Saturday, 23 November 2013

November 18, 2013

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

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

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

November 17, 2013

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

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

November 16, 2013

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

November 15, 2013

More details have become available. 

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

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

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

November 13, 2013

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

I had no idea Apple was in the brewing game. 

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

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

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

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

November 11, 2013

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

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


November 10, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

November 8, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

November 7, 2013

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

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

November 4, 2013

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

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

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

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

November 2, 2013

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

Monday, 18 November 2013

October 31, 2013

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

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

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

Some Halowe'en beers:

October 27, 2013

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

October 24, 2013

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

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

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

October 23, 2013

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

October 18, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 17 November 2013

October 17, 2013

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

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

October 16, 2013

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

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

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

October 15, 2013

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

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

A porter and two stouts:

October 14, 2013

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

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

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

October 13, 2013

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

October 12,2013

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

October 11, 2013

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

October 10, 2013

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

October 9, 2013

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

A few tins I picked up lately:

October 7, 2013

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

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

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

October 6, 2013

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

I love October.

October 5, 2013

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

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

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

October 4, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

October 2, 2013

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

September 30, 2013

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

September 29, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 28, 2013

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

September 27, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

September 26, 2013

A very successful hop harvest.

September 25, 2013

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

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

September 24, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Cask Ale in Ontario – Granite Hopping Mad, Toronto

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

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

Beer 4 Boobs

Joe Sacco, owner of Smokeless Joe

Great Lakes Brewery Tap Takeover at Pub Milos

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

Amsterdam Adventure Brews

September 23, 2013

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

September 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

September 21, 2013

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

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

September 20, 2013

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

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

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

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

September 19, 2013

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

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

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

September 18, 2013

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

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

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

Thursday, 14 November 2013

September 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

September 16, 2013

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

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

September 15, 2013

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

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

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

September 14, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 11 November 2013

September 13, 2013

This looks bad.  Allow me to explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

September 10, 2013

This installment of places I miss takes us to the Hop and Grape formerly at Yonge and College.  The Hop and Grape was introduced to me by the same fellow who first took me to the Spotted Dick on Bloor East of Yonge.  Like the Spotted Dick, the Hop and Grape featured a wide variety of clientele, not quite so wide, but still pretty varied. 

It was near the Carlton Cinemas which made it a great place to sit and ponder the foreign language film I just saw.  They used to have Tusker back in the 1980s which was pretty exotic at the time.  In the evenings it must have been a different type of place than in the afternoons when I went - I have since heard it referred to as the Hope and Grope but for me it was just a quiet, low key place with a reasonable selection of beer, wine and spirits. 

September 9, 2013

197/845)  Home:  Canada Southern Draft by Railway City Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  4.3%;  this would probably work well in an old school taproom;  a little bit sweet and malty;  basically a light beer and a reasonable one at that;

September 7, 2013

195/843)  Home:  Delirium Nocturnum by Brewery Huyghe NV of Belgium:  **1/2;  8.5%;  fruity (dried) brown sugary nose;  notes of dried fruit and burnt sugar with a sweet finish;

196/844) Home:  Baba Black Lager by Uinta Brewing of Utah:  **;  brewed in Salt Lake City of all places;  certified organic;  a little bit sweet with a hint of chocolate;  "the label reads, Earth, Wind and Beer";  I have to admit the idea of a beer brewed in Utah intrigued me but the fellow at the Beer Table recommended it which sealed it for me;  I have enjoyed every one of his suggestions;

Toronto Beer Week can't come too soon.  Looking back it has been a while since I've been out.

September 6, 2013

Toronto Beer Week 2013 begins next Friday, the thirteenth.  Visit to see what all the fuss is about.  I am hoping to get out to C'est What's 25th Annual Festival of Craft Breweries and, with luck the official pub crawl a week later.  I will see what else I can get up to in between.

