Thursday, 20 November 2014

November 19, 2014

In terms of "audience" in the past week, France has leaped ahead of Germany into third place.

I asked after the new, renewed even, Tracks home brew (which was set to debut on Sunday) but it is not available yet.  A couple of people have tried it.  The individual I spoke with - he is a lawyer and that is about all I am going to say about him  - was not a fan but that could mean so many things.  Few people are fans of my favourite beers but then again, no one likes a spoiled beer either.  If I don't go for this one there isn't much in the way of alternatives at Tracks though my attorney acquaintance has spent a lot of time trying to convert people into whiskey sour drinkers.

Maybe I will visit Dum Dum's more often, if only because I like saying the name.

November 18, 2014

254/1235) Fionn MacCool's, Brampton:  Schmucker Meister Pils by Privat-Brauerei Schmucker of Germany:  *1/2;  malty, notes of berries, with a subdued hop edge and a mild, Saaz-like after taste;  it was served a bit too cold for my liking and I am seldom one to say that;

If truth be told I was feeling a bit of a schmuck at the time.  It turns out that when a fund-raiser is going on at a Chapters those books marked at $20.00 sell for $29.95 if you tell the cashier you are participating.  I was under the impression that I was only donating my Plum card points.  At any rate, I returned a day later and they made things right (I had purchased several copies) and the next time I am harangued at a Chapters I will demur.

November 17, 2014

253/1234) Home:  Dark Helmüt Imperious Schwartzbier by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  **;  7.3%;  Wild Oats Series No. 23; not surprisingly, it is very dark;  soft, fine perisitent head;  grainy, chocolatey nose with wine-like notes;  faint chocolate notes;  an ever so slightly off beat dark ale;  from Beau's Oktoberfest four-pack;

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

November 15, 2014

252/1233) Home:  Porter by Black Creek Historic Brewery of Ontario:  ** ;  this was a growler brewed on site at the historical brewery as opposed to the product available at the LCBO;    as per usual there is no head, no carbonation;  the nose is mocha and strong coffee;  notes of roasted coffee, chocolate;

I recall that when I was participating as the "brewers apprentice" the ground barley had bits of wheat in it.  In the nineteenth century the brewer was not necessarily the miller's top priority and the wheat was ground first.  Some would be left behind, mixed in with the final product when he got around to milling the barley- authenticity with a vengeance.

I had promised that I would return the to Adelaide Street location of The 3 Brewers and I had also broadly hinted to my daughter that we would go there soon so I took care of both commitments today.  It was very quiet in there.  Perhaps it was because we were eating an unusually early dinner.  We were told that the place was packed the previous night.  I wonder if that is how this is going to play out.  It is very much in a Monday to Friday part of town.

November 13, 2014

251/1232)  Home:  Rickard's Lederhosen by Molson Coors of Ontario:  *1/2;  a 6.5% Oktoberfest style lager;  copper coloured;  fruity maltiness with a  lingering Saaz hop bite;

A pair of Oktoberfest beers:

November 12, 2014

The latest idea for improving beer distribution is an odd one.  The Powers That Be are pondering allowing the LCBO to carry twelve-packs.  I have been thinking that all those six packs take up way too much room as it is.  I hate to think what allowing larger packaging will do to the amount of space available and by extension the variety of beer that can be stocked.

November 11, 2014

250/1231)  The 3 Brewers, Adelaide Richmond Centre:  Bear Street Stout by The 3 Brewers, Ontario: **1/2;   5.5%, 32 ibu;  this is their Neighbourhood Beer, so named because Bay Street was at one time called Bear Street on account of the fact that bears were known to roam it;  it is a nitrogen tap which lends a creamy mouthfeel; oats add their own richness and smoothness to the blend;  the nose is a mix of coffee and chocolate;  similarly there is a mix of the two in the taste with a light body and a creamy head;  the finish is surprisingly sweet with a touch of fruit;

The new Adelaide Street location does have a good street visibility and it can be reached by way of the underground which makes it conveniently accessible from such far flung locations as Union Station and the St. Andrew subway station, even the Toronto Eaton Centre, provided The Bay is open.  Mind, if you are at the Eaton Centre you are across the street from the Toronto's first 3 Brewers.

It was the middle of the afternoon and things were slow so they had time to give me the Royal treatment.  I was shown all around and I even met the brewmaster.  It backs on to a square between office towers which lends a nice setting in which to dine and there is only one flight of stairs to the loo, not the journey required at the Yonge Street location.  I should caution that even without the benefit of a couple of beers on board the images on the ladies' and the gents' room are distressingly similar so until this is improved upon do please be careful.

I suppose this makes me an example of why declaring Remembrance Day a statutory holiday might not be a good idea.  In my defense I was off because we were on skeleton staff, firm-wide, and I did attend the Service of Remembrance in front of the Soldiers' Tower at the University of Toronto that morning and even though we were warned we all jumped out of our shoes when the cannons at Queen's Park were fired.

