Tag Archives: Taste T.O.

Only 23 Shopping Days Until Christmas…


…so today on Taste T.O., I recommend a few of the many beer gift packs available at the LCBO this year.

(There are a lot of equally good choices on top of the half-dozen that I mention – check out this discussion thread on Bar Towel for the full list.)

The Cider House Rules – But These Ciders Don't


For my Tuesday column on Taste T.O. this week, I took a break from beer reviews and pub profiles to write about three ciders that have recently been added to the pitiful selection available at the LCBO.

Unfortunately, while they’ve slightly increased the quantity of ciders available to Ontarians, I found that they didn’t do a lot in terms of quality. One is absolutely dreadful, and while the other two are drinkable, they’re certainly nothing to get too excited about. Feh.

Cock & Tail (That’s What SHE Said!)


As promised, my profile of The Cock & Tail pub is up now on Taste T.O., so check it out!

(Oh, and the bartender isn’t as short as she looks in the first picture. The bar is just really frickin’ high.)

Just Because I Wasn't Writing Here Doesn't Mean I Wasn't Writing

As I mentioned upon my return the other day, one of the things that has kept me busy these past few months has been Taste T.O., the food and drink website that my wife and I publish. A good chunk of the time was spent on a redesign of the site that is about 95% complete, but I also do a lot of writing there – if you keep an eye on that site (or the RSS feed in the sidebar over to the right), you’ll know that I generally have a post of some sort up there every couple of days.

Of most interest to the folks reading this blog would be my Tuesday column, which up until recently was a Beer Of The Week series, but which will now be alternating between beer reviews and pub profiles, plus occassional pieces on other boozy beverages, such as an article on premium spirits that I did a couple of weeks ago.

As part of my pledge to post here more regularily, I’m going to try to remember to post a link here to my Taste T.O. column each Tuesday. In the meantime, here’s a round-up of everything that’s been posted since the last time I did one of these round-ups back at the end of July:

November 4th: Pub Profile – The Football Factory
October 28th: Pumpkin Beers
October 21st: Westmalle Dubbel and Koningshoeven Tripel
October 14th: Premium Brown Spirits
October 7th: Adnams Broadside Strong Original
September 30th: Canadian Brewing Awards 2008
September 23rd: Autumn Ales
September 16th: Brussels White
September 9th: Barley Days Summer Light Ale
September 2nd: Struise Pannepot Grand Reserva
August 26th: Bass Pale Ale
August 19th: Edelweiss Snowfresh
August 12th: Robert Simpson Anti-Gravity Light Ale
August 5th: Yanjing Beer

ORVAL! (and some other beers…)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up of links to my Beer of the Week columns over on Taste T.O., so here’s a run down of what I’ve been writing about over there for the last few months, including the world classic Orval (*sigh* – makes me feel like a giddy schoolgirl every time I think about that beer…):

May 6th: Mort Subite Kriek
May 13th: Orval
May 20th: Neustadt Scottish Pale Ale
May 27th: preview of the LCBOs Summer Beer promotion
June 3rd: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
June 10th: Steelback Lager and Steelback Tiverton Dark Lager
June 17th: Samuel Adams Summer Ale
June 24th: Grolsch Premium Weizen
July 1st: J.R. Brickman Pilsner and Brick Red Baron
July 8th: Wells Bombardier Burning Gold
July 15th: Nektar
July 22nd: Amsterdam Pomegranate Wheat
July 29th: Brakspear Bitter

Beer Stuff on Taste T.O.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down for a chat with Ralph Morana of Volo, one of the best beer bars in Toronto. He recently celebrated his 20th anniversary of ownership (although it’s only been a go-to place for beer for the last 5 of those), and we talked about the ups and downs of the last two decades. The resulting article was posted to Taste T.O. today, so under the assumption some some of you might be interested in reading it, here’s the link.

Also on Taste T.O.: One of our other writers interviewed Brian Morin, co-owner and chef at beerbistro. That article was posted yesterday. And here are links to my Beer Of The Week columns that have been posted since the last time I did one of these round-ups:

April 29th: Trafalgar Oak-Aged Rye
April 22nd: Southern Tier IPA
April 15th: Weltenburger Kloster Asam-Bock
April 8th: no column (posted a list of upcoming beer dinners instead)
April 1st: Rogue Brutal Bitter
March 25th: Headstrong Pale Ale & Headstrong Munich Lager

My Column, Let Me Show You It

It’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up of my recent Beer Of The Week columns on Taste T.O.

So, here is a round-up of my recent Beer Of The Week columns on Taste T.O.:

March 18th: Jenlain Bière de Printemps
March 11th: Spring Beer Preview
March 4th: O’Doul’s Amber & Labatt Blue De-Alcoholized Pilsener
February 26th: Grand River Ploegers Vlaams Rood
February 19th: Waterloo Dark
February 12th: Dieu du Ciel! Péché Mortel
February 5th: Bavaria 8.6 Red
January 29th: Fuller’s Vintage Ale 2007
January 22nd: Samuel Smith Winter Welcome
January 15th: Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock
January 8th: Scotch Irish John By Imperial Stout

Widget! Widget Good!

Look over to the right-hand side of the page, and you may notice that I’ve added a couple of new WordPress widgets to display the RSS feeds of my posts at Taste T.O. and the Bar Towel news feed that I maintain.

This is just in case the 2-to-3 posts a month that I write on this blog aren’t enough for you. Har.