September 5, 2013

193/841)  Home:  Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing of California, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  9%;  nose has mocha, coffee;   roasty with a touch of mocha sweetness and a bite of alcohol.;  dark coffee-like finish;

194/842)  Home:  Nitro Milk Stout by Left Hand Brewing of Colorado, U.S.A.:  **;   6%;  the cap reads "Keep Cold Pour Hard" (and the bottle recommends this in order to get a rich head);  the usual four ingredients plus flaked oats and lactose;  sweet mocha nose;  rich milk chocolaty notes;  mild but not over-powering;

September 2, 2013

192/840)  Home:  Butler's Bitter by Niagara College Teaching Brewery of Ontario:  **;  4.4%;  "the drink that fuelled the British armies in 1812";  proceeds support student learning;  I thought I detected a bit of rye in the nose;  a rich malty, bready ale;

Monday, 9 September 2013

September 1, 2013

191/839)  Home:  Torpedo Extra IPA by Sierra Nevada of California, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  7.2%;  brewed "with a little magic from our 'Hop Torpedo' - a revolutionary method of dry hopping";  this would have been great on tap at LaGuardia;  hoppy nose;  refreshingly hopped flavour without over-powering bitterness;

August 31, 2013

190/838) Samuel Adams' Boston Lager by Boston Brewing Company of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  malty nose;  grainy and malty with a Czech style hop bite;

This is best remembered as the first beer Jim Koch brewed back in 1984 when we were using terms like "micro-brewery".

Sunday, 1 September 2013

August 30, 2013

With my favourite time of year coming up we are already beginning to see some of the reasons I like autumn so much.  I spoke of Cardigan a couple of days ago and now pumpkin beers are starting to show up at the LCBO.  I have some Black Creek and Highballer (by Grand River) and the Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale is out there, just not anywhere I have been yet. 

August 29, 2013

189/837)  Home:  Porter by Sinebrychoff of Finland:  **1/2;  checks in at 7.2%;  along with the usual four suspects, starch is used as an ingredient - I am not entirely certain what that brings to the party;  nose features strong alcohol notes., raisins, dates;  among the alcohol and raisin flavours there is a sweetness in the background;  very bold tasting: a Baltic Porter with a vengeance;

August 28, 2013

188/836)  Home:  Brooklyn Brown Ale by Brooklyn Brewery of New York, U.S.A.:  **;  roasty, chocolate nose;  touch of mocha flavour;

My son returned from Brooklyn bearing gifts, including, yes, Sierra Nevada Torpedo.  What's more, it turns out that Terminal B at LaGuardia, which is where Air Canada flies out of, does have a duty free shop.

Friday, 30 August 2013

August 27, 2013

Good news:  Rickard's Cardigan is set to return this fall.  It may already be available if the Beer Store's website is to be trusted, and in single cans to boot.  I was getting concerned because after Oakhouse, I don't recall seeing any further seasonals but it could be that I wasn't paying attention.  At any rate, I am hoping it will be more readily available than last year.  With fall, concert season returns and I am looking forward to more glasses of Cardigan at Orwell's.   

August 26, 2013

186/834)  Home:  Hoptimum by Sierra Nevada of California, U.S.A.:  **;  at 10.4% abv and 100 ibu this is a genuine hop bomb;  the label reads:  "Aggressively hopped, dry-hoped AND torpedoed";  described as a whole cone Imperial IPA;  strong hop nose;  very intense hop flavours;

187/835)  Home:  Indian Brown Ale by Dogfishhead of Delaware, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  7.2%:  described as "A clean, well hopped brown ale brewed with caramelized sugar and hopped liberally and often";  has a stout-like nose;  there is a hop bite to the taste but it is well balanced by sweet caramel notes;  bitter hop after taste;  this is perhaps the very best Indian brown I have tried so far;

Thursday, 29 August 2013

August 25, 2013

185/833)  Home:  Blue Moon by Blue Moon Brewing of Colorado, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  5.4%;  a Belgian style wheat ale brewed with coriander and orange peel;  mild citrus nose;  very mild, subdued; 

I have heard of Blue Moon but I have never tried it until now.  I don't think it is particularly fashionable, perhaps owing to its popularity.

August 24, 2013

It is time to vote on the Golden Tap Awards: 


Voting closes at 11:59PM on Tuesday, September 10th and the awards will be presented on Wednesday the 18th at the beerbistro.

