Thursday, January 29, 2015

Island Beer, that DOESN'T suck?

I've gotta say, compared to all of the island beer I've ever had, Turk's Head by the Turks and Caicos brewery is not bad!! There's... TASTE!

Typically, I'm an island beer hater. It's tasteless. It's bland, slightly carbonated sugar-carby-water. But while Turk's Head still has that islandy-taste, there's something else to it, it's got body, which is surprising for a 4.8% beer as well.

I think it has something to do with the fact that the brewer Eric Cardin studied at Niagara College Teaching Brewery in Ontario. You can taste the Canadian influence in that it's a flavourful light lager.

Now, I'm not saying it's a hopped up Amsterdam Boneshaker or flavour ride like Brooklyn Lager, but for a light island beer that's meant to be a sessionable, it's pretty darn great. Specifically, it's got an unfiltered (even though it's not unfiltered) nose, and has hints of orange and currants that make it taste as though it would be delish under the sun with some freshly caught fish.

I was lucky enough to have my pops bring this bottle back form me from a recent trip to that part of the world and it's given me hope that there's such a thing as a "good beer" on vacation in the Caribbean.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gone Rogue'n

It's been a good week. I'm on a few week break from real life and had a couple of rare-to-Canada Rouge's in my fridge.

I started out with Dad's Little Helper, which was a 6% black IPA. It was toasty, mildly warm, and crispy delicious.

What always impresses me about Rogue is their uniqueness. This particular brew presented the story of the first Father's Day, a story from 1910 of a man that raised six kids on his own. Well cheers to that man - this was the first of a likely six glasses I'll raise to him and many more things tonight.

Next up was the OH SO PRECIOUS yearly Rogue VOODOO DOUGHNUT. And this year was by far the best one yet. I honestly don't know how they're going to beat this one unless they do a chocolate salted candied marshmallow strawberry s'more one next year. Really.

But this year was the pretzel, raspberry & chocolate ale. MMMMMMMMmmmmm.

Like last year's brew (chocolate, peanut butter, and banana ale), this year was a normal 5.4% and paired with dessert and doughnuts, but, now stay with me, I had it with spicy homemade chili. It felt a little like I was having a jelly doughnut with dinner, yes, but it really made the raspberry finishing flavour come out with a bang.

I got two of these bad boys as a gift this year. If you're anywhere in Ontario, GOOD LUCK because they sold out at the LCBO almost immediately.

I think the pretzel flavour made this year's extra special. Pulling away from the standard sugarly desserts, Rogue got a little sweet and salty! MMMhmmm!

Rogue will always be sweet in my heart. (awww.)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter has arrived!

Winter has arrived, and what better way to kick it off than with a Great Lakes Brewery Winter Ale.
The strong 6.2% doesn't come through in the flavour, which is a trait that I've found a lot with Great Lakes - they know what they're doing over there.

The orange peel and spices bring out a combination of flavours that start with a warming ale, turn into a chocolaty stout, has hints of a spiced brown, then ends with a smooth, clean, but still very warm finish.

It's spiced, full bodied, and perfectly carbonated. Pick it up for your first sit-down by the fire or when you're feeling just about ready to start hibernating to sleep away the cold months. Mmmm.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Never thought I'd drink Fiji's best

Nope. Never thought I'd make it to Fiji and drink their premium, but here i am, doing just that.
At first it tasted like a Corona meets a Coors Banquet. The taste quickly changed twice more. Next, the Corona Banquet turned into a Perroni, with a crisp but malty flavor. Once that passed, the oh so yeasty aftertaste kicked in. Mmmmmmmm.
For $11FJD I'm happy i tried it. I might have to go for the $17FJD Asahi next time though..

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cask Days: The Good, The Bad, and The Beer

I'll start out by saying the beer selection was the best I've ever seen in Toronto. Ever.
Hands down, the varietals of American and Canadian specialty casks was worth the almost $50 tickets (after fees).

But before i go into my fav's, here's the good, and the bad, about this year's Cask Days, the 7pm event, on Saturday October 25th.

The Good
Setup and food: The Evergreen Brickworks was well set up. Food was lining the beer and the food selection was impressive. The food also matched what one would expect at a beer event- pretzels, pork sandwiches, charcuterie plates, and lots of mustard. There was even coffee stand with delicious mochas for the end of the night.

Tokens and volunteers: there were multiple token booths around the venue which kept the lines regulated  (something else kept the lines short, but I'll go into that in "The Bad"). There were loads of volunteers, and some familiar faces from the last Cask Days at the Hart House that I volunteered at. This was great because there was never really a wait to get a beer.

The Bad
Cost: $2.50 per token? Tokens only got you 5oz of beer, and you needed two tokens for 5oz of the good stuff.
I was paying $5 for 5oz of beer all night. And after the $50 tickets, it was far more expensive than I'd planned for. And it's not like that was common knowledge going in or when buying the tickets. 

So, ok, I get it. Toronto's annual summer Beerfest doesn't have the same breweries available at this year's Cask Days, and it doesn't have the one-off casks. But the markup comparing $1 at Beerfest for 5oz was jarring.

Go ahead, give me the shpeal about how the venue costs more and the beer was coming from farther. The Bier Bistro imports American beer and charges the same amount. But that's OK, cuz they're a restaurant. They aren't putting on a festival where the idea is to sample many beers.

That's the key.

Festivals are meant to allow you the opportunity to sample multiple beers at a reduced rate, else you could just order up from the lcbo.

Anyways, I'll stop there. I did really enjoy my night and all of the beer that I'm going to talk about now. I'm just disappointed in how much it cost me.

The Beer
I won't go into the entire selection I sampled, but here are the highlights:

I stuck mainly to the UK and California booths because it's far too rare to pass up, but I started with the Pumphouse 4 Alarm IPA from New Brunswick. Initially I wanted this one because the cask was directly under the Nova Scotia sign... but NB works for me too. I really liked it - there's nothing like starting a night of drinking off with a proper IPA.

Next up is Innocente - everything was great. Everything. I'd never heard of this Waterloo brewery, and when I'd asked some of the volunteers no one really knew where they were from either. Sampling such fantastic beer from a new brewery is always a fun surprise at these festivals.

And now, California! One of my favourite places for good, craft beer. 
I did it, I finally did it! I got my hands on a Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere fresh hop IPA. (I've had the Southern Hemisphere, and was dyin to try the Northern. I also had the Torpedo - their Extra IPA. Both were delicious on cask, and the lower carbonation really brought out the flavour of the Centennial hops (one of my two fav hops - Cascade being the other.)

Another great find was the Pizza Port brewery, also from California. I had an absolutely delicious cascade and orange sample that blew my mind.

Stone is one of the best breweries in the States IMO. The casks they had at this festival were REALLY specialty. They were infused with so many flavours that I felt that they would be best at an event that paired them with food, to make sure they were really appreciated.

Last but not least, Coronado. Another brewery from California that I've never had the opportunity to try before this event, but always kept an eye out for it. I had the Idiot, and enjoyed it. It was a basic IPA but nice to mix things up between the infusions that Stone was offering.

I ended the night off with one of my fav American Pale Ale's: Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale. It sometimes has a place at the Bier Bistro, and always has a place in my heart.