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.