After several weekends of intending to head over to the Danforth to visit The Wren and neighbouring Sauce, we finally made plans with our Twitter buddy and fellow beer blogger, Eric of Doodle Brews, and headed out for some lunch and a nice afternoon drink, or five.
The food was great and the beer selection varied and delicious but the highlight of the day for me was the fantastic décor and atmosphere at Sauce. Inviting, warm, and funky it was full of visual appeal and eye candy from the bejewelled lampshades to the bright red and orange glassware, the space was full of rich colours and a mixture of textures.
The Wren had a cozy rusticness that I also quite liked and I do not mean to overshadow its charm but Sauce had a wholly unique character that very much appealed to me and I am sure I will find myself back there soon after completing the rest of my passport.
Location: 1382 Danforth Ave, Toronto
This “cozy neighbourhood local” serves southern-comfort food and craft beer. The interior features lots of wood surfaces and nods to Toronto’s rural history such as an exposed brick wall baring the Coca-Cola logo. The menu is not overly large or particularly restricted and we were all quite satisfied with our meals. As long as there are options for a variety of dietary restrictions, I tend to prefer that a place not have a huge menu. It makes it hard to choose and doesn’t give the same sense that they will put real care into preparing a good meal. The staff at the Wren clearly put lots of care into their work and both my burger and the Breakfast Burrito my husband ordered were quite delicious. Eric ordered the waffles were good but the lack of syrup was… surprising. We concocted a plan to bring our own next time and “accidentally” leave it behind for the benefit of future patrons.
Sunlight Park Saison
Brewery: Left Field Brewery
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 5.3% IBU: 22
Adding another stamp to my woefully under-utilized craft beer passport, I decided to give this saison another try as the style has grown on my over the course of the summer with so many of them around. I originally tried this brew at a Bevy (5 or 6 I think) and had it again at the Toronto Festival of Beer and each time I have it I seem to gain a bit more appreciation for the well-balanced, citrusy flavour. A tart and refreshing saison, it tastes of malted wheat, honey malts, and grapefruit pith. Smooth and crisp, it is a great beer for sunny afternoons in the stands.
Limp Puppet Session IPA
Brewery: Great Lakes Brewery
Style: American Session IPA
ABV: 3.2% IBU: 25
You may remember that session IPAs are something of a favourite of mine recently. You may also recall that I am a pretty big fan of GLB. Needless to say, the combination of these two favourites was an entirely successful endeavour. This hazy golden beer pours with nice head and leaves a resilient, sticky lacing. The aroma is full of pine and grapefruit hops with grassy notes and the flavour follows the aroma. Malt grains balance it well to create a light, easy-drinking IPA with all of the flavour of its stronger cousins.
The Food: The Wren Burger
I generally find that a burger is a good way to judge the overall quality of the food in a bar or pub. While many places have perfectly adequate burgers, one that is truly juicy-delicious and well dressed is not as easy to come by. From their menu:
Our Backyard Burger (7oz all-beef mix of chuck, hanger, and brisket seasoned with salt & pepper) with caramelized onion & mushroom, roasted garlic puree, smoked havarti, & bacon.
It sounded just about perfect but there was a catch: I am not a big fan of mushrooms. I needn’t have worried as the caramelized onion and mushroom mix was one of the best uses of mushroom in a dish that I have encountered and it added just the right level of mushroomy flavour without any awkward bites of mostly mushroom ruining the experience. The garlic puree was very good and complemented the other flavours well while the cheese and bacon gave it that powerful comfort-food combination of hot cheese and fried pig.
Location: 1376 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
Planning to stay for only a drink or two following our lunch, we sat at the bar at Sauce and enjoyed a lovely chat about beer with the friendly bartender who was not yet overly busy. I was quite excited by the goblet my craft beer passport selection came in (pictured above) and ended up having another half-pint at the end just to enjoy the awesome presentation. I wish I had taken more photographs of the décor but maybe its for the best: you should see it for yourself. There is a lushness to the place that is very inviting and makes you feel like maybe you should just stay for another drink or two.
Canuck Pale Ale
Brewery: Great Lakes Brewery
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2% IBU: 45 Formerly available as Crazy Canuck, this pale is is surprisingly hoppy and delicious for something I saw on the shelves for years and somehow never tried… certainly a successful rebranding. The new design is more in line with their other beer labels, particularly the increasingly popular Tank Ten series. This West Coast Ale has a good, hoppy aroma and a dry flavour with nice tropical fruit notes and a lingering bitterness. Bready malts complement the medium IBUs and initial citrus flavours for a tart and dry APA.
Brewery: Amsterdam Brewing Company
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.1% IBU: 87
This deliciously overproof IPA is dangerous in its potency and drinkability. Full of pine and citrus hop aromas from the Amarillo hops, it has a well-balanced flavour with plenty of malts and a strong hop character. A “‘Dam good beer,” as they say, it features a full suite of bitter, sweet, and hoppy flavours in a lightly-bodied but highly carbonated, almost prickly beer.
Brakeman’s Session Ale
Brewery: Junction Craft Brewing
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.6% IBU: 46
As Junction is the second closest brewery to my house, I have started drinking a fair amount of their beer since my initial adventure into the Junction industrial area just north of the tracks. Brakeman’s is a solid choice.
A clear, amber brew with medium frothy head, it has a light pale malt aroma with floral hop notes. The flavour is roasty malts with a bitter, grassy finish. Soft carbonation and a crisp finish make it easy-drinking and refreshing with a the lingering bitterness and a nice level of earthiness.