops which makes for some complexity;  I thought I detected a hint of sweetness (almost chocolate) to the nose;  mild, complex, earthiness slightly off-set by soft dried fruit notes; 

Junction Craft brewing is a new brewery, named for the Toronto neighbourhood in which they are situated.  The Junction was "dry" from 1904 to 2000.  Their website cites re. style which suggests that Samuel Adams' Boston (Stock) Ale is of a similar style.  This can only be a Good Thing.  Boston/Stock Ale is something I haven't seen in Canada for a decade and a half but it was a favourite when I could get it.  It might be worth getting a passport for.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

September 8, 2011

295)  Home:  Dunkel Buck by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  a hybrid Dunkel Weisen Bock;  this one works for me;  it's dark and unfiltered like a dunkel wheat with notes of clove and banana but with Bock-like mocha flavours;

The label has Uncle Buck's hat on it and his electric hand drill.

September 7, 2011

291) C'est What in Toronto:  Reginald Hopburn by Cameron's Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  very floral nose;  opens with biiter pine notes;  the finish has a touch of bittersweet chocolate, off-set by sweet fruitiness;  far and away my favourite effort from Cameron's;

292)  C'est What:  Hop Addict by County Durham Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  the tap handle is a huge syring filled with hop cones;  perfectly clear with a touch of sweetness - very unusual for an IPA - and earthy hoppiness;

293)  C'est What:  Coffee Porter brewed at C'est What of Ontario:  **;  one of the reasons I came back a second time way back in the 1980s;  pitch black with very strong black coffee aromas, strong coffee flavours;  the after-taste is like a splash of coffee grounds;  delightfully unsubtle;

294)  Home:  Miami Weiss by Great Lakes Brewery of Ontario:  **;  very hoppy aromas, floral grapefruit notes;  I like it even if it is not really a weiss, as the label admits;  the label goes on to describe this as an American take on a traditional wheat beer but with a different strain of yeast, hence no clove or banana flavours, and with Pacific NorthWest hops;  "What's with the name Miami Weiss?  It's just something the guys up in marketing came up with.";  I deducted a half pint glass for the deception;

September 6, 2011

Did everyone notice that of The Beer Store's Top Ten, I have consumed but one this year and if you look back at the entry, it was basically forced on me?

September 5, 2011

290)  Home:  80/- by Caledonian Brewing of Scotland:  *1/2;  from the label:  "Champion Beer of Scotland" and brewed "in the UK's last direct-fired open coppers;  very malty nose;  the taste is malty with just a touch of sweetness;  I think it is pronounced "eighty shillings";

Monday, 5 September 2011

September 4, 2011

289)  Home:  Duvel Belgian Specialty Strong Beer by Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat of Belgium:  **;  it's nice enough, but it suffers in comparison to the other Belgian beers I have sampled;  there is something of a mass produced feel to this one;

September 3, 2011

You will have noticed that there have been no new beers in the past few days.  I might have suspected this but once one achieves a certain milestone, the medical profession takes a somewhat inappropriate and unwholesome interest in you. 

I will spare you the details.  Instead I will quote the title character from my favourite novel by Nabokov, (Timofey) Pnin, speaking, admittedly, of another procedure:  "It is a repulsive operation."

September 2, 2011

I suppose I need not have felt too badly for Labatts' Blue a while back.  From The Beer Store's website, these are their "Big Ten Brands", their ten most popular beers:

1)  Coors Light
2)  Molson Canadian
3)  Budweiser
4)  Labatts' Blue
5)  Carling Lager
6)  Bud Light
7)  Keith's (IPA)
8)  Lakeport Pilsener
9)  Heineken
10) Corona

The only ale on the list is Keith's, though to my mind it is a bit of a strech to call this an ale.  With all the emotion and verbiage invested in declaring the superiority of Canadian beer over American suds it is discouraging to see two American beers in the top three.

