Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ola Dubh

  The latest installment of brewery features at the LCBO kicked off today, focusing on the Ola Dubh line from Harviestoun brewery. If you are unfamiliar with Ola Dubh, it is a split venture between the brewery and the Highland Park whisky distillery. The premise is that Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil is aged for 6-8 months in Highland Park casks that contained 12, 16, 18, 30 and 40 year old single malt scotch. The result of this is a rich, full ale that is perfectly balanced and mind-boggling in terms of complexity.

  Today I was able to sample the 12 and 40 side by side. The 12 year old is rich and chocolaty while taking on subtle notes of the oak that it's aged in and sets the bar really high for the older Ola Dubh beers. Now, on to the 40. It looks identical to the 12 in terms of appearance but in terms of smell and flavor this is a monster in comparison. This has the nose of a fine single malt but is not over the top. The taste is so smooth with notes of peat from the oak casks coming through followed by a long smoky finish. A slight bitterness is present that compliments all the complex earthy flavours present here. This beer is world class, one of the best I have ever tasted.

  This beer line up is sure to please the craft beer enthusiast and scotch aficionado as well as everyone in between. However, the downside is that these may set you back a few dollars - the 40 year old retails for $18.95 for a 330ml bottle and the 30 is $14.95 but the rest range from $5.95-7.95. They wont be around long and are worth picking up if you want to try something that is both unique and delicious.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

 This week the LCBO received Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout again. You may (or may not) remember seeing this last year and because it did so well its back again. Brewed only once a year this ink-black imperial stout is the perfect winter warmer. At a whopping 10% ABV it warms in addition to being loaded with flavor.
  The chocolate flavors are front and center here - considering that this is not brewed with any actual chocolate is impressive. It also has notes of coffee in the nose and palate that conceal the taste of alcohol almost completely. Very drinkable considering its strength - in my opinion this is a world class stout that ranks right up there with Peche Mortel and Stone Russian Imperial Stout. 
  If you have the patience you should grab a few extras to age for a couple years. With its high alcohol content it will hold up for years to come. Also its only $2.55 a bottle so it doesn't break the bank either. Great value for a great beer, go out of your way for this one because its worth it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

IPA's worth picking up

  So as you may have noticed in the last little while there have been a few really good beers available through the LCBO. But for all of the hop heads out there some IPA's have made there way to Ontario with perfect timing. Now that Dogfish Head can no longer keep up production of the 60 Minute IPA there is a huge void of hoppy beers available. Southern Tier's IPA is outstanding and available year round as are Duggans #9 and Tankhouse but thats where it ends really.

  For a limited time this is no longer the case. The Dieu Du Ciel! release brought Corne Du Diable, an off-balanced but blindingly bitter west coast IPA that has sat in my top 10 list since first trying it over a year ago. From the east coast there is Garrison Imperial IPA that has an incredible hop presence but is refreshing and drinkable despite its 7% alcohol volume. Representing the west coast is Mt. Begbie Brewing Nasty Habit IPA - this is a much more traditional IPA that still incorporates subtle traits of the west coast style. Nasty Habit may not be as bitter as the other 2 but its still exceptional.

  It's easy to see why IPA's have been the most popular style among the beer crowd. Enjoy these while they are fresh and while you can still find them!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Beers Are Back!

  Now that Fall is here in full effect so are the Pumpkin beers. Now even I, at first, was a little apprehensive when I initially tried one but they are fantastic and now I look forward to them every year. This year there will be 5 pumpkin beers in total available in Ontario. So far 2 are available right now - Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale and St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale. The offering from Great Lakes is mellower on the pumpkin and spice than the St. Ambroise but would be a great introduction for anyone that has never had a pumpkin beer before. The St. Ambroise is heavy on the spice, most notably the clove, and like every year its outstanding. 

  The other 3 pumpkin beers should surface in the next ten days or so and include: Grand River Highballer Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge, Southern Tier Imperial Pumking and Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale (both Pumking and Post Road Pumpkin hail from New York). So look out for these in the coming weeks as well. 