Monday, 10 November 2014

November 10, 2014

249/1230) Home:  Gryphon Gold Lager by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  **; 4.5%;  brewed in Guelph to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the University of Guelph; pours blonde;  brewed with Saaz hops, which is not always a plus where I am concerned;  a refreshing lager/pilsner hybrid of sorts;  the Saaz hops are under-stated; it's like an edgy lager with a mildly sweet after-taste;

My first post-procedure beer was brewed in honour of my second son's University (not only that, he tracked it down and brought it here to me as well) and drank from a University of Waterloo Engineering glass given to me by my first son.  Those two stars may owe a bit to sentiment.

Speaking of anniversaries, today is the thirtieth anniversary of the Mississauga train derailment and I had the best view possible.  I was at a University of Toronto party at the top of the CN Tower.  The whole sky lit up.  It was quite something.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

November 8, 2014

Well this is a revolting development.

Today is International Stout Day, I had a couple of choices lined up but I cannot partake. Two days ago I visited an endodontist for a root canal and left after experiencing an extraction.  On the bright side, it is/was a back molar, the tooth I am least likely to miss, the decision that the infection was too severe for the tooth to be saved came quickly and an extraction cost me, or more accurately two insurance companies, one thousand dollars less than the root canal would have.  I should also be happy that the swelling is mostly gone and I only took two of the pain tablets I was prescribed and I'm not certain I really needed the second one.

The sad part is that I was sent home with a long list of instructions which include avoiding not only spicy foods, which is mostly what I eat, but solids in general until the wound heals.  I cannot smoke for five to seven days (and I was seriously considering taking up smoking this weekend - I tried it once and I cannot believe these people who say it is hard to quit:  I could scarcely start.) and worst of all I am to avoid alcohol for three days which turn out to be Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I would have thought the alcohol would sterilize the area but they say it would weaken the clot that is forming.

So I am not a whole lot of fun until Monday.  Sorry.

November 7, 2014

I hear tell that The 3 Brewers Adelaide Street location is finally open, nearly a year overdue.  I am looking forward to a visit to experience the atmosphere and to try their neighbourhood beer - a stout, which sounds like it might be pretty good.

November 5, 2014

248/1229) Home:  Happy Pilsner by Beau's All Natural Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  5.3%; Wild Oats No. 07;  a Bohemian pilsner;  the Euro-hops are not overly prominent in the nose and taste;  otherwise it's a typical pilsner, just easier on the sharp hops than many;  from Beau's Oktoberfest four-pack;

November 2, 2014

This will no doubt mark me as unsophisticated but I have to admit that I miss Watney's Red Barrel.  I gather that this was the beer that was the last straw in the eyes of the founders of CAMRA, the Campaign For Real Ale but back when there was an Elephant & Castle in the Eaton Centre I regularly enjoyed this beer, undoubtedly because of its prominent and frequent mention in Monty Pythons's travel agent sketch.  I used to order John Smith's Yorkshire Bitters as well.

It may not have been "good" beer but it was distinct from what was more readily available and it was another step on the road in my infatuation with craft beer.

November 1, 2014

247/1228) The Iron Duke Room at Wellington Country Brewery:  Farmers' Market Carved Out Pumpkin Ale by Wellington County Brewery of Ontario:  **;  4.6%;  sweet spiced nose;  pumpkin spice flavours;  brewed with 100 locally grown pumpkins, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger;

The last time I was here was in 2000 for the Ale Trail.  We met the old fellow who started the venture and I fondly remember the bowls of chocolate chips he had set out to accompany their Porter.  It was a fine porter but sadly this was discontinued not long after.

October 30, 2014

A few favourites have returned to the shelves for the season:

October 29, 2014

In spite of the fact that I have a connection at Fanshaw I had to learn of this through the always informative Mom and Hops website:

Saturday, 8 November 2014

October 28, 2014

A few reasons I did not attend Cask Days, in spite of the plethora of exciting beers available:

First off, it costs between $35 and $65 depending on how many sessions one chooses to attend.

Tokens are $2.50 each.  A five ounce pour is one token and for imports it costs two tokens.  This works out to $20.00 for a pint of an imported beer.

It's all to rich for me but I gather the place is packed (another reason against in my view) so they are managing very well without me and my wish for Cask Days is that it continues to flourish.

October 27, 2014

245/1226) Home:  Oktober Fest Bier by Barn Door Brewing Co. of Ontario:  *1/2;  6.5%;  bready nose;  muted Saaz hops add an edge to the sweet finish;

246/1227) Home:  Pale Ale by Side Launch Brewing Company of Ontario:  **;  5.3%, 35 ibu;  formerly known as Denison's;  tin reads 44⁰ 29' 55" N 80⁰14' 52" W which I suspect are the co-ordinates of their Collingwood location or maybe the Collingwood ship yards; floral hop nose;  floral, herbal notes with a dry bitter finish and a sweet malty after taste;

October 26, 2014

244/1225) Home:  Pumpkin Ale by Black Creek Historic Brewery at Black Creek Pioneer Village:  **;   5%;  brewed authentically, with no carbonation and unfiltered hence there is a bit of yeast sediment on bottom;  brewed Oct 17;  subtle pumpkin nose with spice;  full sweet pumpkin flavours; purchased in a two litre growler;

I tried this side by side with the "mass produced" version, brewed by Trafalgar in Oakville and the version available at the LCBO is more one dimensional - it is spiced, but there is not so much pumpkin as the one I bought on site.  What pumpkin there is doesn't taste as fresh and there is an artificial sweetness to it as well.

