What started out as an idea, the type of idea that carries you between adventures, turned out to be an adventure in itself.
It all started on Thursday, March 2, with a day off in Toronto. Knowing that a few friends live around the corner from this establishment, I was interested in catching up over a few pints. With that idea, we rendezvoused at the brewery, and (without sounding like a complete boozehead) we were disappointed it was not yet open. We were able to garner the attention of one of the ladies inside, who directed us to speak with the manager. What a pleasant guy, and he allowed them to sell us some of their beer prior to opening. We thought that two mini-growlers (or howlers as they are called here) would suffice, and so we hastily picked out two flavours and retreated back to my mate’s flat.
Well, without trying the beers prior to purchase, we were hoping for the best. I picked out their ESB, which is a rather new ‘type’ of beer in my repertoire, while my friend chose the Gates of Ale IPA.
Without further hesitation, we cracked the ESB first. Bottled on March 1st, this beer was probably as fresh as it gets for a customer who has just walked in off the streets. This beer was very smooth, with light and not very over powering flavour. With light notes of caramel, this beer had a clean taste and a subtle yet sweet after taste that left you wanting more. There was nothing “bitter” about this beer, so do not be mistaken, this is a beer I would recommend for everyone who wants to try something new that isn’t a run-of-the-mill golden lager. For comparison sake, I’d say this beer is a lighter and a tad sweeter than Collingwood’s ESB.
The second beer we bought was the Gates of Ale IPA. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like my IPAs, but this one wasn’t one of my favourites. Upon first pour, you smell the hop-citrus combination. Upon first sip, you notice that it is neither sharp nor mild but rather a fairly neutral taste, which may be beneficial to un-cultured beer connoisseurs. With a subtle yet sweet after taste, you can sip this beer for a while, but be warned, it went a little flat near the last few sips. Brewed on Feb 24, it may just not have had enough carbonation to extend its shelf life past a week. Overall, good, slightly bitter, but made up with some mild hops and great citrus flavour. I personally wouldn’t buy this batch again, but batches change often and I wouldn’t hesitate to try this again!
Like all good adventures, this day was yet to end. Impressed with what we tasted, and intrigued by what we hadn’t tasted, we went back to the brewery for a snack and to sample more flavours and hopefully end up purchasing a bit more for later consumption.
Let me tell you this is an experience worth repeating. Going in a little timid, with few expectations, we sat down and ordered BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos and a flight of beer each. The nachos went so quick that I by the time I realized I needed a picture, it was too late. Incomparable. These nachos… is there an award for nachos in Toronto because that plate deserved it.
Back to the beer.
So the first two beers on the menu were the Original Sin Blonde Ale and the Witcraft Belgium Wheat. The Blonde was good, for a college frat party type of ale. If I had to drink a Blonde Ale, I would chose this one, but I generally find Blonde Ales a little unimpressive in comparison to the multitude of choices and flavours of beer available. The Witcraft was a great, fairly authentic Belgium wheat beer. A little heavier and full bodied in comparison to a Hoegarden, we found it to be very refreshing and with light citrus notes. Over all, I would say it was missing a little orange garnish, but it was a beer flight tasting after all.
Our second round of beer entailed two IPAs. The first being the one mention earlier, the Gates of Ale IPA, and the second being the Lemongrass Coconut Thai-PA. What the heck. This beer. Wow. It is like a Thai fusion of flavour in a beer!! It was light, coconut-ty, and very, very delightful on the taste buds. I have absolutely no idea what kind of food you would pair with this elegant beer, but I will revisit this brew in the future. (Upon completion of the tasting, I bought a howler of the Thai-PA but ended up drinking it with a few ladies before leaving the city later in the the evening.) I recommend this beer. Hands down, try it. Once. It’ll blow your mind.
Our third round of beer was the Gothic American Brown Ale and the ESB. The Brown Ale was a relatively light beer, without much after taste, and very light on the flavours. Nice beer although I prefer a little more full-bodied Brown Ales as opposed to this chik and clean tasting beer.
Our last round of beer included the Beelzebock and the Dry Irish Stout. Both beers were nice, but at this point both my friend and I were feeling full from the nachos and the previous who-knows-how-many-ounces of beer consumed earlier in this adventure. We sampled the beer, but we were left with the desire for a little more flavour. They were both nice dark and strong, however perhaps it was the beer sampling exhaustion setting in that I personally feel these beers need to be revisited on a more clear headed day.
Somewhere along the way, after we finished the nachos and the beer, there came a time to pay and determine if we wanted to take any more beer home. We discussed the options with the waitress, but we mentioned that none of them really did “it” for us and we were sure how to proceed. She then realized we hadn’t tried one last beer, the Spruce Tip IPA. Talk about saving the best for last!!! One sip was all it took to fall in love. We immediately bought the full size Growler and took it home to loosen our belts and play some old school N64 Road Rash.
Actually, I bought a second bottle and have brought it back to my home in the Kawartha Lakes to try again with a clearer, more sober state of mind. That review will come another time soon!
Storefront photo from Blogto.comBottle photos by the author.