Two beer fests in two days. I really do love my life right now.
The first was The Only Summer Beerfest on Friday. They do this four times a year, and the summer is timed to take place with the Taste of the Danforth. This was my first one, and I was pouring for St. Ambroise.
It seemed like a pretty quiet night, and I poured a bunch of Death Valley Belgian IPA (way better on draught than in bottles, IMHO) and Raspberry Ale. I had lots of great conversations with other folks working the festival, like Fabian of the Only, Erica from Black Oak, Andy from Oast, and Brian (I think that’s his name) from Pommies. Huge thanks to Jerry from Brimstone, who took my Twitter request seriously and brought me a bottle of their Nutmare On Elm Street!
The next day, I met Katherine and Michael to be on the other side of the jockey box for a few hours at the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. It was well laid out, and there were more breweries there than I expected. However, a lot of it was same old same old, geared to APA and IPA fans with little that wasn’t available at the LCBo or Beer Store. And alas, not a lot of stouts of porters as a lot of folks don’t drink them in summer I guess. Highlights were the Russian Imperial Stout from Wellington, Bottle Imp from Beau’s and 12 Minutes to Destiny from Flying Monkeys. Lowlights were the two breweries who were pouring beer with some serious off-flavours; we encountered a stout with a diacetyl issue and a nut brown ale with really bad sour note.
I finished my advent calendar a little late. Ok, a lot late. Between one thing (illness) and another (food coma courtesy of That Damned Canasian), it went a bit (a long bit) past the 25th. And then I forgot that a blog draft does not equal a blog post.
Belatedly, here is what was in my advent calendar, in numerical order:
3. Neustadt Springs Big Dog Porter: a gift from a derby friend, it was lovely after the taste bomb that is the Mikkeller Black. The red wine added gave it an interesting tang, but I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of it.
4. Bellwoods Roman Candle IPA: Lots of citrus and pine, with some lemon pepper on the tongue. While I’ll never be an IPA disciple, I would drink this again.
5. Weyerbacher Insanity: A bourbon barrel aged barley wine gifted to me by a classmate. What’s not to love? Lots of vanilla and dark fruit, with whiskey and anise notes.
6. Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break: I will freely admit to already being a tad tipsy when I tried this, but I do remember a great sweet malt and biscuit flavour, with vanilla and chocolate playing nicely together. Need to find some more.
7. Geuze Fond Tradition: I keep coming back to this very drinkable sour when I want something to break to my winter desire for dark and sweet beer.
8. Black Oak Triple Chocolate Cherry Stout: this was inadvertently cellared for a year, as I forgot it in the back of the beer cupboard. Oops. The year treated it well, bringing out more cherry and chocolate while smoothing out some of the bitterness I noted.
9. Great Lakes Brewery Canuck: It was in the fridge, left over from something or other. I know there are many who enjoy it, but the pink grapefruit bitterness is too much for my palate.
10. Brasserie des Quatres Lunes Saison Automne: I spent 20 minutes trying to get the cork out, breaking the corkscrew I bought while on our anniversary trip in the process. I was really too pissed off to enjoy it by the time it hit my glass.
11. Double Trouble French Press Vanilla Stout: Where other coffee/vanilla stouts come across as sweet or cloying, this one is nicely balanced between the smoothness of the vanilla and the bitterness of the coffee. Definitely buying more.
12. Barley Days Yuletide Porter: This beer had stuck in my mind all year after drinking it with Jen at The Hole in The Wall last holiday season, so I was pleased to see it in bottles at the LCBO. I feel that the cherries are less prevalent in the bottle than I remember the draft to be, and it has a great chocolate taste that works well with a trashy novel and a bubble bath. Just sayin’.
13: Tea Time – English Bitter with tea (homebrew): I had made this last year as a test for Emma Christensen’s upcoming book. There was a wee bit of an issue with over-carbonation, and I was left with about 2 ounces of beer once it stopped foaming. The English bitter style beer was quite dry, and the black tea addition gave it a nice lingering aftertaste without any tannins.
