Practically Irish Brings Craft Beer to Pickering

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There are a growing number of breweries opening up in the Durham Region, which is amazing if you live in the area. Practically Irish is one of the new additions to the growing list of craft brewers in the area.

Practically Irish officially started in June 2014. The idea came about like most great ideas, over a few beers with friends. In this case, it was between long time friends and homebrewers Brian James (President) and Dwayne Fernandes (Brewmaster). Their dream started back in 2012, after attending OCB Conference, which after creating a business plan and working out all the details, they took possession of an industrial unit in January 2014. As things started to take shape, Brian and Dwayne brought in Alex Bitterman, who is Vice President and Sales and Promotions. Not only are the 3 friends working hard to complete the brewery, they have hired a couple of assistants in addition to having had tons of help from friends and family.

Currently they are running on a 250L system, which with help from an overseas investor will allow them to double their production in February 2015. Practically Irish is already looking to expand with the addition of a bottling line, 8 new fermenters and a new Brite Tank. As of right now, they are brewing their Blonde Ale which can be found in bars and restaurants in Durham Region and 9 bars in Toronto. They are already expanding their selection with a Midnight Milk Stout, which I was lucky enough to sample and I must say it was amazing. Already there are plans for a Cream Ale and an ESB in the Spring. Practically Irish is also in talks about the possibility of opening a brewpub in Pickering at a later date.

The retail area of the brewery will be fully completed and licensed in early February 2015. They are located at 1033 Toy Ave, Unit 8, Pickering, ON. So give them a follow on twitter (@pracirishbeer) and check out their site at practicallyirish.com for all the information on their opening date.

Old North (Lake of Bays Brewing)

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Origin: Baysville (Muskoka), Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Porter

Alc./Vol.: 8%

Suggested Glassware: English Pint/Shaker

Suggested Serving Temperature: Leave it in the snow outside your house for half an hour before consuming

Availability: Seasonal (Late Fall/Winter)

Where to buy:  Lake of Bays brewery or select LCBO locations

Evenin’, all. Mike here; I’m @beermostly on Twitter and Instagram – Matt has been kind enough to extend his hand to a fellow beer lover and begin what I’m sure will be a fantastic partnership here at The Bottomless Pint with guest reviews. Let’s dive in.

Ah, stout and porter season. Warm your soul with beers to intimidate your significantly less-snobby friends!

Old North Mocha Porter holds a special place in my heart. At its launch, I got very excited at the idea that coffee, one of my favourite drinks, could be woven into my other favourite drink… beer. It also holds this special place because on Christmas morning 2012, I realized I hadn’t refrigerated my beer selection for that day. In a panic, I stuck the tall bottle in a snowbank on my back deck for about half an hour, and during gift opening time (among many a chocolate covered almond and stolen pieces of peameal bacon from Mom’s frying pan) I cracked the bottle and poured (what would that day be) my morning coffee.

Sentiments aside, this is a beautiful beer to look at. The 750mL bottle is perfect for sharing. Into a wide mouth glass pours a light brown head on an opaque dark chocolate brown body whose carbonation is mid-range, with a lingering foam and a floating, delicate lace on the glass and the top of the beer all the way down. The 2014 version is 8% – one higher than last year’s.

At first sniff, you get a scent not unlike the one you get when you empty your used grounds from your coffee machine – a wet, roasty smell that, for the inexperienced nose, would intimidate. Drinking a first sip, you are greeted with a velvety, deep malt and chocolate flavour that can only be described as “more-ish” – very, very pleasant and incredibly medium bodied beer with bubbles that make you lick your lips.

Through the glass, the coffee flavours shone through. Sourced from Diesel House Coffee Roasters, the flavours extend a warming bitterness that makes drinking this at 9AM on Christmas Day absolutely acceptable. With minimal alcohol taste (but lots of punch after an entire bottle), the beer finishes with an espresso flavour and warm, tasty, rich body that becomes better as you drink it. An absolute treat!

10629696_10152292408845904_6492939900423753687_nMike Burton is an advertising student, lover of Toronto, and a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. He asked us to tell you that. In the grand scheme of things, this means nothing, but feel free to follow his entertaining Twitter and Instagram feeds @beermostly.

