Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm a Spring Chicken!!

Boooock, bock, booock, ba-gaaaawk!


Ok, I'll slow down... It's just that, with this concussion and all, I haven't been allowed to drink for quite some time now.  Drink, or go to super awesome craft beer events going on what seems to be every weekend in Toronto these days.  But I did something today that I haven't done in a very long time... I had a sip of beer.

Oh dear beer, how I've missed thee.  You are my love, what I dream about, what I want to take home with me every night and day.  I want to watch movies and hang out with my friends with you.  I want to tell the world about you.  I want... you... in my life... every day, now and forever.

Maybe that's a little dramatic, but as healing from a concussion consists of a whole lot of doing nothing (literally, staring at a wall in a dark room for weeks) I suppose the moment this bock hit my lips, it was as if Spring had sprung within me.

Amsterdam's Spring Bock is a Spring seasonal that carries a glorious flavour which fills not only your mouth with toasty caramel maltiness, but each and every one of your senses with a sweet warmth that lingers softly past the sip.  The higher, 7% alcohol, is hidden by the full flavour and fruity caramel that is ever-so prevalent in the nose.  The lacing was gorgeous, with a head that remained in beautiful tight bubbles atop this dark ruby coloured brew.

You may be thinking: All this from a couple of sips? Oh yes.
And I can't wait for a pint.

As for the two handsome wrestlers in the photo, the owners of Grindhouse Burger Bar at King and Peter (Toronto) stock only the best brands; currently serving up brews from Amsterdam, Muskoka, Steam Whistle, Flying Monkey, and more.  I may have asked them to see if they could get some of Muskoka Brewery's Spring Oddity there for when I'm allowed to dabble again...

Check out this Amsterdam bock when you get a chance.  But don't wait too long - it's only available from March to May this year.

My Recco's
Food: Considering I only had a couple of sips, I'd rather not go as far as a food pairing, but for now, I'll say pair it with a second Amsterdam Spring Bock.
Music: Fun - Some Nights.  No kidding, this song will become your "It's Spring, the sun is out, patio season is coming, song of the next 3 months" song.  Fair warning: the 10 seconds of auto-tuned vocals is weird.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Granite Grrrrrowler

Guess what I did with this growler?  I gave the empty to the beer store.
Alright, next time I'll keep it.  This one was pretty sweet, and it was a birthday gift.

It's fitting that I post this tonight, as I drank this Granite Brewing American Pale Ale "Hopping Mad" out of my Leafs stein [see photo].

So, without further adieu, here is my review:

It's called Hopping Mad.
Most Leafs fans at the ACC tonight were Hopping Mad.  You could hear it in the chorus of boo's as they were eliminated from the playoffs in a shutout.  But that was a long time coming.

It was in a growler.
Grumbles and growls were seen all over Twitter tonight, as Carolina made it 3-0, and the game brought yet another hockey-less post season for Toronto.

There was an expiry date of February 20th.
That's about when things started to go downhill.  They've only won 4 games since February 20th.  Four.

It was fantastic. It was 6%, had an absolutely gorgeous citrus taste to it, and the aroma was filled with orange, a subtle floral scent, and hoppy wonders.  It was very flavourful, which isn't always a good thing.  This time, it definitely was.
I prefer the taste Granite's Hopping Mad left in my mouth.

My Recco's
Food: I was originally thinking of a Chicken Club, but Granite's Brewpub at Eglinton and Mount Pleasant in Toronto has this on the menu, and it would be oh so good together with this pale ale: "Chipotle Chicken Sandwich Grilled chicken, bacon, sautéed onions, melted jack cheese and chipotle mayo on a sub bun."
Music: Granite started out in one of my favourite cities, Halifax, so here's April Wine, from Halifax, with "I Wouldn't Want To Lose Your Love"... which is exactly what the Leafs management should be thinking about the fans right about now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Solidarity - Crafting a Community

Stone Brewery - you've done it again!

This Saturday, March 31st, one of the greatest breweries in North America, nay, the world, is hosting an event of epic proportions at my favourite bar in Chicago, Timothy O'Toole's.

Stone Brewing Co. is bringing together craft beer (crafting a community, one might say) from breweries including:
- Stone (themselves)
- Two Brothers
- Great Lakes
- New Belgium
- Dogfish Head
- Three Floyds
- Half Acre

They're opening up 50 taps, including some limited editions, to celebrate the second year of Stone being available in Chicago.  If I wasn't concussed right now, I'd fly down.