14. Mort Subite: I drank this after the work holiday party where the evening finished off with cheap tequila shots and other things. I’m going to assume it was true to the brand, with a strong cherry tartness.
15. Coconut Porter (homebrew): A donation from a classmate. He had warned me it might be a little light on the carbonation, and he was right. There was lots of sweet coconut and chocolate in the aroma and taste – it was like drinking a Mounds chocolate bar. Delicious!
16. Smoked Cherry Ale (homebrew): I made this in late summer. The recipe said to let it age 6 months; at this the 4 month mark the cherry and the smoke seem in a good balance. Can’t wait until February, will compare it with the batch with just the regular malt.
17. Wellington County Dark Ale: Really malty with mild fig, nuts and chocolate notes. Really glad I drank it instead of cooking with it (although I’m sure it would make a nice fondue addition).
18. Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar: It was a crappy kind of a day, so I drank rather than tasted.
19. Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball: My mid-week landlord brought me back a bottle from his Vegas trip, because he thought of me as soon as he read the name on the label. Liked the strong malt backbone of caramel and biscuit, offset by a moderate hop bitterness. Lots of alc0hol heat in the finish.
20. Rochefort Trappistes 10: Yes. Oh gods, yes. So wonderful.
21. Nogne O Underlig Jul: A wonderful seasonal, with herbs and spices blended in a way that just say Christmas to me.
22. Turtle Island Squashed Pumpkin: Note to self – drink the beer, don’t hoard the beer. I’d kept it too long and the wet cardboard smell of oxidation was prevalent.
23. Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout: Drank this by a roaring fire in a snow-covered Northern cottage. It was perfect for that perfect moment.
24. Sawdust City Red Rocket Stout: Love the chocolate and espresso, but the cayenne is just too much burn for me.
25. Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine 2012: I could not have picked a better beer for Christmas than this one. Boozy and full of dark fruit smells and tastes – just like my grandma’s christmas pudding!
How to explain how I felt yesterday as I sat in a classroom for orientation, listening to people talk about the program I spent so much time and effort getting into. I think giddy covers it best.
(We’re going to gloss right over the nerves, anxiety, self-doubt and near-crippling panic that I experienced in the preceding 48 hours. The less said about that the better.)
Yes. We drank beer during the orientation info session. I can safely say we were the only program that did. They had 5 styles, but I felt that trying all five with no breakfast might be a mistake so I settled for samples of the NC Teaching Brewery saison and Septemberfest. Both made me wish I’d had breakfast.
I met most of my classmates. It appears that I am the only estrogen-based life form, which should make the next 16 months interesting. As well as from Ontario, there are two guys from the US, one from Calgary and another from Fredericton. I was as chatty as a nervous former teacher could be, so I’m pretty sure they know more about me at this point than I know about them. Note to self: sshhhhh.
Today is the first day of classes, and a fairly light one at that; an hour of Math of Finance at 11:30 followed by two hours of Computer Applications, which seems to be basically a self-learning software to guide one through the basics of MS Office. As someone who has taught it for the last 12 years, I am really hoping I can fast track through it.
I should go and have breakfast then shower and get dressed. But I can’t help but linger here over my coffee and think about how fortunate I am.
First and foremost, I have to hand it to my beloved. He was the one that planted this little seed in my mind by replying “Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it” when asked what I should be when I grow up. He has been nothing but supportive and wonderful throughout the last year while I was recovering from having the rugged pulled out from under me and then planning and working toward this next stage. He is quietly sacrificing much. He is shouldering a larger financial burden while I’m a student, has seen his vacation cut short from 2 weeks as planned to 5 days to accommodate some work that came up for me, and is keeping the home fires burning solo while I’m at my mid-week home across the lake. He is, in a word, wonderful, and I am quite lucky to have him in my life.
