Category Archives: Beer picks

Ü is for Ümlaut

The full title of this blog post is, Ü is for Ümlaut. My quest for Funk, Oud Bruin, and Church – how Science became relevant again.

This past weekend i decided to tour three of my favourite breweries for the first time.  My pilgrimage began at the Funk Lab of Nickel Brook Brewing Co. where Science is being made relevant again by these clever people in Burlington.  Funk and sour and fruit make for delicious science.  I’ve been a fan all summer of the Ceres and the Raspberry Über where vegetables, fruit,  bacteria and yeast excite both the palate and the imagination. It’s the miracle of science. Also, any brewery that celebrates the Ümlaut is my kind of place.   Oh yeah, the sommelier glass i got was also worth the trip. Ü is for Ümlaut.


At the Exchange Brewery in Niagara-on-the-Lake [the town with more hyphens than your town], my goal was to nab bottles of their heavenly nectar – Oud Bruin. What i found was a tasting flight with a bonus sample [because the bar “messed up” – heh]. I particularly loved the Peppercorn Rye Saison, the White IPA, and the award winning Foreign Exchange Stout.  Also, they made my Instagram account look instantly better [@travisoke].

 

So, yes, I went to a couple of breweries and to church this weekend.  Silversmith Brewing Company is situated in a renovated church building in Niagara-on-the-Lake where i became one of the congregation.  I loved the Bavarian Breakfast Wheat and the Golden Ale, but the Rosewater Kellerbier led the worship for me that day.



Saisonal worker – Muddy York

This past week I volunteered at a fantastic microbrewery in East York – The Muddy York Brewing Co. Traditionally, seasonal workers on farms in France were paid and supplemented with 5 litres of saison beer for their labours.  In the true spirit of the saison workers – and because it sounded like a ton of fun –  Jeff and Susan at the Muddy York Brewing Co. in Toronto agreed to trade off my time for a pint or two.

Day 1 – Like a true migrant labourer [migrating from Guelph to East York] i was put to work painting a wall with chalkboard paint so that brewmaster Jeff Manol can let everyone else know what’s brewing, when it will be bottled, and what’s up next.  It really isn’t an overstatement to say that i built the “Oracle” of the Muddy York and have set them up for all their future successes. Also, i cut the grass in the beer garden and had a pint of Gaslight Helles with my lunch.

At the end of a physical day Jeff tapped into three of the barrels that contained the sweet nectar of Bacchus. Two Macallan scotch barrels containing Muddy York magic, and a frikin’ Chateau Lafite sauternes barrel that is aging heavenly barley wine. Video proof that it really happened!

I drank that!

Day 2 – Having proved myself through painting and landscaping, I was promoted to the bottle labelling machine.  I labeled the Helles and the Stormglass IPA bottles.  Cool labels huh?  Susan, brewmaster Jeff’s partner, is the designer of all things that look amazing at the Muddy York.  I like the Muddy York Gaslight Helles much better than the one made locally in Guelph. Perhaps, Jeff theorized,  that the water in East York is much softer than the hard water in Guelph and that changes the taste quite a bit. Anyone who lives in Guelph knows that the water is so hard that one simply resigns themselves to tossing their coffee maker every 16 months.  The East York water, and the Jeff the beer wizard,  make a great German style Helles Lager.

Look at me go! Those are my freckles.

And I had a Stormglass IPA with my Harvey’s veggie burger and frings for lunch with my daughter M in the freshly mown beer garden.  Pretty good day n’est pas?  In the afternoon, with a belly full of delicious, i sorted empties and got to add the hops to the batch of Major Small Best Bitter.  Weeeeeeeee.

Day 3 – This felt like my most useful day of all.  I finished sorting the empties, carried them to the back room, ate a pizza for lunch, had another Stormglass IPA, and carried all the kegs into the back room as well.  All this work cleared up the front of the shop where the bar is.  Susan was so happy i thought she was going to cry [actually she did shed a tear and thought she hid it from me]. She told me that she hadn’t seen that part of the floor for 9 months. Also, learned how to work the bottle washer – another promotion!

So in three days i got two promotions!  Pretty good huh?  Maybe next time i get to work the bar.

Working in a microbrewery is not glamorous – I sweated a lot – but it’s amazing. There is a lot of hard, dirty work that seems to never end.  I don’t believe anybody thinks that cleaning out a fermentation tank is anything but hard work. However, you do get to make and taste beer, so that makes it a great trade-off for me.

Maybe next time i get a promotion to clean the fermenter! Please Jeff?

 


Nickel Brook’s Goddess

What am I drinking this summer? Sorry, before i can get to that [scroll down for a photo if your attention deficit is really low today] – can i just say that i can’t believe there is a Nickelback 2017 tour.

