Tag Archives: craft beer

Chugging down the last Lions Summer Ale of summer…

Now, I wouldn’t normally drink a fruity light beer that’s infused with pineapple and papaya, and has a craptastic 14.3% score on Beer Advocate. But these past few days, it’s been hotter than hell on high heels, and I’m sweating like Gene Simmons in spandex, so you know I’m gonna lick it up, lick it up bro!

Now, this basically tastes like pineapple juice, if you could get drunk on pineapple juice. It’s super citrusy, goes down easy peasy…and tastes great when you’re seeing the Stamps stomp the B.C. Lions, Bro Levi Mitchell!!!!

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(For what it’s worth, I think Lions Winter Ale is a much better beer, but we gotta wait till wintertime for them to bring it back!)

Homegrown honey, honey, honey, you’re so yummy!

So, we’re hanging out at Birreria Volo, this funkalicious back-alley brewpub next to The Royal on College Street. But more importantly, it’s also right next to PG Clucks, this little hole-in-the-wall chicken shack that’s serving up the best fried chicken sandwich in the city. I had never been there before, cuz it’s like, where I am suppose to sit and eat, bro? But when I found out they were serving up their sammies next door at Volo—with five-dollar pints of local craft beer, to boot—I was all over this like Hootie from the Blowfish gone country!

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At Volo, they call this the Miele, but PG Clucks just calls it jalapeno honey chicken. Either way, I call it delicious. You’ve got big, thick, crunchy, juicy chicken, with a whole lotta sweetness from the honey, a little spicy kick from the jalapenos, and a super-soft and squishy bun. It’s like a festival of funk in Flavourtown Market!

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Now, I only speak the third-best Italian, but I now know that sottacetti fritti means deep-fried pickles. These fried flavour nuggets of awesomeness are hot ‘n juicy, with a nice crispy breading. Pretty sure I could slam 17 of these, but they only come four to an order!!!!

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And you know I wasn’t gonna go to a place like this and NOT drink beer, bro! So I opted for some Vim and Vigor, a nice, German-style pilsner from the righteous bros at Tooth and Nail in the nation’s capital. I’m pretty sure Sens fans are slamming some of these after that big win last night! It goes down nice and smooth, with just enough of an aftertaste, so you know you’re not drinking water or Coors Light or something. And hey, did I mention that it’s five bucks a pint on Tuesdays!? Shut the side door, dude!!!

The food at Brewhaha ain’t no laughing matter!

So, we’re hanging out at Brewhaha, this cozy neighbourhood basement bar on Prince Arthur Ave, just a stone’s throw from St. George subway station. Basically, they took the downstairs of a Duke of York and made it a bit cozier, with a buncha local craft beers on tap…like this here 8th Sin Black Lager:


This Hop City brew is halfway between a lager and a stout, with a chocolately, coffee taste, but a light, easy-drinking finish. It’s like when you’ve had Guinness for breakfast and lunch, and want something else for dinner…try an 8th Sin Black Lager!


Now, this was the dish that brought me in the door—the Cheesy Weiny Mac ‘n Dreamy. You’ve got mac ‘n cheese, deep-fried weiners, and then some crispy onions on top, for that one serving of vegetables. The hot dogs are real hot, straight outta the fryer, but the mac is not super cheesy, and does not have much bite. Still, I’ve put worse things in my mouth for $7.99 before…


Which brings us to the parmesan crusted grilled cheese. Could you tell from looking at it that there was parmesan in the crust? Me neither, even after tasting it. There’s also bacon in here, and some clumpy tomatoes…that kinda overpower everything else. And that’s without mentioning the bowl of lukewarm tomato sauce on the side! They also say this dish comes with ketchup chips, but these tasted more like plain or maybe BBQ to me…

Bottom line with this place is that the price might be right, but the food is wrong, bro!

Pounding back some Alberta brewskis at the Winter Craft Beer Fest!

Now, I don’t always drink beer outside in the snow, but when I heard that the Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival was bringing six of Alberta’s best brewers to town for two days only, you know I was there with hiking boots on (cuz nobody wears flip-flops in the snow, bro)! You’ve got Big Rock, you’ve got Brewsters, and even a couple I’ve never heard of before…cuz I took a wrong turn somewhere in Moose Jaw and ended up in Toronto back in 2005. But man, this was like a trip down memory lane in Boozy Flavourtown, dude!


But unlike last summer, I wasn’t about to start drinking on an empty stomach. So I giddy on up’ed to Evviva, this funky little brunch spot on Lower Simcoe Street. It looks like a few other craft brew bros had the same idea, cuz the place was pretty packed by 10 am! But you don’t even hafta wait till lunchtime to order this honkey tonk redonkadonk sammish, son! They call it the Crown Burger, and it’s pretty much the King of Brunch. You’ve got a nice, thick, flame-grilled patty with crispy lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles, along with some prepare-to-party Havarti and a fried egg on top! I’m not sure if this counts as breakfast, lunch or dinner…but they close at 3 pm, so it’s probably not dinner, then.