September 1, 2011

Once in a while at Tracks Brewpub I chat with an LCBO employee who works these days at Brampton's "Beer Ambassador" store which as you might guess is my first stop for new and interesting beers.  The LCBO inventory search function has saved me several trips to Toronto.  He recently expressed surprise at how well Polish beers are selling.  There are currently eleven listed though for the most part they seem to be of the golden lager variety which is of limited interest to me.  Just the same, it might be worth exploring one day.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

August 31, 2011

287)  Home:  First Draft Campus Lager by Niagara College Teaching Brewery of Ontario:  **;  a very well balanced lager;  as lagers go, flavourful and pretty good all around;

288)  Home:  Lager by Neustadt Springs of Ontario:  **;  mildly hopped to the nose with sweet chocolate notes in the flavour;

You may have inferred that I am not a fan of lagers but I decided if anyone could make a lager that I would like it would be one of these two.  The First Draft is courtesy my brother.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

August 30, 2011

286)  Fionn MacCool's in Brampton:  Pale Ale By Okangan Spring:  *1/2;  nice copper colour, mildly hopped;  Okanagan was owned by Sleeman then Sleeman was bought by Sapporo;

Fionn MacCool's is the same chain as Darcy McGee's in Ottawa.  They just opened in Brampton so I thought I would pay a visit.  Reasonable beer selection - excellent considering the rest of the town.  There used to be an Eastside Mario's in this location.  I wonder what became of that photo of the 1967 New York Yankees they used to have on the wall.  I should have stuck my head in the door during renovations to try to buy it.

Monday, 29 August 2011

August 29, 2011

The Golden Tap Awards, as voted by ordinary beer drinkers, were announced this weekend.  Courtesy the Canadian Beer News the winners are:

Best Microbrewery in Ontario:  Beau's All-Natural Brewing Company, Vankleek Hill
Best Brewery for Cask-Conditioned Ale:  Granite Brewery, Toronto
Best Bar for Draught Beer Selection in Ontario:  Bar Volo, 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:  Granite Brewery, Toronto
Best Regularly-Produced Beer in Ontario:  Beau's Lug-Tread Lagered Ale, Van Kleek Hill
Best Seasonal or Specialty Beer in Ontario:  Black Oak Ten Bitter Years, Toronto
Best Cask Ale in Ontario:  Granite Hopping Mad, Toronto

Clearly, Toronto is the centre of the known universe. 

It was a bit of a surprise to see the Volo win for best draught selection, though that is how I have voted in the past.  C'est What used to own that award what with more than thirty taps on the go.  Where the Volo has an advantage is that C'est What limits their taps to Canadian brewers only (their wine list is also entirely Canadian, but not their Scotch list...).  While it's great to have thirty some taps to choose from, one can only consume so many beers in one sitting and the fact is the Volo has enough taps that a reasonable individual wouldn't attempt them all and what's more you can find beers from the Netherlands, Belgium and other nations there.  I could say much the same of Sin and Redemption but it gets crowded enough there already.

For bottled beer an honorable mention must go out to the Beer Bistro and in the tied house category the Mill Street Brewpub deserves a mention.

It's a shame more Toronto beer drinkers have not experienced Gambrinus or they would have made some noise here, too.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

August 28, 2011

285)  Wychwood Barns, Toronto:  Porter by the Indie Ale House of Ontario:  **;  not particulary distinctive but bonus marks are in order for serving it alongside chocolate squares which, as I learned on a visit to the Wellington County brewery a decade ago, bring out something special in a porter.  Sadly, Wellington discontinued their porter a few months later.  This was good nonetheless and it is always nice to be able to find a porter outside the colder months of the year.   Their website lists a beer called Breakfast Porter which I suspect is what we got here.

The Indie Ale House is a soon to open brewery and restaurant in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto, which was one of the province's last "dry" areas. 

Wychwood Barns is a lot like Brampton's Beaux Arts Gallery and Studios, but much bigger.  They have hosted a Brewery Market, in the spirit of a farmers' market (and not to be confused with the Brewers' Market mentioned a couple of days ago) on a number of Sundays throughout the summer.  Each time, a different local craft brewer is featured.  More information can be found at  It is especially fun to be able to order a small pizza and watch it baking in the wood buring brick oven.

August 27, 2011

284)  Home:  Pugnacious Ale by Grand River Brewing of Ontario:  **1/2;  this one bites back with a bitter, earthy hop profile;

August 26, 2011

Time for another link:  one of the things that has discouraged me, and likely many others, from giving home brewing a try is the quantity that you have to produce.  Not only is storage a concern but what if it turns out less than ideal?

