Monthly Archives: March 2012

CURRENTLY DRINKING:Skinny Dipping Stout by Sawdust City Brewing Co.

Sawdust City Brewing Co. is a newcomer here in Ontario that I’ve been anticipating to check out for a while. With their official headquarters not even opened up in Gravenhurst, Ontario yet (but will change this spring/summer), they’ve already been making a splash by kicking things off with five (count ’em FIVE) brews.

One of the interesting things I like about Sawdust City is that each of their beers has an element of Muskoka  in it without overtly saying so (to those outside of Ontario/Canada, Muskoka essentially is cottage country. Think lots of trees, canoe trips, campfires and mosquitoes). Their Gateway Kolsh, for instance, has a double meaning. While the beer can be considered a “Gateway Beer” to budding young beer drinkers, it also refers to Gravenhurst being known as “the gateway to Muskoka”.  And the beer I’m about to try now, Skinny Dipping Stout, refers to the colour of the water while skinny dipping in the middle of the night. Completely black. Wonderful concept.

Right, let’s get down to it.

COLOUR: Very dark brown to black colour. Pours nice and has a pretty steady tan coloured head.

AROMA: Lots and lots of chocolate with strong notes of coffee. Maybe a hint of vanilla. Very pleasant.

TASTE: Very creamy texture to it, which I’ve come to happily expect from Oatmeal stouts. Found an interesting area between “thin as water” and “thick as mud” that really works. The coffee notes make a strong entrance, but to me it’s acting like the bodyguard to make sure the room is clear for the real boss of this drink, the chocolate. My original notes say things like “Chocolate all up in this” and “Coffee Rules Everything Around Me” (apologies to the Wu-Tang Clan). And…man. Very big cocoa notes. And I think between that and the Columbus hops used, it provides a nice warmth to the beer.  Finishing taste notes are indeed the cocoa and that warmth.

VERDICT: You know, with having a cottage up in Muskoka (about 20 minutes away from Gravenhurst, actually!) I can say that I have gone skinny dipping in the middle of the night. I mention this because I feel that while this is a fantastic beer on it’s own, a bigger appreciation happens if you’ve had that experience. It really is one of the only beers I’ve had where the drinking experience really matches the concept of the name of the beer. You can drink it chilled, but after a while the warmth in the beer kicks in and you find yourself really enjoying it.  Then it’s off to a campfire. I really enjoyed this beer.

Look for Sawdust City beers in pubs around Muskoka and Toronto.

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Best of Winter (Providing It’s Gone)

Don’t know about you folks, but up here our weather has been…well, let’s put it this way: Last week in a single day we had snow, rain, snow, hail, rain and ending with some snow overnight. Now it’s practically t-shirt weather with forecasts saying the temperature will more than double tomorrow.

So screw it, I’m calling it. Winter is over.

I think I’m going to make up a very quick list of some of my highlight beers of Winter. If this were a television show, it would be a clip show episode, but as it is I’m just going to list the beers. These are in no particular order and some of them aren’t even seasonals, but beers I’ve just tried over the winter. It SHOULD be noted that during the winter I primarily drink stouts and porters, because it’s cold and my natural instinct is to drink something that seems like a meal (my rule with stouts is that it’s good if I can put a pencil in the middle of the glass, let go and the beer keeps it up). While there are some exceptions in the list, these are mainly black-as-my-soul beers.

1. Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout by Muskoka Brewery – An absolute treat to have both in bottles and on cask. Cranberry taste is a bit too subtle, but it more than makes up for it in the chocolate taste.

2. Lava Smoked Imperial Stout by Ölvisholt Brugghús – This also was a regular visitor to the LeBlanc house. The coffee and chocolate tastes along with the  liquid smoke makes this beer and is a meal all on itself.

3. Wych Craft Blonde Ale by Wychwood – Noticed this turning up more and more in LCBOs this winter, and have to say, rather crisp and refreshing!

4. Double Chocolate Cherry Stout by Black Oak Brewing Co. – The tartness of the cherries just makes this beer a wonderful treat and the chocolate taste adds a wonderful warmth to it. I was really lucky to try it for the first time on cask, which all in all gave a warmth that I needed that particular night. Will be having some more this week.

5. Infinium by Samuel Adams and Weihenstephan – Slight romantic memory behind this one, because The Fella bought me a bottle of this rather wonderful beer that came in a Champagne bottle. Very clean beer with the taste of a nice, somewhat sweet Belgian Tripel. Needs to be consumed in a champagne flute and it matters on the type of company you have with this drink (mine of course, was wonderful).

6. World Wide Stout (Aged for 1 year) by Dogfish Head Brewery – Hahahaha….man. Visiting one of the brewpubs owned by Dogfish Head was such a TREAT. And part of that treat was having this amazing beer, aged for a solid year.  At about 19%ABV had a lovely chocolaty taste with a slight burn I would normally get from an Imperial Russian Stout. But wonderful. WONDERFUL.

7. Tokyo Imperial Stout by BrewDog – Thanks to a wonderful donation to the Tip Jar from reader Raymond Conlon (you could all learn something from him. HINT HINT), I got to try this $24 Imperial Stout at around 14% ABV (though I’m sure it’s cheaper anywhere but here). INCREDIBLY sweet, which was unexpected for its alcohol content. Wonderful taste of cranberries and chocolate in there. I’d go so far as to say it would make an excellent dessert beer.

8. Sublimely Self Righteous Ale by Stone Brewery – What turned me on to Black IPAs. This was a birthday gift from The Fella, who brought it all the way from the states and…wow.  SO. MUCH. HOPPINESS. Drinking it is like putting a handful of fresh hops right in your mouth. Just wonderful. The Fella, who is a malt fiend, could not finish his share. It is my go-to beer whenever I am in the states now.

9. Black Chocolate Stout by Brooklyn Brewery – Tried this during a 5-hour layover in New York City where I met up with friends Rachael Fox and Eddie McShane and we found a decent watering hole to sit down, have a few drinks and have the most wonderful conversation about photography. This beer, which had a WONDERFUL bittersweet chocolate taste and a creaminess. was a perfect match for the night.

10. Spruce Beer by Garrison Brewing Co. – Most of you have read my review in which I talk about this beer, so will keep this short. But I’ll say this: What a wonderful treat it was to have this beer.  A drink that did an amazing job of invoking the spirit of winter. Loved it.

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