SUMMERLICIOUS 2019: Tacos & burgers & churros… Yeah bro!

So, we’re hanging out at Craft Beer Market, where they’re serving up a few of my favourite things for Summerlicious — we’re talking tacos, we’re talking ’bout burgers, we’re talking churros for dessert…and oh yeah, craft beer!!!

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These cubano street tacos come two to an order, but you could almost stuff all of this into one double-shell taco. (I didn’t, though.) You’ve got pulled pork, fried onions, cilantro and a citrusy mustard mojo — shut the back door, bro!

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For the main event, we’re going Classic Burger — two beef patties, pickles, lettuce, tomato, special sauce… Of course, I paid a buck fiddy to add bacon, cuz the first rule of Flavourtown is always add bacon!!!

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Now, for dessert we’re talking churros, sprinkled with icing sugar and sprayed with an imperial-stout infused Nutella. But you KNOW that’s not the only alcohol heading straight down my beerhole, bro!!!

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This Shaggin’ Wagon IPA from Stray Dog is like a boogie van in Flavourtown! It’s got a nice citrus kick, but not too hoppy at 55 IBU…and it kinda sneaks up on you at 6.4%.

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This Electric Unicorn White IPA is basically my spirit animal…if my spirit animal was a beer. It’s surprisingly smooth for 75 IBUs, and at 6.5%, it’s also not for wimps!!!

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Word to ye Olde Mother! (Olde Mother Brewing Co)

So, we’re hanging out at Olde Mother Brewing Co, this funky  little craft brewery in Frederick, Maryland. You won’t find any crabs and/or Old Bay here, but they are coming up with some pretty funky flavours, like a steam beer, fruited wheat beer and a sour double IPA. Then there’s this Mexican fiesta de cerveza, which they call La Bamba:

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Now this beer is pretty funkalicious. It’s brewed with lime juice, so you don’t need a lime wedge, but then there’s the secret ingredient that makes it — poblano peppers. No, it’s not spicy, but you definitely get the flavour of the peppers in there, which is pretty redonkadonk. Corona ain’t got nothing on La Bamba, chica!!!

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But if you thought that last beer was ridiculous, this one is even more crazy — a strawberries and cream wheat beer. You’ve got the taste of fresh strawberries, and it’s brewed with lactose, so it’s almost like a milkshake IPA, but less hoppy, more fruity. And it’s not even red or anything… Shut the back door!!!

Craft beer ‘n crab cakes @ Brewer’s Alley

So we’re hanging out at Brewer’s Alley, the first-ever gastropub in Frederick, Maryland, where they’ve been serving up their own beers, combined with killer cuisine, since 1996. Everybody in town knows this is the place to be, and it ain’t one of those “craft beer bars” that’s serving up a bunch of beers from local breweries — they’ve actually got their own brewhouse, bro!

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So, we’re starting off with the Hefeweizen, a light, German-style wheat beer with a fruity aftertaste. This beer literally tastes like bananas — and bananas is good!!!

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We’re pairing that with a big ol’ Maryland crab cake, which you can get with veggies for 19 dollars or on a sandwich for 18. Dude, anytime I can pay less and not eat vegetables is a win-win in Flavourtown, bro! This crab is broiled in Old Bay butter — cuz you gotta get the Old Bay in there — and smothered in a creole remoulade sauce. Man, you could put that on a flip-flop, and it would still taste good!!!

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Now, that crab cake sammy was slamtastic, but it ain’t the only renegade of funk in this funky joint — say hello to ma lil’ friend, pork taco pizza. They take pulled pork, lettuce, pico de gallo, diced jalapenos and drizzle it all with crema, erved up on a nice, fluffy crust — shut the back door, bro!!!

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Now, for dessert, we’re chugging down some Two Loves, this crazy unfiltered chocolate ale with liquefied cocoa. Dude, if Guinness is liquid breakfast, then this beer is liquid dessert. There’s so much cocoa here that it’s making me cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!!!

 

“We can’t stop here, this is beer country!” — a tour of Flying Dog Brewery

So, we’re hanging out at Flying Dog Brewery down in Frederick, Maryland, about an hour north of Baltimore. These guys are known for their labels, designed by Hunter Thompson’s main main Ralph Steadman, and for brews with names like Doggie Style and Raging Bitch. Now, I’m no stranger to Doggie Style — I chugged a few last time I was in Bodymore — so when they offered to give me the grand tour, I was all over that like queso on Guy Fieri’s mustache, bro!!!

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Now, this is where the magic happens — they take the hops, water and barley, and they mix it all up! They gave us some barley to taste, and while it doesn’t taste like much on its own, once it’s run through the lauter tun, it starts to get the job done…

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99 barrels of beer on the wall, 99 barrels of beer…

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Fun fact: when they make beer, it creates a whole buncha CO2, which they have to funnel out into a bucket. You couldn’t triple-dog dare me to chug that bucket, bro!!!

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Behind this door is the quality assurance lab — man, how do I get that job???

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This here is their bottling machine — what, you thought they did it by hand? Actually, the reason Flying Dog moved to Frederick from Colorado is because the old owners of the brewery left this baby behind!

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Of course, the best thing about the tour is the beer. Not only do they give you a few samples along the way, but at the end, there’s a Choose Your Own Beerventure flight waiting for you at the bar. For my four beers, I went with:

  • Ain’t Nothing But a G Thang hazy pale ale (5.7%)
  • Brut Reynolds brut IPA (5.7%)
  • Woody Creek White (4.7%)
  • Dead Rise Old Bay Gose (5.7%)

Dunno why, but they like to end their beers in .7%. While they were all quite tasty, the major highlight was the Old Bay Gose:

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Now, Old Bay is pretty much the chicken base and garlic salt of Maryland. They put that shit on everything — crabs, fries, crab dip, crab fries, chicken wings… you name it! And while I don’t actually see any of it floating in my beer, you can totally taste the Old Bay. Cuz what better way to wash down some Old Bay than with even more Old Bay, bro????

