Tag Archives: kensington brewery

CURRENTLY DRINKING: Baldwin FishEye-PA

So most people on here know what I think of Toronto-based Kensington Brewing Co.’s Augusta Ale (hint: I really like it). So it doesn’t come as much of a shock to learn that I was pretty excited to hear about the release of their newest release, an IPA called Baldwin FishEye-PA. I was disappointed that I missed the chance to sample it at it’s debut at Bar Hop a couple of weeks ago, but was delighted to be given a can by the folks there (the can, funnily enough, was completely blank. I attached a label on to it with scotch tape).

The beer, named after the fish markets on Baldwin Street in Kensington Market, is around 6.7%ABV although I’ve been told that that will be lowered slightly for the beer’s release in to LCBOs some time in the spring of 2013 where it will be sold in tallboy cans.

Shall we get to it? Yes. Let’s.

COLOUR: pours a clear, light crimson. Similar to apple cider or orange blossom honey.

AROMA: Front end of the smell has some nice fruity and citrusy tones with a nice warm hint of pine at the back.

TASTE: Since it’s an IPA it’s no surprise that there’s a strong hop presence at the start, but the hops is holding hands with the sweet malty body ending with a slightly astringent finish before moving on to the pine notes.  Aftertaste is a bit of frutiness with another healthy dollop of pine that rounds things off somewhat nicely.

VERDICT: Although I think this is a good beer from the folks at Kensington Brewing this just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I feel that the hops could have been shown off a bit better and the slight astringent taste was a bit offputting. The pine, however, was a big and welcome surprise for me and personally would be my main reason for drinking more. While I’d really like to try this after a couple of more batches, the beer has some good character to it and will definitely match the Spring season that it plans to launch in. I also plan to try it over at one of my places on Baldwin, Thirsty & Miserable, for the true Baldwin St. Experience.

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Can the Can: On Canned Craft Beers

I’m sorry if the title of the post was somewhat confusing, but you only get to make one or two Suzi Quatro references in your lifetime and so help me, I chose to go with it.

Canned beer has kind of a negative stigma with a lot of people. A common negative image, at least in North America, that comes to mind is that of drunken jocks, chanting their fraternity motto while slamming cans in to their foreheads and beating up nerds (or for my older readers, the image of Billy Beer comes to mind). A common taste is that of tin and warm water. Regardless, for some reason canned beer feels to many like a step down from bottles.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

More and more in the past while craft breweries have been taking the canned route. Some breweries have even been switching from bottles to cans. Now there are a couple of obvious benefits with cans, being easy to stack, less breaking…but what else? Is there a financial benefit? Is there a sacrifice by compromising the flavour?

To answer some of these questions I e-mailed Michael Gurr at the Kensington Brewing Co. Their beer, Augusta Ale, just came out at the LCBO this week. In cans. I thought it a good time to ask what their rationale was for going with cans instead of bottles for their release. I was surprised to discover just how many benefits there are to both the brewery and the consumer.

On the business side of things, cans make sense especially for a new brewery. They’re cheaper to manufacture and don’t include additional costs such as a six pack holder, thus cutting down on initial expenses. The cost of a single tall boy can, which is a common method of selling canned craft beer, is also meant to be less intimidating on potential new customers, allowing them to purchase a single can ranging at about $2.50-3.00 instead of taking a chance on a new brand/beer by committing to a  6-pack for $12-14. This creates more liklihood of bringing in new customers (it’s reasons like that which make me more likely to purchase singles than packs as well).

For the consumer’s benefit, for one, you have an environmentally friendly container. “Cans are much lighter than glass, using much less material to hold the same amount of beer.”  Gurr says, “Less weight = less emissions. The rate in which people recycle aluminium is also shown to be far greater than glass.” (Although, Gurr admits, this does not take in to account the Beer Store’s bottle return program which, apparently, has a 99% return rate.)

Cans are also a good way to go because there is no light exposure on the beer, preventing the chance of a “skunky” chemical reaction that isn’t fun in the slightest (which is why beer bottles are typically dark. Green and clear bottles have more of a chance of going skunky, so beware!). This also makes for a beer that can be stored longer.

But what about the tin taste? Well, there’s two possible causes to people’s problem with that in the past. The first being that the taste of tin was actually a smell (think where your nose goes when you sip from a can) and the other being that some cans didn’t have protection on them that prevented the the beer from extracting materials from the can, creating a tin taste. The good news though, is that modern beer cans are coated with a special food-grade epoxy resins that prevents this extraction.

Other benefits include what most already know; easy storage, less breakability (Can’t say I’ve ever seen someone smash a beer can open and attack someone with it) and faster cooling time. And for me anyways, I love seeing the beautiful designs that cover the entire container as opposed to a label. Good show, package designers!

