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 met one of my classmates, Jen of Ltd. Supply, at her house before heading to the kitchen. She opened several of their homebrews for me to try:
Mint Condition, a chocolate stout with an oh-so-subtle mint flavour imparted from fresh mint added during fermentation
Have Your Carrot Cake and Drink It Too, made with carrots and spices. It tasted fantastic, but alas had no carbonation.
Midnight in the Pumpkin Patch, a dark beer made with farmhouse saison yeast. Lots of great warm spice notes, cinnamon and nutmeg, with the pumpkin coming in quietly at the end.
Reporter Coffee Porter – I haven’t tried this one yet, she gave me a bottle to bring home that’s now waiting for me later this weekend!
And as if that wasn’t enough, she cracked open their bottle of Utopias and poured me a wee dram in a snifter. I soon lost myself in the smell of fruitcake and caramel – it was like smelling my Grandma’s Christmas pudding with her home made butter caramel sauce. It solidified my desire to get a bottle of my own next year.
Having given ourselves a nice head start, we took a cab to the class where we were promptly given a glass of Grolsch as we waited for a few class members to arrive. It was difficult to taste anything in the Grolsch after the dark beers, but I enjoyed the thirst-quenching aspect of it.
Shortly, we were split into groups to make a salad, soup, entree and dessert. It was great to be in an informal setting to talk and exchange stories with the people I don’t usually sit beside. There were many laughs, and I enjoyed talking to Jen, Hank ( a home brewer), Kait who is a wine sommelier, Shawn, one of the guys behind Old Flame Brewing in Port Perry, and, well everyone. I miss the interactions of teaching and work, and admittedly get a bit chatty as soon as I get out of the house. Actually there was more talking and laughing than cooking – huge thanks to Vanessa of Aphrodite Cooks for her attention to detail.
Our menu consisted of:
Onion and lager soup, made and served with Grolsch
Green salad with a witbier Roquefort dressing, made and served with Hoegaarden
Pork with apricot wheat beer and paprika, made and served with St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat
Poached pears with vanilla ice cream, made and served with St. Bernardus Abt 12.
While everything was delicious and offered some interesting tastes in terms of complement and cut, I have to say it was the dessert course that stuck with me the most. Definitely be making it at home.
I have a good/bad habit of picking up single bottles of beer whenever I am around a Beer Store or LCBO. Good in that I have a interesting selection of different beers in fridge to quench any thirst. Bad in that there is very little room in our fridge for actual food.
I tend to stash the beer in the crispers, aka the drawers of despair (fruit and vegetables go in, we forget we’ve put them there, goo comes out). However, the stash has overflowed to the top shelf to the point where it’s in my way. Time to figure out what’s even in there.
Actually, I think it’s time to stop buying the beer, and start drinking the beer.
Mill Street: Coffee Porter, Belgian Wit and Tankhouse Ale. Left from a sampler pack bought a while ago. Not super keen on any of them right now, but keeping them in case that changes.
Black Sheep Brewery: Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Had to buy this as I am a huge fan of the movie. Cannot bring myself to open it for some reason. I think I’m secretly afraid it might be awful.
Sleeman: Honey Brown Lager. Part of a mixed lot bought by my friend Karen to help further my beer tasting. She’s a good friend to have!
St. Ambroise: Pale Ale, Apricot Wheat and Raspberry Ale. Another sampler pack, as I like the fruit beers in the summer. Finding the Apricot Wheat a bit more cloying than usual, but perhaps that’s just me.
Amsterdam: Mid Summer Saison, 416. Amsterdam’s brewing facility has moved into my neighbourhood, making it far too easy to stop in to see what’s in their fridge. I keep coming back to the 416 after trying it during one of their tastings, the Mid Summer Saison was bought because I wanted to try a saison.
Wychwood, Hobgoblin.Another beer bought by Karen. She liked the label. This seems like something more suitable for cooler weather and Halloween.
Hacker-Pschorr: Weiss and Munich Gold. Bought because I wanted the bottles for my home brewing experiment. According to the research I did, I could buy empty swing-top bottles at a brewing store for a bit more than buying them full of beer at The Beer Store. It was like buy the bottle, get the beer for free! Yes, I know there are other options, but this gave me a valid reason to go to The Beer Store.
So there it is, what I am starting this (adventure? journey? misguided attempt at reality-avoidance?) off with.