Category Archives: Beer picks

Uncle Albert’s detour

Few things give me greater pleasure than mentioning Albert Einstein in my blog. Here goes …


Hey Uncle Albert – fish are stupid!


This got me to thinking about stupid beer.  If you are going to spend your whole life drinking cheap beer then you will live your whole life believing that it is good – and that you are a genius.  If, however, you want to really be a genius then you have to try new stuff – like Muskoka Brewery’s Detour IPA. This weekend I had it on tap at Baker Street Station in Guelph and found it again in a 6-pack at the LCBO.

I think “Stop drinking stupid beer” should be on the front of the Detour IPA t-shirt.  This is a big hop ale with a clean finish that is the perfect detour from winter beer drinking to clean, genius, spring beer drinking.  I think Uncle Albert would approve.


And I want a kick back on the “Stop drinking stupid beer” t-shirt sales.

Phone a Friend

I had somebody text me the other day to find out if I knew where Newcastle Brown Ale was on tap in Guelph.  She referred to me as her “phone a friend” – a reference to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire game show.

It got me to thinking – how do you find out stuff like that in your city. I think Twitter is the answer to the modern “phone a friend”.  It certainly casts a wide “friend” net.  I tweeted at a local beer guy who got back to me within minutes.  Sadly there wasn’t any on tap here in Guelph.  But I thought that Mill Street Tankhouse Ale at the Wooly was a close second.

I think I would be okay if somebody tweeted me about where to find a wine.  So go ahead – “tweet a friend” @TravisOke

#Hashtag, whatever you want it to be.


Aw Shucks

How often have you used the words “Shucks” or “Shucking” in conversation this month?

You will if you get to the Woolwich Arms on a Friday night in December. It’s one of the first miracles of Christmas. My shucking man will stand there and keep shucking a dozen Malpeques as long as you keep handing him a $10 bill – or until he runs out.

How good are they? “They taste like another dozen” [R.I.]

Also, a year ago I started a tradition of slipping the first oyster into the bottom of my stout.  The salty protein marinates nicely until it is his turn to go down.

Yep, I’ve been there both Fridays already this month.

So slip over the to Wooly and slip an oyster into your stout this Friday – you won’t be sorry.


A finished Oyster is a beautiful thing

Get your winter beard on

Men. Thinking that it’s time to get your Winterbeard on? This man stopped thinking a long time ago.

Ladies. Have you been thinking that your man should grow a Winterbeard?  Of course you have.

Men. Are you thinking about the best beer of your life? Muskoka Brewery’s Winterbeard?  A double chocolate cranberry stout –  made with roasted dark chocolate malts, real cocoa,  70%  chocolate, and freshly harvested cranberries – you bet this stout is good. And  just in time for manly beard season.  Manly yes, but she’ll like it too.


Thanks to international story-teller and local brother-in-law Brad for the inspiration [for this blog post not for Muskoka Brewery - however, I'm sure they agree that your beard is inspiring to us all].20131209-190939.jpg

Too much time on my hands

Lyrics from the 80′s.  My 16 yr old nephew [nephew-in-Spain] was recently exposed to “Come Sail Away” by Styx for the first time.  I have a photo of the priceless, puzzled look on his face. “What in the heck in the what?”, is his expression. He’s right. Still, I wish I had a dollar for every time “I thought that they were Angels, but to my surprise, we loaded up the starship and headed for the skies” [2:48 and again at 3:32 in the video if you clicked on the link].

Watch out for the segue, here it comes – I think the guys at Wellington Brewery [right here in Guelph] have too much time on their hands [see what I did there?]. They have been releasing Welly one-offs at an alarming rate.  Alarming because I haven’t made it to their brewery every weekend to buy the newest brew.

Looks like my Saturdays are booked for the month.


You can’t believe how hard I tried to make a River Styx comment – like “Wellington Brewery, where the beer flows like the river Styx” – none of them worked.

New Neighbours

We recently got new neighbours – often a “we’ll wait and see” event.  Our first chat with them was promising.  Younger than my wife and I [a more frequently recurring theme than I care to admit] they moved here from Vancouver.

“Traded the Hipsters in for the Hippies - and I think we won” was the line that won me over.

I had to agree with them. I prefer the neo-hippies of Guelph to the Hipsters anytime. My wife gently refers to the latter as the “Look at me – I’m ironic with geeky glasses,  tattoos, and outdated facial hair” kids.

What confirmed for me that the Hipster was in fact not hip at all was this article from the NY Daily News.  To summarize – it appears that Hipsters have made Pabst Blue Ribbon beer so popular that the price of cheap [not to mention flavourless and watery] beer everywhere has gone up and up.

I do have some advice for these people – not everything that people stopped doing from the past should be considered retro. Some things just need to never come back. Go buy yourself a micro-beer! And stop growing moustaches.

Thank you.


When does Autumn begin?

Who knows when Autumn really starts?

A source from Columbia University tells me it’s at 4:44 pm on Saturday Sept 22nd when the sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south.

My man Jason at Muskoka Brewery tells me that it begins September 16th – the day they release Harvest Ale to the world.

So I guess it comes down to the reliability of your sources doesn’t it.