  Anyway I hope you all had a good holiday weekend and try some pumpkin beers this fall while they are still here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"We're The Weakerthans, We're From Winnipeg"

 Hey, just a bit of news if anyone is a Weakerthans fan out there. On Monday, October 18 at The Royal Theater in Toronto they will be screening "We're The Weakerthans, We're From Winnipeg" for one night only. This documentary follows the Weakerthans on their cross Canada tour in support of their album Reunion Tour. The film is directed by Caelum Vatnsdal who will also be there for the screening. Also, before the film John Samson will be preforming a solo acoustic set.

  In addition to that The Weakerthans will be the supporting band for Jim Bryson the following evening at The Horseshoe Tavern. The show is free and it is also the release date for The Falcon Lake Incident, the new album from Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans.

  Hopefully some of you can make it out as this may be your only chance to see this documentary in theaters.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Muskoka Harvest Ale

 So I was excited this week to see that this has made its way to LCBO shelves. After hearing so much about it from last years run and from the release parties that took place over the last few weeks I couldn't wait to try it. For starters, this comes in the nicest bottle that I have ever seen. Its like a wine bottle with a swing top with a very understated label that is still very eye catching. They spared no expense packaging this, certainly worth the $7.95 based on looks alone.

  It pours an intense copper colour with a fluffy white head that left a thick lace on the glass right away. It smells very rich with a thick hop aroma coming through instantly. The aroma ends with a malty character that has a subtle grassy note coming through. The taste is very hop forward at first followed by a pronounced dryness. The grassy elements revealed in the nose reveals itself further on the palate while still maintaing a dry, hoppy presence. The mouthfeel is quite full but not overbearing and is amazingly refreshing for it being so dry. It drinks very, very well even though it comes in such a large bottle.

  This beer is outstanding. Everything form its packaging to how the beer itself fully embraces the season it was made for makes it nearly perfect. This might be the perfect Ontario autumn ale - everything about this makes you think of the autumn harvest. Pick this up while you can, this beer is the ultimate companion for a long fall afternoon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pints and Po'Boys plus my general overview of the dining establishments in my neighbourhood

  Today I am going to blog about something totally different from all my other posts up until now, thus making this my first entry that is not directly about beer (I guess this falls under the “things” category in my blogs title). I am going to talk about a number of the places to eat in my neighbourhood.

  The Annex is a pretty safe bet when it comes to finding something to eat. There is a great selection of various cuisines on Bloor street between Spadina and Bathurst. Another thing to note is that there is no McDonnalds, KFC, Wendy’s or any other large fast food chain here (sorry Justen). Pizza Pizza is here but who doesn’t like a greasy slice of pizza every now and then.

  I want to start with the place that sparked my idea for this entry. Southern Accent is located on Markham St. in Mirvish village just west of Bathurst. They serve up some of the finest Cajun/Creole/Soul food in the city and have done so since 1984. The atmosphere is all New Orleans from the pictures on the wall to the mardi gras masks hung around the dining room. Aside from the décor the small things they offer accentuate the whole southern vibe. The cocktails they make, the music they play and things like bourbon tastings really make this place feel like a little piece of Louisiana.

  Aside form the charming aesthetics, the food can hold its own. The first time I went there was with my girlfriend and I had the prix fixe menu. It was superb with corn bread to start, their famous voodoo pasta as my main with a scoop of homemade ice cream for dessert. I decided then that I would be back. That last statement is a bit of an understatement. Since that day I have been there almost every Tuesday throughout the summer. Why Tuesday? Well, on Tuesday they serve what in my opinion is the best deal in the entire city.

   I present to you the Pint and a Po’boy. Every Tuesday they serve up Po’boy sandwiches a la carte with a pint of either Hoptical Illusion, Creemore or Dennisons Dunkel. These things are seriously addictive and come in shrimp, blackened chicken or tofu served on a fresh bun with lettuce, tomato and their Po’boy sauce. The best part about this is that its only $10. If you go with a couple friends get the calamari as an appetizer – it’s fantastic as well. For $15 including tip you can get a complete meal with a pint of beer. I don’t that this can be topped anywhere. Also, my neighbors and I have developed what you can call “regular” status and the staff are super nice and know exactly what we’re ordering as soon as they see us. Don’t worry though; if you’re not a regular they are still really nice.

