Review: Monster Mash

Brewer: Barn Door Brewing Co.
Percent: 7.5%
Found: Blair LCBO
From: Nobleton, On

It’s Halloween and we like to drink festively, so we’ve selected this Bobby “Boris” Pickett-inspired brew to pair with this special holiday. Bonus point: It’s from a Ontario new brewery!

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The beer builds dark reddish brown with a thick beige head. The nose is super malt-forward with a big bready aroma. It’s liquid smooth across the palate and it lives up to the label’s guarantee of a balanced mouth feel. The brew’s sweet malty notes are accented with dried fruit. Despite the hop-monster depicted on the label, this beer leads malt-first: it’s got depth. While I wouldn’t settle into an evening of Monster Mash (even on this most appropriate of days), it’s a big burly sipper for a cold fall day.

18/24

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Review: 19 Original Colonies Mead

Brewer: Rogue Ales
Percent: 6.6%
Found: Hunt Club & Merivale LCBO
From: Independence, Oregon

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Beautiful light golden colour shines through my glass as this pale murky honey mead settles. A faint nose of flowers and spice as the jasmine and honey say hello as I lower my nose to the surface of the mead. Subtle flavour with a sparkler of mouth-feel (champagne yeast?) are present as I take my first sip. In classic Rogue style, this beer takes “local” to the next level: It’s brewed using honey from their own bees (yes, they have bees), their own farmed hops (they have a farm) and “free range” water. The free range water may be a bit of hyperbole but this brewery clearly goes the extra mile to promote local. It’s a nice brew, that leans towards subtle in comparison to the few meads I’ve experienced in the past. It’s an interesting treat but lacks the body to become a go-to brew. That said, Rogue had earned my trust through consistently solid offerings that I’ll try almost anything they put out – though probably not that Donut Bacon one again.

16/24

 

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Apt 613 ReBlog! Beau’s Oktoberfest 2014 Recap

The good folks over at Apt 613 were kind enough to run this Beau’s Oktoberfest recap for us earlier this week. In case you prefer our 1970s-brown-carpet-coloured blog, we thought we’d toss it up here too. Enjoy!

Vankleek Hill, a small beautiful community an hour east of Ottawa, was the place to be this past weekend as 14,000 attendees experienced Beau’s Brewery 6th annual Oktoberfest. For those unfamiliar with this German-inspired, beer-soaked celebration, it dates back to October 12, 1810, when the German Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese. They threw one heck of a party and invited all of Munich to join them and, as it was an open-bar, they obliged. Munich has kept the annual tradition alive and the party has been emulated all over the world, including in Vankleek Hill.

IMAGE_BEERThe successful recipe that Beau’s follows for the festival is simple: combine beer, food, music, with people and raise money for local charities.

This event is a celebration of beer. While many festivals offer beer, Beau’s puts it on a pedestal.Offering thirteen brews of their own, Beau’s also invited over a dozen other local breweries to bring nearly 70 different beers to the Cask Haus: thereby ensuring neither beer nerds nor casual drinkers were left wanting. My standout at the Cask Haus was Red Rocket from Sawdust City – bringin’ the heat! From the Beaus side, I thought Bog Hopper was an herbal delight while my companions voted Haters Gonna Hate as their beer of the festival.

The food options were off the charts. 28 Ottawa area restaurants offered a wide variety of delicious grub. I couldn’t sample it all so I relied on the sophisticated palates of my friends:

  • Backdrop and Grounded’s Bison chili with cornbread, Branch’s Brisket-on-a-bun, and the Piggy Market’s sausages were “enjoyed immensely” by our most experienced food samplers.
  • Four friends picked the Deep Fried Pulled Pork from Vert Fourchette as the best-in-food. One described it as “hella-dope”. Obviously, he’s the poet of the group…
  • Beau’s Beer Hot Chocolate made with Tom Green Milk Stout, from Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream also received special “I didn’t think it would go together but it really did!” mention.
  • I was partial to the warm pretzel that came with your entry pass to the festival, but I’m a simple guy.