The Brewers' Market sells growler kits, which produce two litres and bucket kits that yield five litres.  Billed as the $49 Microbrewery, they have six styles of beer which are updated every once in a while.  It sounds a bit expensive for $49 but it comes with a fair bit of gear.  Refill mixes are $25 each, which is not bad for four pints or so.  Extra points for supplying milled grains and not just malt extract.  This alone gives you a head start over a number of brewpubs if you're a purist.

As I understand it there are a few things you need to supply for yourself, like pots, funnels, strainers and the like.  I haven't tried it yet but when I do I will supply a report.  I am uncertain as to whether or not I would count it towards my total.  My goal has been to come up with beers that, at least in theory, anyone could chase down hence my reluctance to list the one-offs.  On the other hand, anyone reading this can order from the Brewers' Market.  I will give it some thought.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

August 25, 2011

283)  Home:  Spitfire Kentish Ale by Shepherd Neame of England:  *;  "The Bottle of Britain" was first brewed in 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain;  this beer lost the battle vs. light;  the clear glass betrays an unwarranted trust of what goes on between the bottler and the consumer;  it's difficult to comment as a result and perhaps I am being unfair;  I would love to try this again, unspoiled;

August 24, 2011

282)  Home:  Pedigree Classic English Ale by Marston's Beer Company of England:  *1/2;  a standard English pale ale;  a little bland but I was impressed that the label was in six languages;

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

August 23, 2011

281)  Home:  First Draft Campus Ale by the Niagara College Teaching Brewery:  **1/2;  the head is short lived but this ale is biscuity with a hint of sweetness and a hint of spice;  it's a very well balanced and flavourful ale lying somewhere between the North American and English styles;  I am reminded a bit of a cask ale;

First Draft Campus Ale, and the lager which will be consumed soon, were supplied by my brother, the same one who set me up with all those Railway City beers.  He also supplied the link to the Niagara College Teaching Brewery, <>, the only teaching brewery in Canada.  I'll bet you can find this link by way of the Ontario Craft Brewers webpage as well.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

August 22, 2011

Another link:

Drinkvine is a free service that helps subscribers locate the unusual beers that the LCBO has been carrying of late.  All you have to do is set yourself up by indicating which stores you are likely to be able to visit then create your wish list of beers, wines or spirits.  They do the rest.

I used to use an Excel spreadsheet, in conjunction with the inventory search feature of the LCBO website, but why do the work when you can have it done for you?  I am set up to receive e-mails when new beer features are announced, the Fall Premium Beers release for example.  It is a real time saver.

August 21, 2011

280)  Home:  Erdinger Weisbier by Erdinger Weissbrau of Germany:  *1/2;  I rated the Dunkel earlier;  the label states that this follows the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516;  this act must be a bit more flexible than I had imagined as it is brewed with both barley and wheat malts;  faint hints of sweet citrus;  a bottle fermented wheat beer;

August 20, 2011

279)  Home:  IPA by Wells & Young Brewing of England:  *1/2;  yeasty nose;  a typical well balanced English style IPA;

August 19, 2011

It is less than a month to go until the second annual Toronto Beer Week.  Information on events, etc. can be found at:

Check back often as the site is regularly updated.  Perhaps I will meet some readers there.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

August 18, 2011

I had pondered the possibility of beer being brewed in Antarctica a number of days ago and while I have not come up with anything concrete I did spot a reference to Gallagher's Pub at McMurdo Station and it makes mention of a surprisingly decent beer selection.  There is also alleged to be home-brewed moonshine available there so it is not a strech to imagine that there might be a home brewer stationed there. 

Home brewers are everywhere:  the White House has a home brewing enthusiast among the kitchen staff.  President Obama served his wares at last year's Super Bowl party.  The article I read mentioned that it was made with honey from the White House apiary.  All of which makes me pretty confident that someone out there has consumed beer brewed in Antarctica.

August 17, 2011

It was not a happy event that led to my being in London but on my way there and back I had the opportunity to ponder a number of things so this is going to be a bit of a complaints column today. 

