The Only and The Roundhouse

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.

IMG_20150807_174431
My view of Friday night.

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!

IMG_20150807_184642~2
Fabian’s beer sticker collection.

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.

IMG_20150808_134836
Nice marketing hook.
IMG_20150808_145407
I saw many good beer tshirts; this was my favourite.
IMG_20150808_161918
I love this picture for many reasons.

 

 

Hart House Beer Festival

Finally, the event I waited for all year arrived: the Hart House Beer Festival.

I took my friend Katherine (aka That Damned Canasian), and we wandered around the venue (what is that open spot in the middle of Hart House called? do they call it a quad? a square?), sipping good beer, eating some great food and listening to great beats courtesy of CIUT’s Higher Ground.

There were more breweries than last year, but not a lot of brews I couldn’t find at the LCBO or Beer Store, which was a bit disappointing. I got to try Mill Street’s Ginger Cat, a ginger wit that I was curious about, but only comes as part of their seasonal sampler. I will freely admit to being a ginger-holic, and so was underwhelmed by the ginger in it. I tried Double Trouble’s Revenge of the Ginger next, which had a nice ginger heat balanced by the hop/citrus finish.

Standouts for me were Oast House’s cherry Berliner Weisse and Amsterdam’s Shape Shifter, a lovely barrel aged strong ale that made it all better.

wpid-photogrid_1438786610769.jpg
When I remembered to take photos of what I drank
wpid-img_20150805_105855.jpg
Nice space, and they didn’t pack us in like sardines.
wpid-wp-1438786847478.jpeg
Obligatory arty-ish night shot.

 

 

 

Because Beer

So glad I was able to check out the Because Beer Festival in Hamilton this weekend. Great beer, great food, great music, great location, great vibe…and that was just Friday!

Kudos to Brandi and the other organizers who made herding that many cats look easy, and thanks to Victor of Garden Brewers for letting me hang out and help.

garden
Garden Brewers tent, where even the jockey boxes support the brand.
IMG_20150710_190752
Brandi announcing the Homebrew Competition winners. I was not one of them, which just means I need to up my game.

 

fm
Finally got to try Flying Monkeys’ 12 Minutes to Destiny.

 

IMG_20150710_223256
Pier 4 is a great place to catch a sunset!

 

 

Beer Advent Calendar 2014

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:

wpid-photogrid_1420145069865.jpg
Days 1-5

1. Mikkeller k:rlek: check this post.

2. Mikkeller Black: check this post.

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.

wpid-photogrid_1420145298091.jpg
Days 6-10

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.

wpid-photogrid_1420145444131.jpg
Days 11-15

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!

wpid-photogrid_1420146124292.jpg
Days 16-20

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.

wpid-photogrid_1420146513641.jpg
days 21-25

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!

 

 

Day 45

I had a great post here about the field trip to Sleeman, Wellington and F & M breweries here, but WordPress and Chrome were hungry and ate it. It’s late and my bed is calling, so I’m just going to do a picture dump instead of rewrite it. Note there are no pictures of F & M as I’d been there before and decided to get an early jump on Toronto traffic instead.

wpid-2014-10-24-23.19.19.png.png
Sleeman – looking in one of the copper-clad vessels.
wpid-2014-10-24-23.14.46.png.png
Sleeman – detail of valves that are no longer used.
wpid-2014-10-24-23.15.28.png.png
Sleeman – newer stainless equipment
wpid-2014-10-24-23.16.47.png.png
Sleeman – looking from end of packaging line to warehouse
wpid-2014-10-24-23.17.24.png.png
Wellington – glass that formerly held delicious barrel aged stout.
wpid-2014-10-24-23.17.57.png.png
Wellington – barrels and cans