It’s beer drinking season in Canada (it’s always beer drinking season) and I thought it would be fitting if I gave a few of my own opinions on what’s HOT (but served cold) in the Toronto beer drinking community. This is based on my years slinging beer in various Toronto bars and my extensive collection of beer drinking buddies. What I wanted to focus on, naturally, are local, truly Canadian ales and lagers from the buzz breweries right now (with one *delish exception!). In no particular order, I will begin:
Mill Street is a thriving brewery located in Toronto’s funky distillery district and was founded in 2002. Two of the top sellers right now that I have noticed are Mill Street Organic and Mill Street Tankhouse. The Organic is wildly popular: light in colour and not too strong in flavour – it is the perfect ale to drink with pub fare or on its own. When asked to describe the Mill Street Tankhouse my good buddy (and solemn fan of this particular dark ale) Andre, a man of many words, condensed his feelings to a few: “Spicy. Rich. Full-bodied. Refreshing. The best thing to drink after a hot day in the sun”. Mill Street is available in most LCBOs (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) and on draught in plenty of bars throughout the city.
Moving on to a newer brewery, and one of my favourites for their quirky name and design flair, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery located in Barrie, Ontario. Founded in 2005, FMB has a popular strong India Pale Ale called Smashbomb. Andre obliged me in a taste test of this particular ale. In Andre’s words: “Grassy. Citrus-y. A long pleasant aftertaste. Hop-py notes”. (From what I understand only available at a few bars in Toronto including Shakey’s in the Bloor West Village.
Hop City is a brewery that makes a refreshing and popular traditional Bavarian style Hefeweizen that I have noticed making an appearance on many of my friends’ coasters. Lawn Chair, as it’s comfortably named, is a wheat beer with a cloudy appearance and an aroma of banana and clove. I happened to run in to a beer rep for the Ontario based brewery and asked him how he would describe Lawn Chair, “Traditionally drier then Rickard’s White, Lawn Chair is very ‘hop-py’ so it’s fruity but not in a citrus way. It’s very crisp. A very good summer beer.” After thanking him I mentioned that I would be blogging his description and he thanked me with a cute Lawn Chair tee! Yay swag! For more info on this and their other beers visit the brewmasters Kevin and John’s funky Hop City website.
For those feeling like a Snakebite this summer (read cider cut with beer, not the real version that could be poisonous or at the very least in Ontario painful and traumatic) or a “straight-up- liquid-apple-jolly-rancher-concoction-that-will-fool-you-into-thinking-you-are-not-drinking-an-alcoholic-beverage-and-therefore-you-cannot-be-blamed-for-the-surprising-intoxicated-result” I have the cider for you. Somersby was recently introduced to me by a good friend who happily took on my request for a taste testing description. Brought to us by the Canadian Carlsberg Group (though brewed in Falkenberg, Sweden) and served over a quarter pint of ice, Somersby was described to me as having “immediate aromas of crisp green apple. Heavy green apple. First sip is sweet and fruity which dilutes as you drink, thanks to the ice. Not as carbonated as Strongbow and not as sweet as Magners. Refreshing and awesome”
I hope this post helps navigate you toward a perfect beer pick that’s both delicious and local! For more info on beer, lagers and the like, visit my buddy Cass’s website The Bar Towel, Ontario’s Premier Beer Resource. This home-grown Canadian site includes beer news, a discussion forum and an array of beer-related events as well as meet n’ greets for Canadian beer aficionados. Also, check out NOW Magazine’s (Toronto weekly alternative news and entertainment paper) first ever Beer Guide and beer style showdown pitting several local beers against similar imports.
Cheers to good beers!