EXCLUSIVE: Rorschach Brewing Co. Opening Early 2017!

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Are you ready for this?! ANOTHER brewpub is set to open in Toronto’s East end for early 2017! We are getting spoiled over here and I for one could not be happier.

Introducing Rorschach Brewing Company! Opening at 1001 Eastern Avenue. Rorschach Brewing Co. is the brainchild of four friends, three of whom met at the University of Toronto’s Engineering program. They have spent the last two years in the planning stages and now their dream is becoming a reality. Matthew Reiner, the brewmaster has been home brewing for the past eight years. His focus is on aggressively hopped IPAs and mixed fermentation Saisons. Mohan Pandit and Chris Ristevski are also engineers and Ben Ragan has a background in construction and wine.

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As you probably know (or have assumed from the clever logo) Rorschach is the name of the infamous inkblot test, when asked how they decided on this name their answer was quite philosophical: just like the inkblot test, beer is a subjective experience. Every person’s palate is unique and they perceive flavours differently so they wanted their name and slogan “Life’s too short for ordinary beer” to reflect the ideology that beer is something to be experienced and experimented with! Their goal is to craft beers that are complex and flavourful but also highly drinkable. This is a philosophy that The Bottomless Pint can get behind! see Victoria’s previous post on the subjectivity of beer tasting.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Matthew, Mohan and Ben over a few samples of their brews. They showed me around the (mostly empty) space explaining their vision. There will be a ten bbl brewhouse with six fermenters and two bright tanks. They will be installing 14-16 taps but will probably launch with about five beers. The founders have all discovered their love for beer while travelling abroad where they also experienced many culinary styles. The inspiration for their menu comes from tapas style dining. They will not be serving your average pub food but rather snacks that are meant for sharing and most importantly complementing the beer. The main floor holds 70-80 guests while the massive second floor patio holds approximately 100. Ideally there will be a take away counter for bottles as well, all depending on licensing of course.

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Now to the good stuff, the beer! I was lucky enough to try three of Matthew’s creations. A Saison, a West Coast IPA and a Coffee Oatmeal Stout. The Saison is currently in line to be the flagship beer: fruity, dry and medium bodied, this beer is definitely a crowd pleaser. The IPA is hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe, very juicy with the hop focused in the aroma and flavour and very little lingering bitterness. The Coffee Oatmeal Stout is beautifully roasty and smooth. Matthew roasted the coffee beans himself and they are currently trying to convince a family member with a coffee-roasting hobby, to create of a unique blend for this particular beer.

There is still a ton of work to be done and licensing to be acquired so an opening date cannot be accurately predicted at this time, but be sure to watch out for this one! The location is absolutely gorgeous, the building itself is an old house with a massive expansion added on the back but the front of the original house has been beautifully preserved. The parking lot next door is a huge bonus and it is literally just minutes from the lake (and the lakeshore bike path!).

Good luck guys! I can’t wait to see (and taste) the final results!

Brand Loyalty and Craft Beer

Brand loyalty and craft beer. These two things don’t have much to do with each other anymore. If you consider yourself a beer nerd then you know what I mean. How often are you going back for the same beer, let alone buying a six-pack of a single type of beer…almost never. As craft beer drinkers we are inherently curious, we want to taste everything out there, we need to know if the next new beer is the best beer we’ll ever have. We are not our parent’s generation who found a beer they liked and stuck to it, afraid that they might “waste” their money trying something that they don’t like, kind of like reverse FOMO. We are a riskier folk who also require copious untappd badges. This poses some interesting challenges for brewers, how do breweries continue to grow and make money once they are no longer “new”?

If you think about current trends in the marketing and retail of craft beer with this question in mind, a few patterns become obvious and begin to make a lot more sense:

Firstly, there is a lot more emphasis placed on the release of seasonal and one-off beers. Core brands are typically not outrageous hop-bombs and sours but tried and true pilsners and well-balanced pale ales (a.k.a. boring). Thus breweries are tending to focus more on their seasonal releases rather than core brands.

Secondly, breweries are coming out with “session” beers in all types of styles. This could very well be a response to the palate fatigue we experience when drinking full flavoured (and high alcohol) craft beers all night. Instead of grabbing six different 6% abv brews from different companies, you might prefer six 4.5% session IPAs so you can still drink flavourful beer all night without getting too drunk and having the bitterness of 30 different hops sitting on your tongue for the next two days.

And finally, the growing popularity of prepackaged mixed packs in the LCBO and beer store. This is a hypothetical win/win, you get still six different beers but all from the same brewery so they are able to make more money on one sale.

These are all perfectly reasonable solutions to selling beer in an increasingly saturated market. But I feel there is some responsibility on us as consumers to recognize the efforts of those breweries who are making really amazing beer, and it’s not exactly what you might call “brand loyalty”.

As a craft beer drinker I cannot be loyal to one brewery, let alone one beer. I am loyal to craft in that I try to support local industry while also drinking interesting and flavourful beers. So in order to ensure that my favourite breweries stay in business I suggest that craft beer drinkers express their appreciation for the hard work that goes into the beer we drink. I don’t just mean tweeting and instagraming what you are drinking, this helps but it is not tangible. If you find a beer that you like, make sure you are vocal about it and not just on social or to your beer nerd friends, but to the people who have control over the purchase of that beer, your server or the cashier at the LCBO. These are the people that the managers are asking, “what sells well?” If you tell them you like it, they may suggest it to another table or customer, and then when the manager asks, they will tell them to order more. If you don’t tell them, they will move on to the next new thing because that is what craft beer drinkers want right?

Thanks for reading! I hope this has inspired you to put in a little extra effort into your small talk during craft beer purchases.

Cheers!

PRESS RELEASE: All or Nothing Brewhouse Acquires Trafalgar Ales & Meads

Big news coming out of All or Nothing Brewhouse this morning! Brothers Eric and Jeff Dornan have acquired ownership of Trafalgar Ales & Meads as well as their sister companies: Black Creek Historic Brewery and Trafalgar Artisanal Distillery. This is a huge move, going from contract brewing to having the space not only to brew their own product but to expand their production into cider, mead and spirits!

These guys are truly giving it their all after going through more than their share of obstacles to get here (See: December 1st article, All or Nothing Brewhouse- Trademark Issues Cause Underdog Brewhouse to Drop Their Gloves). Congratulations guys! Can’t wait to see (and taste) what you have in store for us.

 

See full press release below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ALL OR NOTHING BREWHOUSE GROWS THROUGH ACQUISITION OF ONE OF ONTARIO’S OLDEST CRAFT BREWERIES!

Oshawa, Ontario – All or Nothing Brewhouse, is excited to announce the purchase of Trafalgar Ale’s & Meads and its sister companies – Black Creek Historic Brewery and Trafalgar Artisanal Distillery based in Oakville, Ontario.

This acquisition allows All or Nothing Brewhouse to immediately evolve from its contract brewing roots to a bricks and mortar facility. According to company Co-Founder, Eric Dornan, “This move gives All or Nothing a new place to call home, where the company can experiment and expand its product portfolio”.

All or Nothing will be making significant capital investments into the existing Oakville location through the installation of a state-of-the-art automated canning line as well as additional fermentation tanks to expand production capacity.

“By acquiring an already talented and award winning brewery, All or Nothing has an additional leg up in the hyper competitive craft brewing industry,” says co-founder Jeff Dornan.

The future looks bright for both All or Nothing Brewhouse and the Trafalgar Group of Companies.  By joining forces, All or Nothing will become one of the few breweries to produce craft beer, ciders, meads and even craft distilled spirits, all under one roof.  All or Nothing is committed to delivering exceptional quality and build on the 23 years of brewing excellence Trafalgar has shown the Canadian market.

About All or Nothing Brewhouse

All or Nothing gives it their all in pursuit of becoming Canada’s #1 craft wheat beer producer.  The company was founded in 2014 as a contract brewery based out of Oshawa, Ontario. Co-Owners/Brothers Jeff and Eric Dornan ventured away from archaic Bavarian brewing laws to bring fresh new flavours to beer-lovers across Ontario. All or Nothing’s flagship Hopfenweisse is now distributed province-wide in over 550 locations. Expect more unconventional wheat beer creations from All or Nothing as it unleashes the potential of Canada’s #1 crop.

