Tag Archives: canadian beer news

“The Cider Geeks Are Excited” – Canadian Beer News & The Rhino’s Fall Beer & Cider Fest

Last year I went to a Winter Beer festival that I considered one of the most refreshing festivals I’ve attended. It was pretty low-key and casual, but featured an incredible selection of new and interesting beers. It was in a wonderful space as well, which allowed people to sit down or walk around talking to each other. It was relaxing, eclectic and appealed to hardcore beer geek and interested newcomer alike.

And on Sunday Greg Clow of Canadian Beer News and the folks at The Rhino Bar & Grill did it all again for Fall and decided to include a wonderful feature of Ontario ciders on top of it.

With a total of 58 beers and 11 Ontario ciders listed, this proved to be a fun event and a nice sampling of what Ontario’s alternatives are to the syrupy apple juice one usually finds in liquor stores.

The clear highlight of the day for me was the West Avenue Cider Company, run by Husband-and-wife team Chris Haworth and Amy Robson. The Cidery is only in their first year, but has been making a big splash with one-off ciders, this event in particular featuring Barrett Fuller’s Secret Bourbon-Barrel Aged Cider, with a rich bourbon aroma and lovely vanilla taste notes and the Smash Me Up Butternut Cask-Conditioned Pumpkin Cider, which tasted like a  homemade mulled cider I would expect from a beloved Somerset family member with an age-old secret recipe.

And with plans to increase their production by 300% and make ciders with more select, quality ingredients, West Avenue is a Cidery I’ll be keeping my eye on.

A tip of the hat and a rising of the glass goes to Greg Clow and The Rhino for pulling off another wonderful event that I’ll always be looking forward to.


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Filed under Field Trips, people I know, Seasonal Beers

Toronto Beer Week 2013

Man, even though my Toronto Beer Week ended a bit early and I didn’t go to nearly as many events as some people did, I find myself still wiped out a week later.

For those not involved, Toronto Beer Week is similar along the lines of Canadian Music Week, Fashion Week or the little known but no less important Llama Enthusiast Week. Many bars, breweries and beer groups put on some really fun events for the week in an effort to raise the awareness of local craft beer as well as showcase a sense of community and some incredible beers.

And it really does do that. Most events were practically a who’s who of the Ontario beer industry and the beers, a combination of one-offs and staples from well over 31 breweries, were pouring freely. Homebrewers tap takeover? Yep. All-ladies dessert and beer pairing? Yep. Wonderful award show? Well, of course.

Barley’s Angels, Sweets ‘n Suds: This was the first event I went to and was a LOT of fun. Black Oak Brewing beers paired with desserts from The Sassy Lamb and Jillian’s Simple Sweets at the lovely Only Cafe. It was also great to see so many women show up to a Barley’s Angels event for the first time. Stay tuned for other events by the Angels coming up…

Great Lakes Brewery Canadian Brewery of the Year Party: Held at The Loose Moose with an astonishing 20 taps, this was definitely a highlight party that gave me the chance to try a few Great Lakes beers I’ve never had before as well as FINALLY meeting the wonderful Renee from Great Lakes.

The Golden Tap Awards: What a frenzy that was. Held at Beer Bistro, the evening at the Golden Tap Awards was spent sampling some of Ontario’s finest and trying to move in the crowd of people. Was really a treat to finally meet The Beer Gypsy and see all the wonderful movers and shakers throughout the industry. Congrats to all the winners!

Canadian Beer News/Rhino screening of Beer Hunter: This event is what capped off my Toronto Beer Week experience and was such a wonderful end to it. The screening, introduced by Canadian Beer News‘ Greg Clow and author/columnist/dapper gent Stephen Beaumont, was a lovely snapshot of the life of celebrated beer writer Michael Jackson. The evening also featured wonderful food, special one-off beers made just for the event and a signing of Stephen Beaumont and Timm Webb’s latest book The Pocket Beer Guide, which I happily purchased and look forward to consulting on my travels. I have to say, this event did a wonderful job of invigorating my passion for beer. Truly unforgettable. Afterwards I went on a long walk down Queen Street West and was practically glowing.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that that was all I ended up going to for the week, but there you have it. Also, a final special thanks to The Only Cafe for being my hiding place.

And now, to keep recovering…

Actually, that’s not true. Another post will be popping up this week and next week is promising to have some fun stuff up soon, including a guest post.


Filed under Field Trips, Uncategorized

Homebrewing, Winter Beer Fest, and BlogTO

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.

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Filed under Beer Products, Field Trips, homebrewing, Learning