Twice as Mad Tom – Muskoka Beer Diary Prep

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Wednesday- the dreaded hump day. The only thing making this Wednesday a little better for me is that tomorrow is my Friday (yippee!) and on the actually day that is Friday Tyson and I are setting off on my first trip EVER up to the Muskokas. We will be swinging by a bunch of local craft breweries while we are up there and on Saturday we will be going to see the Arkells play at the historic Kee to Bala. Needless to say I am super pumped. I thought I would ring in the hump day with an homage to one of my favourite breweries that I can not wait to stop at on Friday, the Muskoka Brewery. Tonight I am kicking it old school with a Twice as Mad Tom IPA.

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Twice as Mad Tom (LCBO #404319) is brewed in Bracebridge, ON. It is the strong beer version of the regular IPA of the same name. It is dry hopped IPA, which occurs when hops are added after the cooling of the wort. Hops can be added at many different stages after the wort has cooled, in the various the tanks or fermenters or ever right in the barrel if the beer is being barrel aged. For a strong beer and an IPA I love Twice as Mad Tom because its persona is worse than its bite. Although it is more intense than your average brew, for a strong beer/IPA I find it quite drinkable and with a sweet a smooth finish once the initial sharpness of the IPA has passed. Tonight I enjoyed it all on its own while watching the sunset over our little neighbourhood, but I couldn’t help but think how awesome it would be with a sharp cheddar or a smoked gouda.

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Twice as Mad Tom, Unfiltered Double IPA

ABV: 8.4%

IBU: 71

Colour: Bright copper and orange. Effervesces to a low, bubbly froth which dissipates relatively quickly once poured.

Smell: Subtle, but definitely hints of salty, brine water and fermented grapefruit rind. Mild and clean.

Taste: Medium heaviness and mouth feel, slightly oily on the palate. Citric acid and fresh cut grape fruit with a clean and fruity finish.

Lone Pine IPA – Ruby Tuesday’s Beer of the Week

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Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA (LCBO #339531, #398263) is brewed in Gravenhurst, ON and is also the recipient of the 2014 Golden Tap Award for  “Brewmaster’s Choice- Best Beer in Ontario”. It has been around for a while, but its recent nod at the Golden Tap Awards perked my interest and I finally gave it a try. The Golden Tap Awards are put on annually by the Ontario Craft Brewers association and the twelve year strong competition boasts to be the most democratic beer awards because the voting is all done online by the public in a number of categories. We enjoyed some Lone Pine IPA with friends at the beginning of our holiday’s in December before a holiday party. Here are my notes:

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Lone Pine IPA

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: 65

Colour: Bright cloudy orange, frothy to start and minimal bubbles throughout.

Smell: Grapefruit, pine gum with a floral, fruity nectar.

Taste: Heavy grapefruit IPA intensity without stepping too far over the line. Slight melon undertones.

We all enjoyed this decorated Ontario IPA, my only concern would be that I had pushed the limit on its hop characteristics and them being at their peek. I remember reading somewhere a while back that this IPA is intended to be drank in the first 2 months after production in order to experience the hop characteristics as they were intended. After that time they can kind of mellow out. The Sawdust City site claims that taking a sip from this IPA is like getting slapped in the face by a pine bow. I can’t say that I felt that sentiment, but I really enjoyed this brew. Give it a try and let me know what you thought! Also shout out to our friends at the Red House in Kingston, ON. We are making good use of our cask festival glasses!

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Northumberland Ale – Ruby Tuesday’s Beer of the Week

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Ahoy. Tonight I tucked in with a delightful little gem from a small town called Campbellford. A classic favourite of mine, the Northumberland Ale is crisp and delicious! Church-Key Brewing is no newbie on the block, they have been brewing since 1999 in Campbellford, ON and they are located in an actual church! They are strong supporters of community and local ingredients and I promise you this flagship stock style ale will surely not disappoint.

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Northumberland Ale (LCBO# 94367) from Church-Key Brewing, Campbellford, ON.