August 23, 2013

184/832)  Home:  Chocolate Truffle Stout by Thomas Hooker Brewing Company of Connecticut, U.S.A.:  **;  7.1%;  "malt beverage brewed with cocoa";   a collaboration with Munson's Chocolate;  nose is sweet chocolate with a touch of alcohol;  it really does taste like a carbonated truffle though perhaps not quite so sweet;  Thomas Hooker founded the colony of Connecticut in the seventeenth century; 

August 22, 2013

183/831) Home:  Samuel Adams White Lantern by Boston Brewing Company of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:  *1/2;   a Belgian style white ale brewed with tangerine and orange peel, coriander and Grains of Paradise;  pours cloudy, honey coloured;  spiced nose;  mild tasting - a good summer beer;  lightly spiced flavours with a citrusy finish;

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

August 21, 2013

182/830)  Biergarten, LaGuardia Airport, Terminal C:  Red Rocket Ale by Bear Republic of California, U.S.A.:  **;  has a  rooty, bitter, hop nose;  earthy, bitter hop flavours;  quite strong tasting; 

It's farewell to Manhattan. 

I have never offered cash and had it turned down but at the Biergarten is credit or debit only.  It is worth noting that there is no duty free shop in LaGuardia, at least not in Terminal C.  Other than that, LaGuardia is not nearly as bad as I kept hearing.  It's not fancy but it is certainly not unpleasant.  I do have one regret.  With ten minutes to go before boarding I spotted Sierra Nevada Torpedo on tap at the Victory Grill but didn't think I should chance it.  I think I can get it at the beerbistro in a bottle and I probably will unless someone brings one home for me next week.

If memory serves, this is where Dorothy Parker, and others, held the Round Table sessions:

August 20, 2013

178/826)  Heartland Brewery Chophouse, Times Square West 43rd Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, Manhattan:  Indiana Pale Ale by Heartland Brewery of New York, U.S.A.:  **;  pleasantly hopped but not overly so;

179/827)  Virgil's Real Barbecue, West 44th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, Manhattan:  Harpoon IPA by Harpoon Brewing of Massachusetts, U.S.A.:  **;  a very refreshing American style IPA;  hops are balanced by a strong malt backbone;

180/828)  Virgil's:  Sixty Minute IPA by Dogfish Head of Delaware, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  6% abv;  this was in a bottle reading, "The Continually Hopped India Pale Ale";  up front hoppiness, went really well with dinner;

Virgil's is a great place and our waiter, David, took really good care of us.  No one left hungry.

181/829)  Our room at the Double Tree:  Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale by Blue Moon Brewing of Colorado, U.S.A.:  5.6% abv   *1/2;  a blond wheat ale brewed with agave nectar;  instead of the coriander or banana notes that I am accustomed to from a Belgian style wheat beer there is a honeyed sweetness courtesy the agave;

My wife picked these up for me but I am not sure exactly where:

She also took some snaps inside the Heartland:

August 19, 2013

173/821) Shake Shack in Manhattan's Theatre district, East 44th Street at 8th Avenue:  Old Brown Dog Ale by Smuttynose Brewing of New Hampshire, U.S.A.:  **;  this was in a bottle;  pours chestnut;  nutty mocha flavours;  my wife was crazy about this one;

174/822) Shake Shack, Manhattan:  ShackMeister Ale by Brooklyn Brewery of New York, U.S.A.:  *1/2;  a grainy, English style mild ale with a sweet finish; 

The SmokeShack burger might be the best hamburger I have ever eaten.

175/823)  Beecher's Handmade Cheese, East 20th Street near Broadway in the Flatiron district of Manhattan:  Finestkind IPA by Smuttynose Brewing of New Hampshire, U.S.A.:  *1/2:;  this was served in a bottle;  dry, bitter, herbal, with rooty hop notes;

Beecher's makes about as good a grilled cheese sandwich as I have experienced.  Their macaroni and cheese comes highly recommended, though I cannot personally attest to it. 

Would you believe they do not recycle glass in New York City?  I would never have imagined had I not been told twice in one day to just throw it in the garbage.

Speaking of cheese, I happened across a place called the Vintner Café on 9th Avenue between East 46th and 47 Streets.  They had a cooler at the front with a terrific selection of beer, and an incredible selection of cheese at the back.  It is just a tiny little place.  It is easy to see why people love New York.  Here are four reasons:

176/824) McSorley's Old Ale House, East 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue:  Draft Ale by McSorley's Ale House, U.S.A.:  **;  sweet maltiness; an old school English style ale;

177/825)  McSorley's Old Ale House:  Draft Porter by McSorley's Old Ale House, U.S.A.:  **;  mocha-ish sweetness;  like the above it's not overly complex and, yes, I am probably adding an extra half star to both in deference to my surroundings;

Visiting McSorley's was at the top of my list when I knew we were going to New York City.  McSorley's was established in 1854 meaning it has endured the Civil War, the depression and prohibition.  Women were not allowed inside until a law suit in the 1970s or so and even then the fine print didn't say they had to build a second loo so for a number of years they didn't.  I gather things were rather informal for a time.  My wife couldn't imagine why a woman would want to visit but she was a good sport about the whole evening.

