Brew day today! We made a total of 6 batches on the 4 pilot systems of a copper lager for a contract brewer. Alberto and I worked on Pilot #2, aka Beulah. It was a bigger boil than we had previously done in the pilots, 70L as opposed to 50L, and we were a bit worried about boil overs, as Beulah’s kettle can run a bit hot . Jon showed us a neat trick to put some hop pellets in while you’re waiting for the boil; the hops disperse and the oils stop much of the foaming. Much easier to use to, rather than running around the brewery trying to find the one small bottle of anti-foam. We were a bit off in our target gravities though, something we’ll need to address when we brew our recipe project later in the month.
I spent the evening at Oast House, where I was volunteering for the CBA’s, passing out food tickets and pouring beer. Even though I was on the working side of the draught lines, I really enjoyed myself. The weather was gorgeous, the people interesting and easy to talk to, the food good and the beer better.
Monday was the day of the first big test, all about hops in Ingredients class. If I said I was panicking a bit would be an understatement.
I jammed in whatever studying I could during the weekend, whenever I wasn't working. Between work and studying, I had all of four hours all weekend to hang out with Keith. Not enough! I am re-thinking my 'take whatever work I can” ethic. Work is important so I don't dip into my RSP's too much, but I'd rather do that than have no time for relationships or school work.
Back to the test. Thanks to a study sheet shared by Alberto, one of my classmates, I was able to organize the information better which helped me on the test. I had made a decision to not to try and remember some of the more technical information to better concentrate on the bigger concepts, which meant that I had to leave 2 questions blank and guess on a third. I *think* I did well….we'll have to see.
A bunch of us went out after our last class to Kully's, a new sports bar in St. Catharines. I had a couple of glasses of the Oast House Barnraiser, which hit the spot perfectly. There was much laughter, just what I needed.
I didn’t plan on attending three beer events in one week, really I didn’t. Or at least that’s what I keep telling my liver, who knows me better than to believe this.
If it’s Friday, it must be the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies
I met Caroline early in the evening, and we added a few stamps to our passport before heading to the Artspace on Shaw Street for the seventh SOBDL Bevvy.
The beer: The trouble with waiting so long to write a post is forgetting what I drank. Unlike other events, I took no pictures to act as virtual memory. I remember there was one I really liked, one that was dead awful, and a few others that fell somewhere in the middle. Not especially helpful, I know.
The vibe: An odd mix of high school dance and girls night out. As well as running into some derby girls, I spent some time talking with Kait, who I know from the Prud’homme classes, and her friend Jacqui, who is one of the most kick-ass women I have met in a long while. Caroline introduced me to Tina from Junction Craft Brewing, and I spent some time talking with her about her Seibel experience. I was glad to get some time to chat with Jenn S., and left pretty happy to have spent some time among like-minded women.
Toronto Festival of Beer on Sunday.
I swore I wasn’t going to go another Toronto Festival of Beer after my last experience at the Fort York location. Not that there was anything particular horrible about the last one, just that it’s not me. But the price was right (free) and my beer-lovin’ friend Katherine and her husband were around, so off we went.
The beer: I went with the view to see what offerings were available from the East Coast and Ommegang, and to try the new Gose Buster from Liberty Village. I have to admit to being disappointed by the selection in the international & East Coast tent; I don’t think it was anything I can’t find at the LCBO.
But the Gose Buster, oh man that was delicious! I was glad I got a full glass at the beginning, because they were sold out of it when I went back for seconds later in the afternoon. I’m going to be watching their twitter feed to find out where they’re going to be distributing it in Toronto.
Other high notes was the Noo Broo by Beaus, the beer made in collaboration with Margaret Atwood, and Flying Monkey’s Brimstone, a porter made with roasted fennel that I enjoyed more than I thought I would.
The vibe: Still not me. It was amusing for a while to observe drunk white frat boys in their natural environment, but there’s only so many stupid cardboard hats and and only so much commercial beer marketing silliness one can take. When it got to the point where we are planning our routes on going where it doesn’t smell like puke and it’s harder to thread our way between the stumbling, staggering twenty-somethings, then it’s time to go.
And even though the venue is nicer than how I remember Fort York (nice to have shade and a breeze!), I won’t be back. In the words of Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon franchise, I am too old for this shit.
Hart House on Thursday
This was a refreshing change after the TFOB; imagine, a beer event for grown ups!
The beer: I only used the eight tokens given with my ticket. I tried six, and went back for seconds of Oast House’s barrel-aged hefeweizen and Amsterdam’s Travesty. Wellington’s Rhubarb saison was very refreshing and went well with the barbecue. The ginger lemonade hop vodka cocktail was…interesting. And the ginger beer from Mill Street was a bit of a misstep, not enough ginger for my taste.
The vibe: perfect chill. The setting sun reflecting off the old stone bricks of Hart House, the great mix of acid jazz and chill house spun by the dj from CIUT, the great food, the conversations – it could not have been more up my alley. As my friend Danette says, so far up my alley, I should have brought my bowling shoes. Loved it, and will definitely make it to next year’s.
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.