About Trafalgar Ales & Meads

Trafalgar Ales & Meads was founded in 1993 by Mike Arnold, and has grown to be a unique gem in the Canadian brewing landscape. In its 12,000 sq/ft facility, the brewery produces a variety of craft beer, cider, meads and artisanal spirits onsite. Trafalgar is a pioneer of innovation by offering a diverse range of beers in its portfolio. The brewery is decorated with many awards throughout its history, including the LCBO’s Elsie Award for Marketing Innovation in 2000, Canadian Agri-Food Award of Excellence for Innovation in 2004 and recently in 2015 winning 7 Ontario Brewing Awards and “New brewer of the year”

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EXCLUSIVE: Sneak Peek at Toronto’s newest brewpub BANDIT BREWERY

The craft beer scene in Toronto is getting more vibrant every year and 2016 is no exception. There are great things on the horizon and one of them is happily nestled in Roncesvalles Village! Mike and I were lucky enough to be invited for a sneak peek at Toronto’s newest brewpub, Bandit Brewery.

Located at 2125 Dundas West in what used to be an automotive shop, it is easily accessible from Subway and Street Car routes. Opening date is TBA but by the looks of things it should be quite soon! Don’t worry, you will know as soon as we do! They plan to have around 15 beers on tap, with about half being staple brands and half rotating seasonals. There will be a wide variety of styles, so ignore any rumors you heard about a focus on sours. The Bandit team is made up of the two owners Stephane and Shehzad, head brewer Ben and media pro Juan. These guys are working tirelessly to create not just great beer but a great experience and atmosphere to go with it. There will be a small, simple menu of snacks to pair with your beer. Seating options will be front patio, biergarten style seating (long shared tables) on one side of the brew house and bar seating on the other. We got excited and curious at the sight of a row of barrels set up right at the front entrance, it turns out Ben doesn’t have any concrete plans for them yet. That’s okay we can wait 😉

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The Experience:

Mike and I arrived to the brewery at 6pm on a Thursday evening. The front driveway soon-to-be-patio was ripped up just two days before and some lovely trees were planted. There was no clear path through the dirt to the door so we made our own and walked in on Ben mopping (the life of a brewer includes 10% brewing and 90% cleaning and mopping). The rest of the team welcomed us in and were generous enough to show us their 10BBL brew house and talk about their plans. You can see the restaurant and bar area taking shape. The bottle shop isn’t in the immediate future but you can bet that we will have tabs on this once it is! (just like we were at Folly only hours after their bottle shop first opened on Saturday). We sat, chatted and tasted for about an hour, this is a lot of time for busy people who are trying to build a brewery and restaurant so we thank them immensely for their time and generosity.

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The Beer:

We had the pleasure of sampling four of Bandit’s flagship brands.

Smoke on the Porter ABV 5% IBU 40

Originally a home brew recipe by one of the owners Stephane, just slightly tweaked for the brewhouse and for availability of ingredients. They used peat smoked malts and pepper. This beer exemplifies the talent and potential to come out of the brewery. There is so much going on, the pepper lingers in a way that is not immediately recognizable, is it the snap of carbonation or lingering hop bitterness? No, pepper! So sneaky.

Cone Ranger IPA ABV 5.5% IBU 60

Despite it’s 60 IBUs this beer is very well balanced. The aroma and hop flavours intensify as you make your way through each sip, getting better and better as you go. There is just enough bitterness, as Ben says, to make you go in for another sip after about 30 seconds.

Bandit’s APA ABV 5.25% IBU 40

This APA comes out super juicy and dangerously easy to drink. To please his mother, Ben left out any Cascade hops, she hates those “grapefruit beers”. With the two owners having opposite tastes in beer, Ben sure has a lot of palates to please. You can count on a very wide variety of beers coming out of Bandit’s brewhouse (again, not just sours).

Farmed and Dangerous Saison ABV 5.25% IBU 22

This is a Belgian style farmhouse ale with orange peel and coriander, an interesting take on a wit beer. This is a great, mild tasting summer beer. The flavours are subtle enough to be very drinkable and perfect for patio sessions.