  As for the rest of the Annex there are some gems here. Tonight I went to Jerk King for some spicy jerk chicken and rice and the chicken was cooked perfectly with tons of spice – I couldn’t be happier that we finally have a spot for jerk chicken here. If you like sushi you are in luck. There are more sushi places on Bloor between Sapdina and Bathurst then there are bars. It’s actually ridiculous sometimes. Sushi on Bloor is excellent, fast and priced very well – the only downside is that it is always super busy and you may have to wait a while for a table. Kayla and I opt for take out because we live so close and we don’t have to wait for a table that way. Wok In Wok Out has become another local favorite of ours. You pick out any rice or noodle, beef, chicken, pork or shrimp and whatever veggies you like and any of their homemade sauces and then they cook it up in front of you. It also comes in one of those Chinese food take out containers that look cool. Rounding out my list of favorites is Burrito Banditos. If the name isn’t a dead giveaway they make burritos and they make them well. It’s your standard burrito place – small, warm and loud but they make best burrito I have ever had.

  So that’s it if you have the chance to go to any of these places do it and tell them Pino sent you…..they will be confused but you will be fed well. Also stay away form Yummy B-B-Q because it is just awful. Also, I hope you are all enjoying Toronto Beer Week!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An evening with Dieu du Ciel! at Bar Volo

 While Toronto Beer Week is looming just around the corner, Bar Volo got things started a little early this past week. The brewers and founders of Dieu du Ciel! were in Toronto this week to officially celebrate the release of Dieu du Ciel! into the LCBO as part of their brewery feature. The Dieu du Ciel! crew were at various establishments in Toronto with fresh kegs of beer which include everything that is part of the release plus a bunch of other stuff. So, there were a bunch of meet and greets, a pub crawl and a brunch this afternoon at Beerbistro but last night was the main event - 10 kegs of Dieu du Ciel! alongside 2 Bar Volo/Biergotter collaboration casks.

  I got to Volo around 6 pm and things were running just a touch late so I mingled with the other beer geeks outside a little bit and met a bunch of people who I had only talked to on Bar Towel and Beer Advocate. Its nice to be able to put some faces to names (or online nicknames anyway).

  So we got in and got our sample tickets and programs and headed to the bar to sample some of the offerings. The first thing that I tried was Rigor Mortis, a Belgian style quad. It poured a deep caramel colour that was similar to a barley wine with a half-inch of tan head that started to leave lacing on the glass right away. It smelled similar to any Belgian quad with a forward presence of citrus and belgian yeast that left a lingering scent of alcohol in the back. It had a sweet malty taste up front with a little caramel present that was followed by a bitter yeast that complimented the sweet characters of this brew quite nicely. The mouthfeel was quite creamy with a medium to full body leaning more towards medium. This was very nice fresh and I feel that it could improve a great deal with some age on it. Another thing to note about this is that once it starts to warm the complexity really opens up here. Its going to be nice to see this on LCBO shelves in the coming months.

  After Rigor Mortis I decided that I wanted to try something hoppy and seeing that the fine people at Dieu du Ciel! brought an Imperial India Pale Ale this was a no brainer. Chaman looks very similar to Corne Du Diable, their regular IPA, from the colour to the head they were indentical on looks alone. They even smelled similar although Chaman has a little more of a pine scent to it. It tastes very, very malty up front and the hops don't reveal themselves until the finish. It is drinkable and in many ways very good but to me, personally, the ABV of 9.1% was very noticeable and overall fell short of my expectations.