This summer i can’t stop drinking the Cucumber and Lime Gose, “Ceres”,  from Nickel Brook Brewing Co. in Burlington. What is this “gose” thing that you just made up Travis and who is “Ceres”? It’s a sour beer with sea salt, cucumber, and lime juice with some Lactobaccilius to ferment the lot. And it’s freakin’ awesome. Gose is pronounced “gose-uh”, which is far easier to say than Gewürztraminer (pronounced [ɡəˈvʏɐtstʁaˈmiːnɐ]) – but i’m afraid that people may be hesitant to order it because they don’t want to make a mistake and sound stupid. So here’s my plea to all bartenders and servers out there – don’t correct us please. Just say something like “excellent choice my good patron”. Oh, and Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture. She sounds both smart, and pretty doesn’t she?

Ceres comes from Nickel Brook’s Funk Lab, where they make such clever wild concoctions as , Raspbery Uber Berlinerweisse, Ceres Cucumber-Lime Gose, Inquiry Brett Saison, Uncommon Element Brett Pale Ale and Cuvée Reserve Ales. I want them all. Now!


She is pretty isn’t she?  Sorry I had to use a glass from Muskoka – i haven’t made it to Nickel Brook for the right glass to serve it in, and nobody there thought ahead to send me one.

And to my tour guide the bodegas in Spain, no I’m not Chad Kruger.

You can find Ceres at your local LCBO and on tap at the finest establishments near you.


Matchmaker

My Linkedin bio recently changed from “self-amusing wine blogger” to  “matchmaker”.

Specifically hooking up Toronto’s Muddy York Brewing Co. with Guelph’s finest gastro pub, Baker Street Station. It’s a classic tale … blogger turned matchmaker meets microbrewer Jeff, drinks stout … blogger sees gastropub guy Dave at the gym and says “you know what you should do, blah, blah” – next thing i know there’s something there that wasn’t there before [yes, that’s a Beauty and the Beast reference – ah romance].

And I think I done good. So good that the beer menu at Baker Street Stn looks like this now. Tasting notes are hardly necessary – it’s love.

Okay, maybe the board looks like this …

Would you believe that one of more of these photos was photoshopped by my mischievous daughter little m?

Guelph’s first keg from Toronto’s Muddy York. I got to touch it!

 

Muddy York Brewing Company’s Stork Derby Stout – Now on tap in Guelph thanks to my matchmaking skills. You’re welcome Guelph.

Jonathon’s historic pouring of the first pint of Muddy York’s Stork Derby Stout in Guelph

 

 


The Oud Couple – heh

I found two beautiful creations this week – “oud”ly enough at the same place [heh]. Revel Cider’s Revelation Oud Blanc and Exchange Brewery’s Oud Bruin at The Only in Toronto. The Oud Bruin i have had before, and raved and raved about it to anyone that would listen. My daughter M subsequently drank her weight in Bruin [heh].

An “Oud” is a complex sour – Belgian style – usually aged in barrels.  Just like many red wines that i like, there are pronounced tannins [pr. tan-in, heh] in a sour. This is my new favourite discovery in the beer world. I’ve even devoted part of my wine cellar to sours.

Here are the two beauties side by side – the Oud couple [heh].

Further research uncovered that the Revel cider [located in my home town of Guelph – or G-town as the kids call it] was barrel aged for 8 months and partially soured with wild pears – if i understand brewer’s talk at all – and there’s really a good chance that i don’t.  However, what i do understand is delicious.

Further, further research uncovered that Exchange brewery used a lactic fermentation and aging in oak barrels with a “mixed cocktail” [their words] of wild yeast and bacteria.

Speaking of research – i’m working on my own authoritative guide to all things sour and yeasty and bacterial [actually only the ones pertaining to beer – heh]. Sneak preview below.

Thanks C for promoting the liberal use of “heh”.  Heh.

 


SuperBowl thoughts

Wow!

Also, I saved this since my trip to the US of A this summer. Cracked it open on the kickoff.

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But man [or humans as I call them] cannot live on watery beer alone – at least in the winter.

So I went into the whiskey cellar to choose between bourbon and Tennessee whiskey – wait, this is sounding like a George Thorogood and the Destroyers song. Wait again – that couldn’t really have been the name of that band. Wait – Tom Brady did what ?

So in a very real way Bourbon won the SuperBowl.  But good season Yeungling.


Subscriber

Are you a subscriber?  I used to have a subscription to Sports Illustrated. I also used to photocopy photos of athletes, sign autographs to myself, and post them in my locker. “Keep dunking Travis – Patrick Ewing”.

Muskoka Brewery has a subscription worth investigating. “Do you want a 6-pack of Moonlight Kettle delivered to your door each month?”.  Why yes, maybe i do.

Here’s what i found out …

BEER CLUB

Venture off the Beaten Path and join us on a journey through great beer. Each month, Muskoka staff volunteer to join our Brewers to create and brew their very own beer.  We love consistently developing new, limited edition beers for our drinkers, available at our Brewery in Bracebridge and on tap– and now available delivered straight to you.

These brews are too delicious to keep to ourselves, so we’ve created the Moonlight Kettle Beer Club: subscribe to get a 6 pack delivered to your door each month.

Beer club! – sounds more delicious than Sports Illustrated.

Here’s the lineup

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Dear Muskoka Brewery – keep on slam dunking your beer stuff – Patrick Ewing

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