Figures from the 2006 census list Brampton as Ontario's 5th largest city and London as number 6 with about 80% of Brampton's population.  Brampton has but one hospital while, if I have my facts right, London has three.  We are far in front in condominium eye-sores, though.

More to the point of this blog, London has Gambrinus while nowhere in Brampton is there any place that in the remotest way supports craft beer.  I don't even see Tankhouse here and in Toronto, for example, even the Labatts bars have Tankhouse.  I don't know if it has been tried or not but my feeling is that my home town wouldn't support a craft beer venture and it hurts to admit it.

August 16, 2011

277)  Gambrinus in London, Ontario:  Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale by Bierbrouwerij Koningshoeven B.V. of the Netherlands:  **;  notes of sweet fruit with chocolate and nutty flavours;

278)  Gambrinus:  Blanche de Chambly by Unibroue of Quebec:  **;  with the citrusy (orange) flavours, it went very well with our fish and chips;  I was reminded of enjoying this on a patio near the water in Quebec City on a warm day last summer;

Gambrinus is the patron saint of beer.  This place was called Chancey Smith's when it was first recommended to me.  I met a fellow named Adil at the Volo late last year.  He runs or helps run the bar at Gambrinus and he is a huge craft beer fan.  That night was a key event in that I enjoyed the evening so much I wrote down my beers which indirectly led me to this.  Adil was at Gambinus this night and I must have made an impression last December because he remembered me from the Volo.  He had recommended that I meet Milos but he wasn't in this night.  Everything you have heard about Gambrinus is true.  This is a must visit whenever you are in London.

August 15, 2011

Relating the prices of the Ola Dubh got me wondering how much the scotch in question would cost so I checked the prices at the LCBO site.  The 12 year old is $59.95 for a 750ml bottle;  the 18 year is $139.95 for a similarly sized bottle and the 30 year old is $420.00 for 750ml.  I found the 40 year being sold through the distiller and this would set you back 920 pounds sterling.  I'll stick to the beer.

August 14, 2011

276)  Home:  Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 by Harviestoun of Scotland:  ***:  by now, you know the story - this one is matured in casks used to age Highland Park's 40 year old single malt Scotch whisky;  of the series, this has the strongest whisky notes;  another contemplative one for sipping;  at $19.00 this made for the second most expensive beer of the year but it beats Little Korkny by a mile

Sunday, 14 August 2011

August 13, 2011

275)  Home:  Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 by Harviestoun of Scotland:  ***;  we are up to the beer aged in barrels once used to mature Highland Park's 30 year old single malt whisky;  as it was with previous editions, this is almost impossibly dark and rich with notes of whisky, coffee and chocolate;  the whisky notes are stronger here than in the previous entries;  it's just about as good a beer as you can find for $14.95 a bottle;

Interestingly, C'est What stocks Highland Park's 12 year old scotch.  I will be keeping an eye out for this line in my travels.

August 12, 2011

As I had feared, things are slowing down materially in the area of new beers.  There are very few potential new entries in the fridge and this is not likely to change until the LCBO's next premium beer release, scheduled for mid-September.

This is coupled with a dearth of reasons to visit Toronto.  I think it is bad form to simply head downtown, drink beer and return unless it is an event like the Volo puts on or an organised crawl of some sort where I can meet people.  It was the right decision to get ahead of the pace early on.

August 11, 2011

274)  Home:  Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 by Harviestoun of Scotland:  ***;  much like the 16, but I found the bittersweet chocolate notes to be even stronger in this beer;

Thursday, 11 August 2011

August 10, 2011

Here's another fun link: , the site of Modern Drunkard magazine where they have been "Standing up for your right to get falling down drunk since 1996".  For starters, Frank Kelly Rich is a most entertaining writer but just as much fun are the one-pagers - charts entitled Joints Of No Return or Dangerous Drinks and so on.

It's also a great place for biographies of some of history's greatest imbibers.  Call it a guilty pleasure if you must but give it a try.

August 9, 2011

Yes, you did read right, I have Smashbomb Atomic IPA in my "beer fridge".  The LCBO is finally carrying six-packs.  A compromise seems to have been reached.  The box artwork is different than what was originally proposed and there is no front label on the bottles, either.

