31 Aug

Review of Bevy 0008 | SOBDL

SOBDL_RewardCard_7WhatBevy 0008
Where: Food & Liquor
When: Friday, August 29, 2014

On the last Friday of every month the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies hosts a Bevy. These women-only beer tasting events are located at a new venue each time and always feature exciting craft beer from Ontario breweries as well as delicious food from local food trucks. Bevies have become a regular part of my schedule and I always look forward to them as the month comes to a close.

This month, however, I had a plan to get fit. As my husband had taken a couple of extra days off for the long weekend, we decided to bike down to the ferry and spend a few hours biking around Ward Island before returning home. We both recently bought new bikes and were eager to get plenty of use out of them before it gets too cold. I was a little apprehensive about the length of the bike ride to and from the ferry – a nice but long trek down through High Park to a bike path along the Lakeshore that totalled about 10-km each way – as I have not done more than about an hour’s worth of biking at any one time so far this summer.

The bike ride down was rather easier than expected, my new bike being vastly superior to the extremely cheap one we bought a couple of years ago for me to learn on. The almost-too-large 29″ wheels mean I could coast for a good long while on flat terrain, an extremely helpful feature on the long ride home.  Unfortunately it timed out so we just missed the ferry we wanted over to Ward’s Island – the Centre Island ferry was packed full of families, strollers, and tourists – but we didn’t have too long of a wait and by the time we got to the island the grey sky had blossomed into a beautifully sunny day. After lunch at the surprisingly charming Island Cafe, we found a nice place to read for awhile before catching the ferry home. The return bike ride was rather more of a challenge but I did, eventually, make it home in time to get ready for my night out which was mercifully close by compared to some previous events. I was tired but determined to enjoy some good beer and company before it caught up with me.

Heading down with my usual Bevy buddy, my like-minded neighbour who introduced me to the group back in February, we arrived shortly after the event had started and the place was already surprisingly busy. A bit narrow and cramped, the venue at least had a cute back patio that allowed some ladies to get a breathe of fresh air and kept the place from growing too warm. We got our Rewards Cards stamped, snagged our free drink tickets, and entered the raffle for a homebrewing kit. The raffle is a recent addition to these events and a nice touch as I, among others I am sure, would dearly love to try my hand at brewing so, despite not winning, thanks to Toronto Brewing for donating the kit!

Once we had entered, we set about the very serious task of acquiring ourselves some beer.

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27 Aug

Craft Beer Passport: Junction Craft Brewing

Junction-Extra Special BitterAfter a lovely late lunch on a beautiful Friday afternoon my husband, my best friend, and I decided it was the perfect day to wander over to the Junction Craft Brewing bar/retail store. With my husband leading the way through the largely unmarked industrial back streets just north of Keele and Dundas, my friend and I were not entirely sure that he knew where we were going but he was insistent and so we followed. It seemed a strange place for a bar.

And it was. It was also quite charming in a rustic and thoroughly unpretentious way. It is clear from the moment you enter that all these people care about is making and selling excellent beer. The retail store/bar room is located right in the brewery with only a sandwich board outside to point the way and, while the space is small, it is full of history and the rich smells of malts and brewing beer.

A large map covers one wall, showing the businesses that used to live in the industrial complex right outside the door and an elaborate bridge made of Lego dominates one, large table. A chalkboard filled with information about their current beers takes up the rest of the long wall while the other side of the room is dedicated to actual brewing. Bags of hops, grains, and malts are stacked up in the corners and a bar with several taps and a fridge full of bottles and growlers of delicious beer awaits you when you enter. The choices are plentiful, varied, and tasty.

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24 Aug

Bryden’s Bar Review

Great Lakes Brewery_Audrey Hopburn_BrydensWith every intention to head off to the Danforth and knock at least 2 places off our craft beer passports, we popped a couple of beers and relaxed into with our like-minded neighbours on our Friday afternoon off. But by the time 6:00 came around and we were starting to get hungry, the thought of wasting the lovely evening by spending ages in the subway just seemed wrong. Having had Bryden’s suggested to us multiple times, the latest that very afternoon, we decided it was about time we made it over there. After all, Bryden’s has been serving delicious craft beer in that very spot for over 100 years and we have lived in the area too long to have not given it a try yet.

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23 Aug

Sorry! Tune in Tomorrow

With a full day worth of cleaning to do before company arrives, I didn’t get a chance to tell you all about my delicious evening at Bryden’s Pub last night. Once again plans to trek out to the Danforth were derailed by a nice evening and strong desire for a nice walk before dinner (instead of a half hour or more subway ride). Having never tried this well-known establishment in our neck of the woods, we were easily convinced to wander over there instead. Read all about it – and check out the promised beer guides – tomorrow afternoon!

Happy Caturday!
Cheers!

20 Aug

Coming This Weekend: New Beer Guides!

That’s right, this weekend I will have a few more beer guides for you to peruse before the summer is over! I am also planning another exciting craft beer passport stop that should knock at least a couple more places off my list and give me lots of new brews to tell you all about! So tune back in on Saturday for some delicious recommendations and tales of my beery exploits.

