Launching Lord Simcoe 1791 Lager (well ahead of Lord Simcoe Day…)

Now, I’ve always thought that Lord Simcoe Day was the weirdest holiday in Canada. It’s a random day off at the beginning of August celebrating some dude who died in like the 1800’s. But now that he’s got a beer named after him, I’ve got a reason to start celebrating Simcoe Day early this year!!!

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So, we’re hanging out at the Berkeley Bicycle Club for the launch of Lord Simcoe 1791 Lager, which happens to be the year Toronto was founded. This light, crisp beer would go good in the summer — it’s pretty much perfect for celebrating Simcoe Day on the dock of the bay, bro! It’s pretty easy drinking, but still has some flavour — more Steamwhistle than Molson Canadian. Oh, and it goes pretty good with Canadian food like pizza and poutine:

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Any party with a poutine station is my kinda place to be! And they’ve got the real-deal cheese curds here, too — none of that shredded cheddar garbage! Now, the first time I went up, they only had veggie pizza, so I had to go back for a couple slices of this culinary creation. I don’t know who thought putting zucchini on top of prosciutto was a good idea…but I don’t think you’d see me eating zucchini otherwise:

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Now, somehow this event was also sponsored by Jack Daniels, which meant I got to fire away with a 1791 Depth Charge — a shot of Jack and a pint of lager, son!!!

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Wait, did somebody say “Fire Away?” Cuz the Greg Williams Band was playing everything from Chris Stapleton and Kip Moore to Chuck Berry and The Band. You know there’s something bout a truck and a beer and a shot and a poutine, and some good ol’ rock ‘n roll, bro!!!

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COUNTRY SUPERSTAR BAR SHOWDOWN: Blake Shelton’s Ole Red vs Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row

Although there are plenty of classic country bars on Nashville’s Lower Broadway, like Tootsie’s, Robert’s and Nudies, there have also been a few new ones named after big time country stars, like Alan Jackson’s Good Time Bar and Jason Aldean’s Crazy Town. The latest one to hit the strip is Ole Red, which has Blake Shelton’s fingerprints, if not his name, on it.

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When I stepped in off the street, the in-house band was just finishing up a George Jones tune, which is always a good sign. Their repertoire was also heavy on George Strait and Conway Twitty, and I actually heard them play Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time” twice, which might be one of the best country-music drinking songs of the 1990’s…

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Speaking of drinking, this place has got its own signature Ole Red Ale, brewed by Nashville’s Fat Bottom Brewing. It’s a pretty mild red beer, which tastes more or less like Rickard’s Red…but it does happen to be named after a Blake Shelton hit single.

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Ole Red actually has four floors. The second floor is a little more cozy than the first, and features this bitchin’ buffalo head, along with several TV screens showing the NHL playoffs. I definitely spent some time up here, pounding Music City Light beers…

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From there I headed up to the rooftop, where the most country song on the playlist was by Taylor Swift. But it did have a pretty sweet view of Nissan Stadium, along with some tasty snacks.

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Dude, you can’t get much more country than beef jerky and corn nuts in a mason jar, bro! This jerky was nice and tender, not too hard to chew, and the chili-spiced corn nuggets added an extra kick. But the best was yet to come…

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Hot pretzels are pretty much my favourite stadium snack, bro, and this one’s the size of a Marcus Mariota TD gallop! Plus, it comes with this super-creamy queso dip… dude, I’d put that on a flip-flop!!!!

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Washed it all down with a Dogfish Head Sea Quench Ale, this super-citrusy brew from Delaware’s finest brewery. This totally took some of the heat off those corn nuts!!!!

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Now, when I walked into Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, some burly, bearded dude was singing “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain. I fucking shit you not. And while there were plenty of screens showing the basketball game, you weren’t gonna get any craft beer here—they had Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light and Michelob Ultra on ice.

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After a couple more songs, I headed up to the second floor, where an all-white band was playing Bob Marley. This floor had a slightly better beer selection—if you consider Blue Moon slightly better beer—but once the drummer started singing Stevie Wonder, I was gone, gone, gone…

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Whiskey Row claims to have the highest rooftop patio in Nashville…where a DJ was playing some crappy rap music. I don’t think I lasted more than 10 minutes!!!

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After grabbing a non-light beer on the second floor, I headed down to Floor One to hear the band play 90’s radio rock staples by Eve 6 and the Gin Blossoms, before launching into the Uncle Kracker version of “Drift Away.” (Trust me, it was the Uncle Kracker version.) But at least I hung around long enough to hear em play “Drink in My Hand,” “Friends in Low Places” and, uh, “Sweet Caroline.” This floor was definitely the lesser of three evils.

FINAL VERDICT: Even though Blake Shelton loses 500 points off the top for recording “Boys Round Here,” his bar still wins by a landslide. Dierks Bentley’s joint is so un-country, it makes “Somewhere on a Beach” sound like “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Man, I’d rather stick a pink umbrella in my drink at Florida Georgia Line’s FGL House Sundaze Brunch than go back to Whiskey Row, bro!!!!!!

NASHVILLE MUSEUM MUNCHIES: Johnny Cash chili dog vs George Jones tritip dip

While the Country Music Hall of Fame might be the biggest attraction in Nashville, it ain’t the only museum in town. Two of the greatest country singers of all time also have their own hallowed halls–three if you count the Patsy Cline Museum upstairs from Johnny’s. (It’s a separate admission, though.)

