Category Archives: bars & pubs

Breaking the Boundaries of Beer Cocktails at beerbistro

For most of my drinking career, my opinion of beer cocktails has been one of mild ambivalence. While I’ve tried and enjoyed a few, I never really saw much point to them as I’ve always looked at beer as a beverage meant to be consumed and enjoyed in its original form.

Recently, though, I’ve been shown that if made by the right set of hands, a beer cocktail can be a truly unique creation that is more than just a lager or ale mixed over ice with a couple of other ingredients. Especially when those hands belong to Michelle Tham, the bar manager at beerbistro.

I first tried Tham’s mixological creations a few weeks ago, when beerbistro hosted a low-key tasting featuring a couple of cocktails that she had crafted using beers from Unibroue. The brewery’s gregarious beer sommelier Sylvain Bouchard was on hand to talk about the drinks and to present and explain some food pairings, but it was Tham’s demo that was the most interesting and enlightening part of the event.

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Half a Year of Beer

Holy crap – I’m posting here two days in a row! Can’t remember the last time that happened.

Although to be fair, this one is a bit of a cheat, as it’s just going to be a list of links to all of the beer & booze-related articles I’ve written for Taste T.O. in the six months since the last time I did this sort of round-up. Which means that some of them aren’t especially timely now, but at least it’s proof that I actual do something useful with my time for at least an hour or two each week:

Dec 15th: Spread Some Christmas Cheer With The Gift of Beer
Dec 8th: Beer of the Week – F&M Stonehammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout
Dec 1st: Beer of the Week – Rogue Yellow Snow IPA
Nov 24th: Beers of the Week: OCB Discovery Pack No. 3
Nov 17th: Beer of the Week – Rickard’s Dark
Nov 10th: Beer of the Week – Denison’s Weissbier
Nov 3rd: I Can Has New Liver? – A Drink Writer’s Diary
Oct 27th: Beer of the Week – Dieu Du Ciel Corne du Diable
Oct 20th: Beer of the Week – John Sleeman Presents Bock
Oct 13th: Beer of the Week – Trafalgar Hop Nouveau
Oct 6th: Beer of the Week – Frankenheim Alt
Sep 29th: Beer and Brawn at The Bar and Bench
Sep 22nd: Beer of the Week – Victory Prima Pils
Sep 15th: Beers of the Week – Moosehead Light Lime & Red Baron Lime
Sep 8th: Beer of the Week – Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale
Aug 18th: Brewing Up Some History at Black Creek
Aug 11th: Beer of the Week – New Grist Gluten-Free
Aug 4th: Pub Crawl – The Ceili Cottage
Jul 28th: Beer of the Week – Creemore Springs Kellerbier
Jul 21st: Beer of the Week – Nickel Brook Organic Lager
Jul 14th: Craft Beer, Charcuterie and Cheese: 3 C’s at c5
Jul 7th: Beer of the Week – Amsterdam Oranje Wit
Jun 30th: Beers of the Week – Pump House Fire Chief’s Red Ale & Blueberry Ale
Jun 23rd: Pub Crawl – The Queen and Beaver Public House
Jun 16th: Beers of the Week – Cameron’s Cream Ale & Muskoka Cream Ale
Jun 9th: Beers of the Week – Innis & Gunn Blonde and Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask
Jun 2nd: Beers of the Week – Mill Street Sampler Six-Pack

Odds & Sods

oddsandsodsI think I might’ve mentioned this before, but even if I have, I’ll mention it again: One of the main reasons that I’m such an infrequent blogger is because I have yet to master the habit of writing things in a short and to-the-point manner. I constantly have a few different ideas for posts bouncing around in my head, but can never find the hour or so of spare time that I make myself think I would need to get said posts written.

So with that in mind, here is my attempt to get a few of those things covered quickly and concisely.

  1. As per usual, I’ve been writing beer-related posts for Taste T.O. on a regular basis. Here’s what’s gone up there in the last couple of months:
  2. I’ve given in to peer pressure and got myself an iPhone. Which means that I will most likely be engaging in some hot live Twitter action at the Mondial de la Bière in Montreal next week. Follow @beerbeatsbites if you think you can handle the excitement.
  3. My new deodorant has hops in it. It’s also the most effective deodorant I’ve used in ages, which I’m sure will make my suite-mates in Montreal very happy.
  4. The awesome folks at Mill Street delivered one of their new Seasonal Sampler six-packs for me yesterday, and I enjoyed a couple of bottles from it tonight. Ontarians can watch for it to hit LCBO shelves this coming week, and I’ll have a full write-up about the pack over on Taste T.O. soon.
  5. Nothing to do with beer (or beats or bites, for that matter), but I watched Milk tonight, and wanted to mention how great it was. Sean Penn was stunningly good, deserving of every award and nomination he got, and even though I knew how it ended, I was still engrossed by it. And given recent events in California, it was especially poignant. If you haven’t seen it, do.

What Beer Goes Best With Knife Fights?

greg-beerThe above image is the first result when you do a Google Image search for “greg beer”.

It’s also a nice non sequitur to distract you from the fact that it’s been about a month and a half since my last post.

As always, there have been some good reasons for the lack of posts here, not the least of which is my work on Taste T.O. where we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to try and drum up for advertising while also keeping the new content coming. Since my last post here, I’ve written few things for Taste T.O. including several beer reviews (Grand River Curmudgeon IPA, O’Hara’s Celtic Stout, Great Lakes Green Tea Ale); a couple of pub profiles (The Abbot on the Hill, The Roy); a preview of the LCBO’s Spring beer promotion; and a review of two cask ale events that happened in Toronto this past weekend.

I’m also trying to keep the info over on Canadian Beer News and Bar Towel News as fresh as possible. And I’m on Twitter now, in case you do that sort of thing. And there’s also that pesky day job to deal with…

Anyway, more to come soon. I’ll be hitting five different beer events on four consecutive nights next week, so assuming I survive, I’m sure I’ll have something to say about at least a couple of them.

A Priest Walks Into A Bar…


My latest bi-weekly Pub Crawl column is up on Taste T.O. today, and it’s a profile of Sin & Redemption, a fairly new bistro-pub that’s located across the street from a large Catholic church. It’s been a popular place since it opened a few months ago, and has a fairly decent tap list. OK, there are a few stinkers, like Bud and Bud Light, but at least half of the 32 lines have something good coming out of them, and at some of the best prices in the downtown core.

One beer that they don’t have on tap is Frank Booth’s favourite, Pabst Blue Ribbon. But it’s been showing up at a lot of other bars in Toronto recently, especially the sorts of places where young hipsters congregate. (Or so I’ve gathered from looking through the windows of such places, as I’m neither young nor hip enough to be welcome inside most of them.) My thoughts on this, and the beer itself, appeared on Taste T.O. last week.

Haven't You Heard About The Bird? Everybody Knows That The Bird Is The Word!


I just noticed that I forgot to post a link to my latest Pub Crawl feature over on TasteTO. For this one, we visited a great little pub called The Liver Bird (it’s named for the official symbol of Liverpool, and is oddly pronounced like “driver”). This place isn’t exactly a beer destination – only four beers on tap and a small handful of bottles – but it’s a cozy and friendly place tucked in behind a first-rate bistro, with the bistro kitchen also providing excellent food for the pub. Well worth a visit if you’re in the ‘hood.

Also, I don’t think I ever mentioned my post about Harviestoun Old Engine Oil that went up over there a couple of weeks ago. So I’m mentioning it now.

Blotto in Buffalo


Being a (relatively) mature 40 year old, I’m well past my years of regularly drinking to the point of extreme inebriation, and subsequently bragging about it to my friends. (Or anyone who will listen, for that matter.)

But man, did I get fucking hammered on Saturday night!

The occasion: a road trip to Buffalo to attend the Rare Beer Festival at Cole’s. It was a trip that was almost scuttled, as one of our foursome had issues with his paperwork (he’s an Irish citizen in Canada on a work visa) and was refused entry into the US. It briefly looked like we’d be heading back to Toronto for an evening of drinking not-so-Rare Beer, but luckily (for the other three of us in the car, at least), several friends were down at the Festival for the afternoon and just happened to be heading back around the time that we were stuck at the border. So Jeff, Paul and I we were able to dump the troublemaker (sorry, Al!) and make it down to Cole’s after all.

