Tag Archives: travel

Three Notable Breweries of the Wasteland

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This post is sort of my way to put to use one of my favourite writing exercises. At the start of each creative writing class in school, our teacher would put some music on and allow us to do some freeform writing for 15 minutes or so. This would allow us to get the worries, thoughts, and memorization techniques of our other classes out of our systems and shake up the creative juices in our heads, which would better prepare us for thinking outside the box.

After a couple of years of writing beer columns and, now, two beer guides, I’ve kind of been feeling a little creatively stagnant. I’m still enjoying a lot of what I’ve been writing, but everything has been too steeped in the serious, and I like to think this blog is a mix of both serious and fun. So with that in mind, and in an effort to shake up my brain a bit, here is a fictional article for a fictional newspaper that features a few of my favourite breweries in the far distant post-apocalyptic future, where civilization has been destroyed and is currently in the process of being rebuilt.

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Originally printed in Wasteland Adventurer Magazine, Issue 35, 2242

It’s not a secret that the world is a dangerous place to travel. From the human threats of bandits, pirates, and cannibals, to the non-human ones of super storms, large insects, and of course creepers, one has to tread carefully when seeking out adventure or even simply visiting friends and family. But as readers of this magazine are no doubt aware, the ancient saying “travel broadens the mind” quite often rings true and makes such threats a reasonable price to pay. The world is out there and with it a wealth of experiences. Different people, different customs, different food…

And of course, different beer.

With the seemingly infinite number of settlements, towns, and cities out there it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the breweries contained within them, making small batches of beer using local ingredients and techniques, and brewing exclusively for their local communities. While a complete record of the world’s breweries hasn’t been created yet, word does travel fast on a few individual ones that have captured the imagination and excitement of travellers. So with that, here are three breweries that are worth seeking out in the wastes.

Nepho Brewing
Barker Square, Tuskin Cloud City
If you happen to be a sky sailor, on the hunt for Glow Mist or *cough* less legal rewards, sky-citystop by the Tuskin Cloud City at 56.156259, -40.517578 to refuel your ship, exchange your goods, have a nice rest, and most recently, try some new beer. Nepho Brewing, located in Barker Square of the city, is the result of two former pirates who became better known for their brews than their bounty acquisition. Of the cloud cities out there, the duo decided that Tuskin was the best, as they’re more known there and the city’s placement above the near constant flow of Superstorm Clouds make it perfect for harvesting cloud water with minimal tax from the city. The brewery’s flagship offering, Perfect Storm Mild, is dark in colour with sweet toffee notes and an earthy, roasted character that adds balance before moving towards a dry finish. It’s also fairly low in alcohol, which is better suited to the clientele of sailors looking to lighten their wallets and ease their worries while on a week’s shore leave.

Bushwick Base Brewing
Jefferson Street Station (L Line), Brooklyn, New York
While the majority of the once great city of New York is in ruins and infested with Creepers and a varied number of mutated monsters, the city is still bustling, although primarily underground in the former MTA tunnels. If you’re looking for a great place to rest easy for a beer, walk down the L line to Jefferson Street Station, where Bushwick Base Brewing’s taproom is serving up some quality beverages that are sure to keep you warm at night. Working off-site out of the former Kings County Brewers Collective building, the 20-person team of former (and current) mercenaries risk their lives to go above ground, power up the generators, harvest from their rooftop farms, and brew for the masses. Because of the risk involved and infrequency of the releases, the price on a pint is pretty high, but the creativity and wide selection found in the candlelit taproom makes the cost worthwhile. As for the beers themselves, they’re all named after military slang terms, reflecting the brewer’s backgrounds. Expectant IPA is the most often consumed of the beers, and for good reason. It features a fairly light mouthfeel with an explosion of tropical fruits so bright, you could swear it could light up the MTA tunnels. However, if you have some coin and you’re lucky enough to be in the city when it’s released, the seasonal imperial stout 40 Mike-Mike is worth getting. Sold in handmade canteens, a few sips of this 18% beer will warm you right through while providing, if you’re lucky enough to have them, fond memories of chocolate and coffee.

Loup Garou Labyè
Bayou Pigeon District, Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana
Located in a long-abandoned oil rig deep in the Bayou Pigeon district, Loup Garou Labyè has proven to be a popular brewing spot for settlers to the Atchafalaya Basin. The amazing thing about this brewery is that the entire community in the district are running it, enabling brewing operations to go on 24/7 and making it one of the most frequently consumed beers in the South Louisiana region. Making use of purified swamp water and local greenery, the beers are nothing if not unique. Of note, the Voler Porter, for instance, is made using locally harvested graine à voler (otherwise known as ‘Cajun Peanuts’ or American Lotus seeds), which are toasted and thrown in the boil, adding for a subtle peanut butter character.

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The Montréal Notes

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Recently Sawdust City sent some beers my way, some of their current fantastic offerings. But there is one in particular that I didn’t read the can of until now, and that’s of the “There’s No Way of Knowing” Can-Conditioned Saison. It reads like this:

As ‘Ol Man Winter begrudgingly releases us from his icy grip, Sweet Lady Spring swoops in and softly serenades us with her song. The snow slowly recedes, the days grow longer and we once again head outside to feel the warmth of the new vibrant season. What does the new season bring us? What does the future hold? Really, there’s no way of knowing. With the bright effervescence of a spring day and flowery aromas of fresh citrus, There’s No Way of Knowing Saison brings us all we love about this season. Light and breezy, it’s the perfect accompaniment to new beginnings.