I suppose we could be angry with the LCBO but, given their past performance, I don't think anyone was surprised at their actions.  I was, however, surprised to see a Flying Monkeys big-wig boasting on a forum about what he was going to slip past the LCBO.  Anyone who has been to school knows that the way to ensure that an inconsistently applied rule gets applied to you is to annoy the person in charge of enforcing the rules, so I am willing to have the blame divided. 

The bottles are 6%, while C'est What's draught list indicates that Smashbomb Atomic on tap is 7%.  One is tempted to say it has been "dumbed down" but on consideration one might do better to say that the opposite is the case.  It would be pushing things to list this as a "new" beer so you can rest assured that I haven't given it any consideration.

On a related note, there is a rumour that Crystal Skull vodka - one of the more notorious LCBO decisions - may yet see the shelves.  Dan Ackroyd is said to be flexing his muscles, which is to say his bank account and, more importantly, his connections.  It will be interesting to see who wins. 

Monday, 8 August 2011

August 8, 2011

273)  Home:  Old Dubh Special Reserve 16 by Harviestoun of Scotland:  ***;  Ola Dubh means Black Oil;  aged in oak casks used to mature Highland Park's 16 year old single malt scotch whisky;  I let it age a further year before I opened it;  this is a glorious, slow-sipping black as night beer with a head of very fine bubbles and a nose of whisky and roast coffee;  the taste is roasty flavours of scotch and bittersweet chocolate;  it's 8% but a glass can, and probably should, be nursed for a very long time;  oh my, this is nice - very complex and layered, just wonderful;

Sunday, 7 August 2011

August 7, 2011

272)  Home:  Original by Innis & Gunn of Scotland:  **;  matured 77 days in oak;  notes of vanilla and toffee;  a contemplative beer to savour;

August 6, 2011

271)  Home:  Pale Ale by Lake of Bays Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  slightly sweet, malty nose;  very malty flavours, muted hops;

August 5, 2011

270)  Tracks Brewpub, Brampton:  Pub Ale by Boddington's of England (tin):  *1/2;  another nitro-can, re-creating the draught experience away from the tap;  it pours with a very thick, creamy head but overall, it's a bit ordinary;

Thursday, 4 August 2011

August 4, 2011

It is IPADay and to observe the occasion I will be enjoying my favourite IPAs, or at least a selection of those that can be found in what might charitably be called my beer fridge, so there will be no new beers today.

I won't hazard a comment on precisely how far from Caffe Volo IPADay is observed, except to say that at least this year it will also be celebrated at my place. 

IPAs in my fridge today:  Mad Tom, Dead Elephant, Smashbomb Atomic and Red Racer from Bracebridge, Ontario, St. Thomas, Ontario, Barrie, Ontario and Surrey, British Columbia respectively.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

August 3, 2011

269)  Home:  Wind and Sail Dark Ale - Oaked by Barley Days Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  pours with virtually no head;  rich sweet mocha nose and flavours;  the "mouth feel" is a bit thin, almost watery;  yes, I have listed this earlier (on tap) but this is not a distinction in the manner of bottled vs. draught vs. cask;  oaking makes this an entirely new beer in my view;  in case anyone takes issue, I am going to over-shoot the 365 mark - that way there's no disputing what got done;

August 2, 2011

266)  C'est What, Toronto:  St. Ambroise IPA by McAuslan Brewery of Quebec:  **1/2;  the hop profile is bitter and refreshing with hints of grapefruit;

267)  C'est What:  Irish Stout by Amsterdam Brewery of Ontario:  **;  sweet mocha notes;  it was great to find a stout in the middle of summer;

268)  C'est What:  Hawaiian Style Pale Ale by Spearhead Brewing of Ontario:  **;  brewed with pineapple, believe it or don't;  the pineapple is very prominent in the finish;

August 1, 2011

265)  Home:  Harvest Gold Pale Ale - Oaked by Barley Days Brewery of Ontario:  **;  pours with almost no head;  very smooth with hints of mocha among the complexities added by oaking;

One hundred beers to go.

