Monthly Archives: October 2012

Cask Days 2012

Have to say, that was one enjoyable Cask Days.

Some quirks were expected, as the festival moved from the smaller Hart House to the bigger and better Evergreen Brick Works and added on an extra third session. The biggest problem was that nearly half of the 100 or so casks went empty at the third and final session, but the festival made up for it by bringing in new casks and offering $10 in cash or beer tokens to people attending.

I wasn’t around for that one, though. I went to the first session which went as smoothly as possible. The Brick Works offered amazing shelter from the rain, the delicious food was ready to go (the cured meat plate was my saviour), all the beers advertised were available (though some went quicker than others because of word of mouth) and I ended up having a lot of fun by trying new and weird beers, talking to brewers and other beer writers (some of which I’ve previously only spoken with on twitter) and chatting with strangers by comparing notes, making suggestions and in one case singing along with them to Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. Definitely a different experience from my time last year and I think, tiny tweaks to be made aside, BarVolo, the organizers of Cask Days, have matched the festival with the expectations and growing popularity of craft beer.

And now on to some of the highlight beers from the 25 or so that I sampled…


Flying Monkeys Mark Henry Sexual Chocolate Triple Take Down Stout – Yes, that’s what they called it. This was quite a dangerous drink, as it tasted like the best chocolate milk I’ve ever had and at about 12% ABV…damn. Amazing.

R&B Brewing Cucumber & Mint American IPA – An incredibly refreshing IPA that I hope becomes available in the summer. The Cucumber offered a really nice crispness to the drink while the mint, though subtle, added a nice bite. And of course the hoppiness brought it all together.

Amsterdam Brewing Full City Tempest – Imperial Russian Stout with coffee. “Have you tried the Tempest yet? Do it now.” was pretty much all I heard for my first ten minutes at Cask Days from the brewers I ran in to and I’m glad I took their advice. Went down very smoothly and the coffee was a powerful and amazing presence.

Black Oak Call of Brewty Black Chipotle Schwarzbier – This…I really enjoyed it. This was the first beer I had that cleared my sinuses, burned away anything hanging around in my throat and warmed me up for the rest of the day. I went back to the cask for seconds. To give an idea of how much chipotle was in it, I’m pulling this from Alan Brown, the brewer of this beer’s, web site:

I brought a small container of perhaps 125 mL of pulverized smoked chipotle, courtesy of Chef Michael Olson of Niagara College. The question was, how much chipotle to add to 40 litres of schwarzbier? The assistant brewmaster looked at the container of chipotle, then at me, then at the container.

“Add it all,” he suggested.

“All?” I gulped.


So I added it all.

Amazing. Hope to see something like that again very soon.


Microbrasserie Charlevoix “Chicory” Strong Porter – Just missed the mark for me. The chicory flavours was pretty minimal and the whole thing tasted rather thin.

Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater Milk Stout – A bit too thin for me (I like my stouts as thick as sludge) and WAY too sweet.

F&M Wurst Idea Ever – Sour Ale brewed with Brussel Sprouts and Smoked Meat. I know it sounds weird, but I thought the use of those two ingredients was fun. But as much as I hate sounding like a judge for Iron Chef, I felt that the beer didn’t celebrate the two ingredients, especially the brussel sprouts, well. In the end it smelled horribly and left a really bad taste in my mouth. I ended up dumping it.



Filed under Field Trips, Innovations

Where Everybody Knows Your Name – The Old Toad

Since putting the call out for write-ups of your favourite pub, I’ve received several e-mails filled with interesting stories and places. Think I’ve reached a point where I can start trickling a few out at a time, but please, if you want to contribute go to this post and e-mail me at

First post is from Fawndolyn in Rochester, NY


I’m Fawndolyn. I draw stuff, and make buttons and jewelry and
accessories and things. I have a website and an online store and a
deviantart, but probably gets updated more
than anything else at the moment.

The Old Toad, located at 277 Alexander St. in the East End
of Rochester NY, has all the flair of a British pub, from the menu,
the ales, even the staff themselves are all from Great Britain.  The
atmosphere is ideal for those who come for the people.  You won’t find
any televisions hanging off the walls, and no music blaring so loud
you can’t hear your server’s handsome accent.  Everyone gets along,
everyone is happy to see you.  Of course the beer hails from further
than just across the pond, but I dare you to find a better Shepard’s
Pie (traditional and vegetarian) in Rochester.

I can’t remember my first time to the Toad , but my first real
discovery came on a cold winter’s night last year when my friends invited me out to the Old Toad Trivia Night.  It’s a five minute walk from my house, so nothing stopped me from getting my brain and beer on every week.  You can hardly find an open seat these nights, unless you show up anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour early.  I eventually had to resort to making reservations.

With these trivia buddies, I discovered a variety of new-to-me beers and ciders.  I discovered my taste buds have changed since I last
tried many foods and drinks.  Stouts were suddenly amazing, and malt
vinegar – VINEGAR of all things, tastes bloody amazing on chips.

