Struise Blue Monk Special Reserve: a moment

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This week I stumbled upon what I consider to be one of the most epic beer photos of all time. Here is photographer David de Vleeschauwer and friends (via Facebook), wielding a Struise Blue Monk Special Reserve atop Khardung La, a mountain pass located in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, at 17,582 ft elevation.

I have had this beer at Thin Man Brewery in Buffalo and it is indeed really fucking good.

What a fantastic moment. As a brewer, this must be a sign that you have made it. When someone dedicates an epic moment in your honour. L’chaim.

Birreria Volo Shows Toronto How It’s Done

Ralph Morana is credited for starting Toronto’s craft beer bar scene. He opened an Italian restaurant in 1988, made it a beer bar/restaurant in 1999, and rebranded to brewpub and craft beer destination Bar Volo in 2010. Since then, with the help of his family and sons Tomas and Julian, he has built something of a craft beer empire: they have their own importing agency, supply beer to some of Toronto’s best restaurants, and run Cask Days, the most ambitious beer festival in the country, which happens every October.

The Moranas are the reason we can get Cantillon in Toronto. I had it on tap last night, at a special preview of their new space Birreria Volo at 612 College St. A couple kegs will be making the rounds to some local beer bars soon. This is now a thing we can get used to. This is a big deal. Continue reading

The LCBO Gets With The Times

Beersel Morning

The LCBO now offers online orders for local pick-up and even home delivery.

I celebrated this momentous occasion by ordering a case of Beersel Morning, Drie Fonteinen lambic blended with Del Ducato‘s Morning saison and refermented in the bottle. Imported by Volo’s Keep6 Imports, of course.

So, while we’re completely behind the times, what with our alcohol controlled by the government and all, we’re at least getting on the ecommerce train #wayofthefuture. This convenience, in partnership with the world-class beers Keep6 is steadily importing, makes our situation almost bearable. Almost.

 

Vice Feature: New Belgium

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Vice Munchies recently featured one of the most hipster craft breweries in the world, New Belgium. Like most established American craft breweries, they make some world-class IPAs and have an extensive barrel aging program.

I hope to try more of their beers… Got to try the delicious sour brown La Folie at Library Alehouse in Santa Monica this past May. Their 25th anniversary six-pack looks awesome.

I hear they pay their employees to ride their bike to work… And give them a sweet New Belgium bike after working there for a year. Yeah they have some great benefits.

Bikes and good beer for all!

We All Taste Differently: The Cilantro Effect

Guac and beer

There’s this beer at Halo called Wit or Without. It’s a ginger lime witbier with smoked malts, and is drawing attention to an interesting phenomenon. Some people think it’s perfectly balanced, and it’s one of their favourite beers at the brewery (I’m in this camp). Others think it’s too ginger predominant. Others can’t taste the ginger. Others can’t taste the smoked malt. Others think it tastes like soap, even “fresh Band-Aid.” What is going on? Continue reading

Bellwoods Brewery’s Apricot Jelly King

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Jelly King on tapThe new-ish Bellwoods 5.6% dry-hopped mixed fermentation sour, otherwise known as Jelly King, is coming out with even fruitier variations this summer. Apricot Jelly King, the most apricot-ey beer I have ever had, launched a couple weekends ago, and sold out in a few days. I am cherishing my final bottles. It tasted like fresh apricot juice on tap, and is more dried apricot in bottles (where its base shines through a little more).

Brewer and Communications Manager Carmen Vicente tells me: “The name Jelly King lends itself so well to fruity flavours (fruit jellies!), and then of course fruited sours are delicious, so making an apricot version seemed like a no-brainer. We plan to do many more fruity versions.” Indeed, kettle sours* are hot this summer, due to their fast turn-around time (one month) and Ontario’s burgeoning obsession with tart drinks. I ain’t complaining.

*Jelly King technically isn’t a kettle sour because the souring happens in the fermentor (and not the boil kettle). Thanks for letting me know, Carmen!

The SOBDL Does Session

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After a couple years of throwing packed monthly events, the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies is organizing bigger beer fests in addition to their regular bevies.

The first SOBDL beer fest (Bevyfest) took place at the Evergreen Brick Works on April 1, and sold out with 800 women in attendance. That festival earned my eternal praise, because it set the bar for how great beer fests can be: well organized and executed, friendly volunteers and organizers, delicious food and most importantly, incredible beer. They even had Muskoka chairs around several firepits to offset the cold. Continue reading

Boom Goes The BUMO

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Burdock is making fancy vinous beer.

Their rosé wine beer hybrid with Pearl Morissette debuts tomorrow at 11 am. While April’s orange wine collaboration with Southbrook was simply aged in wine barrels, BUMO is 60% beer and 40% wine, and is meant to be slightly agitated (i.e. turn the bottle upside down like you would kombucha; do not shake). It contains “wild wine yeasts & bacterias from Niagara and choice Saison & Brettanomyces cultures from Escarpent Labs” and was bottle conditioned for three months.

2016 is the summer of rosé, and this drank will be hella refreshing when shared with friends and some kind of fancy charcuterie plate.

Burdock’s wine barrel aging program might be a big cause of financial distress for me in the future: I must try everything and they have at least 111 barrels to do fun things with.

I’m excited for what’s next.