Sunday, August 18, 2013

National Capital Craft Beer Fest

All good things must come to an end, and beer festivals are no exception.


My wife and I hit the National Capital Craft Beer Fest on Friday afternoon, and Saturday evening. After spending a couple of hours there on Friday, I wondered if it was really worth it to get the 2-day pass. If trying as many beer samples is your goal, then the answer is yes. Not just from a standpoint of not wanting to get drunk, but we discovered that some beers aren't available both days. Aside from running out, new ones may appear the next day. More on that in a bit.

We got out ago of majority and 2-day pass bracelets and then proceeded to the ticket booth to buy our "tokens". Tokens are actually tickets, and they cost $1 each. We bought a sheet of 20 tickets. Side note: kudos for using glass sample glasses and not plastic cups like at Winterbrewed. These will look nice on my glassware shelf! :)

Now, a little gripe. The web site says "Prices for products will vary from exhibitor to exhibitor, but generally beer is priced at a minimum one token per 4 oz serving and 2 tokens per 8 ounce serving." That's a pretty good deal. I mean, you're trying to get people to try your beers so keep the prices reasonable and expand your customer base.

Sadly, this was not the case. There were a few that only charged 1 per 4 oz, but on average it was 2 for a 4 oz, 4 for an 8 oz. That's a pretty pricey beer for something you may not like.  However, some had deals where you could get 8 oz for 3 tokens so it took a little of the sting away.

Anyway, onto the beer tasting. My wife and I tried 20 beers. A few we had tried before, but we wanted a drink to go along with our lunch that we bought there. Although all were great, any with an * were some of our favs.

Muskoka Brewery - http://www.muskokabrewery.com/
  • Pit Crew Wit brew

Turtle Island Brewing Co - http://turtleislandbrewing.com
  • Smash Cherry *
  • Dark honey brown

Beyond the Pale Brewing Company - http://beyondthepale.ca/
  • Party Animal *
  • Smoked Pol
  • Tamed Angry Orchid

Beau's All Natural Brewing Company - http://www.beaus.ca/
  • Night Märzen
  • Wag the Wolf
  • Two Weeks Notice

Ashton Brewing Company - http://www.ashtonbrewpub.ca/
  • Blueberry Wheat *
  • IPA Session Ale

Mill Street Brewery - http://millstreetbrewery.com/
  • Frambozen
  • Palomar Chipotle + Lime
  • Distillery Ale

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery - http://theflyingmonkeys.ca
  • Orangemungus * 
  • City and Colour Imperial Maple Wheat *
  • Wild Patty's Crazy Berry

Lake of Bays Brewing Company - http://lakeofbaysbrewing.ca/
  • Spark House 

Broadhead Brewing Company - http://broadheadbeer.com
  • Long Shot White *

Steam Whistle - http://www.steamwhistle.ca/
  • Unfiltered *

The most memorable beers were:
  • Orangemungus
    This had a very strong orange flavour to it. Strongest orange flavoured beer I've ever tried. I like it.
  • City and Colour Imperial Maple Wheat
    This was not only the most expensive sample (4 tickets for 4 oz, "due to the high alcohol content"), it was also likely the strongest maple flavoured beer I've ever tried. Strong, but not overpowering. We tried this one on Friday afternoon and it was not available when we went on Saturday night. I guess they ran out at some point, so this is a good example of why a 2-day pass is handy. It was replaced on their board by Wild Patty's Crazy Berry.
  • Palomar Chipotle + Lime
    Feel the burrrrrrrrn going down. Spicey. Never tried anything like this one in my life. I liked it, but you won't be chugging back a lot of this one. :)
  • Smoked Pol
    Smokey. Not the smokiest beer I've ever tasted, but definitely memorable. My wife didn't like it at all. She said it was like drinking a smoked sausage.
  • Tamed Angry Orchid
    A sour beer! Not the most sour I've tasted, but there was no denying it was sour.
Food! We grabbed a sausage and a poutine with beer gravy from Spuds on Friday afternoon. The gravy was amazing. The sausage was delicious. I think it was one of the cheaper food vendors there too.

We were there for the two guest speakers on Friday, but to be honest we didn't pay much attention to everything they had to say because we were too distracted walking around tasting beers. :) They were Mirella Amato (beer specialist and Canada's female Certified Cicerone) and Ian Coutts (author of Brew North) I'm like a kid in a candy story. Perhaps next year I'll take more time to sit and listen.

We did catch some of the entertainment on Saturday night by the New Country Rehab. They're a country, rock, bluegrass, jazz band from Toronto. Definitely worth a listen.

I picked up a couple of souvenirs from the event: a T-shirt from Flying Monkeys, and a glass from Beau's and Ashton Brewing for my collection.

If you've never been to a beer fest, and you're not into lineups and crowds, go during the day. When we went Friday afternoon you could literally walk up to any of the brewery stands and and get what you wanted within seconds. On Saturday night, most of the stands had lineups anywhere from 10-20 people long. Granted, they moved fast so you didn't have to wait very long, but it's something to keep in mind.

