BCBS, Baby

BCBS Prop 2017

Me drinking 2017 Prop w/ my fave Instagram filter

Today is #BCBS day, where six versions of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout are being released in Chicago. Us Torontonians get one version at twice the price (#Toronto).

I didn’t understand the buzz around BCBS, having tried it once last year and not loved it. Then I went to Chicago a couple weeks ago, tried five different versions (Prop, double bourbon barrel, coffee + two different barrel blends) at FOBAB (as well as many more bourbon barrel aged stouts), and I get it. Bourbon County is truly the world’s best bourbon barrel aged stout. It is perfectly smooth for being so strong. It is dry for being so desserty. It is fucking delicious. It is worth lining up overnight for.

My favourite variant is this year’s Proprietor’s blend, which tastes like a chocolate macaroon. A chocolate macaroon in 13% alcohol form that I could sip all day. It has banana, almonds and cassia bark. It is one of the best beers I have ever had in my life. But I’ll have to drink it a second time to be sure. 😉

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Ontario’s Craft Beer Renaissance

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I haven’t written since April and since then EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED FOR CRAFT BEER IN ONTARIO. It was a slow climb, and then very very fast and now the sky’s the limit I guess. There is so much happening that it’s hard to keep track of it all. The Ontario Craft Beer Guide writers have to update their book every half year or so to properly document this crazy influx of everybody and their mother opening a brewery. Continue reading

The Story Behind Nectarous

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Photo by Alison Page

I asked Brent Mills, the brewmaster and co-founder of Four Winds Brewing, how their award-winning dry-hopped sour came about. The story is an interesting one:

Well this beer had some test batches behind it we were ultimately unconfident in the procedure to actually schedule a production scale batch. We tasted a few similar beers from our friends from the south and were quite impressed with the idea of neutralized Lacto. So one day we were brewing our regular saison and just as we had the kettle full, our boiler went down. It was a Friday and the repair man wasn’t able to come til Monday. So we decided rather than dumping the batch, we try and make that kettle sour beer we were to afraid to brew!

The process worked and the beer was tasty! 

We wanted to use the Troi yeast as we have had experience with it in the past and were big fans of the tropical notes that it produced and thought they would pair well with galaxy hops!

I believe the style became popular that year as the progression of sour beer demand came. Brewers were trying to make sour beers faster and this technique ultimately came up.

Awesome. A happy accident indeed. Thanks Brent!

The Dry-Hopped Sour Effect

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Photo from New Belgium’s Evolution of Le Terroir

Toronto is 10-15 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to food and drink trends. This is a statement I often hear from people in the industry. A recent NOW magazine cover story declared that Toronto is a city of copycats when it comes to culinary trends. We’re too obsessed with what we’re missing out on to be truly innovative. This too is true when it comes to our beer. We’ve recently started making dry-hopped sours, though they’ve been available in the US for 14 years. Granted, this is due to the prolific nature of New Belgium’s experimentation, as the rest of the world caught on years later. Continue reading

A Cuvée René Public Service Announcement

The LCBO released Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René for the second year in a row. Everyone rejoice. It’s a bit more expensive at $7 a bottle instead of $5-something, but this time I made sure to buy two cases instead of one. And I’m going to try to not touch most of it until one year from now.

This is because this gueuze absolutely transforms after one year of aging. It becomes densely funky, fragrant, cheesy amazingness. Please please, save some. Continue reading

An Ode to Weird Beers

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Photo by biercellar on Twitter

Last weekend, I went to Volo to try Nectarous, Canada’s best dry-hopped sour, on tap. Yes, it is smooth, intricately tropical and impossibly juicy. I want more. While there, I also tried a few other farmhouse ales. Among them were: the fabulous sour barrelly Surette by Colorado’s Crooked Stave, a tart saison that tasted like herbal BO, and a beer that reminded me of … Yardley Lavender lotion. At first whiff, I dubbed this “the perfume beer” and it offended me greatly. But then I took another sip. And another sip later, I was all: “Yardley Lavender lotion.” Continue reading