My plea to American craft breweries
I know there are issues getting your beer across the border, but, maybe you can hold an event like this up in Toronto one day soon.  We'd sure love to have you.

To check out more on this event, here's their Facebook page:

Don't forget to love us too:

And if you're a Canadian like myself who can't make it down there, grab a Canadian craft on this gorgeous Monday.  Morning? No problem - have a Mill Street Coffee Porter. Afternoon/evening? You'll be sure to find a Steam Whistle Pilsner on tap almost anywhere you go.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Cottage Country Cream Ale



Can I keep going?



If you're looking for a minimalist beer with a really smooth and lightly creamy taste, you'll like Muskoka Brewery's flagship Cream Ale. I have a lot of friends who can't stand really hoppy beer, so this is an ale I'd recommend to them.

It's similar to Sleeman Cream Ale in its orangey colour, but is a bit darker, and similarly has a subtle floral scent to it.  I found an earthy taste popped out much more in Muskoka's.  Makes it more fitting for a cottage getaway.

Since my recent discovery that most beers I adore have Cascade hops in them, I was surprised to read that this cream ale uses them.  I didn't quite get that same Cascade taste I've been training myself to recognize, but at only 20 IBU I suppose not all beers will whack you with their hops. I do like knowing that it's in there though...

Confucius?  Well this is Muskoka Brewery's first brew, and Confucius did say: "Study the past if you would define the future."

...So grab a 6'er of this 5%'er, and compare it to one of their newer beers like their Mad Tom IPA.  If you buy it at the LCBO, you might find one that has a free Muskoka bottle opener attached.

Happy weekend everyone.

My Recco's
Food: Barbecue up a burger and pair it with this cream ale.
Music: Since it's local, here's a local track for you: Elliott Brood - Northern Air

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Beer friends! While the URL is taking over, the facebook widgets are going through some post-traumatic stress and will remain on the site, and will not work. They should be back up and running in 2 days, at the latest.

Thanks for kicking ass on this Thursday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Brooklyn, Oh How I Love Your Accents

Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager!  This is how I express my love for you.... limerick song.

In Brooklyn this lager was famous
and so was my dear uncle Shamus
he drank quite a few
got locked up, he was through
but got out, as so do the famous!

And you use Cascade hops.  I knew I loved a lager for a reason!

To all the fine establishments that I've had this wonderful brew at - thank you.

How does it taste?  I believe the only way to describe it is through...


five point two percent
an american amber
dry-hopped perfection

bitter caramel
strong and floral aroma
desire for more

I'm not usually a big fan of lagers, but for years I've been a really big fan of Brooklyn Brewery's work; this lager being my introduction to the brewery a few years back.
Brooklyn brewery itself is one to look up to, as it supports numerous charitable organizations and is involved in quite a few non-for-profits.

My Recco's
Food: Chicken Wellington
Music: The Lordz of Brooklyn feat. Tim Armstrong - Outlaw

Fine establishments in Toronto where you can get Brooklyn Lager
Bier Markt

..if you know of any others, tell me where!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fullers Liquefies Old Man Winter

No kidding, it's summer. After that super crazy long never-ending Winter we had last year, this Winter essentially didn't happen.

...Naw... I didn't just jinx us.

With Winter seemingly being part of the past, I thought it was time to tell you about the Fuller's Old Winter Ale I had a couple of weeks back.

Old Winter Ale is one of Fuller's seasonal brews, as you may be able to tell from the name.  With notes of caramel, a subtle hint of spice, and a slight bitterness, I felt this 5.3% ale had a lower than normal amount of carbonation - all making it one of the heartier styles I've had by Fuller's.  Here's another thing: it was so warming, that it felt like I was drinking Winter; super chilly to start, but wonderfully warm going down.

So here we are, the summer's begun, and it's only March.  Let's say goodbye to Winter together, and I'll finish off my last Winter ale post of the 2011/2012 season.

Come ooooon summer special editions!

My Recco's
Food: Irish Beef Boxty (Go savoury with this Winter ale)
Music: Dropkick Murphy's - The Green Fields of France

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Green Beer: Amateur Day, or Just Plain Holiday Spirit?