ABV: 5%

IBU: 11

Colour: Pale, straw gold with subtle amber tones.

Smell: Fresh biscuit. Smell is quite subtle and crisp.

Taste: Butter biscuit with jammy apple notes and a crisp dry finish. Extremely well balanced and easy drinking brew.

 

I LOVE Chruch-Key and the Northumberland Ale is an old favourite of mine- if you haven’t tried it you should go grab a pack and let me know what you think of it. Cheers!

Anchor Porter – Ruby Tuesday’s Beer of the Week

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So it started snowing this week. It has been blustery and cold and my only solace has been comfort food, warm blankets, putting up our Christmas tree and dark, seasonal beers. So fittingly my beer of the week this week is a rich and flavourful porter out of San Francisco. As a beer drinker this is one of my favourite times of year. There are porters, stouts and black lagers abound and lots of rich coffee, chocolate and malty flavours to keep you warm on the cold winters nights. This is one of the most delectable porters I have ever had and it is definitely worth a try for all those hearty, dark beer drinkers out there.

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Anchor Porter (LCBO# 376459) from Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco, CA is a delicious take on a classic style. If you like porters, this is perfection in a bottle. Anchor Brewing Co. is one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world and they boast that this porter is virtually handmade with an exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. We enjoyed this dark brew with family while listening to some vintage vinyls over the weekend.

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ABV: 5.6%

IBU: 40

Colour: Black, quite dark and opaque with generous tan coloured foam.

Smell: Burnt and toasty malt flavour with a charred background. Liquorice and caramel notes.

Taste: Deep malty flavours with sweet undertones. Extremely well balanced. A hearty and warming brew.

 

This one is definitely worth a try if you haven’t had it before or a revisit it you have! Tis the season! I love feedback so let me know what you thought of it. Cheers!

 

Our Trip to Alberta – A Beer Diary

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Thanksgiving weekend Tys and I took a short and sweet trip out west. We were traveling to Calgary, AB for a Ryan Adams concert, but we tacked on a scenic drive north west to the mountains with stop offs in Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. This was my first trip west and I throughly enjoyed the landscape, the vistas, the natural beauty and of course the food and drink. True to form Tys and I jammed every day full to the brim with activities and socializing, staying up late most nights and rising early the following day to take in more of the lovely province. Many beers were sampled and consumed during our brief stay and I would like to share with you some of my favourite Albertan brews that I jotted down in my beer diary.

First however, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our gracious host, long time friend of Tyson’s and my self proclaimed beer scout Pete:

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As a beer scout Pete travels, drinks and reports back on all of the beers I need to try. It is a tireless job, but someone has to do it. This time we were in Pete’s hood and we got to sample and compare notes on quite a few craft beers from Alberta. Here are our favourite breweries and brews that we got to try:

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Original 16 Canadian Copper Ale by Great Western Brewing, Saskatoon, SK. So our very first beer in Alberta wasn’t from Alberta, but it was delicious. Our first stop on the way to Lake Louise was to the Hogs Head in Canmore, AB. An old friend from Ontario runs the kitchen there so we decided to stop in for a bite and sample some of the delicacies that Beja has been creating. Tys had the beef burger and I had the elk burger and they were to die for and were well matched by the clean, crisp flavours of the Great Western brew.

ABV: 5.2%

IBU: Unknown

Colour: Deep copper brown, with amber red tones.

Smell: Clean with fresh minerality.

Taste: Clean and refreshing, minerals, yeasty bread. Well balanced and flavourful. Simple, clean and easy drinking.

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Big Rock Traditional Ale (LCBO# 197939) from Calgary, AB. This English style brown ale became Tys and my go-to beer during our stay out west. It was crisp, clean, refreshing and flavourful and was the type of beer you could drink all night while socializing with good company. We enjoyed Big Rock Traditional from the lobby bar at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to the downtown Calgary pub hot spot The Ship and Anchor. Easy drinking and perfect for any occasion.