Calabaza (Northumberland Hills Brewery

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Origin: Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alc./Vol.: 5.0%

IBU: NA

Malts: NA

Hops: NA

Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Goblet, or Snifter

Suggested Serving Temperature: 3-5° Celsius

Availability: Seasonal (Fall)

Where to buy: Northumberland Hills Brewery, Cobourg Ontario

This review features my last pumpkin beer of the season from Northumberland Hills Brewery, which is located at 1024 Division St in Cobourg, Ontario. This is my first beer review from NHB, but it sure won’t be my last. If you are in the Cobourg area and haven’t been to the brewery yet be sure to go by or check out my brewery tour post at http://wp.me/p4Nse2-5r. Like I stated before, Calabaza is a pumpkin ale just like the name states, but like all the pumpkin ales out there this one is slightly different in taste and balance.

Calabaza poured a pale orange colour with a slightly murky look to it. The beer had no visible settlement at the bottom of the glass or during the pour. Once poured into the glass, I instantly noticed a sweet pumpkin smell that filled my nose. As the beer sat, I started to smell hints of nutmeg and clove with a slight hint of toffee. The beer displayed little to no head when settled, that also resulted in no lacing on my glass.
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At first taste, I experienced sweet pumpkin. It was not overly sweet, but had the characteristics of fresh pumpkin. The pumpkin notes had a slighlty earthy flavour to it, which helped to balance out the sweetness. As I enjoyed the beer it slowly started to transition from sweet to notes of spice. I picked up hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. Calabaza is a light to medium bodied beer, that contains tiny micro bubbles which covered my tongue. There was a slight creaminess to the beer, but it was more dry than creamy. The beer finished with a mouth drying  taste of clove and citrus, which left my taste buds wanting another sip.

My overall impression of this beer was excellent. It was a very balanced and easy drinking beer. I do wish there was more creaminess to the beer and that it had a little bit more spice to it. Calabaza hit all the right notes to a pumpkin beer and was the perfect beer to drink with a sweet dessert or as an after dinner beer.

I give this beer an overall score of 40/50. Be sure to go and pick up a couple to try for yourself. Shoot me a message or follow me on Twitter (@_bottomlesspint) and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

Peculiar Pumpkin (William Street Beer Co.)

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Origin: Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alc./Vol.: 7.0%

IBU: 19.5

Malts: Pale Malt, Munich Caramel and Biscuit

Hops: Cascade, Czech Golding

Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Goblet, or Snifter

Suggested Serving Temperature: 10° Celsius

Availability: William Street Beer Co., Cobourg Ontario

This review features a beer from William Street Beer Co. , which is located at 412 William St in Cobourg, Ontario. On my recent trip to the brewery, I was lucky enough to go on a day in which they were releasing their pumpkin beer Peculiar Pumpkin. The beer is a strong, English style spiced ale, which Sean the brewmaster describes as a traditional pumpkin pie in a glass. The bottle displays well designed art, similar to all the other beer the brewery produces. Peculiar Pumpkin came in a 650ml bomber style bottle, which I poured into my William Street branded glass.

When poured in a glass, the rich dark copper colour of the beer appeared. The beer had a beautiful cloudy appearance to it which at first look gave the beer an appearance of warmth. Peculiar Pumpkin had a bold, rich pumpkin note to it. As the beer warmed up, I noticed the spices the beer offered. As I lifted the beer to my nose, I could smell notes of nutmeg and clover, with a hint of allspice. The beer did not have a powerful aroma to it, but it was the right mixture of sweet and spiced.DSC02806

At first taste, I experienced rich pumpkin that had a sweet texture and flavour to it. The pumpkin was not overly sweet, like many pumpkin beers out there, but was a rich creamy taste with a hint of caramel. As the beer settled, it slowly faded from sweet, to a nutmeg and spiced finish. It was a great transition from the sweet to the spiced finish, which was very balanced. The mouthful of this English style pumpkin ale was pleasant. I experienced a medium body, creamy beer that was lightly carbonated. Though the beer is a 7.0%, and marked as a strong ale, it was very easy drinking. As the beer warmed up, I noticed more and more spice which just added to the overall taste of the beer.

My overall impression of this beer was amazing! Sean wanted to achieved the traditional pumpkin pie in a glass, and I have to say he hit his target. The beer was a great entry into the pumpkin ale market. It was very balanced and enjoyable. For me, the beer would be a perfect with desert, and of course a slice of pumpkin pie. I definitely recommend this beer, and I suggest drinking it at a slightly below room temperature to truly enjoy the beer.

I give this beer an overall score of 44/50. Be sure to go and pick up a couple to try for yourself. Shoot me a message or follow me on Twitter (@_bottomlesspint) and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

Witchy Woman (Old Flame Brewing Co.)