Overall, a fun time, but a little expensive (spent $60 on tickets alone).


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Steam Whistle @ The Brig

My second beer even of the week was hosted by Steam Whistle at The Brig on York Street in the ByWard Market.

We arrived a little after the 5:30pm starting time. I was a little surprised to see that they weren't checking names or anything of those invited. I'm not saying that's a bad thing... who needs red tape when it comes to beer? :) We walked in, right to the back where there was a lineup of other Steam Whistle lovers. We were greeted by Marina (Community Relations for Steam Whistle) who then handed us each some Steam Whistle swag: a glass, two passes for a free brewery tour, a wooden "steam whistle", a bottle opener, and a beer ticket. What a great way to start an event! :)

The unfiltered beer sampling was plentiful. A rep was walking around with a trayful of samples for much of the night so I got to try it a few times. I really enjoyed it.

My wife and I sat at a table near the front of The Brig. It was our first time at this pub, and we liked it. A little while after we sat, another couple asked if they could share the table with us. I'm bad with names, but I'm sure their names were Trent and Krista. We had a good chat with them about everything from beer, to photography, and kids.

There was some free food available, and we did see it being served at other tables throughout The Brig, but they apparently ran out before any of it made its way to the front where we sat. The table next to us got some. Not a big deal, but it would have been nice to get some! We ended up ordering a combo platter of nachos and wings, which were delicious, along with another glass of Steam Whistle.

Overall, a great event and photos were being Instagrammed and Tweeted throughout the night with the #SteamWhistle hashtag.

More photos posted on the Steam Whistle Facebook page here.

Thanks Steam Whistle!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mill Street Brew Pub

As I mentioned in the last entry, we paid our first visit to the Mill Street Brew Pub. And if our future experience is anything like tonight's, it won't be our last.

The place is much bigger and brighter inside than I imagined. It's very spacious too. We were seated almost immediately and welcomed by our server.

I ordered a Valley Irish Red ale and my wife had a water, since she was driving. :) A few minutes later, we placed our food orders. I order the braised beef dip and my wife the fish tacos.

I swear, our food arrived 10-15 minutes later. That's incredibly fast service.

The fish tacos were excellent. The beef dip was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. I liked it, but would probably try something else the next time.

The beer was excellent. :) So excellent, that I decided to try another flavour... Helles Bock. It too was great.

I also tried something else for the first time: bierschnaps. Frambozen Bierschnaps to be exact. It's strong tasting and burns a little going down. My wife had a sip and didn't like it at all. ;)


If there was one negative, it would be the food prices. I'd say they're about $3-$4 higher than many other places, but it's not enough to make us not want to go there again.

The Bear's Breakfast Beer Bash

My first beer event of the National Capital Beer Week was at The Bear 106.9FM's parking lot for The Bear's Breakfast Beer Bash.

It started at 4:00pm and we arrived around 4:30. After 'signing in', we received our 4 drink tickets (for 4oz samples of beer) and a food ticket.

The local breweries in attendance were: Hogsback, Beau's, Big Rig, Kichesippi, and Clocktower. Food was being provided by Turtle Island Brewing's Popup Bistro... really taste burger sliders.

I tried a few new brews and a couple of old favs. I don't recall the names of some of the beers I tried (yeh I suck... I should have taken notes or something). They were all really good, but the one that stood out was a "Honey and Ham" beer from Big Rig, brewed especially for The Bear. When she told me which Big Rig beers they had, I had to ask her to repeat the name because it caught me by surprise.


For entertainment, they had... what else? Beer pong. It was a little too windy, but all participants seemed to have fun, and bystanders chased down the ping pong balls to keep them going. There were plenty of prizes for winners... T-shirts and passes to the National Capital Beer Fest were what I saw given away. We won 2 passes for the National Capital Beer Fest. It was pretty easy to win when you play against your wife — you're guaranteed a prize with either of you winning. :) I was hoping for VIP tickets, but ended up with the same as what we already had that we'll give away to beer-loving friends.

Overall a pretty decent event! I shot those pics earlier, but it was much busier by the time we left.

Four beer sample tickets doesn't last very long, even when my wife gave me her's because she was driving. We left at around 5:30 or so and decided to go out for dinner at the Mill Street Brew Pub. Review to follow. :)

Tomorrow we hang out with some Steam Whistle reps!

Update: I think this was one of the beers we sampled: Kichesippi Wuchuk IPA. I could be wrong, but I remember mention of a UK IPA. I liked it. Not a very bitter IPA.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

10 Point IPA

New beers are hard to come by lately at the LCBO, but I found one on Friday: 10 Point IPA by Lake of Bays Brewing.


The first thing I noticed is the big tag on the neck of the bottle.

THE FRIENDS OF ALGONQUIN PARK

Proud supporter of Algonquin Park

A portion of the proceeds is donated to The Friends of Algonquin Park.