ABV: 5%

IBU: 20

Colour: Amber, deep reddish brown.

Smell: Honey and caramel.

Taste: Caramel and malty. Well balanced, clean and crisp at the front with a slight bite towards the end.

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Rutting Elk Red by The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, Canmore, AB. Rutting Elk is a traditional Scottish style amber ale. It was dark and delicious- very easy drinking. It accompanied our prime rib dinner in Lake Louise quite nicely and was also enjoyed during a jam session in Pete’s living room before the Ryan Adams concert. Very approachable, enjoyable and would appeal to a wide range of beer drinkers.

ABV: 5%

IBU: Unknown

Colour: Dark red, almost black red.

Smell: Burnt caramel, very malty.

Taste: A malty but smooth front, lots of caramel notes and minimal hop intensity. Easy drinking.

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People Skills by Tool Shed Brewing, Calgary, AB. We bought it for the name and the graphics on the label, but we ended up loving it for the taste and its session-able ability to kick off our last night in Calgary. Not just a pretty and clever package, this session-able cream ale went down easy and got our night off to the right start. Side note, for those of you who don’t know what a session beer is, Beer Advocate has kindly provided a concise, yet thorough definition: “Any beer that contains no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish – a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication.” Awesome.

ABV: 5.2%

IBU: 17

Colour: Golden, straw yellow.

Smell: Mineral, lemon, campfire and yeasty biscuit notes.

Taste: Creamy, toasty and yeasty. Very easy drinking, smooth with a clean finish.

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Electric Avenue by Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB. This golden lager gets it namesake from a nightlife district that existed in Calgary in the late 80’s and early 90’s that crammed two dozen bars into a four block strip. The beer is a tribute to a wild bit of Calgary’s past. We enjoyed Electric Avenue on the balcony on a sunny Saturday afternoon while snacking on some pre dinner delights and having a little jam session al fresco.

ABV: 5%

IBU: 27

Colour: Crisp golden. Very clear and clean with a frothy, coating foam.

Smell: Yeasty with candy/sweet tart and berry notes.

Taste: A sharp front that is tart and slightly sour with lemon and berry. Clean finish.

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WRaspberry Ale by Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary AB. A preservative free fruit ale with thousands of raspberries used in every batch. This ale was light and sweet just like our singalong jam session we had out in the sun on Pete’s patio.

ABV: 4.5%

IBU: 10

Colour: Light honey gold with slight cloudiness. Gold with amber tones.

Smell: Honey and tart berries.

Taste: Raspberries with a tart, tannic sharpness at the front and a clean refreshing finish.

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Village Blacksmith by Village Brewing, Calgary, AB. This is a phenomenal hand forged India Black Ale that was a definite favourite for Tys and I during our trip. Deep, dark, complex and thirst quenching we enjoyed this brew before the Ryan Adams concert at the Kensington Pub and also on Pete’s patio with an array of meats and cheeses. This black ale was well balanced and lovely!

ABV: 5.4%

IBU: Unknown

Colour: Black with red undertones. Opaque.

Smell: Smokey and malty.

Taste: Briney and malty with a slight smokiness. Flavourful and lingering.

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Velvet Fog by Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB. This ended up being the beer that carried us through our last night in Calgary. We sampled it at Pete’s place and then enjoyed it on draft at Market during our PHENOMENAL last dinner in Calgary. Side note- THANK YOU Market! I am a HUGE foodie fan from Ontario and I adore your restaurant and all you do!

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Ok- back to the beer! Velvet Fog combines 50% wheat malt and 50% barley malt. It is unfiltered, giving it a cloudy appearance. It was easy drinking and paired wonderfully with our food, conversations and live music. We also enjoyed Velvet Fog at the beautiful and expansive beer haven the Craft Beer Market, which is a destination for beer drinkers in Calgary with over 100 beers on tap. Very impressive.

ABV: 4.5%

IBU: 13

Colour: Golden and cloudy.

Smell: Clean with slight citrus notes.

