Saturday, 4 February 2012

Mini Beer Fest

The beer tasting at The Only Cafe last night was ale heaven. Craft brewers from in and around Toronto got together on the small back patio of a pub in the east end to showcase their seasonal (I'd say winter, but it's not looking that way) ales, one off casks and specialty beers. Very intimate set up. $1 per 5oz tasting sample.

I had the opportunity to speak to a lot of brew masters and other beer connoisseurs, often at length. It turned out those specialty beers and one off casks are incredibly high in alcohol content, something mostly unadvertised. I ended up spectacularly drunk. Caught me by surprise, though in hindsight it really shouldn't have. 

One of the highlights was McAuslan's Scotch Ale. A touch of sweetness brough out the best qualities of the scotch flavour without overpowering its subtleties. I've never enjoyed scotch ale, but this one blew my mind and the competition away. 

Wellington had a one off cask IPA (India Pale Ale) that was also quite remarkable. Beneath the strong grapefruit overtones, were more subtle melon and blueberry flavours. The hops cascaded across my palate back to front in a playful display of the brewer's talent. I love the creamy mouth feel of a good cask ale. There really is nothing like it. I hope this ale makes into Wellington's regular lineup. 

Beau's had a couple interesting beers. At some point, the guy pouring and I got to discussing beer mixtures. I thought it was a sign of maturity for the craft beer industry, adopting a long standing wine tradition of blending different fermentations to accentuate the best flavours in each for a unique pint. Of course we had to try it right then and there. Treading Water was born, a mixture of their Bog Water and Lug Tread ales. Not bad! I had a whole pint of it, though by the end the novelty was wearing a bit thin. Definitely a unique taste experience though. The blend was surprisingly fruity. 

Sawdust City Brewing Co. had a few really tasty ales. My favourite of theirs was an espresso flavoured imperial stout called Uranus. At 8.5% it packed quite a punch. The espresso was balanced by dark chocolate but remained, as they put it, "ass puckeringly bitter and dry as a bone." I learned how to dry hop a beer from this guy. I've always wanted to know how to do that. Turns out it is just hops inside tea bags or pantyhose infused into the fermenting beer. I'm definitely going to try this in an upcoming batch of home brew.

I ran into a fellow Bishop's grad who recognized me as the guitar player from Doppelganger Effekt. What a coincidence! But I suppose beer has always brought Bishop's alum together. Then Ladypants arrived and took me out for Greek food. Spanikopita! All in all, a pretty great evening! It is still on tonight starting at 5pm. Check it out if you get the chance!

No comments: