You know those imperial stouts, that are like, double imperial stouts?……. So lots and lots of people really like Amsterdam’s tempest Imperial Stout. Like, it’s pretty normal to hear descriptions like “Best Imperial Stout in Toronto.” etc. It’s just really really good. It was even better when they made it Full City Tempest and included coffee in it. So when Iain doubled down, and made a Double Tempest, it was already a kind of off-the-hook situation. But then, you know, just for kicks, he tossed it into Four Roses bourbon barrels and left it there for nine months. This is a 15% monster. And I can hear you already, “I don’t need to read your description, where do I get…. [Read More]
Despite to much evidence to the contrary, I love it when somebody proves me totally wrong. Such was the case with this pairing. I know Bellwoods’ 3 Minutes to Midnight well. We got the first ever cask of it at Castro’s for our 50th anniversary celebration of the Cuban Missle Crisis. I’m not sure if they were already knocking the name around, or if it was inspired by the event, but either way, we got a firkin of it, and it was all I could do not to drink it all myself. Their epic Hellwoods Imperial Stout aged on sour cherries. Awesome. On the other hand, I can’t even exactly remember how or when I got this bottle of Sour…. [Read More]
Okay, I’m the first to admit it: today’s match-up is a totally uneven bout. Indie Alehouse’s awesome Instigator IPA is a rock-solid American-style IPA, and a constant crowd-pleaser at the brewpub. Etobichoker is a new Tank Ten brew from Great Lakes, and is a Belgian double-IPA. While they both share three initials, that’s probably where the similarities end. And I’m okay with that. There’s no prize aside from bragging rights, and everybody will still be pals at the end of the day. So what the heck, here’s a fight between a storm-trooper and a rider of Rohan!
Day two of the battle royale. Today it’s a shaolin vs grasshopper kind of day, with Bellwoods Hellwoods Russian Imperial Stout matched against Amsterdam Tempest Imperial Stout. You should probably know that both Luke and Mike of Bellwoods worked at Amsterdam before striking out on their own, and opening the immensely successful Bellwoods Brewery. Luke, Mike and their team are cranking out some amazing beers, particularly wild/sour beers in barrels. Funny enough, that’s also what Iain and the team at Amsterdam are doing. Like I said yesterday, these guys are in the very top end of brewing skill in the city. I’ve had both these beers multiple times, though never side-by-side. They are both phenomenal. While I’m excited to compare…. [Read More]
So here starts the head-to-head battles between beers. Before I address the two contenders, let me make something clear: The four breweries involved are absolutely top brewers in Toronto. None of these matches are likely to be landslide victories. In fact, I expect to have trouble picking winners. Mike and the folks at Great Lakes just won Best Brewery in Canada at the Canadian Brewing Awards. Iain and his team at Amsterdam (at both breweries) are turning out some amazingly innovative beers, especially around their barrel program. Mike, Luke and the crew at Bellwoods are also innovating and playing with barrels, wild yeasts, aging on fruits and more. When I needed some brettanomyces yeast, it was Luke who was like…. [Read More]
Bock beers have a well earned reputation as wonderful, if not occasionally misunderstood, beers. Glorious Maibocks help us welcome back warm days and outdoor drinking in the spring. Sturdy bocks and doppelbocks keep as from starving during our 40 days fasting for lent (you do stop eating for lent, right?). The fact that these big malty brews are lagers often gets missed by the non-trainspotters of the beer world,but nobody should worry about that. And in fact, that’s not a hard and fast rule, with some variations and sub-styles being top-fermented ales. It’s understandable for people to assume that these dark, malty, complex beers fit into their concept of ale, not lager. And while they are not modern hop bombs,…. [Read More]
As fall seems to have officially hit here in Toronto, it’s no surprise that I find myself with a fridge full of classic cold weather brews. This one, from Mill Street, is a classic for drinkers at their brewpub or new beer hall in the distillery district. Long a seasonal favourite, when Mill Street announced that they had finally gotten a packing system in place for their Cobblestone Stout, people started wondering if perhaps Vanilla Porter would be next. And the murmurs turned out to be accurate, with tallboy cans packaged on the same nitrogen disc to create a dense, draught-like head. So are we to believe the hype?
Fall is a great time for beer drinking. Sweet Oktoberfest Marzens that you drink by the litre, pumpkin beers with their earthy rich flavours, and a range of “harvest ales” that range from spiced warmers, to hoppy pale ales. Amsterdam introduced their Autumn Hop Harvest Ale this year, featuring fresh (“wet”) Cascade hops, literally picked at a Clear Valley Farms near Collingwood, and delivered to the brewery the day they were dropped into the brew. A lot of people don’t realize this — given the popularity of west coast hops — but historically, southern Ontario and upstate New York were once a huge hop-growing region. Downy mildew destroyed so many fields in the 1920s that farmers shifted to other crops….. [Read More]
Wait a second, why are you reading a review about a rice wine on TorontoBeerBlog.com? Right? I mean, come on, it’s WINE. Well friend, let me take a moment to defend myself: What is wine? It’s a fermented drink made from the juice of a fruit. Sound fair? What is beer? A fermented drink made from grains. Yes, most also have to have hops, but not all (gruits immediately pop to mind, and there are others). What is Sake? It’s a fermented drink made from rice (a grain). Hmmmmm, interesting. Also, people “brew” sake, and the facility it’s made at, is thus called a brewery. While I’m not arguing that sake is beer (it isn’t, it’s sake), sake and beer…. [Read More]
One of my favourite perennial beers is Black Oak’s Summer Saison. A wicked good saison, with lots of bright citrus notes and classic Belgian spices from the yeast, it’s a heck of a beer. So I was obviously pretty excited when I was by the brewery and Erica told me she had some barrel-aged Saison for me to sample. As beers made by Belgian farmers to be kept from the cooler brewing months until the hot summer months, it’s totally conceivable a lot of it ended up in old oak casks for storage. And while many people like their saison bottle-conditioned with bright prickly carbonation, I’m stoked to see how the beer works having lived in French oak for three…. [Read More]