With another St. Patrick's Day over, I'm in utter turmoil about the label of "Amateur Day" that many industry folk dub the 17th of March.

You'll read it on message boards, see it in the pubs, and hear it from the folks who work in our bars.  A main complaint is about having to make green beer, and about the immense groups of people pouring into their bars to drink as much green beer as they can possibly fit into themselves.  But is that so terrible?

Don't get me wrong, I understand the plight of dealing with the slobbering drunks - the people who drink excessively on St. Patrick's Day (I'm sure none of us have ever done that) and can't handle the sheer amount - who make the job just that much more difficult, so I'm talking more about the spirit of the holiday - the green costumes, the song and dance, and mainly, the green beer.

So to you fine, tired, and hungover people of March 18th, I ask:

Is it so wrong to get into the spirit of green beer and pretending you're Irish on this one day of the year?

The green dye really doesn't affect the beer all that much.

What's your take?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When Good Beer Turns Bad

The Scene
Archeo, a restaurant in the Toronto Distillery District that's named for its Victorian Industrial architecture. Aesthetically, it's a nice place.

The Food
Pizza/bistro.  My friend had the salmon, which looked nice, and I had the Duck Confit Pizza, which was dry.  Usually if a pizza costs $15, it tastes much better than one of those frozen ones from your local Longo's.

The Beer
My friend had the Sleeman Original, on draught, and I had Sleeman Cream Ale, in bottle.

The Problem
There wasn't much in terms of beer on the list, but I'm a big fan of Sleeman Cream Ale, so I went with it.  The problem with not being a frequent visitor of this restaurant was that I
1. Won't trust any taps until I've had a few different beers to know whether they clean them properly, and
2. Feel safer, but not safe, going with a bottle.

But you've got to chance it, right? Else you'll be drinking water.

The Hit
So I chanced it, and the beer had gone bad.  Now we all know that clear bottles are most susceptible to light and the resulting delightful, skunky smell and taste.  Unfortunately, this one had been hit.

The Reaction
No, I didn't send it back.  I should have, I know this, but I didn't.  I even gave it the benefit of the doubt, and ordered a second one, just to be sure it wasn't just that one bottle, but I'm quite sure the entire batch had been hit.

The Solution
Send it back!  Restaurants need to know when their beer goes bad.  No, it shouldn't have to be up to us, the loyal drinkers, to tell them when they're serving up $8 bottles of skunked beer.  They should know how to properly store, and even when to buy lots so not to have to improperly store them, but sometimes, they just don't know (or care?).

The Next Step
Maybe there should be a global storage course that every restaurateur has to take if they're storing and serving beer (isn't there?).  Maybe there should be a group put together to police beer served to Torontonians.  Maybe, just maybe, places like Paupers Pub, where a pint of Guinness has an unfathomable tangy aftertaste, or the Madison, where a pint of Keith's tastes like sour red wine, and to a lesser degree Archeo, where bottles of the carefully crafted Sleeman Cream Ale have been served post-poor conditions - maybe customer loyalty would explode if only they'd serve up a proper pint of resplendence.

The Fin ... ?
What do you think?  (This isn't over.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'll Take The Green Line over the TTC ANYDAY

Today's post is far too fitting.

Green = St. Paddy's day is tomorrow

CTA vs TTC = I was on one of Toronto's new subway cars today for the first time

Goose Island's Green Line Pale Ale is certainly comparable to my hometown's Alexander Keith's IPA (but Green Line is a pale ale, of course, for all you Keith's haters that will go onnnn and ooon about how it's not an IPA).

It's a crisp, pale gold coloured, slightly citrusy, session beer.

Session beers - one of my fave types of beer.

And what do you know, it's like an American ale hop party, with Columbus, Liberty, Amarillo, and Simcoe.  I'd recently tried Avery Brewery Pale Ale which also uses the Columbus hop.

On the subway side of this thought - the new TTC trains reminded me of the CTA trains (Chicago Transit Authority, which has a "Green Line" similar to our "Bloor Line") in its silver colour, and how the doors worked... but how cool is it that the ENTIRE TRAIN is one long train?  I can get on at one end, and walk ALL the way to the other without having to run off and try and make the doors on the next cart, tripping over some teenager who starts yelling obscenities at you, shopping bags flying in the air and you're hoping you don't lose that new scarf you just bought or that fresh, sweet, orange pepper ...

