Okay, so the day job and a slight case of the Cambodian Swamp Virus put a damper on any writing time I had the past week or so. So let’s play a bit of catch-up because quite a bit has been going on.
1. I’ve been homebrewing! Although I have dabbled with varying levels of success, I admitted my weak points (primarily recipe formulation) and the wonderful people from Brauhaus, a Toronto homebrewing club made up of some of Toronto’s most talented and creative homebrewers, hooked me up with Richard Sigesmund (whose brew “Boom Gose the Dynamite” was a hit at their last event) as a way to pilot a mentorship program that pairs off experienced homebrewers with noobs like me. After countless e-mails with me asking questions and Richard patiently answering, a recipe that was in my head was formed and a few weeks ago I brewed it. It’s an American Brown Ale with Chamomile and Lemongrass. Hops used were Warrior, Amarillo and Centennial (dry-hopping with Amarillo and Chinook ). I just bottled it over the weekend and it will now be left for a couple of weeks to condition in the bottle. So far though, the colour turned out perfectly and the chamomile flavours came out pretty well. It also seems to be at 5.9% ABV. With a little luck this will be a good beer to have chilled and at room temperature.
I learned so much with this one, so it will get a proper post on it’s own once I try the beer. But I wanted to tell you folks that I’m keeping it up and seriously check out Brauhaus and, if you’re a Toronto homebrewer new or experienced, to consider joining up.
2. The winter (and indeed the dreaded month of February) was made a little less grey a couple of weeks ago at The Rhino’s First Annual Winter Beer Festival, put on by the good folks at The Rhino Bar & Grill and Mr. Greg Clow of Canadian Beer News. The festival was split in to three different times (A VIP breakfast and first shot of beers to a limited 40 people, a standard version of about 100 people and finally a free event where as many people as possible could come in) and featured special beers by some of Ontario’s most respected breweries.
I had been kindly invited to attend the VIP breakfast and to stay for a few hours and I must say I had an incredible time. The Rhino was a perfect venue to have such a festival at as, unlike many beer events I’ve attended at other places, it wasn’t the size of a closet and in no way was I struggling to move from one area to another. It was a spacous, warm, relaxed environment. A wonderful mix of the beer-loving public and industry players mingled and discussed their favourite drink.
Highlights for me were the Rye Pale Ale by Cameron’s Brewing (my only notes for this were “…Sweet Jesus”), Skinny Dipping With Friends by Sawdust City Brewing (beautifully spiced Stout), Alan Never Left by Black Oak Brewing (wonderfully balanced beer with Jalapeno peppers) and, most unforgettably, Martian Mango Pale Ale, a homebrew by Chris Burek of Mom ‘n Hops.
The event, while not without it’s small issues that normally arise with any event (even a first one such as this) was a total success. It was a relaxed and enjoyable day and I look forward to next year’s!
3. Myself and several others in Toronto’s beer scene were asked where we go to drink by Ben Johnson from BlogTO for the article “10 bars & pubs where Toronto beer experts go to drink”. If you’re in Toronto check it out! There are some great places listed there!
4. The wonderful and awesome Fabian Skidmore from The Only Cafe taught me the ways of the cellar a couple of weeks ago. I learned how to clean the taps, how the draft system works, how to tap a cask and how to pour the perfect pint. I learned lots about this and can’t thank Fabian enough.
And that’s all for now! When I get better expect a couple of reviews and other fun bits of news.
Here’s a teaser pic of what’s to come, the Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus by Sawdust City. Photo by me.
…Yes, it’s the alien from Independence Day. Yes, I do own on. And yes, I do enjoy the hell out of that film. Don’t you dare judge me.