Beers of the Last Few Weeks

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted links to my Beer of the Week column over on Taste T.O., so here are the last few:

harveysporter.jpgHarvey’s 1859 Porter – “…an extremely satisfying beer that is perfect for this time of year, with a robust but not overpowering flavour that pairs well with such hearty autumn fare as shepherd’s pie and beef stew.” (full review)

OCB Discovery Pack – “…even though this isn’t my personal dream team of brews, the OCB Discovery Pack is still a step in the right direction for the province’s burgeoning craft beer industry.” (full review)

Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale – “…brewed with real pumpkin, and there’s hints of it in the aroma and flavour, although the sweet malt and spice notes are more prominent. Nutmeg and ginger are especially obvious, and the finish has a nice hit of slightly tongue-numbing cloves to compliment the mild hops.” (full review)

Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted – “…quite a hoppy beer by British standards. After pouring a clear and bright yellow-gold, it instantly reveals a fresh aroma of herbal hops with hints of lemon zest.” (full review)

Fullers 1845 – “…sweet and treacly, malty and warm, with an underpinning of yeast and citrus.” (full review)

urquell.jpgPilsner Urquell – “…may no longer be the only Pilsner in the world, and it may not even the best one. […] But it’s still the original, and still very deserving of it’s well-earned reputation.” (full review)

Deuchars IPA and Belhaven Twisted Thistle – “[Deuchars is] not a bad beer, but it’s not really an IPA […] Twisted Thistle is similar to a lot of the IPAs being brewed on the west coast of North America, albeit more subdued in both alcohol and flavour…” (full review)

Burton Porter – “…a [porter] that is quite different from the roasty, stout-like versions that are common from many North American craft brewers.” (full review)

Scotch-Irish Black Irish Plain Porter – “…roasty and slightly sweet malt notes off the top, followed by bitter cocoa, coffee and licorice, and finishing with a slightly lactic sourness.” (full review)

You Down With OCB? (Yeah You Know Me)

Last week, I received a special delivery from the fine folks at the Ontario Craft Brewers to promote the appearance of many of their members at Toronto’s Festival of Beer, which kicks off tomorrow at Fort York. The package contained an assortment of eight beers (well, actually, six different beers, with doubles of two of them), as well as a copy of Bill Perrie’s book Craft Brewers Of Ontario (which I already received and reviewed last summer, so it’s been passed on to a friend) and various promotional materials.

Now, even though I received hundreds – if not thousands – of free CDs and records during my years of music reviewing and DJing, this free beer thing is still a cool novelty to me. But I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the contents of the package. Not that I didn’t appreciate receiving it – I mean, hey, it’s FREE BEER! But as someone who is quite familiar with the products of pretty much every brewery in the OCB, I felt that the full spectrum of what our province’s craft brewers have to offer wasn’t as well represented as it could’ve been, especially if the same package was sent out to less beer-saavy media. As noted above, two of the beers were there twice, and of the six distinct beers in the pack, four were pale lagers, one was a cream ale, and one was a porter. Meanwhile, one of the promotional pamphlets bragged about the diversity of the beers being brewed in Ontario, and listed the various styles available such as fruit beers, dark ales, pale ales, and so forth. So why didn’t they include examples of some of those in the packages?

Anyway, I guess I should write a bit about the beers that were actually in there, eh? Well, to start with, there was a bottle of Great Lakes Golden Horseshoe Lager and two bottles of Cool Beer. I drank these one after the other, and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between them. Each of them is a pale yellow lager with a vaguely sweet aroma, mild and clean flavour, and little to no aftertaste. Both are well made for the mainstream lager style, but they’re just not my kinda thing. However, based on the number of neighbourhood drinking holes that I’ve seen with one or the other on tap, I can only assume they’re doing pretty well at cracking at least a few bits of the market, so more power to ’em.

Next up where a pair of lagers from Neustadt Springs Brewery – Bruce County Premium Lager and Neustadt Lager. I wrote these up for my Beer of the Week column on Taste T.O. this week, so I’ll just give you an excerpt from what I wrote there:

(Bruce County) has a nice golden colour which is a bit darker than you might expect from a 4.5% lager, with a good sized white head that doesn’t stick around. The aroma is predominantly malty with a sweet and toasty character, and the body is a bit thin, but suitable for the style. The flavour is mild but well balanced, with bready malt and herbal hops in their proper places, and the hops getting a bit bolder as it warms. Yeah, it’s a relatively simple and easy-drinking lager, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the beer is well crafted and holds a fair bit more character than a typical macrobrew.

The same can be said for the brewery’s flagship Neustadt Lager. In some ways, it’s quite similar to the Bruce County, but with a bit more colour, more aroma and more flavour. Also like the Bruce County, it’s not an envelope-pusher, but it doesn’t have to be. I like so-called “extreme beers” as much as the next guy, but well made and enjoyable golden lagers like these have their place as well, especially during the dog days of summer.

From there, I moved on to Cameron’s Cream Ale. Right up front, I have to say that I’m generally not all that hot on cream ales. The style seems like a bit of a cop out to me – an ale for people who don’t really like ales. That being said, Cameron’s version is an enjoyable quaff, with a slight fruitiness to the nose, the expected creamy body, and a balanced, refreshing flavour. Still, I much prefer their Auburn Ale.

Finally, there were two bottles of Mill Street Coffee Porter, neither of which I was able to drink because my wife stole them to take to a friend’s BBQ on the weekend. But I’ve had this one often enough to know that it was easily the best beer of the bunch. They’ve toned down the coffee from the early batches, but it’s still an excellent porter with tasty roasted coffee notes, and easily one of Ontario’s best beers.

As mentioned, these five breweries and around a dozen other OCB members will have booths at Toronto’s Festival of Beer running August 9th-12th at Fort York. For all of it’s flaws, the fest is still a good opportunity to get a taste of Ontario’s craft brewing scene, as well as a bunch of the good (and some not-so-good) quality imports available in the province. Just stay away from the Labatt and Molson tents and you should be fine.