Once I made it through the gate, I kicked off my beerventure with my old friends at Big Rock, who now have their very own brewpub in TO, bro! (Remind me to check that place out sometime soon.) They were serving up Grasshopper, an old Flavourtown favourite, but I decided to try something new, instead. They call this one Cashmere Crooner, which must make it the Rhinestone Cowboy‘s cousin, or something. A lighter, single-hop lager, it’s got a bit of a fruitiness to it, but can still belt out “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie” like nobody’s business, bro!


Next, I hit up Grizzly Paw, this funky little brewery from cross-country ski country–coming straight outta Canmore, son! I went with their Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat Beer, which is kinda like Lakeport Honey Lager…if Lakeport actually tasted good!


Now, I remember hanging out at Brewsters Brewpub in Crowfoot Crossing back in the day. They used to have unlimited soda pop refills, and this killer dry-ice sundae for dessert! But one thing they weren’t serving up back then was this Hawaiian Coconut Porter. It’s like they put a coconut in the Guinness then they shake it all up!!!


Blindman Brewing is this little local brewery up in Lacombe serving up tallboys of some pretty righteous stuff, son! This here’s their Long Shadows IPA, which has a nice, hoppy, citrusy taste and packs an unexpected kick at 7.1 per cent!


Now, The Dandy Brewing Company definitely wins the prize for best beer name. They call this Une Vieille Maitresse, but while she may be old, she’s hardly a cruel mistress. A light, Belgian-style ale with just four per cent alcohol, I could probably pound seven of these and still finish reading Le Petit Prince!


And finally, we’re saving the fruitiest for last with the Aprikat, from Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing Company. They use natural apricot extract in this wheat beer to make it actually taste like apricots, bro! And apparently they use it to make Apricot Beer Waffles–gonna hafta get me some of those next time I’m in Deadmonton, son!


Now, you wouldn’t think I’ve still got room after pounding a buncha Alberta craft beers and a righteous, real-deal brunch burger, but you know I’ve always got room for pulled-pork pierogis! And there’s this saucy little joint on Dundas, just west of Dovercourt, that was doing ’em up right before your eyes! Because when haven’t you wished you could get some righteous BBQ inside a pillowy soft potato? I know I have, bro!


But of course, I left just a little bit of room for dessert. Can you say deep-fried cheesecake balls, bro? Even with the warm, cripsy coating, the cake inside stayed cool ‘n creamy. It’s like a Christmas Day miracle in Flavourtown, son!!!!

I dunno bro, but I don’t think we’re in Little India anymore…

So, we’re hanging out at Lake Inez, this brand-new craft-beer Asian-fusion sharing-plates place on Gerrard St, over by Coxwell. Now most joints in this part of town are Lahore Tikka This, Chicken Masala That, Hanging Out Second Avenue Eating Chicken Vindaloo…but this place, this place is totally different. You almost wouldn’t know it’s there—they’ve only got a small sign on the door—and you definitely don’t see it coming, but they’ve really some funky dishes, dude!


Now, I don’t always eat sunchokes, but when I do, I load ‘em up with bacon, green onions and sour cream—baked potato style, bro! The texture is sorta like a potato skin, but they’ve got a nice smokiness, grilled up over Japanese charcoal ‘n all. Pretty sure I could slam 16 of these…but then I wouldn’t have room for the main course!


Now, they call this a Large Sharing Plate, but it’s really just a light snack in Flavourtown. This Vietnamese-style pork chop comes in about 17 pieces, and it’s topped with a caramelized fish sauce, crunchy cashews, and a pineapple/cucumber salsa. It’s pretty different from any pork dish I’ve ever eaten—that flavour profile is honky tonk redonkadonk—but you know I’d eat it off a flip-flop if we weren’t in the middle of January!


Of course, you can’t go to a place that has 18 local craft beers on tap and drink only water, so when visiting Lake Inez, I drink Lake Effect IPA from Great Lakes Brewery. This one packs a punch, at 7%, but it actually wasn’t very bitter, especially for an IPA. Lemme tell ya, it sure tastes nice with a pile of pork and a side of sunchokes, son!


Now, it may be the only beer with a big maple leaf on it, but I’m not a really big drinker of Molson Canadian. The only three times I order Canadian are during the Olympics, the World Juniors and when I’m in Quebec, just to fuck with people. (You can’t actually buy Molson Canadian in Quebec.)

Believe it or not, there was actually a time when you’d find a lot of “Molson-only” bars in this city, about 5-6 years ago. But that all changed when craft beer started taking over–so, in honour of Toronto Beer Week, I’m counting down 10 beers I’d chug back before asking a bar for a Molson Canadian.

10. Coors Light


That’s right, I’ve even chug back The Breakfast of Glen Benton before drinking a Molson Canadian.