NYU is nearby and the place was packed with tables of boisterous students singing loudly.  Our waiter came by and offered us a table closer to the front but we declined.  It was a kind gesture, though. 

They only have the dark and the pale and $5.50 gets you two glasses.

McSorley's is smaller than I had imagined but the interior did not disappoint.  The floors were covered with sawdust and it would not surprise me to learn that the bar and furnishings were originals.  I didn't chance the gent's room but it couldn't have been worse than Jack's a couple of nights ago.

Of course the lighting was not great but my wife did get a few snaps:

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

August 18, 2013

170/818)  The Long Room, Manhattan:  Stone Ruination by Stone Brewing of California, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  strong, piney nose;  forward, earthy hop flavours;  bitter lingering after taste;

171/819) The Long Room, Manhattan:  Arrogant Bastard by Stone Brewing of California, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  nose is hoppy with sweet overtones;  dry astringent hoppiness;  the website is a chuckle, have a read;

The Long Room's menu invited diners to ask what was on cask so I did.  It was Hoptical Illusion!  I flew to New York City to encounter beer brewed in Barrie but good on Flying Monkeys for getting their product so widely distributed.  We had a great meal there.  I recommend it.

172/820) Our room at the Double Tree Suites by Hilton, Times Square, East 47th Street at 7th Avenue:  Storm King Imperial Stout by Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  the nose is mocha and alcohol;  dark coffee notes, touch of alcohol and a hint of mocha sweetness;

Believe it or don't, this was draught beer poured from a tap into a jar at the Beer Table Pantry in Grand Central Station, one of six taps they had (but you can't drink it there).  The Beer Table Pantry is an incredible store.  It is the size of a walk in closet but they have everything you can imagine and then some.  I wish I could remember who suggested it to me.  It is a must visit when in NYC.

These are my other Beer Table purchases.  What a day!

August 17, 2013

We are in Manhattan for the next few days.  I am equipped with bubble wrap and zip lock baggies for the journey home - I intend to do some beer shopping.

Had a great pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale today at Jack's Pizzeria near Times Square, established in 1929.  Just to show how things always seem to work out, I was a bit put out at first that no one came by to offer me another glass but after a visit to the tiny loo I was grateful.  It was worse than the one at the Kipling subway station.  I know what I would be thinking now but it was an open kitchen and the pizza was pretty good. 

August 16, 2013

Good news!  Central City reports that their $75,000 fund-raising goal for autism has been achieved.  That's a lot of Imperial IPA.  Good on Central City.

August 15, 2013

I had to laugh while I was tidying my in-box.  I found an invitation to a Cask Pub Crawl scheduled for April.  To quote:  "Each pub on the route is located in Toronto’s West End...". 

Let's run down the list:  Bellwoods, Get Well, the Monarch Tavern and the Victory Café.  I've never ben to the Monarch but the others are fine establishments and by association I would wager that the Monarch is as well.  Besides, I think that is where Zane Caplansky of Caplansky's Deli got started. 

What sets me off, though, is the fact that the crawl doesn't wander more than a few steps west of Ossington Avenue.  Hardly the edge of the earth unless you are a downtowner.

For those of you who might suggest that I can only score on my serve, I have to confess that save for the Monk's Kettle I cannot suggest much in the way of cask ale in what I imagine to be the west end.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

August 11, 2013

168/816) Home:  Audrey Hopburn by Great Lakes Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  a 6.2% "Belgian IPA" from their Project X line - in particular the Tank Ten series wherein said tank is reserved for experiments;  very strong grapefruit-like hop nose;  sweet Belgian yeastiness balances the citrusy hop bitterness;

169/817)  Home:  De Wallen by Amsterdam Brewery of Ontario:  **1/2;  6.5%; aged a full year in Niagara Pinot Noir barrels then "purposely soured";  named for a red light district in Amsterdam;  funky raspberry nose;  tart cidery raspberry flavours;

August 10, 2013

167/815) Home:  Scaldis Blonde Tripel by Brasserie Dubuisson Freres of Belgium:  **;  referments in the bottle;  made with water drawn from beneath the brewery;  sugar added;  tart, cidery nose;  sweet sparkling wine flavours;  tart cidery finish;