Beer & brats @ Steam Whistle Biergarten

Man, nothing beats an ice-cold beer and a hot, greasy sausage on a summer day! We’re hanging out at the Steam Whistle Biergarten, this funky little food hall inside the Steam Whistle Brewery, just a Vladdy Jr. moonshot away from where the Blue Jays play. And this place is serving up all kinds of German classics, like ham hocks, chicken schnitzel and not one, not two, but three kinds of sausage — along with this classic soft pretzel:

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Now, I was kinda hoping with a supersized pretzel twice as big as my head, like the one I had at Blake Shelton’s bar in Nashville. This was not nearly as huge. But it’s still warm and salty, and the Steam Whistle beer cheese is what makes it! (Not really a fan of the spicy mustard, though…)

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I don’t think you’ll find these German fries anywhere in Munich, but they were still pretty legit, You’ve got deep-fried potater discs, topped with thick chucks of bacon, green onion, and drizzled with donkey sauce — I would eat that any day of the week!!!

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It wouldn’t be a sausage party without bratwurst, bro! This German wiener is coming in hot, topped with a ton of onion flakes(!), arugula(!!) and a mango relish(!!!) on a nice, grilled bun. I could probably pound two or three of these…

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a beer hall without the cerveza. This Von Bugle Munich Lager is brewed using German techniques for that perfect balance between malty and bitter. It even upholds the Bavarian Purity Act…even though it’s brewed in Etobicoke!!!

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Now, I probably shouldn’t go to the Steam Whistle Biergarten and not drink a Steam Whistle. This is their unfiltered pilsner, which tastes a little richer and maltier than the one you get at The Beer Store. I think I like it a bit better…although it’s pretty much still the same beer.

 

Who needs democracy when we’re in a Beerocracy?

Now, I’ve never lived in a dictatorship…but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Dude, you’ve gotta be drunk to buy some of the stuff that these politicians come up with — I mean, whoever thought that Buck a Beer was a good idea??? Good thing that at Beerocracy, this funky craft beer bar on College, you won’t find any PC Brand, Barley Days or Cool Beer on the menu…

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We’re starting off on the lighter side with some Yacht Rock, a sessionable sour beer from Stone City Brewing. This gose goes down easy, at 4.4%, and comes with a hit of pink rock salt. Now, pink rock might not be punk rock, but it’s still heavier than Seals & Crofts, bro!!!

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But now we’re getting a whole lot heavier with Rainbow in the Dark, a winter rye IPA named after my third-favourite Dio song. This brew comes in at an evil 6.66%, and tastes so good, I’d even pay to drink a hologram of it… OK, maybe not.

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Now, I have heard a lot aboot Canadian Breakfast Stout, but being that it’s brewed by Founders in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and our local politicians have decided that we can only buy beer from two places, I have never had a chance to taste it until now. This super-strong (11.7%) bourbon barrel stout tasted a lot like the Trou de Diable I had at Beerbistro, but it’s even more potent… it’s so strong that they only serve it in a 12 oz glass. But that doesn’t mean you can order just one — this is a Beerocracy, after all. 😉

AYCE BBQ @ Broadview Hotel

On Sunday, it was finally starting to feel like summer, so we’re hanging out on the patio at the Broadview Hotel for their Ultimate Summer BBQ Series, where they’re serving up all the meat you can eat for 25 bucks, bro! And they’ve got all the backyard classics — burgers, sausage, ribs, chicken legs, pulled pork, and even mac ‘n cheese!!!

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With so much meat and such little time (they only give you 90 minutes), I didn’t know where to start… So I piled some pulled pork, onions and pickles into a sammy. It was maybe a little dry — needs some sauce, boss! — but still quite tasty.

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Now, I’m not a guy who likes a lotta stuff on his sausage — gimme some onions, maybe a little sauerkraut, and I’m happy. But this place was all aut of kraut, and the non-diced onions weren’t optimized for maximum sausage delivery…but that didn’t make this smokie any less tasty!!!

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Unlike pulled pork, I don’t actually need a lotta sauce on my ribs. These ones were just about right…and I can’t complain about the meat ratio on this one, either!

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These chicken legs mighta been the best thing at the BBQ. Hot, meaty, with just enough Cajun seasoning… I could slam, like, 17 of these!!!

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a backyard BBQ without burgers. Tomato, onion, pickles — I’ll leave the leafy green stuff for the cows, bro!

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Now, you KNOW I’m not just having one burger, bro! For round two, I’m talking beef, topped with pulled pork, topped with sliced sausage, on a bed of pickles, onions and coleslaw — it’s a Flavourtown Triple Play, times two!!!

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Hey, you can’t have a BBQ patio party without beer, bro! These ice-cold brewskis came from Eastbound Brewing Co, just a couple blocks down the street. Their Hidden Lake Hefeweizen was light and refreshing, but surprisingly strong at 5.7% — it’s probably outlawed in at least a few States. 😉

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Now, that 25 bucks (plus tax) only gets you one drink ticket, but the last time I only had one beer at a backyard BBQ was that time I sharted on the slip ‘n slide after a bad batch of baked beans. So paying five bucks for another brew was a no-brainer, bro! This Nerve Tonic saison has a nice hint of juniper berries at the end, and it doesn’t seem like 6.1% — I could totally crush a ton of these!!!!