  Now even though I was slightly let down by Chaman the next two offerings that I tried were fantastic. Aphrodite - this is the beer that due to label issues has not made it to LCBO shelves yet even though it was to be released as part of the feature. This cocoa vanilla stout pours a nearly jet black colour with a tan and white head on top. It smells strongly of vanilla bean and chocolate with coffee hanging around the back. The taste of this beer was unreal...I'm not kidding either. At first its all smoked vanilla, then chocolate and coffee and then vanilla again - and that is just in a single sip. It has a light body that is very milky and drinks like a dream. This stout is outstanding and will not last long once it makes its way into the LCBO.

  I also tried Grand Noirceur, a russian imperial stout that was described to me as Peche Mortel without all the coffee. Now let me just say that if you describe any beer to me  as similar to Peche Mortel I am going to be interested. It's jet black with a tan brownish head and smells of chocolate and coffee. The taste is all earthy chocolate with notes of coffee that come across in its finish. It is unbelievably balanced and very drinkable and the alcohol is hidden very well here. Overall a great imperial stout.

  This was a great night overall and anyone who was there will tell you the same. The beer was fantastic the atmosphere was great and the smoked meat sandwiches catered by Caplansky's were to die for. This is the kind of event you know is going to be amazing before you even get there. The best brewery in Montreal comes together with the best bar in Toronto - it doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


  Alright now, slowly but surely the LCBO autumn ales are starting to surface at stores. Wychcraft is the second I have come across so far - the first did not warrant a review. I was moderately interested in trying this because I like Hobgoblin and Black Wych, both of which are made by Wychwood. That being said, Wychcraft is a blonde ale with an ABV of 4.5%, lets do this.

  Wychcraft pours a deep golden colour that is quite pale with a slight head that retained only for a short period of time. A sweet caramel scent is present right away followed by a bitter hop presence at the end. The taste is very straight forward for the style. There is a sweet malt flavour that is at the forefront of the profile followed by hints of corn and a slight bitterness that does not overwhelm the refreshing qualities of this ale. It has a thin to medium body and mouthfeel that leaves a little to be desired. It drinks fairly easy though.

  Overall its good but not great. It reminded me of Budweiser or any other similar lager with the noticeable corn taste to it. To be honest I would not buy this again - for $3.45 you can get something far better than this. I would still say this is worth trying though, but do it soon because it would be most enjoyable while the weather is still kind of warm because of its light and refreshing qualities.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Derniere Volonte

  So, this is the first beer that I am going to review from the Dieu du Ciel! LCBO release. This is made in the Belgian abbey pale ale style which is similar to Leffe or Affligem. This is one of my favorite beer styles so to say that I was happy when I saw that this was going to be available in Ontario is an understatement.
  It pours a hazy orange colour with a decent head that pancakes on top of the beer for the entire time. The nose has a lot going on here. Green apple, citrus and a floral scent are front and center here followed by the familiar aroma of Belgian yeast. The taste is a little hoppier than most beers of this style - not a bad thing though. The citrus comes through again here followed by a clean grassy finish. Lots of carbonation in this one but still very smooth.
  Overall I was quite happy with this one and I will most certainly have it again. Like most of the offerings from Dieu du Ciel! it is very unique in its take on the style. A very solid Belgian pale ale that you should pick up while they are still available.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chimay Triple

  Ok, so, its been a while. But the important thing is that I'm back on track here. Now I'm going to use this post to review a beer that I have only tried once before and it was a while ago, so, this time I'm going to do it properly. Chimay is brewed by trappist monks in Belgium and their beers are regarded as world class and are among the most sought out beers in the world.
  This golden Triple is a prime example as to why Chimay has earned their reputation. It pours a pale gold colour leaving a cloud of head on top that is so white that it almost looks too perfect. It smells of yeast up front followed by strong notes of banana and citrus fruit. A very aggressive nose on this beer, very inviting. The taste is phenomenal -the yeast comes through immediately followed by all those sweet notes that are present in the nose with a hint of warming alcohol in the finish.
  The complexity of this beer is nothing short of mind blowing. At 8% ABV the alcohol is very well hidden here, this could be dangerous over time. Great mouthfeel, medium bodied and quite creamy.
  Overall this is near perfect, very little room for improvement here. Chimay Grand Cru (blue) is still my favorite from them but I will keep this in steady rotation. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A few great articles from this weeks National Post about craft beer

Hey I don't know how many of you read the articles that were published in last Saturday's National Post. If you didn't I'm going to post the links here for your enjoyment. So check them out if you haven't already done so. Lots of good information on craft brewers in Ontario, and beer in general.