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

August 9, 2013

163/811) The 3 Brewers:  Chocolate Blueberry by The 3 Brewers of Ontario:  **;  or La Choco-Bluet in the original French;  5.5%, 30ibu;  berries make up much of the nose;  nothing is overpowering, it's all very subtle;  tastes of blueberries at start with some graininess;  this is a very unusual beer but it's quite nice;  it reminds me a bit of chocolate covered blueberries;  finish is mildly sweet chocolate;

164/812) Caffe Volo:  Taras Boulba by Brasserie de la Sienne of Belgium:  *1/2:  this was a 5 ounce glass poured from a bottle at their tasting bar - another  great idea from the Volo, by the way;  the nose is grainy with a touch of cider and a touch of hop;  grainy at first with a dry, bitter hop after-taste;  not as sweet as Belgians often are; 

165/813) Caffe Volo:  East India Pale by Brooklyn Brewery of New York, U.S.A.:  **;  a 7% English IPA;  astringent, bitter caffeine like finish and after taste;  the English style comes across in the sweet nose and well-balanced flavours;

166/814) Caffe Volo:  MacTavish by La Trou du Diable of Quebec:  **;  a 6.5% American Pale Ale;  nose has notes of apple;  sweet apple flavours with a mild hop presence;

August 8, 2013

162/810) Home:  La Devine St. Landelin by Brasseurs de Gayant of France:  **:    8.5%;  brewed with wheat, dextrose and "antioxidants";  sweet nose with the slightest touch of smoke and grain;  up front sweetness and dried fruitiness; 

August 5, 2013

Should the Toronto Blue Jays do like the Montreal Expos and leave town I have a new favourite baseball team waiting in the on deck circle:  the Hillsboro Hops play of the NorthWest League.

Get this:  their mascot is named Barley.  This could only be better if they were part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization but they are actually a farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

They are also reputed to serve good, local (Oregon) beer at Hillsboro ballpark.   What's not to like?

August 4, 2013

161/809) Jack Astor's, Brampton:  Boundary Ale by Moosehead Breweries of Ontario:  **;  5.5%;  brewed with 7 malts and 4 hops - 2 from the U.K and  2 from the U.S.A.;  grainy, earthy hop nose;  hop forward flavours with earthy bitterness lingering through the  finish to the after taste;

Jack Astor's has not a bad beer selection, including a rotating Sam Adams tap, but I still marginally favour Fionn MacCool's when I'm in Brampton and, what's more, Fionn MacCool's is a bit less expensive.

August 3, 2013

This month's installment of places I miss is a bit out of the ordinary in that a pub still stands where the Sticky Wicket used to be.  A number of events were held here while I was at University but I didn't visit the Sticky Wicket until years after I graduated. 

I only stepped in out of curiosity - to see what I had missed.  The World House's third location (after Queen Street West, then Bloor Street West but before College Street and its unfortunate demise) was on Spadina, south of Bloor.  The Sticky Wicket was steps south of Bloor and steps north of the World House.

This was where I first encountered Upper Canada Rebellion on draught and quite an encounter it was.  They also had some great bar staff.  I always enjoyed a visit after shopping for boardgames at the World House.

It has been two, maybe three soul-less chain type pubs since and I just don't feel the same when I step through the door.  I am sure it is a small crowd who wish they drank more beer at university but at the time it was just another item on the menu, so to speak.

August 2, 2013

I fear we did not ingratiate ourselves to the servers at Tracks Brewpub this evening.  It might have been clever had we planned it but this was not the case.  A group of us was on the patio, beneath the oversized umbrellas when the sky opened up.  Did we go inside?  Of course not - we simply pulled our chairs closer to the table.

I think the one server tired of being soaked every time beer was ordered because by the time I was ready to check out it was Brian who was looking after us.  For the most part, I think we tipped extra but for a bartender of his calibre you really can't over-tip.

August 1, 2013

The first of August is International IPA Day.  At least it is this year:  like International Stout Day it has been known to roam around the calendar a bit.

I marked the occasion with Dead Elephant by the recently relocated (but still in St. Thomas) Railway City Brewery and a Belgian brewed Houblon Chouffe Dobbelin IPA Tripel.  Cheers.

No luck finding an International Porter Day.  It is severely needed.