 

The Brand:

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What’s the story behind the raccoon? Is it, an ode to Conrad the dead raccoon? Well no but it’s definitely fitting isn’t it? Before #DeadRaccoonTO, the owners had a hilarious run in with these little mischief-makers at a local restaurant where they were eating on the patio. A family of raccoons was circling around and a waiter had to came out to shoo them away with a broom. Some people were screaming and others were laughing and they realized how “Toronto” raccoons are, for better or worse. They pitched the idea to their graphic designer and eventually the simple and effective logo and branding was born. The branded glassware changes depending on the colour of your beer, with the Smoke on the Porter, it was just a pair of eyes looking at me, also not an unfamiliar sight on a summer night in the city!

 

 

 

On the heels of the craft beer explosion in Toronto comes the brewpub culture. We have tons of great breweries in the city doing amazing things, which you can seek out at specialty craft bars, LCBOs and bottle shops. But I am also so happy to have these small brewpubs opening up where the high quality beer is created and curated within, and specifically for, the space where it will be consumed. It is more about creating an experience and atmosphere which includes great beer, rather than the solely creating great beer (both very bold and admirable purposes and equally important in a city such as ours.)

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you are as excited as I am to sit on Bandit’s patio this summer. For more information check out the Bandit Brewery website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Drinking For a Cause at Canada’s 1st Ladies Craft Beer Fest!

Friday (April 1st 2016) was Canada’s first ladies only craft beer festival. It sounds like a big deal…because it is! But also when you think about it, it seems so obvious; how has no one thought of this yet?!

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The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies has been hosting monthly bevies all around our great city for two years and they just keep getting better! Learn more about the SOBDL and their bevies in Victoria’s post from June: “Where are all the badass ladies at? SOBDL bevies, that’s where.”

The ladies went all out this time just as we knew they would (all of us who bought up every ticket in only 36 hours, that is). The Evergreen Brickworks is a stunning venue and a perfect choice for the occasion. My personal favourite parts being the fire pits and the ping pong tables. The fire pits were necessary because it was quite brisk out there but they also created a lovely atmosphere and that oh so nostalgic campfire smell that sticks to you for days. I personally spent most of the night huddled around one, happily sipping beer and making new friends. The ping pong tables, on the other hand, presented a hilariously pathetic hand-eye coordination test, which turned into a lot of laughing and a great way to stay warm.

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Upon arrival (on a big yellow school bus!) we were each given a sample glass. The cutest sample glass you ever did see. Each month the ladies brew a one-off collaboration beer with one of the attending breweries called the bevy brew. This time it was called Anne Bonny’s Revenge, a Coconut Vanilla Porter brewed in collaboration with Junction Craft Brewing. Named for a female pirate and brewed by female brewers, this was probably my favourite beer of the night. The roasted coconut and malt flavours balanced well with the sweetness of the vanilla. Another stand out beer in my opinion was the Blood Brothers Abattoir Farmhouse Ale, a fruity saison with just the right amount of tanginess.

Some great food choices are always available. I demolished a plate of Beef cheek Chili Nachos from Beast Toronto. Apart from the top-notch beer and food, the highlight of my evening, as with all bevies, was the beer drinking lady love. All the great women who come out to these events and just want to make new friends, chat about beer and life and inevitably start dancing and singing 90’s pop songs. The backstreet boys and spice girls sing-a-long on the bus ride home was a seriously close second for best part of the night.

I am so grateful to the SOBDL for making this type of event a regular occurrence. At every bevy I meet someone who is there for the first time, and they can’t believe how normal it is for all of these women to genuinely love the beer they are drinking. It really shows how important this type of thing is. And not only that, a portion of the money goes to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. So cheers to the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies and drinking for a cause!

NEWS: The #MuskokaOddity has been revealed (and it’s delicious!)

If you’ve been on social media in the last couple of days you might have come across posts about some strange sightings such as these in the Muskoka area using the hashtag #MuskokaOddity.