Here’s what awaited us…

Troegs Nugget Nectar
Victory Yakima Twilight
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head Fort
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
Oskar Blues Whiskey Barrel Aged Gordon
Oskar Blues Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Chub
Oskar Blues Whiskey Barrel Aged Ten Fidy
Ommegang Obamagang (Inauguration Ale)
Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi
Lost Abbey Inferno Ale
Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam
Dogfish Head Zwaanendale
Brooklyn Brewing Black Ops
Sonoran 100
Flying Bison Blizzard Bock
Malheur Brut Reserve

And that was just the “official” list. More goodies came up from the cellar throughout the evening, including:

Samuel Adams Utopias
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 12 Year
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16 Year
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30 Year
New Glarus Belgian Red
New Glarus Raspberry Tart
Troegs Scratch #16
Captain Lawrence Captains Reserve

I’m not sure how, but I managed to put back samples of something like 75% or 80% of the beers on the list – basically, almost every one I hadn’t tried before. Even more amazingly, I took coherent tasting notes for almost all of them.

After that, the three of us – along with our Buffalo buddy, Rudy – decided it would be a good idea to go next door to Mr. Goodbar and split several pitchers of Dale’s Pale Ale. That’s where the grainy cellphone photo above was taken. A photo that I have absolutely no recollection of taking, by the way.

(And y’know, come to think of it, I believe that last time I got so smashed might’ve been on my previous trip to Buffalo. Something about that city…)

Anyhoo – thanks to Mike at Cole’s for throwing a fantastic event, and Rudy and Ang for housing our soused asses for the evening. It was a bit of a rough drive back in the morning, but the hangover was a well-earned. Although I hope not to inspire another similar one any time soon.

I'm The Granite Man


The latest in my bi-weekly “Pub Crawl” series went up on Taste T.O. yesterday, featuring a profile of  The Granite Brewery, which is one of Toronto’s very small number of brewpubs.

Well, except it’s not a brewpub, because Toronto doesn’t have any real brewpubs. But it’s still a restaurant with an on-site brewery.

Yeah, it’s kind of confusing. Just read the article, and it might make more sense.

Also, a cookie for whoever knows the origin of the title of this post. (Hint: I also killed Louie the Fly.)

What'd You C'est?


I’ve been neglectful in posting links to my beer-related articles over on Taste T.O. (although they’re showing up in one of the funky little widgets in the right sidebar over there, for those who pay attention to such things).

Rectifying that, here’s a link to my profile of Toronto’s oldest craft beer bar, C’est What, which was posted last week as part of our Pub Crawl series.

While I’m doing the linky thing, you might also be interested in my Beer of the Week posts on Samichlaus and Innis & Gunn Rum Cask that went up before the holidays. And if you’re reading this after 7:30 AM (Eastern) on Tuesday, my review of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen should be available.

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's Forty!

birthdaybeerIt’s my birthday today. The Big Four-Oh. I guess I’m supposed to be starting my mid-life crisis now – or does that start at 50 nowadays?

Like most big events in the Clow-Kirby household, it’s being celebrated fairly quietly. Friday night, we got together with Joann and Rodger, a lovely older couple who we’ve gotten to know over the last couple of years at Harvest Wednesdays, a series of dinners and tastings at the Gladstone Hotel where they and we are regulars. They both work at the Royal Ontario Museum, so they gave us a quick tour of a couple of current exhibits featuring diamonds and gemstones (oooh, sparkly!), and then we went for dinner at Dynasty, a nearby Chinese restaurant. The food was good, albeit about twice as expensive as a similar meal would be over on Spadina, but that’s Yorkville for ya.

Last night, it was dinner at beerbistro which is always a treat, birthday or not. We started with duck confit corn dogs and blonde ale veggie pakoras, followed by an astoundingly huge serving of rabbit & bacon fettucine for Sheryl, and the succulent applewood-smoked suckling pig special for the birthday boy, washed down with the always enjoyable Durham Hop Addict IPA. Manager Dayna somehow found out that it was my birthday (oh, alright, I bragged about it on the way in…) and sent over a bomber of Lagunitas Imperial Stout for us to enjoy with our dessert of flourless chocolate cake – but wait, before the cake arrived, chef Brian stopped by to see if we’d like to try something he’d been “playing around with”: foie gras cured in Rochefort 6 served with a banana-cherry chutney. Well, twist our rubber arms, and ohmifrickingod, best foie gras EVAR!!!

Today, it was brunch at The Beaver, one of our favourite little brunch spots in the ‘hood, and tonight, dinner and drinks with my usual beer drinkin’ posse at The Rhino, the best beer bar within staggering distance of our apartment.

Yeah, I guess 40 is turning out to be pretty OK so far…