Monday, 12 August 2013

July 29, 2013

160/808) Home:  Honey Bee'Lixir by Railway City Brewing on Ontario:  *1/2;  "Step right up!  Woodworth and Edwards Travelling Revival Tour presents…" a 5%, 29 ibu potion  brewed with locally sourced honey;  pours dark brown;  honeyed grainy nose; more grain than honey in flavours but it's mostly honey at finish;

July 28, 2013

158/806) Home:  Gouden Carolus Tripel by Brouwerij Het Anker of Belgium:  **;  9%;  undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle;  like St. Feuillien Grand Cru and others, sugar is added during brewing;  retro-candy necklace type of sweet nose;  opens quite unusually sweet but not cloyingly so;  a touch of (dried) fruitiness kicks in and hops make their presence know towards finish; 

159/807) Home:  Maverick & Gose a collaboration between Amsterdam and Great Lakes Brewery both of Ontario:  *1/2;  5.9%;  "a rare German brew of medieval origin made of a mostly malted wheat base";  brewed Sept 2012 with spices and pink Himalayan salt;  very wheaty nose;  wheaty, cidery with a hint of salt in the finish and after taste ;  might make for an expensive but successful marinade;  not as off-putting as I had anticipated, though my wife liked it a lot more than I did;

A few Belgians.

July 25, 2013

157/805) Home:  Sunny & Share Citrus Saison by Mad and Noisy Brewery of Ontario:  *1/2:  4.5%;  flavoured with orange and lemon peel;  nose is citrus and wheat;  lemon and orange notes with a yeasty wheat finish;  a fine summer time patio beer, and as I often say, pairs nicely with fish and chips;

Sunday, 11 August 2013

July 22, 2013

A pub is little more than a bit of geography.  What makes a Good Pub is the sum of one's experiences therein and this is why I miss DJ's so much.  It was at the north end of Hydro Place at University Avenue and College Street in Toronto.  In general, university was a happy time for me and I had some great evenings at DJ's.

In spite of the reputation of university students I really wasn't much of a beer drinker in those days, though I had been dragged to the legendary Brunswick House on a couple of occasions.

Draught at DJ's was ninety nine cents for a glass and the university newspapers always had coupons for their $1.99 dinner which consisted of all the salad you could heap on a plate, leg of beef and what they called Boulangere potatoes.  The great thing was that the people slicing the beef and spooning the potatoes took their cue from how much salad you had on your plate and as a result I never left hungry.

As I said, this was during university and I was always in the very merriest of company while I was at DJ's. In those days I didn't sup alone unless it was fast food. 

We did go once on a Saturday night and even though it was early days they managed to slip in some New Wave and, while I never saw them, a highly reputed band called the Grottybeats played there regularly.  For the most part DJ's served as a place to go at the end of a day of university and I treasured it.  I feel badly for U of T students today when I survey the row of soulless, largely franchise, joints they have to choose from.   

July 21, 2013

155/803) Home:  Stormy Monday by Bush Pilot Brewing Company of Ontario:  **1/2;  an 11% barley wine  brewed at Niagara College's teaching brewery and Nickel Brook's brewery;  it is aged in Calvados barrels - Calvados is a particularly strong liquor brewed from apples that I first encountered in Normandy;  pours the colour of dark red wine; brewed with seven malts, five hops, dried quince, dried apple, maple syrup, dried bitter orange peel, cardamom, cloves, vanilla, cocoa, raisins, dried figs, juniper berries and coffee;  very complex nose;  definite notes of Calvados, dried fruit, apple, spice;   sweetness hits right away;  Calvados finish;  in between it is incredibly complex;  it's one to sip and to savour;

156/804) Home:  Canny Man by Radical Road Brewing Company of Ontario:  *;  9.1%;  matured 71 days in Speyside Scotch whisky casks;  brewed with molasses, oats; peaty nose with a smoky finish;  I wanted to like this one but it just didn't work for me;  this is brewed at Black Oak in Etobicoke;  like the one above it is designed for sharing though I couldn't find anyone to share it with - the Bush Pilot was a lot more popular;

As evidenced below, neither spares expense when it comes to packaging and design.  Someone is getting a present wrapped in that Radical Road/Canny Man paper this Christmas.

