Day 184

We looked at decoration in Packaging class, ie labeling. there’s a lot of information has to be put on a small space, from product & manufacturer information to health, regulatory and/or religious info. All aspects of labelling were covered: paper & glue composition (must adhere, but still be able to be removed easily especially on reusable bottles), printing and dye-cutting (finally, an aspect of brewing I know something about!) and the machines used to apply them. I will admit to zoning out a bit during the machinery discussion, as I was very busy sketching out an idea for a label for my beer that I haven’t made yet.

Sensory was next, after a walk in the sunshine between classes. So many cool places to explore near school! I headed to Woodend Conservation Area and stomped around in what remained of the melting snow and tried to stay out of the puddles as I walked around the old house and looked out over the lake.



But I digress.

Today was several of my favourite styles, English Brown Ale, Porter and Stout. I discovered I like the sweeter Southern English brown better than the drier Northern one, and that Dragon Stout (Foreign Extra Stout) tastes just a fruity and delicious as I remembered. We did not get to the American or Russian Imperial categories, which goves me something to look forward to next week.

SOBDL’s First Bevy

bev·y, ˈbevē , noun
a large group of people or things of a particular kind.

Jen Shute, from Ltd Supply, and I were at The Hole in the Wall bar in the Junction one snowy night, talking about life, the universe and everything over a few beers, as one does when one is in a good bar with good beer and good company. She mentioned the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies during one of our conversational swings, and told me how her and four of her friends who work in the industry were starting up a tasting group with the first event being the end of January. They envisioned it as a bottle-share/tasting group, small and private, to be held in someone’s house.

I was excited. I know of a few other bottle shares, but my desire to go hasn’t quite overcome my social anxiety of being a female n00b in a room of men. I bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale after New Year’s.

Social media spread the word of the Inaugural Bevy, and the event was featured in Toronto blogs and papers. The number of attendees grew too big for a private home and an event space was found. Due to the liquor laws, it was sadly no longer possible for the event to be a bottle share, and several local breweries donated kegs, growlers, bottles and cans of small and big batch beer for the ladies to imbibe.

Kudos to the Ladies: Jen, Erica, Magenta, Renee and Jaime! You can tell a lot of planning and elbow grease went into making this a great time for the 90 women who bought tickets. There were tasting note card, pins, name tags with conversation starters, a candy buffet and a great music playlist in a rustic loft space above Merchants of Green Coffee.



It looked like everyone was having a blast. I wish I could say that I was one of them, but I just wasn’t feeling it. My own fault really – I’d slipped on the ice and wrenched my bum knee, and no amount of Voltarin or ibuprofen was enough to make a dent. I went anyway, and sat on one of the few chairs not covered by coats and watched the party swirl around me. I couldn’t help notice that I was the oldest of the revelers by a fair amount, a fact that normally wouldn’t bother me but on that night just combined with the aching knee to bum me out. I used my three tickets to get a big glass of the Great Lakes Brewery Harry Porter and the Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Bean (so delicious, I went to GLB the next day to get a bottle of my own to make proper notes on and enjoy), and then headed home to an ice pack and a cup of tea made for me by my beloved.

Prud’homme Beer Specialist, session 4

Draught was the lesson for today, and I think the main thing I learned from it is that I am never ordering draught again unless it’s from a place that takes their beer more seriously than the corner sports bar. Does that make me sound like a beer snob? I’m trying to avoid that. It really is no biggie as I am not inclined to to to my corner sports bar to drink anyway.

Also wrote a test on history, and got the test on ingredients, fermentation and ageing/packaging back that we wrote the week before. I am so focused on getting this grade 12 chemistry done that both tests caught me unprepared. So imagine my surprise to find I got 13/15 on the first one! Not sure how that happened…obviously more things are settling in my memory than I’d thought.

Sensory Evaluation:

Style - Brown AleNewcastle, 4.7%Black Oak Nut Brown, 5%
Appearancemahogany, brunette, quick headcocoa, nut, wood
Aromacereal, brown sugar, raisins, root beercocoa, hazelnut - Ferrero Rocher
Tastesweet, honey, cracker/toastpumpernickel, molasses
Finish thin, quickdry, quick
Style - PorterLondon Porter, 5.4%Black Oak Porter, 5%
Appearancemahogany, red tintmahogany, red tint
Aromacoffee, vanillacherry, chocolate
Tastetoast, wood, walnutcherry cola, molasses
Finish dry, creamylonger finish, creamy
Style - StoutLost City, 8-Ball 5.8%Mill Street Cobblestone Draught, 6.5%
Appearancemahogany, quick headmahogany
Aromacurrant, fruitcake, vanilla, datessmoke
Tastelicorice, fruitcake, warmingmild, not complex
Finish softthin, creamy
Style - Imperial StoutWellington Imperial Stout, 8%Dragon Foreign Extra Stout, 7.5%
Appearanceblack, dark black cherry pop
Aromabanana marshmallows, datescherry, red fruit, spiced rum
Tastesmoke, dates, molassescherry pie, almond extract
Finish smooth, bittercreamy, smooth

December madness

I tell myself every year that this year will be different, this year I will be as prepared for the December holiday madness as it is possible to be.

