I kind of love the idea of playing music for beer.
Here is my favourite beer show, and one of my favourite brewers, showing us how it’s done. Always having fun with it.
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 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!
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.
Last night I volunbeered at my fifth SOBDL bevy, though it was the 25th bevy for the organizers; five awesome women working in the beer industry who saw a need for creating a space where ladies could drink beer together. They’ve been throwing sold out mini beer fests in different locations around the city on the last Friday of the month for over two years now. With that much experience rocking beer events, it should come as no surprise that last night’s Bevy Brewfest, Canada’s first female beerfest drawing 800 women to the Evergreen Brick Works, was one of the best fests I’ve ever attended.
Last week, I hosted a beer tasting for a friend’s birthday. I got my friend Krysta The Fromager to pick out the cheeses that we would be pairing with darker beers for a friend group of five, and what ensued was much deliciousness. There are so many varieties of both beer and cheese, and the carbonation in beer is the perfect palate cleanser for rich cheese. Below are the pairings we chose, and a couple other treats I surprised our guests with:
Instead of crackers, I made two loaves of beer bread to pair with the cheese.
Beer bread is one of the simplest things to bake, and it makes for a dense beery loaf that goes great with fatty cheese. I made one with Anchor Steam, and the other one with St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (recipe here).
Here is the beautiful platter of cheeses expertly chosen by one Krysta The Fromager.
Here are the beers I chose for this beer loving friend group: Chimay Red (only because we couldn’t get our hands on Rochefort 8, but this beer balanced the others perhaps even better), and a trio of Ontario’s finest tall boys – Left Field’s Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale, Big Rig’s Black IPA and Wellington’s Imperial Russian Stout.
We paired the aged Beemster with our “champagne” beer, the classic Trappist Dubbel Chimay Première (Red). This pairing is perfect for those new to complex cheese and beer, because they’re delicious and approachable: slightly spicy, nutty, sweet and luxurious.
Next up, we paired Left Field’s Eephus (which means “zero” in Hebrew and is named after a no good pitch) with two BellaVitano varieties: one rubbed with Chai spices, and one rubbed with Espresso. To all you cheese novices: rinds should be eaten, especially when they’re this tasty. I’m a huge fan of Chai, and it was a delight to taste it alongside this delicious cheese. The bitter spices compliment the subtle sweet complexity of the BellaVitano cheese, and both pair very well with the roasty creamy notes in the Eephus.
This led to our most complex bitter pairing: the sharp, funky Cambozola (which is a creamy brie-style blue cheese) with Big Rig’s Black IPA. Everyone in our group loved IPAs and blue cheese, so this pairing went over quite well.
Lastly, we paired the strong, roasty and slightly sweet Wellington Imperial Russian Stout with Mimolette, a densely crystallized cheese that was once used as a weapon! This is the cheese that I am most looking forward to buying again, perhaps for a dinner party: it is really something special.
And there you have it. Four pairings of delicious beers and cheeses…. but wait, there’s more! I surprised the birthday boy with À La Fût’s Porter à la Brett, a porter aged with Brett Brux from my recent trip to Montreal, and Simpsons donuts from the local Miche Bakery.
I can not think of better pairings for this awesome group of people. This was the first official tasting Krysta and I have done, and it was a great success.
What should our next beer and cheese theme be? Let me know in the comments or tweet me at @ccprmaven.
One of the most exclusive events of Toronto Beer Week, A Night With Great Lakes & Amsterdam, happened last Friday. I had my beloved Ezra and Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, plus many other barrel aged beers that reflected: 1) how much my palette has expanded 2) a new era of creativity in Ontario’s beer scene.
Thanks to Iain McOustra and Mike Lackey (plus a handful of beer making friends), I got to try beers with awesome names like Hanlan’s Point, Dalai Lambic, Crucible, Misdemeanor, and Sweet Zombie Jesus! …. with awesome flavour profiles to match.
Though I tried many praise-worthy things (including Distraction with Peaches, brewed using two yeasts and lacto, with a portion aged in barrels and fresh Ontario peaches added in secondary fermentation), I am going to focus on a beer that is so distinctly Canadian and exquisite, it deserves its own blog post: Fugue.
Fugue is a farmhouse ale with brett brux brewed with 100 litres of ice wine juice and aged for one year. It has an ABV of 10%, which McOustra tells me is now closer to 11% thanks to the brett drying out the beer. Ice wine is a Roman invention that was rejuvenated in 1972 by Canadians (with 75% currently hailing from Ontario), and is considered a delicacy due to how difficult it is to produce. On my first sip, I tasted notes of guava (like in the magnificent Gilligan Is Still Dead with brett), but then had a few more and got that distinct ice wine flavour. My friend Mathew suggested it was called Fugue because it doesn’t taste like a 10% beer, but McOustra admits that it has more to do with amnesia: Fugue came about because we brewed the original pilot batch during a particularly busy time last year and forgot about the brew until I came across the kegs six months later. Bit embarrassing but the beer turned out well.