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Orgin: Port Perry, Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alc./Vol.: 5.3%

IBU: 20

Malts: Pilsner, Crystal

Hops: Magnum for Bittering

Suggested Glassware: Lager Glass, Shaker, Tumbler

Suggested Serving Temperature: 10° Celsius

Availability: Old Flame Brewery, Port Perry

This review features a beer from one of my favourite breweries, Old Flame Brewing Co. in Port Perry, Ontario Canada. Old Flame is located at 135 Perry Street. If you have never been to the brewery it is definitely a must visit, if you cant make it out to the brewery check out my preview on the brewery before they opened in the brewery tours section of the site. Witchy Woman is Old Flames entry into the pumpkin beer market, and for their first entry it is definitely a must if you enjoy pumpkin beers.

Like all of Old Flames beers, Witchy Woman came in their 750 ml mini jug. It is a great bottle for sharing during parties or a night with friends. I chose to use my Old Flame glass for the review, which is a Pokal style glass. It helped the beer open up and I was able to enjoy all the aromas the beer has to offer.

When poured in a glass, Witchy Woman was a great copper to dark orange colour. The beer was very clear with no settlement in the glass. The head of this beer was light white head. It retained this whole way down the glass. which made for great lacing on the glass. The aroma of the beer was sweet fresh pumpkin, with soft notes of caramel and spice. I also noticed light bitter notes at the end of the sweet and spice smells. DSC02798

At first taste, you will really taste the fresh pumpkins that were used in the beer. The fresh pumpkin is the real notes that stand out the most when enjoying the beer, but it wasn’t the only characteristics I noticed. Once the sweet pumpkin started to fade, I tasted a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg with a very light touch of caramel/toffee. Witchy Woman finishes with dry bitter hops that leaves you wanting another sip. This beer was a nice light to medium body, that while drinking has a very smooth and creamy palette, but not overpowering.

My overall impression of this beer was good. Though I prefer a bolder pumpkin beer, Witchy Woman was brewed for its market customers. It was a very easy drinking, and easily a sessionable beer. It had the right balance of sweet and spice, that left me wanting more in every sip.

I give this beer an overall score of 39/50. Be sure to go and pick up a couple to try for yourself. Shoot me a message or follow me on Twitter (@_bottomlesspint) and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

The Northumberland Hill Brewery

During my trip to Cobourg, I decided to swing by the 9 week old Northumberland Hill Brewery. The brewery is located at 1024 Division St, in a small unit just off the main street. Upon arriving at the brewery, I was greeted by two gentlemen, one being Rick Bailey, the brewmaster and owner. Rick, who was very busy helping the flood of customers walking into the retail area of the brewery, was very friendly and was able to talk to me about the brewery and business inbetween helping others.

The brewery has a small footprint but utilizes the area very well. Upon entering, you will notice the bottle fridge, which was full with 5 beer selections. As the brewery is very new, things are slowly starting to come together. The retail area is being built, where they will offer flights, glassware, and apparel. The sampling area was a bar top infront of a large chalkboard which displayed all the brewery news, it also displayed beer that are coming soon and what they are currently sampling. During my time there, I sampled all their offerings, all of which were very different and unique.

When the brewery died down, Rick took me into the brewhouse. The brewhouse uses 300L tanks, which after the brewing process, ends up with about 250L of beer per batch. Though the brewery isn’t large, they have a wide range of beers that they are currently offering, and the list is always growing. Northumberland Hills Brewery (NHB) has truly been found by the locals. During my time there, the customers never stopped coming in, and Rick tells me the brewery was busy all weekend. Its great location combined with their well balanced beers, will surely make for a successful combination.

I wish I had a chance to spend more time there and speak to Rick longer, but my short time there has me wanting to go back. With their ever growing new beers being brewed, you’ll be sure to get something new everytime you head into the brewery. So be sure to head over to Northumberland Hill Brewery and pay the guys a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

William Street Beer Co.

I had a great opportunity to take a trip out to Cobourg, Ontario recently. While in town, I decided to pay William Street Beer Co a visit. William Street Brewery is located at 412 William Street, which is a prime location at the corner of William Street and University Ave. The brewery isn’t hard to miss as you can see the sign, which is high in the air, as you drive down William St. The brewery is located in a old automotive shop, which really suits the brewery well. During my time at William Street, I had the opportunity to be shown around and to speak with Sean Walpole, who is the brewmaster. Sean welcomed me with open arms. Sean was very knowledgeable about brewing, the beer industry and business. I left the brewery having learned a lot from him.