I was on the right track; I realized early on that there would be no way to knit gifts for my nieces and nephews. This decision coincided with an email from the World Wildlife Fund, and the gifts were purchased and sent in record time. We are not going to be around for the holiday itself, so the usual travel itinerary between Stratford, Sudbury and Oakville does not need to be sorted, hostess gifts, presents and food do not need to be organized.

And yet, I am still discombobulated. Because of the misunderstanding in the due dates for my marks, I’ve had to drop the teacher-led class for a self-paced online grade 12 chemistry class. To say it has been difficult is an understatement; the frustration of not understanding it as quickly as I would like combined with the stress of the expedited timeline reduced me to tears in lesson two. Phone calls from far-off bff’s shook me out of it, and I have learned (again) to ask for help. I now know that I know not one but THREE people with chemistry-related degrees, and the science teacher at my old school has offered to help me with my homework.


Then on to the application to Niagara College itself, and I am stressing out over every aspect of the portfolio submission. The little voice in the back of my head whispers that I am too old, too late and without enough relevant experience to get it. The little voice would rather I not try than be turned down. Words fail to express how much I hate that little voice.

I am also trying not to slip in to my usual winter hermit mode. Have met some former colleagues for lunch, and went out on Monday with Jen from Ltd Supply to check out the Indie Ale House. It’s hard to say which was more delicious, the burger or the Christmas porter. Like I said to Jen, a good burger should fall apart before you’re finished which this one did in spades. The porter had a lovely warm gingerbread taste going for it, making it a perfect dessert for the meal.

We headed over to the Hole in the Wall where it is very possible that I may have drank a little too much of the Yuletide Cherry porter from Barley Days Brewery. Good conversation over good beer in a good locale – definitely worth braving the cold for!


And that is why I have not made my Mocha Stout yet. I’m going to take a look at the timing and plan it so there’s nothing that needs attention for the week we’re away on our southwest road trip. It might have to wait until we get back.

Beer Day

Started my day with this announcement on Twitter:


1) Making Beer

Truthfully, I am not sure how this batch is going to turn out. You can only read so much about a new endeavour before you jump into it, but I think I would have benefitted from having someone experienced in home brewing on my speed-dial for the day. I tried not to over-think it, but that proved near impossible.

I made the White House honey ale that I ordered with the one-gallon brewing kit from It’s an all grain kit; I wonder if it would have been better to try an extract first.

It went great (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). There were a few hiccups that have me questioning whether it will work or not.

  1. my thermometer broke. I was watching a bunch of YouTube videos, and a lot of the guys were using a cooking thermometer like this one that we used for our turkey, so I thought hey, why not. It would be easier to read and monitor than the glass mercury one that came with the kit. However, it went crazy at some point and now reads over 200F when at room temperature. Thankfully, I had the glass one to switch in, but I have no idea what happened before I did.
  2. there was no hot break. I drained the grain bag, turned up the heat under the kettle and waited, but got nothing even remotely resembling the pictures or videos I’ve seen. I did a quick Google search, and it doesn’t appear that it will wreck the batch, but I’m kind of disappointed to not see it.
  3. the stuff is boiling happily and it’s time to add the bittering hops with the finishing hops coming in after the hour-long boil. However, I have one package of hops. Cue over-thinking. Did I miss one when I opened the grain package? is it still in the grain bag? Yes, I did open the grain bag up and sift through the contents to find nothing. I did more Googling which confused me even more. Luckily, the guys at answered their phone on a Sunday. “Use half now, half later.” Or at least I think that’s what he said. Hope so…that’s what I did anyway.
  4. I was very careful about sanitizing everything that came into contact with the post-boil liquid. Except, as I realize now, the thermometer that I used to check the temperature during the cool-down, the thermometer that I rested on the wet counter every single time. Sigh.

Now I wait.

2) Writing about beer

Ta da!

3) drinking beer

This Vanilla Porter from Mill Street is quickly becoming my go-to beer. And it goes really well with vanilla johnny cake.