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
This past weekend, I attended my third Cask Days, the all-cask (*ahem*, mostly-cask) beer festival the Morana family started 11 years ago. It was awesome. Not only did I get to try some word-class brews like Four Winds Nectarous, the dry-hopped sour which won Beer of the Year at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards, but I got to cheers a bunch of my friends with said beer. Because we went for the first session on Friday. And had first pick of everythang. Also, Halo, that brewery I work for who won Best Newcomer at this year’s Golden Tap Awards, had two of their delicious offerings on cask: Event Horizon and Elder God. Continue reading
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 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.
Woo hoo! For the second year in a row, I am doing the Cask Days day session on Saturday October 24th. This year’s strategy will be very well planned, though. Aim? To appreciate my top ten(ish) beers, eat something meaty, drink a lot of water and feel good about my decisions. My beer list will be posted here, so stay tuned!
If you simply can’t wait until late October to get your Cask Days fix, head down to the Evergreen Brick Works every Sunday until September 13th to get a taste of a local cask collab, schedule here.
What’s your Cask Days story? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me @ccprmaven.
What can I say about Dieu du Ciel’s “summer solstice” tap takeover at Bar Volo? I chatted beer with Ralph Morana, Stéphane Ostiguy, Mike Lackey and Iain McOustra. I learned about many nerdy things that mean huge gains for Toronto’s beer scene. I tried a very rare sour beer brewed with mango, and the delicious Bourbon barrel aged sour called Exorciste, which went very fast. Kumquat IPA Disco Soleil was perfect on cask: well balanced, fruity and creamy. And then there were all my classic Dieu du Ciel (DDC) favourites, such as Charbonnière, a smoked ale (Rauchbier).
The closest most Torontonians have gotten to DDC is by trying the Rosée d’Hibiscus at one of Toronto’s many craft beer bars. For those not in the know: Montréal microbrewery DDC was started 16 years ago by Stéphane Ostiguy and brewmaster Jean-François Gravel. Both did their masters in molecular biology. Jean-François had been homebrewing for many years, and started DDC with an intention of innovation. At the time, all the other five brewpubs in Montréal were offering two to four brews. DDC started with six. To date, they’ve brewed well over 100 beers. I first tried them when an ex brought back cases of DDC beers from a trip to Quebec. The variance, mastery, and design all won me over. DDC is world class beer.
My first smoked beer? Charbonnière. First variance of incredible strong stouts? Péché Mortel and Aphrodisiaque. First barley wine? Solstice d’Hiver. Even after trying many varieties of these styles, DDC’s stand out. I could go on and on about their godly branding (which I bet is a result of being raised in religious Quebec), and their beautiful label art, which stems from Gravel’s university friendship with artist Yannick Brosseau.
Instead, I will tell you that Volo’s owner Ralph Morana met Stéphane the year before the first Cask Days (2005), and they’ve been making beer history ever since. Morana originally opened Volo as an Italian restaurant without knowing much about wine, and like many people who start learning about wine…. he got into beer. In addition to being one of the first (family-run!) craft beer bars in Toronto, Volo brews beer, runs events, designs and imports beer. They’re the reason DDC has been available in the LCBO for the last four years. You can always get DDC beer at Volo, but the tap takeover’s leftovers mean that you should go ASAP. Look at this list.
What’s next for Volo? Only the biggest beer nerd event in the city: Cask Days is happening at the Evergreen Brick Works October 24-26. Tickets go on sale September 1st.
For all you adventurous beer drinkers: keep an eye out this September during Toronto Beer Week for Volo’s Funk Night (yes: funky, farmhouse, cheesy, dirty tasting beer is actually sought after. You gotta try it to believe.)