William Street Beer Co is a nice small local brewery. As you walk in the door to the right, you will see the stores two fridges, which house all the beer that the brewery is offering at the time. The fridges themselves have great graphics, which are some of the beer labels, displayed on the sides. The designs are very well done and with everything William Street does is very consistant. Just down the hall, you enter the tasting room, where you have the chance to sample selections of their beers. The tatsting room incudles a bar that runs the length of the room. A garage door, which in the summer, opens up to wlecome everyone into sample. As the tour continued, we ended up in the brewhouse, which is a 3BBL brewing system. The brewhouse is able to brew 300L batches of beer at a time. On the day of my visit, Sean was just releasing their pumpkin beer, Peculiar Pumpkin.

William Street has been open for about 8 months, and like most breweries going through their ups and downs. At first, the brewery was having troubles keeping up with demands for the beer. This forced them to close down for a few weeks to catch up and perfect the beers. Now, the brewery is fully stocked and very busy. While in the tasting room, I had the chance to try 3 of the breweries beers, Red Sky Amber, Cliff Top Pale Ale and Peculiar Pumpkin. All three of the beers were very good and unique. I will review a couple very soon. Sean was very helpful in telling me all about the beers and the process in which they were made. During my hour or so at the brewery, I could see how well William Street fits into Cobourg. There was a steady stream of customers coming in, not only for their new beer offering but for some of their staples, which are the Cliff Top and Red Sky. A lot of the customers that were coming in, Sean knew by name. Currently you can only pick up their beers at the brewery and your able to order a pint at a handful of local bars.

Sean’s main message to me was “We are committed to brewing simple, high quality and hand crafted ales for Cobourg and the surrounding communities. In addition, we make our beer with premium ingredients with preference always given to local, natural or homemade products over extracts, chemicals or shortcuts.” So, if you are ever in the Cobourg area be sure to check this place out and go and pay Sean a visit. You will get great beer and very friendly and knowledgeable service.

 

Hungry Brew Hops Visit

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I finally had the opportunity to check out Hungry Brew Hops! It’s a gastropub that I have been hearing about for months from friends and fellow beer lovers, and all I can say is it was worth the wait.

Hungry Brew Hops is located at 211 Main St. in Newmarket, Ontario. The restaurant is placed among little boutique stores and cafés and fits in very well. When you wilk in the door you get taken away with the rustic décor and large scale art on the wall, but it’s the little touches that make this place special. The details that went into the design are amazing, from the warm rustic tables, to the wall of kegs at the front entrance. As you walk past the bar, you will notice the 28 tap handles including 4 wines on tap. One thing you can’t miss is the “Hungry” light sign hanging on the wall of the bar. This is definitely an eye catcher!
My girlfriend and I, were seated near the back of the restaurant by the open kitchen. Once seated, we got to see the full beer list with brews from around Ontario and the world, but our eyes were easily taken away from the menu when we noticed the beautiful chalk art on the wall displaying all the beer styles. It is truly a work of art.
Once we ordered our first set of beers, myself a GLB Saison Dupump and my girlfriend a flight, the service was excellent. Our beers came promptly and our orders for food were taken. The food menu at Hungry Brew Hops is quite vast. There is definitely a great selection of food to pair with the amazing beers that they offer.
The food was delicious. Very good portion sizes and full of flavour. Even though I was full I had to order dessert and another beer. I went with their apple cheesecake and a Sawdust City Skinny Dipping Stout. It was truly the perfect pairing.
My overall experience was great! The food, service and beer were on point and the décor was so welcoming it made you want to stay. It was definitely worth the trip and I will for sure making another trip out there.