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The Reineagle! A goofy yet brilliant hoax created by the masterminds at Muskoka Brewery  (and involving the whole community) to get us riled up for the release of their Legendary Oddity. Well it worked on me, I like your style Muskoka! This juniper, heather and orange infused Belgian Ale will be available in the Beer Store March 28th and the LCBO April 1st, but this time in 473mL cans bearing the giant eagle with antlers as it’s mascot.

Full release below:

 

Muskoka Brewery Releases The Legend, March 10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 10, 2016

Muskoka Brewery releases the legend

Legendary Oddity breaks through winter thaw to make its return

ONTARIO – Legend has it that each year the tempered thaw of Muskoka gives rise to new and strange creations. Recently, the community has been abuzz with stories of an odd creature roaming the region. Described as a “giant eagle with antlers,” sightings were first shared on social media on March 7.

Today Muskoka Brewery revealed that the strange bird is none other than the Reineagle from their Legendary Oddity brew. And the sightings: a playful hoax to raise awareness of the Belgian ale’s return to the Beer Store, LCBO and grocery store shelves this spring. Look for Legendary Oddity at the Beer Store the week of March 28 and at the LCBO and grocery stores beginning April 1, 2016.

Brewed with pure Muskoka water, heather tips, juniper berries, sweet orange peel shavings, North American malts, sorachi ace hops, Belgian yeast and Belgian candy sugar, Legendary Oddity unearths the first tastes of spring and is a nod to these sometimes bizarre sightings.

“This is one beer that you really need to sip away at and then recount all the flavours that pop out,” says Gary McMullen, founder and president of Muskoka Brewery. “Juniper berries, orange peel, heather tips, Belgian Trappist yeast, Belgian candy sugar, sorachi ace hops – who would have thought these ingredients would work so well together? A big hats off to brewer James Tien, for helping craft this wonderfully odd beer.”

This year Legendary Oddity is rising from the winter thaw in a new format – 473 mL cans. Deliciously complex and refreshing, Legendary Oddity pairs well with ginger, calamari baked white fish, guacamole or spinach and artichoke dip.

Muskoka Brewery thanks local partners Muskoka Tourism, MP Tony Clement, Mayor Graydon Smith, Muskoka 411, 99.5 Moose FM, The Griffin Pub, The Old

Station, Brew Culture, The Bracebridge BIA, and The Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce for participating in the hoax and helping release the legend!

About Muskoka Brewery Nestled in the heart of Muskoka Region, Muskoka Brewery handcrafts premium beers as unique and refreshing as the region they’re from. Founders Gary McMullen and the late Kirk Evans opened Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario, in 1996 with their flagship Muskoka Cream Ale. Today, the brewery employs a passionate team of craft beer lovers over 100 strong and is one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in Canada, with an award-winning beer portfolio and the spirit of the Canadian outdoors. Find out more at muskokabrewery.com. Venture off the beaten path by liking the Muskoka Brewery Facebook page and following Muskoka Brewery on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Don’t forget to stop by and visit our brewery in Bracebridge (1964 Muskoka Beach Road) for a free tour and speciality beers only sold in our Tap Room.

The Only Cafe’s Winter Beer Fest

Happy Family Day from your Bottomless Pint Family! Since I worked all weekend while you were off at a cottage or ski trip or NBA all-star party, I’m going to tell you about the great time I had two Saturdays ago at The Only Café in Toronto’s east end.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by living in the city and I start fantasizing about how much more beer I could make if I moved away to somewhere with more space and less people. But then I ride a couple subway stops to Donlands station, walk into the crowded comfort of the The Only Café and I am suddenly reminded of why the city life is so amazing. There is always something going on no matter what part of Toronto you’re in, you don’t have to drive and you will probably stop for some sort of salty treat on your way home too because well you can, everything is still open. The city is alive.

Last Saturday (Feb 6th) I ventured to The Only Café’s Winter Beer Fest. It’s a small bar and they hit capacity pretty fast so I had to wait a few minutes to get in but it was not nearly as cold as this past weekend and the doorman was very nice. The Only hosts four beer fests per year, one for every season. Such an amazing idea because:

A- Breweries come out with seasonal beers, changing with the SEASONS, I think you know where I’m going with this. It’s a great way to try what’s new and keep up with beer trends without having to individually seek out every limited edition brew.

