We have seen an flux of retail supply from Unibroue in Ontario over the past few years. For a long time Maudite, La Fin du Monde, and Blanche de Chambly were all available at the LCBO – but then around 2010/11 the beautiful 750ml corked bottles vanished, and we were left with only a 6 pack of Blanche de Chambly. It could have been worse, at least Maudite and La Fin du Monde (and Trois Pistoles) were, and still are available at The Beer Store in 6 packs. Then later in 2011 we got a nice surprise with the seasonal release of Unibroue 17 - an amazing beer which I have detailed with many adjectives. The 2012 version came in as well the following year, and we also got Terrible. Now it seems like we will see another seasonal large format releases in the form of a beer not produced since 2008 – Unibroue La Seigneuiale.
Originally brewed in 1995, La Seigneuriale is touted as a “Belgian Ale” – and truth be told, it is difficult to pin it into a more precise category. It is 7.5% abv, but lighter in character than a Dubbel, and darker than a Tripel. Its certainly not a Pale, Blonde or Golden, so for argument sake lets call it a Belgian Amber Ale. Sure, why not. Read the rest of this entry »
I am constantly talking to people everywhere about where they can go have a great beer experience. Breweries, pubs, restaurants, stores, festivals, and more. If you are just looking for a great local to enjoy a selection of suds – or if you are planning a 3 day beer trip with some buds – there are plenty of options no matter where you are. But without question, every year I tell hundreds of people that if they want a amazing and vast beer experience, then Mondial de la Biere is on the very top of my list. No joke.
This is a very different type of experience compared going to a brewery or a brewpub. Those are an intimate insight into specific beers and the people that make them. Some of the great beer highlights in my life, and in anyone’s, will be in a brewery or brewpub. A beer festival offers a very different scenario – and one that you can customize to you own preferences. I’ll discuss that in a moment, but first – why do I love Mondial so much? Read the rest of this entry »
I am sure across the globe beer lovers, haters, bartenders and brewers all have different opinions on the matter of beer foam. You know, that beautiful collar of creamy CO2 and protein on top of your beer? So, obviously I am a proponent of foam on a properly poured beer – if you have seen any of my beer reviews you’ll notice every picture showcases a beer poured with at least a little foam cap, but usually a significant one (like the dense and sumptuous head on top of the Anchor Christmas Ale pictured above). I believe that foam on beer has several benefits to the beer drinker throughout the entire experience; and it all starts with your eyes. Read the rest of this entry »
Its just over a month away, but it is definitely worth noting now – the LCBO’s Spring Craft Beer Release, scheduled to hit shelves the week of March the 3rd, looks amazing. Sorry… I didn’t mean to type amazing, I meant badass! The reason I am stipulating that this is more than just an awesome release has to do with the nature of some of these beers. There are 16 beers scheduled to be released for this season, 4 of which are a brewery feature. Of the 12 that are not part of that feature, in my opinion 8 are totally amazing. But here’s the thing; 1) the brewery feature is Brasserie Dupont, who is most famous for the Saison Dupont - which may very well define the Saison style. They still create beers fermented with wild yeast stains using techniques thousands of years old. Badass – try these beers. Read the rest of this entry »
If it seems like Ontario Craft Beer is on the verge of a growth spurt, you are only partially right. The truth is that this seemingly sudden surge in the abundance of Craft Breweries has been evolving for at least 5 years thanks to the craftsmanship and dedication of some of Ontario’s well established craft brewers like Amsterdam, Beaus, Great Lakes, Flying Monkeys, and Muskoka, and the passionate folks behind them. But the new wave of breweries really hit the road hard around 2010; since, there have been over 20 new breweries that have sold beer to the public. It should also come as no surprise, really – for a long time now Ontario has been hungry for artisan quality flavour, locally sourced ingredients, and exciting and unique experiences. This is exactly what craft beer has to offer. And it has it in spades. Read the rest of this entry »
If it looks like a beer, smells like a beer, and tastes like a beer, well it must be beer! Not necessarily the case. And on two fronts. Beer is the most recent consumable product that is starting to see significant attention by the gluten intolerant community. The problem with the term “gluten-free beer” is that in order to make it you cannot use malted barley – which is loaded with gluten. But if you aren’t using some form of malted barley then the beverage technically cannot be called beer. At least not in Canada. Not right now. I think the real problem though lies beyond these bureaucratic rules and regulations and in the fact that very few beers that are made without barley in order to be gluten free don’t actually taste like beer. They may look like beer, and sometimes smell like beer, but no, they don’t taste like beer. And that is where the market has some room to grow; creating gluten-free, or gluten-reduced beers that are actually beer.
One of the most exciting aspects of being a brewer or homebrewer is that there will always be more to learn and experience. Regardless of your brewing style, level of expertise, or the sophisticated equipment you may have (or lack), there are always new sciences, new techniques, and new problems that will inevitably arise. I have been on a brewing journey for about 5 years now; homebrewing first then recently brewing professionally. Every day I learn new things about the art and science of brewing (and fermentation, conditioning, packaging, and serving) but I had thought I knew my homebrew system like the back of my hand. So, calling all homebrewers and professional brewers – if anyone can help me solve this corundum I would be grateful.