While Keith keeps telling me I made it this far due to hard work, I could not have done it without a lot of help in one form or another from just about everyone I know.
my brothers Brian and Doug, and my sister-in-law Linda. They have been my cheerleaders in unexpected ways and have offered much needed moral support and offers of financial assistance (which I hope I don’t need). I am grateful for how they have my back.
The Moose, our friend who is graciously renting me a room in his house in Winona. I hope he still wants to be my pal after being my mid-week landlord for the next while!
The “beer girls” – Erica at Black Oak, Jen Murphy at Beerlicious and Jen Shute. I met them at the Prud’homme beer course and they have been invaluable sources of information and assistance whether it be a letter for my Second Career application or connecting me to beer folks so I can make some extra money doing LCBO tastings. You guys rock!
Bella Dodswell of The Career Foundation, who helped me navigate the paperwork minefield that is a Second Career application. My application would not have been successful without her cheerful advice.
Juliette, who is still willing and able to pick up the phone and talk me off a ledge, even though we live on opposite sides of the world from each other and are separated by a half a day’s worth of time zones. The woman has mad skills and I am proud to call her friend.
Lori is another friend from far away who is kind and generous with her time and herself. I appreciate her more than I can ever say.
Caroline, aka the Hoppy Beer Witch, who is funny and interesting, and who has been instrumental in whetting my interest in the BJCP.
Robin Le Blanc, the Thirsty Wench. I have only spoken with her a few times, but we have many common thoughts on social justice and equality. She has given me much to think on in terms of working to expand the diversity of brewing, while introducing me to people in the industry.
Nate Ferguson and Alan Brown of Niagara College, for giving me a tour of the college and patiently and promptly answering all of my email questions, no matter how big or small.
The women at the Admissions department of Niagara College. They gave me invaluable advice during the application process and their emails were always fun and friendly.
my derby pals, my former colleagues, former students, friends and friends-of-friends, and perfect strangers, all of whom said “wow cool” when I told them of my plan to become a brewmaster. No one said I was too old, too female, too unexperienced or too anything; everyone has been amazingly supportive and interested.
And for this, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I quite honestly could not have done this without you and I am grateful.
Some people claim that summer starts on the Victoria Day long weekend. Me, I say that summer is here as soon as I can 1) get the motorcycle out on the road and 2) sit on a patio and drink a beer without wearing 87 layers of wool. (Note: these two things do NOT happen at the same time; I have a very strict personal rule about alcohol and two wheels.)
The bike was uncovered and washed on April 10th, so that condition has been met.
This week I was able to meet Caroline (HoppyBeerWitch on Twitter and Instagram) for beer. We’d been trying to connect since we had met at the Ontario Brewing Awards gala and had bonded over our love of beer. The first patio we agreed to meet on was at Bar Volo on Monday to take advantage of their $5 pints. Alas, Caroline was unavoidably delayed, so I was left to taste the Session Saison by myself as I wrote and watched the people on Yonge Street.
I did enjoy the Session Saison, although not as much as I expected to. I do like raspberries, a lot, and found that while the first few sips were lovely, the lemon verbena began to assert itself a bit to much by the halfway point. I do have a bottle in the fridge, so will have to see if it’s any different from the draft.
We tried again later in the week, and met on the patio at the Only. I was a bit early, so I grabbed a Rosee and Hibiscus from Dieu du Ciel and again did some people-watching and writing while I waited.
The Rosee and Hibiscus was a bit light for the still-chilly day, and I made a mental note to order it again in the heat of summer. Caroline arrived and ordered a Summer Saison from Black Oak that she enjoyed, and I tried the Cousin Abbey’s Dubbel by Oast House next.
Holy hades, was the dubbel ever delicious! Lots of rich molasses, caramel and dark fruit notes to please the taste buds, and a decent ABV to chase the rest of the chill away. Will definitely put that one on the Beer I Want To Drink Again list!
And there you have it. Both conditions are met: motorcycling and beer on a patio (again, NOT at the same time), so therefor it is summer.