Beer Guides to Come

  • Porters – August 23
  • Wheat Beer – August 23
  • Saison/Farmhouse Beer – September 6
  • Gluten Free – September 6
  • APAs – September 13
  • Pilsners – September 13
  • + more to come!

You may notice the two week gap in there in between this weekend and the first weekend of September. There is a very good reason for this: Bevy 0008! On August 30 I will instead bring you an in-depth round-up of the highly anticipated (by me at least) and sold-out event.

16 Aug

Hoperation Tripel Cross Beer Review

Phillips Hoperation Belgian IPAIt’s a gray, lazy Saturday in Toronto and that can mean only one thing: video games and a new beer to try. This weekend we ended up with this Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA. There is something wonderfully distinct and complex about Belgian beers that always makes me stop and really pay attention to what I am drinking. This beer caught my attention before I even took a sip with its impressive, thick and lasting head. A strong beer, the flavour is full and bold enough to carry all that extra ABV.

The label just about perfectly illustrates what you should expect from this beer: a hopbomb with surprisingly lasting, cloud-like head. It is another definite hit from Phillips Brewing. Here is what they have to say about it:

You can almost hear the sirens as you pop the cap on this bomber. This IPA slams hop first into a classic belgian yeast to create a super fortress of flavour.

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13 Aug

Hoptical Illusion Beer Review

Flying Monkeys Hoptical IllusionAs a big fan of the way Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing approaches beer-making, I often find myself reaching for these familiar and tasty brews rather than trying something new and I have to fight the urge. While not as attractive of an option as its hoppier cousin SmashBomb, Hoptical Illusion is a great brew for those times when I want something full flavoured but not quite as strong.

Brewed with privately grown Amarillo hops which lend the beer its provocative citrus and floral essence, this APA gets its subtle maltiness from the blending of an amber klin and roasted speciality malts.

Delicious but subtle, Flying Monkeys certainly got it right in their description:

Hoptical Illusion is a beer that doesn’t beat you over the head, steal your wallet, and jack your car. But you still wouldn’t want meet it in a dark alley.

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09 Aug

Amsterdam Brew House Bar Review

Amsterdam_FractureThis week I went to see a concert I had been long anticipating: Offspring’s Summer Nationals Tour came to Toronto’s Echo Beach. Having grown up listening to Offspring, I simply couldn’t miss the chance to see this 20th anniversary tour of their best album. I was pretty young when SMASH came out but my sister – who played a large role in my vastly superior musical tastes at an age when most of my peers were listening to boy bands – has certainly always felt that she missed out. Needless to say we were both very excited when this tour was announced and me, my sister, and her husband quickly snapped up some tickets.

Deciding we needed a good dinner to start off the night, we made plans to meet at the Amsterdam Brew House for dinner. I tried to make reservations only to find it is booked solid at that time of night for at least three days but the website said they saved seats for walk-ins so we headed down to try our luck anyway. The patio had a line at least 15 people deep so I chose inside and we got a table within about 10 minutes of getting there, not bad at all. We were a group of 3 after all and that always takes longer at places like this. I saw at least two couples seated immediately while I waited.

The hostess warned me that service might be a little slow as they were quite busy but, honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I suppose they warn you so you expect the worst and end up pleasantly surprised instead of the opposite. Our meal didn’t take long and we had plenty of time to get to the show.

It was AWESOME.

But that’s not why you’re here. You want to here about the beer!

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06 Aug

Big Rock IPA Beer Review

Big Rock IPA

Big Rock IPAAlways ready to give a new IPA a chance, this long weekend we decided to pick up a 24 of this brew rather than one of our standards options.

I didn’t have the highest expectations but I have developed a certain standard for IPAs that over the recent months. Unfortunately, this one did not quite meet them.

Brewed with two kinds of Yakima Valley Cascade hops, one would anticipate a certain level of hoppiness to come out in the flavour but that would be a mistake. In aiming to provide “the maximum heavenly hoppiness” without too much bitterness, they have simply created a sub-par IPA without any of the significant qualities one would normally find in a quality IPA.

They did, however, have this interesting tidbit of information on their website:

The Cascade was the first North American-made aroma hop and the first hop variety from the USDA’s hop research program to be approved for sale since prohibition. It’s aroma is now one of the hallmarks of North American craft beer.

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03 Aug

Detour Beer Review

Muskoka Brewing - Detour

Muskoka Brewing - Detour As a major IPA enthusiast, summer can be a dangerous time of year. Long, hot days on the patio are perfect for drinking a beer, or two or three, but with traditional IPAs that can sometimes be more alcohol than I want for a lazy Saturday afternoon. Enter the session IPA: Light in body, low in alcohol, and full on flavour this is the perfect style of beer for a hophead like me when I want to enjoy a few brews without being useless and tired by early evening.

Last Wednesday I regaled you with my favourite of the style but its far from the only available example. In fact, Muskoka has done a pretty nice job with their own session IPA, Detour. From their website:

Life’s more interesting when you take the less paddled fork in the river. That’s how we developed Muskoka Detour. We took a left turn from a normal IPA, dry-hopping it to create a truly sessionable brew with a rewarding aroma, big hop flavours and clean finish. The result is a perfect way to quench your thirst for the unexpected.

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