1512299_905676996160008_7806778772935007977_nAnd I gotta say, this is the first time the copy on a beer can has distinctly given me the feels. The main reason being that I’m currently going through a new beginning myself at the moment. You see, I’ve left Toronto to stay in Montréal for two months. Not for any beer-related reason, it was just one of those times where I was looking at my surroundings, my outlook on things, and my level of contentment and decided that I really, really needed a change of scenery. So I found some places on AirBnB, packed up my things, and hopped on a train. As for work, I’m fortunate enough to be able to fit all of my careers in to a single messenger bag (thank the gods for tiny external 1TB drives, dropbox), so I can work pretty much from anywhere. I’m currently typing this post from my April home, a wonderful 1930s three floor walk-up in Westmount, a pretty English-speaking neighbourhood with more parks than I can count and with no shortage of markets, bakeries, and cheese shops. Some 1920s jazz is playing on my little Bose speaker, the sun is shining brightly through the windows, and after two weeks I’m starting to think that this sort of new beginning was a fantastic decision. All that is to say that, while unpacking the luggage in my home for the next two months, reading this can kind of hit me in a spot that had me feeling a bit emotional.

But anyways, back to the beer stuff. Because of COURSE I’m going to do some beer exploring while I’m here.

So far my first impression of the beer scene here in Montréal has been incredible. There are many breweries here doing some amazing things and many of them, as well as the local drinkers, seemed to have fully embraced the concept of “simple DSC_0700_1done well” while also having a deep appreciation for the experimental and out there. Here the concept of going to a bar with a book to unwind is very strong and as a result, I’ve been happy to find that some of the more trendy beer spots have been incredibly spacious, many of which still have tables available on a busy night. The combination of not being claustrophobic and not having my thoughts drowned out by too-loud music or people yelling was refreshing to say the least.

I haven’t been to too many spots, but the ones I’ve been to have been winners. Dieu du Ciel, often on the top of the list of places to visit when in the city, was understandably packed and filled with many of their incredible beers on tap, including a one year-old version of their famous Imperial Stout Péché Mortel, a selection of refreshing and complex wheat beers, and Gospel, which may be one of the best nitro Stouts I’ve ever had, featuring a creamy mouthfeel that is expected with nitro stouts, but a very dry finish that just makes me want more.

Second up was Vices & Versa, which so far has become my favourite pub to visit. A startling 35 taps on rotation featuring some of the best beers and ciders that the province has to offer. With two huge rooms and a backyard patio that locals flocked to once the weather went above 0°, I have never had a problem finding a table to sit at, and the ability to order a half pint has made for a really nice budget-conscious evening of experimentation. Some highlighted beers I’ve ordered from that have been the Dunham Saison Rustique, a beautiful saison with a taste that matches the aroma of citrus, flowers, and pepper, and the Transylvania Pale Ale by Kruhnen, a unique IPA blended with spices that was so well put together I ended up having a few pints of it.

The other three places I didn’t spend much time in, but Broue Pub Brouhaha, which will be a ten minute walk from my place in May, has an incredible selection, constant events going on, wonderful ambiance (Think David Lynch’s America designed by Punk Hellbillies), and every Tuesday has a “Randall Night”, where a selected beer is mixed with different ingredients for a whole new beer experience and left to go on for a week. Now it’s on to the places of note I went to with local beer writer David Atman and visiting Manitoba blogger Cody LobreauIsle de Garde has an ambiance that I would normally expect in Toronto bars. Dimly lit, clean, minimal furnishings, jam-packed with people (Apparently there is often people waiting at the door for a spot to open up), but once in there, you’re in for a relaxing time and the house’s own Bitter is mind-blowing. And finally, Le Cheval Blanc is a fantastic microbrewery that I’ll be visiting again soon for a full flight of heir selections. I ended up having the Framboise when I was there and it was wonderfully subtle and refreshing.

So that’s all I have so far, but stay tuned to the site, folks. There will be a LOT more activity on here than there has been recently. I’m exploring new things in a province that I’ve never spent more than a weekend in before, so I’ll have a lot to report back on and a lot of people to talk to, and a lot of fantastic beers to sample.

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I Have Returned (Happy New Year)

Hello!  It’s been a while! Haven’t seen you all since…jeez, last year.  This was primarily due to being at the cottage over the holidays where internet was restricted to my (crappy) cell phone that can only access twitter and e-mail.  Anything beyond that and it screams at me.

I also went off to glorious Washington D.C./Virginia for a week, which was…well, just fantastic.

I’m still recovering from the nearly 24-hour train ride, but just wanted to provide you with a little teaser of what’s to come later on.

Yeah.  That happened.  Just freakin’ wait.

This is The Thirsty Wench.  Happy New Year.

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I Have Arrived In New York

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA OH GOD.

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