There are many excellent brewers in Toronto, but most would agree Mike Lackey at Great Lakes has a dab hand with the hops. Uncanny, you might say. He’s more than capable when it comes to barrels and sours and weird bacterias; highly talented. But he just makes great IPAs and pale ales. Canuck pale ale, for instance. Or Lake Effect IPA. [cough] Karma Citra. So when he handed me a growler (Great Lakes has a growler filler now; if you didn’t already know, rejoice) of a new IPA he made, I was a lot more than excited. My current Lenten fast has meant that opening a growler without a dance partner was a non-starter. But with the snow day today,…. [Read More]
Depite the fact that we are again in the throes of a polar vortex (which I suppose is better than a Peruvian Sharknado), spring is just around the corner. Hiding like a sadistic child wearing a planet of the apes mask, waiting to terrify their kid-sister. Except that in this case, the terror is in the waiting. Unsure that, despite decades of personal experience, spring might never come. Well you need to relax, it is coming, and one of the early indicators is the return of maibock beers. These are the bocks that Germans brew to be enjoyed as the weather moves from shockingly cold, to manageable-while-wearing-a-sweater. When you can stand outside on a patio, not wearing gloves or a…. [Read More]
Well, despite assertions from major beer-writers in Toronto (I’m looking at you, Ben), this is the perfect beer for Valentines Day. Even if it doesn’t hit shelves till tomorrow It’s at the retail stores now! Get it on your way home. Why? Well, for starters, this vDay is on Friday. This is Rebecca Black IPA (get it?). The fact that this was actually named for an old Hitchcock movie be damned, it’s Friday Friday! Also, because it’s a Black IPA, it’s dark and bitter, like your soul. Unless you had a date for Valentines. In which case it’s complexity is like you, you poetic masterpiece.
Another foray into the world of what we sometimes call macrobrewing, today I’m checking out Coors Banquet. My understanding is that the original Coors beer brewed way back when was known as “The Banquet Beer”. This is a nod to the original, and is different from Coors Light, which most people think of these days when talking about Coors. Immediately, the most notable thing about it, is that I clearly have been sent an American can, as there isn’t a spot of French on it, and one side has the volume in ounces. Despite my passion nearing zeal for local beer, I still have ingrained in my psyche a fascination and yearning for American beer. Especially classic-looking packages like this…. [Read More]
Hey, did you read my post yesterday, about the explosion of new brewers out there? Well, Arch is in that cohort, but is definitely one doing things well. Partnered with Paul Dickey, and making their beer on contract at Welly, they are taking the act of making great beer seriously.
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]