July 31, 2011

264)  Home:  Red Racer IPA by Central City Brewing of British Columbia:  **1/2;  it took a while for this one to reach Ontario and it came with quite a build-up:  it is purported to be the best IPA in Canada;  it is very strongly hopped with citrusy, floral, piney notes;

July 30, 2011

Checking in on David M. Ewalt's One Year, One Thousand Beers project, his most recent post, dated July 27th, finds him at number 77.  By way of comparison, from April 7 to July 27, I managed 124 different beers.  At some point he is going to require a binge worthy of Oliver Reed to catch up and I don't want to miss that.

Monday, 1 August 2011

July 29, 2011

The other place we stayed on vacation was Belleville.  Maybe I didn't give it a fair chance or perhaps we stayed at the lonely end of town but I was reminded of the words of Dorothy Parker:  "There's no there, there."  It was a Friday night and things were closing down at 10PM, for Heaven's sake.

July 28, 2011

263)  D'Arcy McGee's in Ottawa:  Big Wheel Deluxe Amber (bottle) by Amsterdam of Ontario:  **1/2;  hints of mocha;

Yes, I know, a chain pub.  Forgive me.  Having said that, I hear that their prime rib burger is as good as any burger out there.  D'Arcy McGee was one of the Fathers of Confederation and one of the very few Canadian politicians to be assassinated.

July 27, 2011

261)  In our living room at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel in Ottawa:  Loyalist Lager - Oaked by Barley Days Brewery of Ontario;  *1/2;  very smooth;  oaking adds layers of complexity;  I enjoyed this more than most lagers;

262)  Pub Italia, Ottawa:  1855 by Kichesippi Beer Company of Ontario:  **1/2;  a very rich, very subtle dark ale;

We bought three 650ml bottles at the brewery in Picton on our way in to town.  All three are oaked which I found intriguing.  Like many Ontario craft breweries, it is a very small outfit but it was nice to drop in and sample a couple of beers.

I have to visit Pub Italia whenever I am in Ottawa.  First off, the interior is beautiful - it's like a cathedral.  If there was a pub in the Vatican it would look a lot like Pub Italia.  The menu is pretty large but it can be summarized as your standard pub fare with an extra helping of Italian dishes.  I always enjoy my meals there and the mussels were a hit with those who ordered them.  It is described as an Irish-Italian pub but I didn't see quite so much Irish influence.  They have a terrific beer list that pulls no punches.  I recommend you go on line at and seek out their comments on Crest Super Lager and Faxe.

July 26, 2011

260)  Stonewater Irish Pub in Gananoque:  Naughty Otter Lager by Gananoque Brewing Company of Ontario:  *1/2;  a golden lager with mild citrus notes;  grainy; 

The Gananoque visitors' centre directed us here as the owner is also the brewer.  For the time being, their beers are being brewed by Niagara's Best Brewery but the plan is to begin brewing in Gananoque in the very near future.  This beer is named for a particular creature who makes its home at the swing bridge near the Stonewater Irish Pub.  We enjoyed our lunch so much that we returned on our way home for another visit.  It was definitely a grade above the usual pub fare and the surroundings are hard to beat.  I hope to be able to drink Train Wreck in Toronto very soon.

July 25, 2011

258)  Kingston Brewing Company, Kingston:  Train Wreck Strong Ale by Gananoque Brewing Company of Ontario:  ***;  an IPA with strong, earthy hop flavours and aromas and hints of gingerbread;  I agonized before awarding three stars but the fact is on this vacation, I did seek this one out;

259)  Kingston Brewing Company:  Dragon's Breath Original Real Ale by Kingston Brewing Company of Ontario:  **;  unfiltered and cask conditioned;  an English style Real Ale;  not to be confused with Dragon's Breath Pale Ale which some will remember from the Hart Robinson Breweries, late of Carleton Place;

Whenever we are in Kingston a visit to KBC is in order.  In addition to brewing beer, they make wine and they also make their own root beer and a clear cream soda for the young ones.  The food is pretty good as well.