Who are you going to believe – Jason at Muskoka Brewery or this so-called Columbia University”? [Who ever heard of an "Ivy League" or a "celestial equator" for that matter?]

Harvest Logo 2

Harvest Ale is available in 750mL bottles and is available at the LCBO and The Beer Store starting September 16th – the first day of Autumn

Harvest Bottle

Chicago – Micro or Nano?

Took a detour to Chicago last week.  Chicago –  The windy city? Hmm. I’ve seen windier.  Ever been at the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg in January? Although I guess Saskatchewan is partly to blame for that wind too.

Back to our detour. One of the pleasures of a long road trip [a 20 hr drive from our cabin back to Guelph] is listening to NPR on American radio.  I love the challenge of finding a new station as the current  signal fades into the crackle of a weak handheld transistor radio.

While driving into Chicago, somewhere in rural Wisconsin, I happened on the NPR program On Point. Today’s episode – The Renaissance of American Craft Beer.  Woo hoo! The discussion introduced the term Nano brewery – a more apt description of what I consider Micro breweries.  I mean really, can Samuel Adams be considered a microbrewery if I can buy their seasonal beer in Ontario? Not really.

That got me in the mood to search for Chicago nano craft beer during my 3 night stay.

My first pint was the Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale at Giordano’s pizzeria.  Available on tap only in Chicago the ale was lightly hoppy with hints of citrus … well delicious.   By the way the pizza is ridiculous.  My wife and I didn’t even come close to finishing our small pizza.



Deep dish Giordano’s – a delicious exercise in excess

My best nano brewery experience was a 5 Rabbit Cervecería tasting at The Fox & Obel [my new favorite specialty food store].  My man Champi hooked me up with some samples of his Latin inspired cerveza.  In Aztec mythology 5 Rabbit was the deity of excess and overindulgence.  I’ll buy that. My two favourites were the 5 Rabbit golden beer and the 5 Grass hoppy ale.  They were so good that I spent an inordinate amount of time popping my head into any pub that had taps looking for them.  They weren’t easy to find but worth the effort nonetheless.  When you visit Chicago please bring me back a 6 pack of 5 Rabbit.

Champi, if you’re reading this, bootleg a couple of cases to Guelph for me – we helped you guys out during prohibition.

5 rabbit logo

So Chicago –  you weren’t that windy, but you were toddlin’, and you were crafty, and you were awesome.

Passportless in Pennsylvania

Last week I vacationed in Pennsylvania.  Wonderful place – 20 years ago I found my wife there.  Good times.

Last week I told a cashier, “this is the weirdest country in the world”.  I smiled as I said it, so as not to appear offensive [one should do that when insulting a country as patriotic as America], but I meant every word of it.

Long story short – I couldn’t buy beer because I didn’t have my passport with me.

These are some of the reasons that I think that is strange.

  1. I have been of legal drinking age for the past 30 years
  2. In PA you can’t buy beer in a grocery store at the checkout counter.  Oh, the beer is there are the store but you have to buy it at the sandwich / coffee counter.
  3. No really – the same place that you pay for your $1.29 coffee is the same place you pay for your beer.
  4. Because we couldn’t have people buying beer at the main checkout lines.
  5. I needed my passport because I have a Canadian drivers license = foreign drivers license = “we don’t trust any licensing agencies but our own sir”
  6. In Ohio they would have sold me beer as long as I had cash [my lawyer Aunt reassured me]
  7. I tried to go to the beer “store” [it's more like an old drive through oil lube place] but could only purchase beer in a minimum quantity of 24
  8. The beer / oil lube guys thought it was funny that I was trying to buy less than 24 beer – and looked at me as if I was an alien [which legally I suppose I am down there]
  9. I was nuts not to buy 24 cans since it was only $16 – and that may be the craziest part of this story.

America – you’re beautiful, I love you, thanks for my wife, and catch you next time with my passport.

When my brother showed up with his passport we bought Yuenling - Black and Tan and Lord Chesterfield. And I got a small coffee

When my brother showed up with his passport we bought Yuengling – Black and Tan and Lord Chesterfield. And I got a small coffee

Summer Vice

I love a truly clever marketing strategy.  This week I learned of Muskoka Brewery‘s Instagram contest promoting their Summer Weiss – a wheat beer – made specifically for the summer season.

The contest – What’s Your Summer Vice? Share a photo of your Summer Weiss (“vice”) on Instagram or Twitter with the hash tag #SummerWeiss for a chance to win $1000.

Here’s my entry.  My garden is going to be my summer vice.  Also, I’m calling myself a micro-farmer [with apologies to the people who work way harder than me as real farmers - kudos to you].


How deep do you plant these things?

The Summer Weiss won the Gold Award for Best German Style Wheat Beer at the 2013 Ontario Brewing Awards.  More recently it won the Most Delicious Beer Consumed While Micro-Farming award in my back yard.  The weiss is crisp for a wheat beer, light enough for a brunch beer, and I found that the bottle keeps the dirt out while you garden / micro-farm.

Available in six packs for $13.50 /6 x 355ml.  Plant some every couple of weeks to ensure a summer-long supply of weiss.


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