B- If you miss out, it’s only a few months until the next one!

ALSO by having them so frequently, the vibe is much more relaxed, this is not a once in a lifetime opportunity (although you do instantly feel your quality of life go up a few notches once you’re there).

Did I mention that it’s totally affordable? There’s no cover and beer tickets are $1 apiece. A ticket gets you a 5oz sample and 3 tickets gets you 16oz. Its not very often you can go to a beer festival with 15 bucks in your pocket and be set for the night. (Anyone who knows me knows that I didn’t drink 15 samples but I know a few people who could!)

Some highlights of my night:

We will be sure to let you know when the Spring Beer Fest is scheduled, see you there!

Cheers!

Beth

How to talk about beer without using the word “Hoppy”

This is not a rant about beer terminology; this is more of a public service announcement. I would personally love to see more people exploring more beers and in my experience the word “hoppy” tends to be a bit of a roadblock for a lot of people. Though I do realize how many amazing puns this word provides us and I do not wish you to stop making them.

Lets just start out by stating the obvious: all beer has hops in it.

So on that note, I would like to provide you with a few alternative words to use so as not to scare your friends/family/strangers at the bar away from beers that they could potentially love!

Without getting super sciency and boring let me say that there are tons of different types of hops that can give beers a huge variety of flavours. Also, the character of the hops changes depending on what point in the brewing process the hops are added. The basic purpose of hops is to provide the beer with bitterness, which is a lot of what people don’t like about them but believe me some bitterness is necessary to balance the flavour of the beer. Hops also provide beer with a bunch of flavour and aroma, this is where using more specific descriptors really comes in handy!

 

First lets do a quick review on tasting beer. Here are some things you should pay attention to when drinking a beer that you wish to talk to others about. Note: most of these descriptors are aimed at hop-forward beers, there are many other useful terms to describe malt and yeast-forward beers, which are not mentioned here. A more comprehensive tasting guide can be found on Mirella Amato’s website beerology.

Appearance:

What colour is it?

Is it clear or hazy?

Does it have foam? If yes, is the foam dense or light and fluffy? Does it last or dissipate quickly?

Aroma:

Take a sniff, what do you notice?

Is it floral? fruity? spicy?

Maybe you can’t smell any hops and it just smells sweet or even boozy, that is perfectly okay, your nose is not broken, sometimes the hops will not be very noticeable in the aroma but this is why we DRINK the beer

Taste:

When people say they taste something “upfront” or “on the finish” they are not necessarily trying to be a pretentious A-hole, they usually just want to communicate at which point each flavour is most prominent. Try to think of your sip like a story in grade school: beginning-middle-end. Complex beers have different flavours happening at each point in the sip where a bland beer can be described as one-note.

Here are some ways to describe what you are tasting:
This beer is hoppy citrusy

This beer is hoppy floral

This beer is hoppy fruity (if you want to get fancy, try to think of the type of fruit you are being reminded of, for example pear, apple, apricot, tropical, melon etc)

This beer is hoppy earthy

This beer is hoppy herby

Finish:

How long are the flavours lingering after your sip? Does the bitterness sit on your tongue or is it gone right away?

Mouthfeel:

This is a funny word that people often mix into the taste category. You will know if your beer is very sweet, heavy and full bodied and you will probably not attempt to describe that beer as hoppy. But sometimes the feeling on your tongue after sipping a drier beer can be similar to the lingering bitterness from hops. A highly carbonated beer also provides a nice sharpness that people like to automatically attribute to hops.

So lets give credit where it’s due, here are some ways to describe what you are feeling (yes, beer chat can get emotional but I’m talking mouthfeel here):

This beer has a hoppy dry finish

This beer has a hoppy crisp finish

This beer has a hoppy sharp finish

 

Now that you have a few more descriptive words up your sleeve, I hope you will reconsider the use of such an umbrella term as “hoppy”. If not for your own sake, for the sake of those who will automatically say “I hate hoppy beers” and then stick to the same boring beer (because that is who you are really hurting!)

 

Thanks for reading, I hope I have slightly expanded your beer vocabulary but also keep in mind that tasting beer can be very subjective as explained in Victoria’s recent post. And so I encourage you to keep drinking learning!