Next up, we had the music. Ottawa is fortunate to have tons of awesome music festivals and venues, but man, Beau’s Oktoberfest puts together a line-up that would make your CBC Radio3 playlist proud. As a tribute to this, I have paired a song from each artist with a beer:IMAGE_MUSIC

  • Joel Plaskett Emergency “Lightning Bolt” – The Monkey’s Paw: both the album cover and the beer label feature a terrifying street organ monkey.
  • Radio Radio “9 Piece Luggage Set” – Bog Hopper: both have a catchy little bounce to ‘em.
  • The Strumbellas “Sheriff” – Rauchstack:  both the song and the beer have distinct rural roots.
  • Tokyo Police Club “Hot Tonight” – Cask Haus’s Ghost Bitch by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing: that ghost pepper infused beer was coming in hot!!
  • Groenland “Superhero” – Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale: the band and beer share Scandinavian names.
  • Rural Alberta Advantage “Stamp” – Night Marzen:  both are powered by their base, be it the malt backbone or driving drums.
  • Zeus “Miss My Friends” – Dial “Z” For Zwickel: because of the letter Z…
  • Walter Ostanek “Beer Barrel Polka” – Cask Haus’s Oktoberbeast by Lake of Bays: because, as any ex-Waterloo resident knows, this dude owns Oktoberfest!! And polka grammys…

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The final ingredient, the people. Each year I am struck with the positive and fun atmosphere of this event. There is a midway with beer-themed games as well as other activities like the keg-toss or the wife-carry race. The event provides ample parking, camping and buses shuttle in people from Ottawa, Cornwall and Montreal. Even those stuck waiting in the entrance line on Friday night needed only a pint to get into the Oktoberfest spirit. It is the people: the Beau’s organizers, the volunteers, and the revelers that make the event the success it is. There is a real genuineness to it all.

Finally, as if you weren’t satisfied by the beer, food and music; the event sponsors charities such as the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Just Food, Rethink Breast Cancer, Hidden Harvest, the VKH Agricultural Society, and more! Even with the rainy Saturday, the event still raised $95,000. For instance, here is how the funds raised will help the Kidney Foundation:

“The Kidney Foundation of Canada requires funding to offset the financial burden borne by kidney patients seeking dialysis treatment,” says Bruce Hill, Senior Development Manager of the Eastern Ontario Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Beau’s Oktoberfest funding for the Kidney Foundation of Canada helps kidney disease patients in financial need with the costs of their treatments.”

So, all in all, a tip of the ill-fitting green felt hat to those that make this festival happen. It’s a fantastic event and I’m already looking forward to next year – fingers crossed for better weather!

Prost to Apt 613 for letting us run this piece and to Beau’s for the quotes and media/baller pass! Very much appreciated!

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Review: Disco Soleil

Brewer: Dieu du Ciel!
Brewed in: St. Jerome QC
Percentage: %
Found: Broue HaHa

These guys brew such good beers that drinkers often exclaim “Dieu du Ciel!” (translation: OMG!) this is good! I try to drink in both official languages as often as possible.

 

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The brew pours murky sunshine gold with ample carbonation and a fading white head. This interesting beer is brewed with kumquats. The nose is crisp with a tropical-sweetness, either thanks to the hops or the added fruit, with a nice wheat undertone. Despite thinking that kumquat was a dirty word, it’s actually an orange-like fruit native to South Asia that is often used in jams or as candies. The beer pulls bitterly at my cheeks as I take my first sip. This isn’t the sweet tropical pint I expected, rather it finishes with a delightfully sharp hop-forward bitterness. I wish I discovered this beer a little earlier in the summer.

19/24

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David Ort – Author, Beer & Food Connoisseur, Fellow Brah

David Ort, we at Brew Brahs salute you. David’s work over at Food With Legs and Post City is furthering the craft beer movement, with a delightful shared spotlight on food and travel. Even more impressive is the publication of his supremely delicious Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook.

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Use the cookbook, and cheese will look this good (Credit: The Thirsty Wench)

Putting words from a computer screen onto printed page is a distant dream for most bloggers – and we enviously admire what David has accomplished. Seriously, get to cooking from this cookbook – it is damned delicious. David generously took us up on our interview request, and what follows is a splendid look at the art of marrying fine beer with fine food.

Q1 – Every craft beer fanatic has their moment of evolution. What was the experience that launched you on your craft beer trajectory?

In common with many Torontonians, my craft beer moment came at Cask Days. This would have been several years ago when it was still at Hart House and I was writing much more about wine than beer. Just being there among so many drinkers having a great time (despite the weather), brewers who were really proud of their creations, which were both diverse and well-made gave me a sense of how fun craft beer is.

Q2 – What is your process for pairing beer with food? Does the food inspire the beer, or vice-versa? Or perhaps it’s the Brew Brah way – drinking every style of beer with each meal.

Good question. Sometimes you’re going to have a special bottle that you’ve been sitting on for a while and you want to try or want to do a them (like an all-IPA dinner), but more often I think the pairing starts with the food for practical reasons. It’s just easier to have a wide variety of beers on hand to pair with whatever you pick up from the store food-wise.

Q3 – Have you ever had a pairing that seemed harmonic in theory, but appalling in practice? If so, what was it and why was it so bad?