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dieu Du Ciel! in Ontario

So for those of you that have not heard yet Microbrasserie Dieu Du Ciel! will be released in Ontario as a brewery feature from August 15 to September 11. This release will feature some of the best offerings from Dieu Du Ciel! most of which have never been available for sale in Ontario. The release includes: APHRODITE – COCOA VANILLA STOUT, 6.5%, BLANCHE DU PARADIS – BELGIAN WHITE ALE, 5.0%, DERNIÈRE VOLONTÉ  -  ABBEY-STYLE BLOND ALE, 7.0%, CORNE DU DIABLE -  INDIA PALE ALE, 6.5% and ROUTE DES ÉPICES  – PEPPERCORN RYE ALE, 5.3%. 

Also they have a few seasonal beers being offered at various time throughout the year. These include: ROSÉE D’HIBISCUS  -  WHEAT BEER WITH HIBISCUS, 5.9%, PÉCHÉ MORTEL -  IMPERIAL COFFEE STOUT, 9.1%, RIGOR MORTIS ABT  -  QUADRUPEL, 10.5% and SOLSTICE D’HIVER – BARLEY WINE, 9.8%. 

These will only be available at 25 LCBO locations throughout Ontario, mostly in the GTA, so find a store with them and stock up. They shouldn't be around too long.

Beer Festival Day 2….but actually 4!

         So, my second day at the Toronto Festival of Beer was actually the last day of the festival (the Sunday). As a whole, it went very well. The weather held up – aside from a light mist on the way down and when we got there – but otherwise, the sun was out and it was a good day for beer.

         I started out my day going to visit a few people I needed to see. First stop was the McAuslan booth to visit my buddy Barry. Sure enough he was there dispensing samples to a fair sized crowd but still took a moment to say hello and tell me what he thought of the festival so far before filling my cup with St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout and telling me to stop by anytime throughout the day. Next stop Mill Street.

         Now, I am not lying when I say that Mill St. and their larger than life tent was by far the busiest of the day. After making my way through the crowd and finally finding some Mill St. personnel I learned that the guy I was looking for was not there today. Oh well. I grabbed a surprisingly delicious ESB, which I think I have had before but I can’t be sure of. In any event, it was a near perfect depiction of the classic British-style bitter: a rich malty sweetness backed by a well-structured bitterness, a nice deep copper colour with about one finger of head that laced quite well on the thick plastic tasting cup and was mild on the palate but quite refreshing.

          The next stop was Flying Monkeys, a personal favorite of mine. On the way there we stopped at the Old Credit Brewery tent – a brewery that I have only tried one beer from – and got a sample of their Pale Pilsner. This was a standout beer for me because, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from it. It surprised me with a clean grassy bitterness that stuck to your cheeks and held on forever. It looked near perfect with its golden straw colour and thick white head and smelled of a pleasant and earthy citrus. Really well made local pilsner that could have easily been crafted in the Czech Republic.

            Back to Flying Monkeys (sorry for getting off topic). Earlier in the week I had spoken to Patty, the owner of the brewery, and she told me to come by the booth while I was at the festival. Since I missed her Thursday and I knew she wouldn’t be there Sunday she told me to find her brother Peter who would be running the show on Sunday. I have to say that Peter was one of the coolest guys I have ever met in my life. He was super nice and approachable and we (my friend Blair and me) sat and talked to him about Flying Monkeys, American craft ales, his homebrew setup and the festival the past few days.

With the good conversation came good beer in the form of Hoptical Illusion, probably my favorite year round Ontario craft brew. Before we left, Peter invited us to stop by his house/brewery sometime to come and have some drinks and some food and to teach me how to brew. As an aspiring (I use that term loosely) home brewer this is monumental news. Having someone teach you how to brew instead of fumbling around your first few tries is good – having someone who is responsible for the masterfully crafted, citra hopped Smashbomb IPA teaching you how to brew is fantastic.