Taste: Yeasty with citrus notes. Very refreshing with a clean finish.

 

One more shout our goes to the wonderful breakfast that we had at The Brasserie Kensington. Although I did not partake in a beer at your establishment I did enjoy your caesars and the melt in your mouth delicious bacon- thanks for the wonderful time and amazing food!

Thank you Alberta, Albertan breweries and a special thank you to my beer scout/ our gracious host Pete! We had the best time in your beautiful province. Cheers!

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Lanark County Blueberry Mead – Fruit Beer Friday

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Happy fruit beer Friday everyone! Today’s fruit beer is the Lanark County Blueberry Mead (LCBO# 380527) by Trafalgar Brewing in Oakville, ON. Mead is an alcoholic beverage that is created by fermenting honey with water and usually incorporates fruit, spices, grains and hops. Historically mead is considered to be the ancient ancestor of all fermented beverages, with evidence showing that it existed around 6500-7000 BC. The average ABV for mead can range from 8-20%.

Trafalgar locally sources the blueberries used in the making of this mead from Lanark county, which makes this mead a “terroir style”. This means that through the fruit sourced from this region the taste of the mead is then influenced by the geography, geology and climate of that particular region. This was my first experience with mead and I found researching the process and the mead itself to be quite interesting and unique. Here are my notes:

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ABV: 8.5%

Colour: Cloudy wine coloured, deep burgundy with a juice-like appearance. Opaque with little foam that dissipated quickly.

Smell: Sweet and yeasty. Tart, brine. Relatively mild aroma.

Taste: Berry tartness, fermented berry, red wine like flavour with sharp prickling of the tongue and high acidity.

 

I found the Lanark County Blueberry Mead to be a unique beverage and probably an acquired taste. It was not my favourite, but if you have never tried a mead before I recommend that you do! Trafalgar makes a Ginger Mead and the Mead Braggot, which are both lovely representations of the style.

 

Let me know what you thought if you have tried that Lanark County Blueberry Mead. Cheers!

Chimay Triple – Ruby Tuesday’s Beer of the Week

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After a one week hiatus I am back at it and last night we sampled another certified Trappist beer: Chimay Triple (LCBO# 676585), formerly known as Chimay White.  Chimay beers are brewed by Trappist monks at Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey near the town of Hainaut in southern Belgium. Monks have been brewing at this Abbey since 1862 and aside from the wonderful Belgian strong ales they brew they also produced semi-soft cheeses made from regional milk.

The brewery is best known for its three famous beers Chimay Red, Chimay Blue and Chimay Triple. In 1948 Father Theodore isolated the unique yeast cells that still form the basis for Chimay beers today and Chimay Red was also created in this year. The Christmas beer of the same year later became Chimay Blue. Chimay Triple is the youngest beer of the brewery, born in 1966 and is described on the Chimay website as being a rare balance between sweet and bitter. This beer is intended to be enjoyed young and at a temperature of 6-8 degrees Celsius. In 2001 Chimay Triple becomes the first beer that the brewery offers on draught.

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Tyson and I both throughly enjoyed Chimay Triple and were pleasantly surpassed by its drinkability despite being considered a strong beer. Here are the stats and our notes on the beer:

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ABV: 8%

IBU: 36

Colour: Golden and cloudy, with amber and straw coloured hues.

Smell: Clean and fresh, wheat and bread, pine, liquorice, subtle brine pungency and slight, not over powering soapy smell.

Taste: Hoppy/tart front that mellows towards a sweet, yeasty finish. Extremely well balanced and easy drinking. Both smooth and complex and had great, subtle flavour without being too overbearing.

 

We both throughly enjoyed this beer and are enjoying expanding our Trappist beer repertoire. There has also been talk of a trip to Belgium for beer purposes which realistically is off in the distance somewhere, but for both of us becomes a stronger fantasy each time we sample another wonderful Trappist selection.

Have you tried Chimay Triple? Let me know what you thought by voting or commenting below! Cheers.