Still got that negative stigma and think that canned beer is a step down? Well, here’s a simple solution: do what you’d do with bottled beer and pour it in a glass! That way you’ll be able to drink amazing beer without the fear of being “found out” as a can drinker. While you’re at it, you can even let people sip your beer and find you’ve converted some anti-can folks.

What beers should you go with? Well, explore around! If you’re in Ontario give the three in the above picture a try, as they’ve been *ahem* tested by myself and have proven to be quite delicious and satisfying in this hot-as-balls Summer. International, I would suggest going with BrewDog’s Punk IPA, which has been hitting the stores in can form and is also quite refreshing!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dance to more of Miss Quatro’s music.

——-

Special thanks to Michael Gurr over at Kensington Brewing Company for the insight in to cans! 

Beers in image (left to right): Hops & Robbers IPA by Double Trouble Brewing Co., Augusta Ale by Kensington Brewing Co. and Dead Elephant IPA by Railway City Brewing Co.

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Hey Vern, I’m on TV!

Phew! Just got back from my guest appearance on Rogers Daytime Toronto! That 8 minutes went by too fast, but I was able to showcase some amazing beers and talk a little about myself in the process. And host Val Cole was wonderful, professional and helped me, who has never been on television before, get through it all in one piece.

And now I’m worried that I left my bottle opener back at the station. Hrm.

So if you’ve found your way here because you watched the show, hello! Feel free to browse around!

Now a little note on the beers that I presented there:

Augusta Ale by Kensington Brewing Co. is not available in LCBO stores…YET. But your best bet is to give them a try at places like The Burger Bar at 319 Augusta Avenue (Where the brewery is based out of) and Thirsty & Miserable at 197 Baldwin Street. Both are in Kensington Market.

Schneider Weisse, the delicious Bavarian wheat beer with lovely smells of Bananas and cloves is available at the LCBO and is priced at $2.75 a bottle!

Legendary Muskoka Spring Oddity by the Muskoka Brewery, the DELICIOUS beer (that Val loved) with hints of Orange Peel, Heather Tips, Juniper Berries and Beglian Candi Sugar, comes in a large wine bottle and is sold at the LCBO for $9.95. And while you’re at it, try their other beers. I suggest the Mad Tom IPA!

Panil Barriquee Sour Ale from Italy also comes in a large bottle and is a tad pricey at $14.05 (but very much worth it for special occasions). Sadly, the product has been discontinued, so RUN don’t walk to the LCBO to see if you can grab one. I found quite a few at the Summerhill branch.

And that’s it! If I’m allowed back on you can bet that I’ll have plenty more to talk about and if not, well, I still have this site! Which turned one year-old last month! *sniff* so proud…

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The Death of Summer

Well, September is here.  The kids are back in school, the skies are getting a little more grey and (at least here, anyways) the wind is getting nice and chilly.  I love Fall.  But…most people I know don’t.  Many of my friends are tragically lamenting the end of Summer and looking back on what made it great.  So I think it’s only fair that I do a bit of looking back on my own in regards to beer in the summer.

So for me, Summer was an excellent chance to explore the wonderful beers that my own province of Ontario offers.  Specifically the more hoppy beers that I so love.  While I’m looking forward to the coming cold days where we all huddle in to a nice, comfortable little pub, there is something to be said about sitting on a patio with friends and sipping something that matches the weather perfectly.

I primarily drank crisp and hoppy pale ales, but others kinds were good highlights.  The season kicked off, for instance,  at the launch of Beau’ FestivALE, a brew that started with a hoppy bite and gradually got sweet and malty on the way down the throat.  But damn, those pale ales…there were the monsters like the Black Oak 10 Bitter Years Imperial/Double IPA, and damn…was that ever a treat.  And sitting around at the Burger Bar with an Augusta Ale with it’s slight aroma of honey was delightful.

But the winner of this summer for me was Spearhead’s debut Hawaiian Style Pale Ale.

In the short few months that this beer has been around, it has already won several awards and the style, a heavily hopped up West Coast Pale Ale brewed with Pineapple juice to add a slight sweetness, made this the perfect summer drink.  I really can’t recall the many times I’ve popped by The Old Nick on one of the brutally hot days we had up here or after a really good workout at the gym (my boxing gym is thankfully a 20 minute walk away from this wonderful Toronto pub), ordered one or two pints of this drink and just cooled the hell down.

What impressed me most, though, was that the folks at Spearhead chose not to start off with a fairly safe debut beer, like a cream ale or pilsner.  They went right for the crazy (well…crazy for Ontario folks, anyways) and what’s more, they came out at a time when Ontario, and especially Toronto, was just starting to wake up to the world of craft beer.  They really were in the right place at the right time, and I’m happy for it.

Here’s a video of the beer pouring.  Why? BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL.

So that’s my end of Summer post.  Hope you all had a good one.  And now AUTUMN IS HERE!  And you know what that means, right? PUMPKIN ALES!

See you soon.

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