            Next we decided to get a bite to eat, because if you want to be able to taste fine beers all day you (of course) need food and water. We decided on St.Louis partly due to the fact that we had a craving for some wings and fries and partly because it was close (right in front of us). Now, somehow it was cheaper at the festival than at the restaurant itself, in any event no complaints here.

            After lunch we headed over to CASKapalooza to see what the cask offerings were today. Much better selection than Thursday I have to say. From what I tried there were some hits and some misses. Lets start with the hits. First My Bitterer Wife Double IPA, was a big, generously hopped DIPA. It had a great deep amber colour that was quite pale and gave a slight bubbly head, due to the cask conditioning of course. It was full of citra (and possibly cascade) hops and at an impressive 100 IBU’s had a pull no punches bitterness that was very drinkable as well as refreshing, even with a bolder alcohol content. Another hit from the Great Lakes Brewery casks was Does this Muumuu make me look Hefe? What a name this beer has. Aside from that, this imperial hefe- weissen did not disappoint. A nice cloudy, pale straw colour with a nice touch of head, it gave off strong breaddy and citrus notes in the nose with a yeasty, slight milky palate that was easy drinking, and with its imperial status, masked the taste of alcohol almost entirely.

            Now I have to say I was much more impressed with Great Lakes Brewery today than I was on Thursday. However there were a couple of misses. The Windy City IPA, fell short of my expectations: it was bland and syrupy and did not make the most of the Chinook hops that went into it and overall had a rather unbalanced character. The last cask I tried was Satans Choice… I am almost positive that this is just Devil’s Pale Ale with a different name and cask conditioned. Either way it was lackluster and unpleasant. To be fair I love Devil’s Pale Ale when it’s freshly canned or on tap, I just feel like this fell short of its intended purpose. The other beer I tried from Great Lakes Brewery was the Blonde Jagerbomb which is essentially Golden Horseshoe spiced with the same herbs found in Jagermeister. Not great, certainly different but I would definitely give it another try.
            Now, I realized that it might seem that from this post as well as my last one that I am totally ragging on Great Lakes Brewery. Let me just say that I am not. For the most part I like what they do, especially the seasonal ales, its just that I tried more beers by Great Lakes Brewery at the beer festival than any other brewery so its only natural that I’m not going to like all of them. I DO NOT DISLIKE GREAT LAKES BREWERY….just saying.
Another beer that made an impression on me was the Scottish Ale from Nickelbrook. This impressed me because I’m not the biggest fan of scotch ales (sorry Green) or Nickelbrook, but this was a solid offering with a tasty cedar-pine malt character that I would buy on a frequent basis.  I also took in a few old favorites during the day from Black Oak, Flying Monkeys, Hop City and of course Dogfish Head (even though all they had from DFH was the 60 Minute IPAyou cant go wrong with that.)

            So that was it. A successful festival filled with great beer, delicious food, a surprise appearance by JoLo, a few new contacts and thousands of people wearing ridiculous looking Steam Whistle box hats (which included me for about 30 seconds after I was given a rocket shaped hat by a some guy who was a rocket scientist (or not)….but he then took his hat back after I was photographed in it – obviously looking super cool….but I didn’t care.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Festival of Beer Day 1

