Taking our monthly Toronto Beer Lovers meet up on the road we went to Stout Irish Pub in Hogtown. It was my first time out there and have to say I liked it quite a bit. A sentiment echoed by most of the TBL as well. Great pub atmosphere, fun local beer on tap and from why I saw decent pub grub as well. Baking and cleaning all day I was a few drinks in well before I made it out to Stout. The atmosphere and some good beer and company capped off a productive day at home. Through the night I had one of my new favourites the Red Racer India Pale Ale out of British Columbia. One of my favourite from last year Beaus Lug Tread Lagered Ale and a St. Ambois Scotch Irish Ale to cap off the night. We had a great group out everyone animated and chatting with each other. Erin and the rest of Stouts staff were awesome and we had a superb night and everyone went home happy.
After what was a nasty rough week going out to Against the Grain down on the lake to celebrate a friends birthday was a nice recovery. Started out prepinting on another friends deck and had a Black Oak Summer Saison, a Mill street tankhouse and we split a St. Ambois apricot wheat as we searched just where we were going. We found our way down to the Corus building and found Against the Grain around back. On the way I found another lovely friend. She manages and organizes a bunch of great cultural and artistic events around the city. This evening was a film on the lake. The screen was very cool playing on both sides of the structure you could watch on land and from your boat. Very cool way to watch Jaws out on the lake. My party was over in the center of the Against the Grain patio giving a great vantage point to see the film as well as a fine place to celebrate my friends birthday. Out there I had a Beaus Lagered Ale, a beer I’d gained alot of affection for over the last couple of weeks and a Mill street Cobblestone Stout. Which I’ve found to be a nice creamy approachable stout and something I gravitate towards when it’s on tap. A good night, where I got to inadvertently support one friend and celebrate another while having a few good drinks one the lake.
But, Don’t take my word for it drink the beer!
http://atgurbantavern.ca/ Against the Grain Urban Tavern
Saturday was such an incredibly hot day. Pretty much stayed inside and hugged the window air conditioner for the morning. Adorned with what will be hence forth known as the festival hat, sunglasses and my mp3 player loaded with rockabilly I wandered out into the sweaty day. Had a rather nice walk through Parkdale. Found an Americano and a ginger cookie an made my way down to the exhibition grounds. Walking through the muggy heat I had the biggest craving for an ice cold bottle of Labbat 50. It would have been perfect for the moment. With the heat and bounding down into the Toronto Beer fest. It was good to see a good line up already forming for the fest. Even better to pass by the line and walk straight through the vender entrance. Had a quick walk through the grounds and headed over to Black Oak Brewing Company. Topped up my coffee with double chocolate cherry stout and helped set up for the day. Good enthusiasm from the crowd throughout the day. Though we needed better signage for the other beers as the crowd generally thought we only had the two that had six pack boxes out on the counter. The pale ale and the nut brown. It was fun to pour and explain the other beers and often get people to try the other taps. The Summer Saison was a good sell in the heat. One of the few regrets for the day was that I didn’t get to drink more of it. Had a lot of fun pouring talking beer with the fest patrons. Very happy to see some good enthusiasm for Black Oak. We shared some pretty good food in the booth too. Chili cheese fries which were pretty extraordinary. Avocado grilled cheese, which wa pretty inspired. An artisan grilled cheese with home made ketchup, which was good but a beer based bread and something deeper than the one year old cheddar would have been more suitable. As the pepper bread competed too much with the cheese. The gentleman from Oysterboy dropped off a plate of Oysters and homemade ginger sauce which I quite liked and I also had a pretty decent cheese burger while drinking later in the day. Which was great leaning on the Black Oak counter drinking the Pale ale to was down the burger that was loaded with hot peppers pickles and a BBQ sauce that worked really well. A few days later remembering just what I drank will be interesting. I had some of all the Black Oak beers. Started my wandering with the Black Oak Hop Bomb cask conditioned pale ale. It was a nice choice being light and a pleasant hoppy texture and taste. Popped across to Great Lakes Brewing to have some of the Crazy Cannuck. Which really wasn’t a beer I was crazy about. This summer I’m grown pretty fond of it and look forward being down at the Great Lakes Brewery Thursday for Project x where I fully intend to pick some up. Front there I wandered found another of many t-shirts I came away with this weekend. A bright yellow Toronto Beer Fest shirt. Perfect for if I got to inebriated and needed to flag myself down later. At least I’d be visible. Over to Mill st. for a few moments of frivolity with Sketchy the clown and some coffee porter which brought me memories of Beer fest’s past darting back over to Mill st. again and a again throughout the day. The Mill st. Coffee Porter seems less severe and bitter than my memories of it. I liked it originally for the stronger overwhelming flavours. I’m not sure if it’s that my palate has evolved or if they have massaged the beer over the years as it has been a few years since I’ve had it. Next stop St. Ambois another t-shirt (which made it into the hands of one of my fine companions at Black Oak). A McAuslan’s cream ale and a few words with Barry of St. Ambois whom I had met previously at the Junction Fromagerie. Sipping on my cream ale. I walked about found Spearhead Hawaiian Pale ale which with it’s light flavour tied with the Black Oak Summer Saison for the best beer for being out in days heat. I would happily spend a summer afternoon on the patio rotating between the two of them. Out of character for me I hit Innis and Gunn and had their blonde. It was alright as Blondes go. I like the concept of Innis and Gunn’s beers the ones aged in rum and whisky casks. The end result seems too saccharine and sweet for me though. I missed but will mention Stone Hammer, Wellington and F&M nor did I make it back to Beaus. All breweries whom make fantastic beer. At he far end of the bandshell I found the Great Lakes brewery Caskapolooza. A tent set up with what looked to be near a dozen casks and Great Lakes Taps. Here I had a nice chat with Adrian the brewer from GLB while I tried the Gummi Beer. They took a kilo of gummy bears from Costco and infused it into the beer. Like most beers he attempts Adrian made it work. It felt a bit like a weis beer had the gummy flavour but wasn’t overwhelming. I hope and will advocate that they try it again. The other one Adrian suggested was the Good Morning coffee stout. It was amazingly good as well. I had another Gummi beer and went back towards Black Oak. With my South Side Cheese burger After a quick stop at Kings for their pilsner I went though the Black Oak line up. The pale ale which was fantastic with the burger. The nut brown which is such a good dark ale. The Summer Saison, a fantastically blended Belgian style wheat beer with coriander and orange peel (Which will be the first thing I reach for when I finally make it home this evening) and the Double Chocolate Cherry Stout. Which is the beer that made me fall in love with and become a devoted fan of Black Oak Brewing Company last year at the inaugural Toronto Beer Week. After we closed up shop for the day. We headed back over to the Great Lakes Brewing Caskapalooza tent where we had something of an after party. Breweries from all over donating kegs to carry us into the night. There I had a Dark Flying monkeys beer. Didn’t catch what it was as I was in good company and we were busily picking on eachother. Tried the GLB Raspberry blonde and spent the rest of the evening drinking GLB Crazy Cannuck. The Toronto Beer Fest was great time. It was super fun to see it from both sides of the counter this year. Good company and excellent revellers at the Black Oak Booth. Excellent fun talking with the other vendors and being excited about each others product. Good food and entertainment at the fest. I’m already looking forward to next year.
But , don’t take my word for it drink the beer.