9. Canuck Pale Ale


This Great Lakes IPA is even more bitter than Vancouver fans after the Canucks choked away the Cup in 2011 and they set the town on fire. Poor, poor Canucks fans…

8. Thornbury Pickup Truck Pilsner


This Canadian craft beer is so country that Dallas Smith, the former frontman of Default who’s now a country singer, should probably have someone write him a song about it. (He’s also from Vancouver, BTW.)

7. Old Style Pilsner

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Now that you can buy Pilsner in Ontario, I would shotgun 17 of these before I drank a drop of Molson Canadian. It’s officially my new shitty concert beer of choice.

6. Gopher Beer


This Big Rock beer was so popular that they don’t even brew it anymore. But I would still go back in time and drink it over Molson Canadian.

5. Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale


This one-off bacon brew was so gimmicky, it came in a pink bottle. But it actually tasted pretty good, unlike Molson Canadian.

4. Dinner Jacket O’Red IPA


Not only does it have a bitchin’ lumberjack jacket on the can, but this red IPA also contains 6.3 per cent alcohol. What’s Molson Canadian, like, 3.6%?

3. Brooklyn Pilsner

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This bottle of beer is 30 seconds away from exploding all over my face…and I’d still drink it before Molson Canadian.

2. Molson Dry

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This is what they drink instead of Molson Canadian in Quebec. And it’s still better than Molson Canadian.

1. Steamwhistle


This is my favourite Toronto beer. I would drink it over anything else on this list…

…including Molson Canadian.

Five funky food pairings from the Roundhouse Craft Beer Fest

I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Old Style Pilsner. Or gimme six Bud Light Strawberry Daiquiris and the bill, bro. I won’t go outta my way to buy craft beer unless I’m stuck at some hipster dive bar on Ossington where I’ve never heard of anything on tap. Then maybe I’ll order a Steamwhistle, or something…

But when I heard that there was gonna be all kinds of funky food trucks at the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival, I knew I had to come check it out. It’s 20 bucks to get in, but then the drinks are super-cheap–they’ll fill up your cup for just two beer tokens:

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Now they don’t take craft beer tokens at the local food trucks, so you still gotta have some cash on hand. But with most culinary offerings selling for 10 bucks or less, I really can’t complain. So I started off by hitting up the FeasTO food truck. These cats are known for dumplings, but when I saw they were serving up some popcorn chicken, I knew they’d be kickin’ it up a notch:

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The chicken is crunchalicious, straight from the fryer, and they’ve got a nice sriracha mayo on top. I paired this with a Righteous Rockwell Pilsner, which is so underground, you can’t even Google it, bro! The beer had a nice, rich flavour, with even more bite than Saskatchewan’s national brew. It deserves to be called righteous, for sure!

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Now, I dunno about you, but whenever I see a sign for Bloomin’ Bacon, I always give them my money. This funky Hungarian food truck Chimney Stax makes this crusty, doughy, mass of goodness, then puts a buncha bacon on top. What could possibly be bad about that? And then you’ve got this Forgotten Lake Blueberry Ale beside it. This stuff’s super-strong–7.5 per cent, son! And it’s got a nice tartness from the blueberries, too. I’ve never had a purple beer before, but I gotta say, this shit’s super legit!

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Now, the last time I went to The Pie Commission, I had an outta-bounds beef ‘n beer pie. This time, I switched it up with some smokey steak ‘n cheese…and a side of beer. This pastry is equal parts flaky and steaky, with super-tender beef that just melts in your face. And you gotta have a dark beer with such a rich dish, so I went with Wellington’s Imperial Russian Stout, which tips the scales at 8 per cent. Just three beers in, and I’m already all tipsy like Jon Montgomery after winning a medal in Whistler… Oh, wait!

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So now I’m heading past Dobro Jesti, my favourite Slovenian food truck, when this guy says to me, “Hey buddy, do you want a garlic donut?” Do I want a garlic donut!? Dude, Garlic Donut is my middle name! After devouring his doughy offering, I immediately went and bought more. Can you believe they give you this many for just six bucks?

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These bite-sized garlic bites are outta bounds, bro! You’ve got a hot, puffy pastry, deep-fried to perfection, with enough garlicy goodness to make Guy Fieri cry. Paired with a Little Norway pale lager from Sawdust Brewing Co, which is crisp and refreshing, with just enough hops so you know you’re not drinking Coors Light. Werd to ya mora!

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Now, at this point I was getting pretty full, but when I saw the Koi Gourmet food truck serving up some real-deal Korean meals, you know I had to make room for bulgogi, son! This funkalicious sandwich is served open faced on a scallion pancake wrap, with pickled carrots, mango, daikon, cucumber and cilantro, sorta like an outta-bounds bahn mi. The best way to attack this monstrosity is to fold it up and shove it down like an oversized taco, all while chugging a refreshing Radicle Wheat Beer from Henderson Brewing Co. The citrusy flavours go nicely with the pickled veggies to make this a righteous Korean-German experience, kinda like Psy jamming with Kraftwerk. All that’s missing are the pistachios, bro!

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