July 24, 2011

256)  The Inn, Lake on the Mountain:  English Ale by Lake on the Mountain Brewery of Ontario:  **;  a convival English Ale with hints of biscuit and dried fruit;

257)  The Inn, Lake on the Mountain:  Country Brown Ale by Lake on the Mountain Brewery:  **1/2;  very dark with hints of mocha;

Lake on the Mountain is not far from Picton, Ontario.  Until recently, said lake was a bit of a mystery.  It didn't run dry in spite of having no obvious sources of water but it was discovered that a number of underground springs feed into it.  The brewery makes draught exclusively for the Inn so this was my only chance to try it.  We stumbled across this location by accident the last time we were driving in the area but it was closed for a private ceremony so we put it on our to-do list.  I'm glad we did because we had a great lunch here.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

July 23, 2011

255)  Home:  Silver Wheat Ale by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2;  muted notes of citrus aroma and taste;  a touch bland and watery;  brewed with wheat and German noble hops;  from the tin:  "Wellington held the foreign title of Prince of Waterloo, conferrred in him in 1815 by King William I of the Netherlands after his final defeat of Napoleon.;

I presume the Silver in the name is in reference to Wellington's 25th anniversary in 2010.  They were one of the pioneers of craft beer in Ontario.

July 22, 2011

254)  Jack Astor's, Brampton:  Sapporo Premium Beer by Sapporo Breweries of Japan:  *1/2;  slightly dry, grainy, a touch malty;  quite ordinary;  this was on draught as per most of my beer outside the house but I recall how nice the can felt in one's hand, though I don't feel the need to go out and buy one;

Thursday, 21 July 2011

July 21, 2011

253)  Home:  Cuvee Rene Gueuze Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium:  **;  this is an odd one - the nose is burnt matches, old cheese and unwashed feet but once you get it past your beak it tastes acidic, tartly fruity, almost like a particularly bubbly cider;  believe it or don't, it works and I really would order another;  spontaneously fermented, it undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle;

July 20, 2011

252)  Home:  Dark 266 by Cameron's Brewing of Ontario:  **;  my favourite of the sampler four-pack;  described as "an American dark lager";  just a touch of roasty sweet chocolate;  originally brewed as a one-off for specialty beer bars, the first test batch turned out so well they decided not to make any alterations;  the log number of said test batch was 266, hence the name;

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

July 19, 2011

It is the 200th day of the year and I remain materially ahead of my pace.  After 100 days I was 44 ahead and after 200 I am 51 ahead.  Quite a number of things can go wrong and I will still have a good chance at achieving my goal.  Onward!

July 18, 2011

251)  Home:  Cream Ale by Cameron's Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  smooth and malty;

July 17, 2011

250)  Home:  Auburn Ale by Cameron's Brewing of Ontario:  **;  grainy, fruity nose;  mildly hopped;

Sunday, 17 July 2011

July 16, 2011

248)  Home:  Camerons Lager by Cameron Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2:  a capable lager;

249)  Someone else's home:  Heineken by Heineken N. V.:  *1/2:  it had to be more or less forced on me;  this used to be pretty much as good as it got but it's very ordinary, or at least the North American version is;

Saturday, 16 July 2011

July 15, 2011

247)  Jack Astor's in Brampton:  Summer Ale by Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  more hops to the nose than the palate;  a bit disappointing;  one day I hope to encounter their Boston (Stock) Ale again;

July 14, 2011

246)  Home:  Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale by Guinness Ltd. of Ireland:  *1/2;  the tin comes equipped with a widget that blasts gas through the beer on opening to approximate the draught experience when it's poured into a glass;  beyond the gimmick, it's a bit ordinary;  I once endured the sight of an oaf (who fired me some months later to my relief) drinking a similarly gadgeted beer from the can;

Thursday, 14 July 2011

July 13, 2011

245)  Home:  Badger Golden Ale by Hall & Woodhouse:  **;  the neck label aptly reads, "summer in a glass";  brewed with elderflower, "a brewing ingredient from a bygone era";  hints of fruit - another great summer beer;  I'm still not crazy about summer, however;

July 12, 2011

244)  Home:  Kriek Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium:  **;  spontaneously fermented (which involves wild yeast, and a bit of luck, I'll bet);  brewed with barley and unmalted wheat;  black cherries are added which leads to a secondary fermentation;  this is rather tart with a very strong cherry flavour;  it was a huge hit with my wife;

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

July 11, 2011

You may have noticed that with the addition of Aguila from Columbia to my list I have now consumed a beer from each inhabited continent.  It must be fifteen years ago or so that the LCBO briefly stocked a black beer from Brazil called Xingu.  That I remember it after all these years tells me I ought to have another should I see it again and I would have liked to have made that one my first South American entry.