Review: Oktoberfest (Mill St. Brewery)

DSC02713Origin: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Marzen/Okoberfest

Alc./Vol.: 5.6%

Suggested Glassware: Dimpled Mug

Suggested Serving Temperature: 5-8° Celsius

Availability: Mill St. Brewery, Select LCBO Locations in Mill St. Fall Sampler

This review features a beer from Mill St. Brewery in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Mill St. is located in Toronto’s beautiful distillery district, where they have two locations, Mill St. Beer Hall and Mill St. Brew Pub. The beer that I chose to review is one of the beers in the Mill St. Fall Sampler, Oktoberfest. This beer is true to the great traditional Bavarian lagers. The beer stays true to its roots by being brewed with German malt, hops and yeast

The beer came in a 355ml bottle that I purchased from the Brock Road LCBO, but it can also be found at the brewery. Like I previously stated, the beer was included in their fall sampler pack. Included in the sampler was 3 bottles of the Oktoberfest and 3 bottles of the Mill St. Nightmare on Mill St. Pumpkin Ale, which I will review next time. For my review, I poured the beer in a dimpled mug, but it can be also enjoyed in a shaker glass.DSC02723

When the beer is poured into the glass it has a copper tone. The beer was very clear with no settlement at all. The beer poured with little to no head. The aroma that I smelled from this beer was sweet, yet had notes of bread and yeast. At first, I noticed the sweet smell of honeyed malts and sugar with a hint of bread in the background. The smell was very light and not overpowering to the nose.

At first taste, the beer had a good balance of sweet and dry. I noticed sweet notes of caramel and brown sugar. The beer also had nice characteristics of bread and yeast. It is a very smooth beer that is medium bodied. When the beer was in my mouth, I noticed a high micro carbonation that slowly turned into a creamy harvest taste. The Mill St. Oktoberfest was very true in taste to the Bavarian beer you would find at the Oktoberfest in Germany.

My overall impression of this beer is that it is the perfect beer to drink to celebrate Oktoberfest without having to travel to Germany. This medium bodied lager is very smooth and easy drinking with a well balanced taste that you will enjoy to the very last drop. With the beer sitting at 5.6% it is very sessionable, so make sure you have some pretzels and bratwurst to go along with the beer.

I give this beer an overall score of 42/50. Be sure to go and pick up a couple to try for yourself. Shoot me a message or follow me on Twitter (@_bottomlesspint) and let me know what you think.

Prost!

Review: Nightmare on Mill Street (Mill St. Brewery)

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Origin:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alc./Vol.: 5%

Suggested Glassware: Tulip Glass

Suggested Serving Temperature: 5-8° Celsius

Availability: Mill St. Brewery, Select LCBO Locations in Mill St. Fall Sampler

This review features another beer from Mill St. Brewery in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Mill St. is located in Toronto’s beautiful distillery district, where they have two locations, Mill St. Beer Hall and Mill St. Brew Pub. As many of you already know, it’s pumpkin beer season. There are some people out there that hate pumpkin beers and many wait all year for them. This is definitely a beer that is worth the wait. Nightnare on Mill Street was brewed using the brewmaster’s wife’s pumpkin pie recipe, so let’s just say based on the beer, I really want to try her pie.

The beer came in a 355ml bottle that I purchased from the Brock Road LCBO, but it can also be found at the brewery. This beer is available in the fall sampler from Mill St., along with Okoberfest. Being that this beer is a seasonal beer, if it is something you are interested in trying, don’t delay. The seasonal samplers don’t last long and usually sell out quickly. Having had this beer before, and many other pumpkin beers, I decided to use a tulip glass for my review as I feel it does the best job bringing out all the aromas and notes of the beer. DSC02752

Once the beer was poured in the glass you could see the beautiful dark copper colour. This beer poured with a thick white head, which slowly thinned, and left little to no lacing on the glass. Instantly I noticed all the smells of a great pumpkin pie. You get hit with sweet pumpkin, spices including cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and a touch of vanilla.  The aroma fills your nose as you bring the glass to your mouth.

At first taste, you will notice the bold pumpkin notes, which is the main character of the beer. Even though the pumpkin is the main feature, it does not overpower all the other flavours of the beer. As the sweet pumpkin starts to fade in your mouth, the spice of the beer has some time to shine. You will start to taste the nutmeg and cinnamon, which really bring this beer together. But the Nightmare on Mill Street isn’t finished there. As the beer settles in your mouth, it finishes with the perfect amount of vanilla which gives you a very creamy finish to the beer. 

My overall impression of this beer is that if you like pumpkin beers, then you will love this one. Since the beer is a medium body with little carbonation, you will have no problem having a few of these watching the leaves change or carving your halloween pumpkins. It is a very balanced pumpkin beer that is not overly sweet. Its pretty much the perfect pumpkin pie in a glass.

I give this beer an overall score of 44/50. Be sure to go and pick up a couple to try for yourself. Shoot me a message or follow me on Twitter (@_bottomlesspint) and let me know what you think.

Cheers!