Cheers!

-Beth

Best Beers of the Year: Round 1 – Beth Hughes

Welcome to the first of four posts where each of the staff writers from the Bottomless Pint reminisce about the best beers we drank this past year. Keep your eyes on the blog for the month of December to see what our picks are and join us on social and in the comments below to let us know your top three beers of the year!

 

So we’ve almost made it to the end of 2015, I’m pretty sure the world was supposed to have ended by now but alas here we are. I drank some amazing beers this year, and some terrible ones as well, but that is always a risk I’m willing to take! Cucumber, mint, mojito beer? Give it here, Spicy Ramen beer? I just can’t say no. My favourite thing about beer is how versatile it is, there are endless possibilities! On that note, I would like to share with you some of the beers that won my heart (as well as my money) this year in no particular order.

  1. Cruiser All Day Pale Ale by Amsterdam Brewing Co.

I tried this one back in January when 2015 was still new and exciting. I was at the brewery doing yoga with the stellar ladies from School House Booze and Twenty-Something in Toronto. Their “Detox to Retox” events pair yoga with beer sampling, and it is amazing. I am a huge fan of Amsterdam’s boneshaker but at 7.1% it tends to sneak up on me. Cruiser on the other hand sits at a safer 4.9%. The Citra and Sorachi Ace hops give this beer a juicy citrus flavour up front which is nicely balanced with bitterness on the finish, something I could actually drink all day without embarrassing myself.

  1. Ginger Cat (Belgian Wit infused with candied ginger) by Mill Street Brewery

Please do not disregard this post just because Mill Street is now owned by Labatt, just hear me out on this one. As any craft beer lover knows, it is sometimes tough to share beer with your non-beer-obsessed family and friends especially if you also make them try your homebrew. This is mostly because they are not used to tasting flavourful beers and their palates just aren’t ready for it. For this reason I like to introduce them to beers that are less “offensive” while still getting them to try new things and also winning their trust so they will continue to try the beer that I bring. Low and behold Mill Street’s Ginger Cat was a hit! It became my beer of the summer, not only because I loved it, but because everyone I shared it with also loved it, and that is one of the best feelings.

  1. Bricks and Mortar Coffee Porter by Left Field Brewery

2015 was a very busy year for me, on top of attending multiple weddings (including my own) I also moved into a new neighbourhood. My closest brewery is now Left Field and I could not be happier! I must say, the East end is treating me well so far. On one particular visit to my local brewery I sampled their coffee porter, the roastiness of the dark malts and coffee is bold without being too acrid, they round out the flavour with sweeter notes of vanilla. This beer is has a full and complex flavour that would be an excellent place to start for someone who thinks they “don’t like dark beer”. Left Field uses coffee from Pilot Coffee Roasters (located literally next door to them on Wagstaff Dr.) adding it directly to the bright tank. So they are basically making cold brew coffee but instead of using water, they are using porter…genius. I took a bottle home and drank it while watching the Blue Jays kick some butt; it was beautiful. Since you will no doubt be heading to Left Field shortly after reading this post, be sure to get a sample of their Eephus poured on nitro, trust me.

 

Since we’re about to freeze our butts off here in Toronto for at least three more months, I’d like to leave you with a warm summer 2015 memory: the annual Beach, BBQ and Brews festival hosted at Woodbine Park. This year was my second time going, and I’ve decided this is my kind of beer festival and I will tell you why. It is a weekend-long event and it’s free entry so people are constantly coming and going and you don’t feel like you have to “get your money’s worth”. There are people of all ages, families and kids playing (not just hipsters talking about hops and live-tweeting beer reviews). To me, it is one of the best ways to experience summer in the city. Right by the water, sitting in a grassy park, listening to live music, eating delicious BBQ and drinking great local beer.

 

About the Author

Beth is a craft beer enthusiast who fell in love with beer while on exchange to England during University. She is always looking for ways to get involved in Toronto’s craft beer and home brewing scene. Her goals include obtaining her BJCP and Cicerone certifications.

That's me at the Beach, BBQ and Brews festival 2 years ago

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