I have listed this as new since brewed at Black Creek Pioneer Village and not contracted out.

October 25, 2014

243/1224) beerbistro:  La Résolution by Unibroue of Quebec:  **1/2;  10%;  the nose reminds me of Christmas with its blend of spices;  notes of ginger, cinnamon, star anise; it may not have exactly suited the mood created by watching Toronto's Zombie Walk but I anticipate several more warming glasses of this in the coming cold weather;

October 24, 2014

241/1222) Caffe Volo:  Victory at Sea (with Cacao and Peppers) by Ballast Point of California:  **;   a 10% coffee vanilla imperial porter;  on cask;  hot pepper spices;  coffee vanilla nose;  very hot and spicy throughout with dark coffee notes;  I am reminded of Mexican hot chocolate;

I usually drink beer to deal with the sensations I was experiencing.  Mercifully, the barmaid had warned me and had counselled me to go with less than a pint.  It might have been fatal otherwise.  This was a Cask Days one-off, brewed with cacao nibs and Bhut Jolakia ghost peppers, which can be quite pungent, as my late mother-in-law would say. I would absolutely try this one again and I look forward to encountering the original, un-peppered version as well.

242/1223) Caffe Volo:  Northern Hemisphere Fresh Hopped Harvest Pale Ale by Sierra Nevada of California:  *1/2;  a 6.7% wet hopped IPA;  on cask;  the promise given by the strong floral hop nose is not filled by the mellow flavours - a disappointment;

It was uncommonly bright in the Volo.  They appear to have installed some light fixtures which to my mind hurts the atmosphere of the place but I might be saying this because I look more handsome in the dark.

October 20, 2014

I made the trip into Orwell's with the express purpose of ordering a stein of Steam Whistle.  For $16.00 you get to keep the stein.  I couldn't resist.  It is a very fine stein indeed and best of all the keg had just been changed.  Steam Whistle gets a lot of abuse from a certain crowd but at its freshest it is a very fine beer.  It does suffer, more than a good many beers, from sitting around a while and uncleaned draught lines.

October 18, 2014

239/1220) Home:  La Saison du Tracteur by Le Trou du Diable of Quebec:  *1/2; a 6% Farmer's Strong Ale, brewed with barley, wheat and rye;  thick head of very fine bubbles; hazy;   yeasty, spiced nose;  peppery spiced notes;  bitter dry after taste;  as saisons go this is pretty nice;

240/1221) Home:  Rauchstack by Beau's All Natrual Brewing of Ontario:  *1/2;  a 6.9% smoked Dunkel from Beaus' Okoberfest pack;  wild Oats #43;  pours as dark as a stout; grainy chocolate nose;  like a standard dunkel with added notes of chocolate and subtle smokiness at finish and after taste;  I like Dunkels but don't care much for smokiness - here the smokiness is nicely under-played;

Thursday, 6 November 2014

October 16, 2014

If truth be told, it has been a while since Tracks Brewpub has truly been a brewpub.  The brewing had been contracted out and it made for a more consistent product.  The thing was, the equipment is still occupying space where a couple of tables, or even a pool table, could be.  This is about to change.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Brian again.  He had been called in on a one-off basis to get things set up again.  At one time way back he was looking after the brewing at Tracks.  The plan is to create an Extra Special Bitter in the style of Fuller's ESB, using Saaz but mostly Fuggles hops.

There will not likely be beer to taste until the middle of November but I can hardly wait.

October 13, 2014

238) Home:  Scotch Silly by Brasserie de Silly of Belgium:  **1/2;  8%;  dark brown, almost black;  nose is alcohol,  dark sugar;  rich taste of sweet, dark, raw burnt sugar with a sugary finish;   a slow sipper;  I couldn't resist the name but I would buy it in an instant for the taste;

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

October 12, 2014

237/1218) Home:  Pilsner by Steamworks Brewing Co. of British Columbia:  *1/2;  5%, 30 ibu; straw colour;  Steamworks is located in the Gastown area of Vancouver; the steam line that powers the famous Gastown steam clock runs past the brewery and powers their mash tun and brew kettle as well;  grassy nose;  a farily standard pilnser with a great story behind it;

October 11, 2014

236/1217) Home:  Obscur Désir Stout Impériale by Brasseurs du Temps of Quebec:  **1/2;  9%;  alcohol is the most prminent feature of the nose along with bitter espresso;  very strong flavours of bitter dark roasted coffee and alcohol;