My favourite part of The Old Toad is when they open up hot mead
season in the dead of winter.  That and winning the Beer Question: the
shout-out-the-answer bit of trivia they have 3 times a game.  You win
what you drink, and for me, it’s usually a nice cool Crispin Original.
Victory tastes like cider.

Attached is a picture of me and my trivia buddies celebrating the Toad’s
birthday (free cake and champagne!).

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Filed under Guest Posts, people I know

The World Atlas of Beer

Imagine my surprise on Wednesday when, after a long first day back at the office and deciding on heading to my favourite after work pub Barhop, that it turns out there was a book signing going on for Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb‘s highly anticipated new book The World Atlas of Beer.

The book, which is made up of two sections, one devoted to the nature of brewing and the other the world of beer, is an amazing read so far that goes in to the process of making beers, differences on styles, tasting notes on local styles from around the world and the individual scenes in each country. It really is a joy to both sit down and read from the start and to flip through.

It was also a great pleasure to meet Mssrs. Beaumont and Webb to chat beer and some of our favourite places with them (I have a coaster with a number of NYC bar suggestions from them and they’ve noted my suggestion of Bangers & Lace in Chicago [thanks again, Corben for taking us there!]). And I got a wonderful signing from them;

“To The Thirsy Wench [sic], May this spur the start of years of beer travels!” – Stephen Beaumont
“But remember, only one country at a time and no more than a gallon per session.” – Tim Webb

I look forward to reading this book.


Filed under Beer Products

Adventures in Homebrewing: A Thank You

Reader and good friend from New York Mike Millan, out of the kindness of his heart and general awesome demeanor,  surprised me by ordering a Bavarian Hefeweizan ingredient kit and sending it over to me! Thank you so much, Mike!

I’ll be brewing it up when I get my new pot in, which I’ll be ordering at the end of the week. In the meantime I’m pondering what I can do to this recipe to give it a bit of a kick. I’m thinking so far of adding blueberries in to it. Or maybe something else. So many possibilities!

Thank you very much, Mike. 🙂

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Filed under homebrewing

Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Call Out for Contributors

Most people have one. A favourite bar. It can either be a local pub or somewhere a bit out of the way but you always find yourself there if the choice is yours. The staff know you by name because you’ve been going there for years either regularly or on and off and, depending on how crowded the place is, they can even guess what you’re about to order or suggest a drink that matches what you normally have. You may run in to some friends there or even some other regulars, but most of all you just feel at home at this place. Like you can truly wind down and feel comfortable. Some people can consider it a haven from the world but mostly it’s a place to relax.

Ambience is important to me for pubs. I like my pubs spacious and comfortable, not too crowded, a reasonable volume so I can listen to whatever person I’m with, and to not feel like just another customer by the staff. More personal preferences include reasonable light (dark but not too dark so I can’t read), good selection with a few rotating taps to keep things interesting and not being constantly hassled if I don’t want to be.

One of the greatest things about starting up this site and loving craft beer as much as I do is the people I meet who always have a beer reccomendation and talk about their favourite bar. From Chicago to Helsinki, Edinburgh to Tokyo, I’ve heard about a lot of great places that are much loved by the person telling me about them.

This is where you folks come in.

I want to run a sort of ongoing series here on the site where I put up a post written by a contributor where you tell me about your favourite place. To make things a bit easy you can either talk about your favourite local place or favourite place in general. Tell me about the place, what you like about it, maybe how you found it and what you like to order there. If you can include a picture that would also be a bonus.

All you have to do is e-mail me at with the following:

1. TELL ME ABOUT YOU. Name, what you do, web site if you have one.





And that’s it. Like I said, I would also appreciate a picture, but I can probably hunt one down if you can’t provide.

That e-mail again is

Let’s see if we can get a really good list of places to have a drink around the world!


Filed under Site Business

Beardy Beer

Some interesting news hit the internets in the past little bit. Oregon’s brilliant Rogue Brewery, home to such favourites as Dead Guy Ale and Chipolte Ale, decided to take things in a different direction when they were trying to extract a new yeast strain from their hop yard with little success. Brewmaster John Maier jokingly suggested to look in to his 30+ year old beard for any fermentable yeasts that may have found it’s way in there. And sure enough, they found some and the beer is being made. Should be out some time next year.

There’s definitely a split of people here. One half think it’s disgusting and will never try it, others are intrigued and want to drink it. I’m definitely a part of the latter group and think it’s a fantastic idea. Fermentable yeasts can be found from many places and a beard is a great place to catch it. And no, I don’t think it’s disgusting. And what the hell, I will promise for you all that if I somehow get a hold of a bottle of this beer, I will drink it wearing a fake beard a friend gave me. Photos may happen.

Now a conceptual artist who wanted to brew beer partially with the yeast extracted from her vagina, now that’s pretty gross. And that she wanted to mix it with just plain ‘ol brewer’s yeast annoys me too.

You’re welcome for that.

Also, facial hair/beer related, have you heard of the CRAFT BEERDS book? I originally found out about this on Kickstarter but now you can preorder the book (which comes out in December). A showcase of wonderful craft beers label art featuring the best examples of fine facial hair. Check it out. For $20 I’ll be picking it up for a chuckle.

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Filed under Beer Products