July 20, 2013

153/801) Monk's Kettle, Etobicoke:  Green Man by Flying Monkeys of Ontario:  **;  an India Pale Lager;  my receipt read Little Green Man but the chalkboard read Green Man and that is what the bartender called it;  floral nose;  sweet, gingerly floral hoppiness with a bitter aftertaste; 

154/802) Monk's Kettle, Etobiocke:  Barn Raiser by Oast House Brewers of Ontario:  *1/2;  an American Pale Ale;  floral hoppiness;  not so hoppy to the taste, in fact it is rather sweet;

I was in need of a drink at this point.  I had attended a recital at a Catholic church in the west end of Parkdale, which is to say the as yet un-gentrified part.  The priests and deacons were out in full force to enjoy the music and I have to say they were some pretty rough looking fellows.  It was intimidating to see a group of men resembling prize fighters, clad in white collars and long black robes standing on the steps of a church smoking.  They looked quite menacing.

July 18, 2013

151/799) Home:  Old Style Pilsner by Molson Coors of Ontario:  *1/2;  I first tried this in British Columbia in the late 1980s - it is a distinctive can and I hung on to it:  it indicates that even then it was a Molson product;  it is new to Ontario, however;  it is sweet and malty with absolutely no hint of hops save for a touch of bitterness to the nose;  since pilsners usually employ Saaz hops, I don't particularly miss the hops here;

152/800) Twisted Spruce by Highlander Brew Co. of Ontario:  *1/2;    6%;  brewed with spruce tips;  not quite so spruced as the Spruce beer I tried on Isle D'Orleans or Garrison's effort;  there is a balance of malt and spruce, with spruce substituting for hops;  Highlander is located in South River;


July 17, 2013

150/798) Home:  Cervesia by Brasserie Dupont of Belgium:  *1/2;  8%;  bottle fermented;  another in a series of beers I have sampled lately brewed with malted barley, malted wheat and sugar;  vaguely muted cidery nose;  there is a touch of tartness but otherwise I found this one a bit dull;

July 15, 2013

149/797) Home:  4th D 2012 Old Ale By Kuhnhenn Brewing Company of Michigan, U.S.A.:  **1/2;  a 13.5% "Extra Strong Beer", aged for nine months prior to release;  brewed with malted barley and malted wheat;  the nose is like sherry or fortified wine;  thin, persistent head; soft mouth feel;  I am reminded of Sam Adams Triple Bock; strong intense flavours;    alcohol forms the background of a very complex brew;  this is one for sipping;

July 13, 2013

148/796) Dundas Square, Toronto:  Bamboo Beer by Bamboo Beer Ltd. of Ontario:  *1/2;  served in a tin - I didn't ask for a glass, only partly owing to the fact that I didn't see any available;  this tent and product launch were part of the Filipino Making Waves Festival;  it is a 5% lager brewed with hops, malted barley and bamboo;  it's a tiny bit sweet. otherwise not so different from any number of lagers, but it was refreshing on this Saturday in July;

Reading later about the Bamboo Beer launch I realized that I narrowly avoided rubbing shoulders with Boy Trudeau who arrived a bit earlier than I did.

Further north, they were giving away a tinned Vodka soda of some description.  Oddly enough, there was no riot going on as a result of the news and, yes, I was "carded" but they might have been doing that to everyone.  I chose to take it home for my wife instead of drinking it, though people were doing so on the street.  I am not convinced it is legal in Toronto to walk around the streets drinking Vodka coolers but perhaps it is punishment enough when, say, the Volo is so close by.

Yes, I pinched the tin.

July 12, 2013

145/793) Home:  Moinette Brune by Brasserie Dupont of Belgium:  **1/2;  8.5%;  bottle fermented;  sugar added * I am seeing this often with Belgian brews;  nose of dried fruit, dark sugar and yeast;  notes of sweet burnt sugar with a touch of fruitiness;  Very nice, indeed;

146/794) Home:  Monk's Stout by Brasserie Dupont of Belgium:  *1/2;  5.2%;  also brewed with sugar;  nose is coffee;  mild coffee notes;  somewhat non-descript beyond that;

147/795)  The Philippine Pavillion at Carabram:  Red Horse by San Miguel Brewery Inc. of the Philippines:  *1/2;   7%;  elsewhere on the label it is credited to the Polo Brewery which I take to be a Creemore/Molson sort of arrangement;  I thought I detected notes of sugar cane;  almost candy like herbal, rooty notes;  I have seen this described as a malt liquor;  my wife liked it more than I did;

The LCBO's Brasserie Dupont feature