Nice work. :)

This 6% IPA poured a dark amber. One of my favourite beer colours. The head was a frothy off-white that soon dissipated leaving a thin trace on top of the beer.

The aroma was your typical grapefruity aroma for an IPA, but not overpowering. The taste matched the aroma, with a bit of caramel malty goodness added. It was a pretty smooth and not-so bitter IPA. Nicely balanced for my tastes.

Lake of Bays is becoming one of my favourite breweries.

Note the bottom of that tag: Next from Lake of Bays Brewing, Old North Mocha Porter. Sounds delicious. :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

AC/DC beer

Have a drink on me

Not really, but I guess it's a suitable AC/DC song title for their beer since they might have to give it away. :)

I heard about this one quite some time ago and was extremely surprised to find it at The Beer Store yesterday. I thought for sure it would be at the LCBO, if it ever made it here. I picked up two cans.

The guy working there said they just got it in. He picked up a can, read the side, then laughed noting that it was made in France. :) Brasserie Licorne.

I opened a can of it this afternoon for my first taste, and poured it in a glass. The first thing I noticed was the aroma. It reminded me of many of the imports that I've tried. Lightly malty, herbal, earthy.

It poured a pale yellow, with medium to low carbonation, the head dissipates fairly quickly.

The taste was a bit of a disappointment. Pretty weak, not unlike commercial light beers. I wouldn't say it was bad (I don't think any beer is "bad"), but it didn't stand out like you might expect from being branded AC/DC. Maybe Air Supply could slap their name on this beer instead? ;)

The ABV is an average 5%.

If you're looking for a very light-tasting, session beer, this one might be worth checking out. If you're expecting it to rock your Angus Young schoolboy shorts off, then skip it.

Side note: There's a QR-code on the side of the can that's supposed to bring you to http://acdc-beer.com/can. Sadly, it returns a 404 NOT FOUND at http://acdc-beverage.com/Produkt/acdc-beercan/. I guess their redirects are messed up and it should have brought me to http://acdc-beverage.com/can/

National Capital Craft Beer Week

Today is my first day off for the next two weeks. It's no coincidence that it coincides with the National Capital Craft Beer Week! :) Well maybe it's a little coincidental.

In addition to attending next weekend's National Capital Beer Fest next weekend, I have managed to score invitations for two free events next week.

The first (and most recent) is The Bear 106.9 FM's "Bear's Breakfast Beer Bash" next Wednesday at The Bear's location on Merivale Rd. I somehow managed to see their posting inviting the first 200 people to respond to their event. I filled out the form, submitted and today I got the welcome email asking for RSVP. Done deal.

Local craft brewers Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Kichesippi Brewing Company, Sawdust City, Clocktower Brew Pubs, BigRig Brewery, and Hogs Back Brewing Company will be on site providing samples of their local craft beer.
Plus BigRig Brewery will be launching the limited edition THE BEAR’s Breakfast Brew for you to try!
The second (and first invitation) is for a Steam Whistle event on Thursday at a pub in the Byward Market. I don't know how secret this is. They put out a call for anyone interested to email them, with no mention of when or where, and a few days after I sent the email I got the invitation. Should be fun! Anything that includes beer is fun.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Steam Whistle Growlers

We picked up one of the 2L Steam Whistle growlers while we were in Toronto this past June. This is a pretty cool video showing how they fill these glorious beasts.



You can read more about their growlers by following this link: What's the story behind the Steam Whistle Growler?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Naughty Neighbour

I saw this 6-pack sitting on a shelf at the LCBO a few weeks ago. I'd pass it every time on my way to the cash to pay for my haul. I finally picked it up on Friday.

Nickel Brook's Naughty Neighbour.



Colour: Slightly cloudy orange

Aroma: Grapefruit.

Taste: Citrusy, grapefruit.

ABV: 4.9%

Overall: I found this unfiltered pale ale to be a nicely balanced, very easy drinking beer. The fact that it has a low ABV makes it perfect for a few cold ones on the patio on a hot summer's day. If you're a fan of pale ale's this one is worth a visit.

Friday, August 2, 2013

#IPAday... and Big Rig Double IPA

To celebrate #IPAday yesterday, I had squirreled away a bottle of Tree Brewing Co's Hop Head Black IPA which I had tried on at least two other occasions.

On the big day, Big Rig Brewery released their Double IPA. I asked my wife if she could pick up a growler at Big Rig, and she did.



My tastes have definitely changed over the months since I started this blog, and I'm becoming a fan of IPAs, but a double made me a little hesitant.

I was not disappointed.

There was some malty goodness mixed with the hoppiness that made it very enjoyable for me. I think this may also be one of the headier Big Rig brews I've tried. It maintained a little head the entire time I drank it, and had some nice lacing on the glass. even on day two of opening the growler.

I wish I had more details about the ABV and IBU, but I don't. If I do get a hold of them, I'll update this entry.