Asked how the beer came about, McOustra tells me: Our friend Dre [Andrea Glass], a winemaker from Niagara, offered us 100 L of Riesling ice wine juice that she had just pressed for a beer. We had brewed a collab the previous year with the same farmhouse yeast and ice wine juice on a small scale and it made sense to do it on a larger scale if the juice was available. The great thing about the juice was that it was 35 Plato which meant that we could use it as an adjunct to boost the alcohol. So we added it in the whirlpool to try and preserve the flavour as much as possible. Hopefully we will be able to brew it again later this year if Dre can come through with the juice for us. I was really happy that the fruit character came through in the final beer.
The event also featured an exclusive menu (that included corn dogs!) and both my curry soup and charred peach dish (with blue cheese and bacon) were incredible. Bar Hop is my favourite bar in the city because it not only has a great beer selection, but the food is incredible as well. They also have an affordable whiskey selection, and bartender Daeryun makes something called “butter bourbon” that I must try on my next trip to the Hop.
What’s next for McOustra? I asked him, and here’s what he has to say:
I think innovation has been a big part of who we are over the past few years and should allow us to keep making interesting beers in the future. We are fortunate to have the pilot system and BrewHouse to run test batches and fine tune our recipes before releasing them on a larger scale. We plan to release an Adventure Brew at the BrewHouse every 10 days or so this winter in addition to our seasonals and vintage beers.
Looks like I’ll have to trek out to the lake this winter.
This week my dreams are coming true: there are unique barrel aged beers all over Toronto and it’s beautiful!! Here’s a recap of The Sacred Oak, plus a couple other exciting events:
1. The Sacred Oak: A Night of Barrel Aged Beer (Sat. Sept. 13 at Indie Alehouse’s barrel aging facility, 165 Geary Ave.): My first beer was Kentucky Sour, a 6.7% bourbon barrel aged sour from Nickel Brook. Funny enough, I had tried this at Bar Hop earlier this year, but this time the bourbon characteristic came through much more (probably due to aging). It was perfect. Then I tried Iain McOustra’s Superstition and everything changed. This is a perfect beer because so many complex notes come through from the barrel. It’s advertised as a 6.5% barrel aged farmhouse. When I tried it, I got a juicy bright fruity IPA aged with peaches and maybe chardonnay barrels. Then I spoke with Iain, and there are no peaches in this beer. I’m blown away. Can’t wait to drink it again at A Night With Great Lakes & Amsterdam…
2. A Night With Great Lakes & Amsterdam (Fri. Sept. 19 at Bar Hop): I already wrote about this here but I am super duper psyched and you’ll be hearing all about it once (or twice) again. Be at Bar Hop this Friday at 5 p.m. Do it. It may change your life.
3. Cantillon Zwanze Day/Funk Night (Sat. Sept. 20 at bar Volo): According to a group of gentlemen I chatted with at The Sacred Oak, this year’s Zwanze Day sold out in 45 seconds. In case you don’t know, Belgian brewery Cantillon makes the mother of all sours, and Volo’s getting kegs and bottles of stuff you normally don’t see much of in Toronto. So this is probably the biggest beer nerd event of all time. Lucky for us plebs, Funk Night happens 7 p.m. onwards, where we will drink whatever is left of that Cantillon, plus sooo many funked out brews until late. I’m seeing Lena Dunham front row centre at JFL42 and then coming here. That’s a perfect night, folks. See you there.
Planning on coming to these events? Send a shout-out my way @ccprmaven and let’s have a beer together!
If there is one kind of beer I like more than anything, it’s gotta be a barrel aged beer. Barrel aged with brettanomyces, specifically.
Last year I had my first taste of heaven when I tried a bottle of Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, aged in Pinor Noir barrels, at the Amsterdam Brew House.
Later that fall I tried Red Tape from Indie Ale House, another Pinot Noir aged Imperial Stout, and though awesome, I missed the slight sourness that brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and the cherries gave Amsterdam’s version. I had to have more.
Lucky for me, fall is upon us, and the beer gods have descended! Thanks to Toronto Beer Week (Sept 12-20), September is hosting two awesomely fantastic barrel aged beer events, and I’m going to both of them. First up is The Sacred Oak at Indie Ale House’s barrel aging facility on September 13th, and then comes the joint Great Lakes Brewery and Amsterdam Brew House’s tap takeover, A Night With Great Lakes & Amsterdam, at Bar Hop on September 19th. I can hardly contain my excitement. Among all the gems available on the 19th will be my favourite beer of the summer: Ezra, from the Tank Ten Series. It’s a strong saison aged in Spirit Tree cider barrels, with a slight sour funk from the brett they add to their cider. It’s the summer version of Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, and it’s perfection.
Oh, and the Sour Cherry Imperial Stout is making a comeback too (thanks to Iain McOustra and Flat Rock Cellars), this time without the brett. I’m expecting more of a bold wine flavour.
Look out for many a post about these takeovers, because I’ve only touched the surface here. Some really cool things are happening in the Toronto craft beer scene right now.