Carrots and IPA are supposed to be this great, no-fail pairing because the theory is that carrots are monotone sweet and a bitter beer adds balance and interest. Maybe I just haven’t cracked this nut yet, but from my experience, this is generally hogwash. Every time I’ve had a carrot soup or carrot cake with a high-IBU beer the carrots have been overwhelmed and the beer has been thrown out of balance. I haven’t given up yet and further experimentation will follow, but I’m skeptical.

Q4 – What is the most common mistake people make when pairing beer with food?

Worrying too much. We should have fun and experiment not sweat the small details. So, if a recipe (like mine) call for a specific American Pale Ale and you can’t find that beer then get another APA or get a moderately tame IPA. We’re lucky as beer writers that the word “beer” covers such a wide range of really quite different drinks because it means that we have a ton of flexibility when designing pairings.

Q5 – Which of your own recipes from The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook do you find yourself cooking most often?

I do quite a few demonstration dinners and workshops these days and the Quick Pickled Radishes with Cream Cheese on Toast are just perfect for that setting. (Same applies for dinner parties and beer tastings.) They also never really feel out-of-season.

At home it has got to be the Dan Dan Noodles or the Soba Noodle Salad. There is something about noodles with a subtly spicy sauce that feels right with beer.

Q6 – Garret Oliver described Saison as his desert island beer style in his book, The Brewmasters Table. If you had to choose one style of beer to be marooned with, what would it be and why?

Well, since Garrett grabbed what might have been my choice, I’ll go with oud bruin. Lambics and gueuzes are the flashy sour beers, but a Flanders brown has the malt backbone to be a great partner for a wider range of food. Also, I think a sour beer would hold up better in the no-refrigeration conditions of a desert island.

Rapid fire! What style of beer, and why, would you pair with these common Brah delicacies? Craft beer can conquer anything!

Mac n’ cheese: A hoppy robust porter to cut the fat, but still be comforting.
A bowl of cereal with sliced bananas: Trappist dubbel for complementary flavours and because it only seems appropriate to drink a monastic beer with breakfast
Anchovy pizza: Biere de gardes have the sweetness to fend off the salty fish and the herbal flavours to complement the tomato sauce.
Cotton candy: Cream stout maybe? Just whatever is the sweetest beer you can get your hands on.
Wild rice: British mild for a nutty complement.
Pairing with pears: Tripel, only because I had this as a really great pairing at a beer dinner this year.

Q7 – Well done! As you mention in the opening of your book, this is indeed a very exciting time to be a Canadian craft beer lover. Which new breweries have you most excited for?

Innocente Brewing in Waterloo is doing some really tasty things with hops. I’m also really excited to visit the new breweries that Sawdust City and Side Launch built this year in Ontario.

Follow David on Twitter at @ortdavid, or better yet check out The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook. Your stomach will thank you.

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Review: Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen

Brewer: Tree Brewing
Brewed in: Kelowna, BC
Percentage: 5.0%
Found: Landsdowne West LCBO

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As I remove the horizontally-stored bottle from the fridge, I notice a thick sediment sitting on the side. I will have to exercise caution with the pour. The colour is murky gold with the slightest white head. The nose is unmistakably pineapple – candy pineapple even. The taste is rather mild upfront with a tickle of tropical hops on the finish: It doesn’t have the same obvious punch of the bouquet. By the label and the nose, I assumed this beer was brewed with pineapple juice, as is the Hawaiian Style IPA. However, the beer provides it’s ingredients and no pineapple is listed. Odd. I read on… The hops used are Perle and Tettnanger. Now I’m curious, do these add the candied pineapple nose? The notes on Perle do not mention tropical flavours so I turn to Tettnanerg. Even this hop doesn’t mention pineapple but this hop does contain a flavourful oil (farnsene oil) that could be my smelly culprit. Either way, I won’t be investigating this mystery any further – my beer’s getting warm. Very interesting beer – I’m into it.

19/24

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Review: Ezra

Brewer: Great Lakes Brewery & Amsterdam Brewing Co.
Brewed in: Etobicoke/Toronto, ON
Percentage: 6.2%
Found: King Edward LCBO

I don’t mean to only review GLB beers lately (but if I did, would that be so bad?), yet I thought this post was appropriate for National Dog Day; which is today, August 26th.

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Ezra pours a slightly hazy gold with a white head that fades to a whisper. The nose is crisp and refreshing with assertive notes of apple shining through. The beer bubbles across the palate with a finish so dry it borders on tart. I’d go as far to say this brew feels rather sophisticated, especially as the characteristics of the cider barrel aging really shine through. This is a near-perfect summer brew.

While the beer brings a smile to my face, the story behind the brew’s namesake did not. Ezra was named after a “good dog” that died the day the beer was brewed. Unless you’re a monster, this dry beer will bring a wet tear to your eye.

21/24

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