You may be asking yourself, what does Sam Adams Utopias have to do with homebrew? Maybe one of the world’s most complex and out-of-the-box beers is such a far stretch from a homebrewer cooking a batch of beer in his kitchen. Its true. Although I’d warrant that I can make some pretty sweet beer on my stove, its still a far cry from a 16 year old variety of barrel aged beers blended and finished in a variety of spirit and wine casks. But, the truth is that the Utopias was created out of the same passion and love that creates homebrewers – and without it, beers like Utopias simply wouldn’t exist. While the technical ability and resources are different, the heart is all the same. Read the rest of this entry »
Before I fell in love with beer I had no idea of the potential this seemingly simple beverage has to make people smile. Of course, I knew it was a perfect pairing with a burger or wings, and it always accompanied my left hand at the pub. But it wasn’t until I really went head over heals for craft beer that I began to understand and appreciate the wide spectrum of character that beer can have – a spectrum of flavour, color, aroma, sensations, and moments. Yes, beer can fit nearly any moment in time, any circumstance there is, or any occasion in life. What I really discovered is that beer has enough room for creativity and customization that it can make anyone smile.
Today is the absolute perfect day to enjoy Innis & Gunn’s newest release in Canada – the Canada Day 2012 Special Edition Oak Aged Beer. This is actually the 4th time Innis & Gunn has celebrated Canada Day with us. After all, we buy more Innis than almost any other country in the world! The first was the Canadian Cask in 2009, then in 2010 another Canadian Cask, last year they brought out Canada Day 2011, and now finally Canada Day 2012. As usual, it is available while supplies last at select LCBO locations in the commemorate box for $4.95. This beer is typically aged in oak barrels and has Aromatic Malt added to it for greater depth and richness (aromatic malt brings forward additional toffee, caramel and rich malt like sensations in an ale). There is no mention this time which barrels the beer has been aged in, but I would expect it found its way into some sort of Canadian Whisky barrel – I cannot be sure though. In any case, it sped 49 days in said barrel before being bottled.
The chance to brew your very own homebrew recipe on a full scale at a professional brewery is both a homebrewers and beer geek’s dream. The Great Canadian Homebrew Competition gets to grant this wish by teaming up with a Craft Brewery and brewing a beer by the Best of Show winner for that year’s homebrew competition. In 2011 Brad Clifford won with a German Style Pils – which is a remarkable feat among a competition that is usually plastered with rich and unusual styles and thick imperial interpretations. But its true – Brad’s Pils broke out the highest scores in the group winning him the chance to brew a beer of his choice with Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.Read the rest of this entry »
You may have noticed since February the frequency of my posting has descreased significantly – if you did notice, even if you didn’t, thanks for reading Definition Ale! In February of 2012 I began working as the Assistant Brewer at Beer Academy, and my world once again became overwhelmingly consumed by delicious beer. So much so that even as I attempted to post once per week, it became difficult to even post twice a month. So thank you for sticking with me if you have!
The last 5 months has been a wonderful ride focused on education, construction, creation, tasting, and brewing. I am thankful to be working with an amazing and experienced team of passionate beer professionals in a historic space that has been renovated for the love of beer. So, in a seriously biased post here, I would like to invite you to come visit the Beer Academy to see what we have been doing at 75 Victoria, the previous home of two great Toronto breweries; Growlers and Duggan’s. The Beer Academy features an interactive beer ingredients bar, Canadian Beer History wall, a small but growing beer library, an event kitchen as well as lots of event space, a retail store and tasting bar where you can sample our beers as well as walk away with bottles or growlers (to come), and some great vintage beer bottles, cans, signage and brewing equipment. Read the rest of this entry »
From June 6th to 10th thousands of beer lovers from across the globe will bombard Place Bonaventure in Montreal Quebec for the 19th edition of Mondial de la Biere; one of the world’s premier international beer festivals. The upfront info is that admission is free, tasting tickets are $1 each, beers will cost between 1 to 5 tickets, it is open each day from 11am to 9pm, and it located at 800 De La Gauchetiere St. West. What’s really important though is that this may actually be the best beer festival in North America… I know many Americans will be outraged by this. There are tons of amazing festivals in the US like the Great American Beer Festival, Taste of the Midwest, The Extreme Beer Festival and Savor. Where Mondial tops these, and any other festival I know of in North America is that it is truly and international festival. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, Cass Enright seems to be at it again. The man behind The Brewery Market, The Bar Towel, and the Golden Tap Awards is forging new roads forward for Ontario Craft Beer. As somewhat of a spin-off series of events, the Brewer’s Backyard will launch on May 21st, operating in similar fashion to The Brewery Market by featuring an exclusive brewery and some of their regular plus one-off flavours, all paired with local cuisine. This event series will be held at the Evergreen Brick Works, a beautiful outdoor/indoor venue that has hosted many culinary, wine and beer events over the past few years. Each even will run from noon to 4pm, and you will be able to purchase tickets redeemable for food or drink. The remaining events will be held on June 17th, July 2nd, August 12th, September 23rd, and October 8th. Read the rest of this entry »
Today is Star Wars Day. Yes, there is a Star Wars Day, and in reference to “May the force be with you”, May the fourth has become the unofficial day of celebration for Star Wars nerds *cough* fans all across the globe. And I am not ashamed to admit it, I love Star Wars. In fact I watched Return of the Jedi two nights ago because I had a huge craving for it! Its just so good.
So, to honor this now sacred day, lets take a look at what beers some of the famed Star Wars characters would be enjoying today.