So, if you're in town (and I mean Chicago, because it's only available on draft in Chicago "to help cut down on packaging waste and reduce the impact from refrigerating and transporting beer over long distances." - see the Green Line Project here), and you're looking for a solid local beer that you can slam back and enjoy - do it.  Take the Green Line.

My Recco's
Food: Pulled Pork Sandwich - see the photo.
Music: AC/DC - You shook me all night long

If you can guess where I got that pulled pork po-boy, I owe you one pint of Green Line.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

American Apples

No, I don't know much about cider, but I tried this one in Chicago and it was aiight.

J.K.’s Scrumpy Orchard Gate Gold Organic Hard Cider was difficult to pass up because of its name; Scrumpy.  Say it with me:

Sc - ruhh - mmmm - peeeee.  

It's like the alcoholic hard-ass one of the 7 dwarves.

It was served to me in one of those frosted glasses, which I know doesn't do anything for beer, so I'm going to assume it's doing just about the same for a cider, but nevertheless, the bevy itself was good.

Like a brisk autumn day at the apple orchard... It was a cooool apple juice. With a percentage. (6%).

There's a fun little tidbit of history to this Michigan born cider that I found on the site - During Prohibition, they sold a "Special Farm Cider" that people come from all over to get their hands on. Selling special "cider" during Prohibition? That's organic and respectable. It's downright orgectable.

Organic apple cider with vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Do ciders keep very well? Because this one was made in 2010, and I want one.

My Recco's 
Food: It was sweet, so try it with some juicy Canadian back bacon.
Music: CCR - Lookin' Out My Backdoor

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beer Bistro, what a Glorious Cascade...

If you've not been to the Beer Bistro at King and Yonge, Toronto, you are truly missing out on a fabulous French dining experience coupled with some of the finest beer you will rarely be able to find elsewhere north of the border.

I started with the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

The Californian favourite of mine went really well with my eggs benedict; a benny, that instead of the traditional English muffin, was on a gorgeous potato latke.

Sticking with the bold list, I then had a beautiful Avery Brewing IPA.  After such a succulent hollandaise sauce, I probably should have gone with a double IPA to really transition from meal-to-post-meal, but I was all too excited to see a Colorado IPA on the menu.  There was something oh so wonderfully familiar about Avery's IPA that upon looking it up, I realized I have a certain hop preference: Chinook.  I like it.  I like it a lot actually.

Chinook is used in Stone IPA, Ranger IPA, and probably so many more IPA's that I've had - and of course I hadn't realized.  The Cascade hop is also in Avery's IPA, which, well what do ya know, so does Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.


Time to add some additional labels to my posts.  Malts I've got my eye on you too.

Know of any other beer that use Chinook or Cascade?  Or know of another hop that you think I'd fall head over heals with and want to buy scented candles that effervesce of their scent? Let me know, s'il vous plaît.

My Recco's
Food: Orange flavoured dark chocolate cake
Music: Motley Crew - Afraid

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I Didn't Know Pirates Were So Into Nuts

I absolutely adore the labels this company has on its beer bottles.

I was lucky to try a bit of this Anchor Brewing's Humming Ale that a friend had brought back from California.  It was a hell of a lot nuttier than any ale I've ever had, so it didn't quite match up with my typical reaction to one, especially a Californian ale, but it made me want to try more from the brewery, that's for sure.

Its name "Humming", as described on the website, is "an ancient beer term, found everywhere from Robin Hood to Herman Melville, used to describe a strong, effervescent ale with a lot of character or just in praise of a truly good beer." I love this. I really do. Any beer that dates itself back to ancient times and ROBIN HOOD is something to learn more about in my books. What makes this little piece of history even better, is that Anchor Brewing is America's first craft brewery. First.

I was planning an April trip to California this year, but due to a fantastic concussion that I'm trying to heal, it's been postponed.

Humming Ale is pretty new to the brewery, first being bottled in 2010, so I feel pretty lucky to have been able to try it. It's available between July and November, so maybe I'll try and plan a trip down to San Francisco to get some right off the line, along with a few more of Anchor Brewing's brews. I'd definitely like to try the Liberty Ale, Steam Beer, Summer, and Christmas brews.

My Recco's
Food: T-bone steak - rare.
Music: 1920's Big Band/Speakeasy style.  Try The California Ramblers: California Here I Come