  So the first day of the Festival of Beer went well aside from it starting about 45 minutes  late. It was quite nice because it wasn't too busy and you could walk around freely and lines for beer were short if there was even a line up at all. Now I will mention some of the bad before moving on to the good. I was disappointed with the Great Lakes CASKapalooza most of the casks I wanted to try either weren't going to be tapped for a while or weren't there at all on Thursday. Now this is not the first time I've had a weird experience with Great Lakes and tapping a cask. At the Session festival they were waiting for the right time to tap "My Bitter Wife" but seriously just tap it your at a beer festival for fuck sake. Anyway the two casks that I did try were the "Armadillo IPA" and the "Morning Glory Breakfast Stout" and both were mediocre. Nothing special about either of these so that was quite disappointing because I'm a huge fan of cask conditioned ales. Among the other misses for the day was the Samuel Adams Summer Ale. I am a fan of Samuel Adams and The Boston Beer Company and most of the things I've tried from them have been really good, however their take on a summer wheat ale fell short of what it could have been. There was too much citrus and sour notes coming through this. You could have told me this was Keith's White or something made by some other lowest common denominator brewery that turns out batch after batch of fizzy yellow beer but not Sam Adams. Thats it for the bad portion of the day the only other disappointment was the Hop City Braking Squirrel Lager. It's not that it was bad it just wasn't memorable at all. I mean its better than a Coors Light or whatever but thats not saying much though.

  Before I get to the good I'm going to talk about a beer that I found interesting. It was the Trafalgar Critical Mass. Now let me say that I don't particularly like anything that I've tried by Trafalgar just because it tastes very amateur like. Also their labels and packaging look like they were photocopied and stuck on a bottle. Now normally I only care about what is inside the bottle but these look extra bad. But back to "Critical Mass" this is not for your average weekend warrior in board shorts and flip flops. This beer is huge in flavour, has a thick sweet caramel scent, pours a syrupy light brown colour and clocks in at an enormous 17% alcohol content. Now thankfully I only had a (very liberal) 4oz. serving of this because anything more would put you on your ass. This is definitely one to share with a buddy and to sip on slowly. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it and I would certainly have it again. Now this is by no means something completely different in the beer world. Dogfish Head has their "World Wide Stout" and "120 Minute IPA" that come in at 18% alcohol and Hair Of The Dog has "Dave" that come in at 22% and Brewdog has "Sink The Bismarck" thats in the upper 20's (and now "The End Of History" at 55%. I'll give this its own post one day) but no other brewery would dare bring something this big to a festival that is not geared toward craft beer and is dominated by Molson, Budweiser and other billion dollar breweries. Not only did they bring "Critical Mass" but they brought "Korruptor" their barley wine that comes in at 17% alcohol so I have to respect the chance they took in bringing something that most people will hate or not even try to event like this even if it does nothing but let people know that beers like this exist out there.

  Now moving on to the good. Earlier in this post I mentioned my disappointment with Great Lakes but I really did enjoy "Up In Smoke" this was a really good North American take on the German style of rauchbier. Nicely smoked lots of bbq smoke and cedar in the nose with a clean smoked taste. This is not the best example of the style but was a really really good take on it. Beaus "Festivale" was another highlight so was the "Summer Saisson" and "Double Chocolate Cherry Stout" from Black Oak. Hop City that didn't wow me with their "Barking Squirrel Lager" won me over with their "Lawnchair Wheat Ale".

  By far the best part of the day was meeting Michael Duggan (Duggan's Brewery, founder of Mill St.) and shaking his hand and telling him how much I appreciate what he has done in terms of brewing in Toronto. He also told me to drop by their both on Sunday to at least say hello while I am there if I see him. I also met Ralph Morana the owner of Bar Volo in Toronto and we talked about some rare beers and the release of the "Cocoa Milk Stout" that they are brewing on premises. I also mentioned to him that he has a great establishment and that I would be by in the near future.

  So that was my experience from the first day of the Festival Of Beer in a nut shell....a very long and quite possibly boring nutshell. So I hope as many people make it out to the festival and try some new things as well as some old favorites that are available. Oh and if you do go drop by the Camerons Brewing booth they have some amazing stickers available.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Intro to my blog

Hello there,

  This is my little space where I will rant about beer (mostly) and music, art, cats and other things that I like or find interesting. I'm going to keep a heavy focus on craft and independent beer. Punk rock and underground hip hop as well as other music I happen to be into that may not be from the two mentioned genres. Anyway, I'm going to post reviews from the Toronto Festival Of Beer in the next couple of days along with a list of beers from Ontario that you should pick up and try. Well, thats it for now. Talk to you soon.