I am not going to rule out the possibility that a scientist stationed in Antarctica might be a home brewer but I am unlikely to be able to try their product.  I have heard about a beer that uses Antarctic ice as their source of water and, futher, I hear tell it is a very expensive beer.

July 10, 2011

243)  Home:  Fischer Tradition by Brasserie Fischer of France:  *1/2;  a strong (6%) blonde lager from Alsace (which is roughly where The 3 Brewers traces its roots);  hints of fruit, bread in the nose;  fresh, malty taste;

Sunday, 10 July 2011

July 9, 2011

242)  Brampton CaraBram 2011 - Polish pavillion:  Tyskie by Tyskie Browary of Poland:  *1/2;  a standard European lager, nothing especially good or bad;  Carabram is a "multi-cultural festival" based on Caravan which used to take place in Toronto a number of years ago;

Saturday, 9 July 2011

July 8, 2011

241)  Home:  Aguila by Bavaria S. A. Barranquilla of Columbia:  *1/2;  positions itself as a light beer (4% alcohol) but it is fully flavoured;  another one for a hot day;  judging by the graphic, Aguila means Eagle;  the label instructs in capital letters, "EL EXCESO DE ALCOHOL ES PERJUDICIAL PARA LA SALUD" so I will be sticking to other brands;

July 7, 2011

240)  Home:  Christiffel Double Hopped by Bierbrouwerij Sint Christoffel B. V. of the Netherlands:  **;  very strong, bold flavours;

July, 6, 2011

239)  Home:  Hockley Dark by Hockley Valley Brewing of Ontario:  **;  hints of caramel and chocolate, but they are very muted;

July 5, 2011

238)  Home:  Dominus Vobiscum Blanche by Microbrasserie Charlevoix of Quebec:  **;  a spiced Belgian style Wit beer;  notes of citrus and chamomile;  Dominus Vobiscum is Latin for The Lord be with you;  Charlevoix uses it for their line of abbey style beers;  I hope to be able to find the others very soon;

Monday, 4 July 2011

July 4, 2011

237)  Home:  Noble Pils by Samuel Adams (or the Boston Beer Company) of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:  **;  from the neck label:  "made with all five Nobel hops from the world's oldest growing regions";  basically it's a strongly hopped pilsener;  it works for me in a way that other hybrids, for example the aggressively hopped porter from Durham, do not; 

July 3, 2011

236)  Home:  Brutal IPA by Rogue Brewery of Oregon, U.S.A.:  **;  similar to their Northwestern IPA but more so:  richer aromas, deeper hop flavours;  I recall a beer from Rogue called Brutal Bitter but I have no idea if this is the same one with an altered name or not;  speaking of altered names, I read in the Canadian Beer News where Trafalgar Ales and Meads re-branded Elora Grand Lager as Maple Leaf Lager in honour of Canada Day so my speculation re. Patrick's Pick might be on the mark after all;

Saturday, 2 July 2011

July 2, 2011

235)  Home:  Northwestern Ale by Rogue Brewery of Oregon, U.S.A.:  **;  a west coast style IPA, nicely hopped;

July 1, 2011

234)  Home:  Canada Day 2011 by Innis & Gunn of Scotland:  **;  I had been saving this one for today;  given the contributions that the Scots have made to Canada, going all the way back to our first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, it is appropriate that a tribute beer would come from Scotland;  this one has been aged in oak bourbon barrels for fifty four days;  this gives the beer notes of vanilla and caramel among a blend of wonderfully complex flavours;  not one to cool down with - try and make it last as long as you can;

Friday, 1 July 2011

June 30, 2011

232)  Home:  Duggan's #9 IPA by the Cool Beer Brewing Company of Ontario:  **;  agressively hopped, formerly the signature beer of Duggan's Brewery in Toronto; 

233)  Home:  Schofferhofer Hefeweizen by Binding-Brauerei of Germany:  *1/2;  a summery wheat beer with refreshing citrus notes;