JOHNNY CASH’S CHILI DOG

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Now, right down by the gift shop and the main entrance, there’s a little cafe serving up coffee, tea, sammies and what they call Johnny Cash’s chili. Not sure what the tie-in is, but if you put it on a hotdog with chips and a drink, all for less than 10 bucks, it’s hard for me NOT to shove it down my piehole:

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Now, first of all, this dog is pretty legit. It’s thick, juicy with a nice snap to it. The chili itself was OK, not too spicy, with some nice beans…but it coulda been alittle more beefy. Oh, and I paid 25 cents extra to add onions, cuz you can’t have a hot dog without onions, bro!

GEORGE JONES TRITIP DIP

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The George Jones on 2nd Ave is basically a sports/music bar with a museum on top. This place has got all kinds of Tennessee Whiskey, and even smokes its own BBQ–like this in-house special, the tritip dip sandwich:

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This was actually one of the best beef dips I’ve had in a while. The beef was nice n tender, the horseradish cheddar cheese is on point, and the au jus tastes like it’s supposed to. Did I mention it comes with a side of waffle fries?

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These spuds are pretty solid, son! Thick and crispy, nice n salty, tastes good with or without ketchup… I could eat these all day!

THE VERDICT: Johnny Cash would even tell ya that George Jones was his favourite country singer–and he’s got the better restaurant, too.

NASHVILLE HOEDOWN SHOWDOWN: Tootsies Orchid Lounge vs Robert’s Western World

Now, you can’t throw a horseshoe on Broadway without hitting a country music venue, but if you want the best, you gotta go up the street a bit to the corner of Broadway and 5th. Both Tootsies and Roberts have been around forever, and they’re bound to put a honky in your tonk, son! So, let’s break it down:

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TOOTSIES ORCHID LOUNGE: For my Toronto bros, if the Bovine was a country bar, it would be Tootsies. This little hole in the wall can fit maybe 200 people, and they sure pack ’em in! The stage is right in the window, and has barely enough space for a five-piece band–who on this evening peppered their George Jones and Merle Haggard covers with modern hits by Eric Church, Zach Brown, Cole Swindell and Chris Stapleton. (Of course, there were country classic singalongs like “Country Road” and “The Gambler” thrown in there too.)

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Beer is mostly of the cheap, domestic variety–although it’s not cheap, with a bottle of Blue Moon for seven bucks. You can actually get better beers at the Bovine, bro!!!

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ROBERT’S WESTERN WORLD: Now, Robert’s is at least twice, if not three times the size of Tootsies–it even has a second floor! In fact, the place is so big, you can’t really see the stage when you’re sitting at the bar. However, the beer selection is much better, and much cheaper, than Tootsies. For 4.75 I got a locally brewed, Belgian-style wheat beer called Southern Wit:

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Speaking of southern wit, the band on stage told us off the top they wouldn’t play anything after 1980–then started their set with a ripping rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues,” complete with stand-up bass solo! They covered a lotta classic country tunes by Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens and Johnny Paycheck, as well as a couple classic rock tunes like “Pretty Woman” and “Take a Load Off Fanny” before busting out a killer instrumental of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Yeah, they sold a few CDs that night…

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BOTTOM LINE: Robert’s has got the bigger space, better beers, cheaper prices…and they’re even serving up burgers and chicken fingers with a flattop and a deep-fryer behind the bar. I even liked their band better–but if you’re more into new country, you’d probably be better off at Tootsies.

Today, I’m drowning my sorrows in bacon…

So, we’re hanging out at McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill right here in Kitchener, Ontario. I was in K-town for the CMT country music festival to see my main man “Chief” Eric Church, the greatest country singer since Hank Williams Jr., last night under the hell-hot summer sun. But then it started raining alligators and catfish a couple hours before he was supposed to take the stage. There were thunderbolts and lightning, it was very, very frightening, and they decided to call the whole thing off.

Now, I never minded standing in the rain, but the last thing anyone wants is to be thunderstruck in the purple rain. So I’m a bit bummed out that Church wasn’t in session, but at least I’ve always got bacon:

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They call this the Out of This World Burger, and it’s practically from another planet. You’ve got six strips of bacon, two pieces of peameal bacon, lettuce, onion and tomato on top of a flame grilled burger inside a bakery-style bun. Bro, if there was any more bacon on this burger, it would be on Epic Meal Time!

But even eight pieces of bacon can’t ease my troubles or take away all my sadness today. There’s a tear in my beer as I type this. 😦

…and on the next day, he made poutine!

OK, so here’s the deal. After Nothing But Nachos Week, where I chowed down on some crazy sausagefest nachos, bacon cheeseburger nachos and poutine nachos, to name just a few, I still had a buncha stuff left over. And you know what I say, when life gives you leftovers, make a mean poutine! This one’s so epic, I hafta give it to ya in steps:

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Step 1 (tastes like a beer): You’ve got your Extra Crispy McCain Superfries and your Maple Dale cheese curds, which I snatched at Maple Leaf Loblaw’s.

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Step 2 (tastes a bit better than 1): Throw on some sautéed green peppers, onions, and chorizo sausage, which I cooked the other day and reheated in a frying pan.

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Step 3 (la piece de mar…erm, résistance): Throw down some fried meatballs and gravy. Bro, if I was a country music duo, my name would be Meatballs & Gravy!

So let me break it down to the fact,

You will never make poutine like that,

Unless you step up to the plate with a bat…

That’s all I gotta say about that!

(Somebody Snapchat Scott Borchetta, I think I smell a hit!)

Dude, this dish belongs in the Poutine Hall of Fame, no doot aboot it! I haven’t put this much meat in my mouth since that one time at band camp, when I won the chili-eating contest. And yes, I did finish the whole thing:

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Don’t be doubting me, bro!!!!