Category Archives: Beer picks

Sleeping Giant

After spending a week in Dryden in the pursuit of chanterelles I found myself with an extra hour in Thunder Bay before my flight home to the “six” [sorry kids – I know it’s embarrassing when dad works for street cred – I promise it will get worse not better].

Thankfully my cousin from TBay hasn’t gotten a new cell phone since I last texted her in 2011 so I had access to some intel. She recommended The Sleeping Giant Brewery. So before my flight I got a flight [there”s no poetry quite like word poetry].

I even got a little tour. Big tanks, medium tanks, and tiny tanks for experimenting with. My tour guide – more accurately the closest employee I nabbbed for questioning – had a Saskatoon berry sour on the go – her first nano brew in the cute R2-D2 size tanks.

Hey Sleeping Giant people – I loved all your beer – especially the Spruce tip Ale – and I loved your brewery.

Stay woke Sleeping Giant – stay woke!

 

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Cinco de Mayo edition

This Cinco de Mayo consider the piñata [cinco de mayo loosely translates as “the fifth of May”]. Beautiful, noble beasts that are the life of the party. But there is a dark side so obvious that i’ve missed it before today.

We tell Señor Piñata how beautiful he is, hug him,  stuff him full of candy, make him feel loved, invite some friends over for a piñata party, and then bash the heck out of him with a bat!  What kind of a sick joke is that?

Also, Napoleon sounds like a jerk. Also, i’ve heard he has bad breath.

So get yourself to a cinco de mayo party today. The Guava Saison is selling like Mexican hot cakes at the Muddy York and they have a party today.

Or go out and buy a gateway tequila that may lead to other more expensive tequilae.

Isn’t it fitting that the Mexicans rode humongous chickens while defeating the Spanish? Also, this delicious tequila is under $40.

And the happy ending to this story – besides the Mexicans not being held under Spanish oppression – is that this little guy was rescued by my daughter M and is now safely in a burro sanctuary.


Zeppelin Connections

The Muddy York Brewing Company recently re-released their R-100 IPA [i’ll get to describing the beer later*, probably]. I, for one, subscribe to the belief that nothing happens by chance. Which is why i loved the 1978 BBC documentary Connections, created, written, and presented by science historian James Burke.  In each episode James Burke would demonstrate how various discoveries, scientific achievements, and historical world events were built from one another successively, in an interconnected way, to bring about particular aspects of modern technology. Kinda like how Wikipedia is going to now sue me for copying stuff word for word from their site.

James Burke**

Now follow me on this.

The R-100, aka the Zeppelin airship, was created by a certain Count von Zeppelin.  Check out this dashing man.

Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin 1838-1917

Muddy York Brewing Company’s R-100 IPA was invented by their founder and brewmaster Jeff Manol.  Check out this dashing man – wait a minute! The resemblance is remarkable don’t you think? And it’s not just the fantastically groomed moustache and hat [maybe it’s the fantastically groomed moustache and hat].

MYBC R-100 IPA

Zeppelin also happens to be the name of a famous historical rock band – Led Zeppelin, for those kids that don’t really know about them.

Led Zeppelin’s lead singer is Robert Plant. Check out this dashing man.

And finally –  as i write this i realize that my hair has grow far too long.  A barista recently remarked, “You’re looking like a young Robert Plant today Travis”.

 

And so, that is how Count von Zeppelin inspired a chain of events that found this blogger writing about a delicious IPA. Also, i realize that i may need a makeover, because unless Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin get cool again my look has gone the way of the Hindenburg.

*R-100 – 70 IBUs. Magnum, Topaz and Equinox hops – evoking memories of MYBC Stormglass IPA.

**James Burke is not particularly dashing – well, compared to the Count, Jeff, or Robert.


Beer makes Physics relevant to the masses 

The world of alcohol beverages had made much of my high school education relevant again.

 SRM is the only  acronym I’ve decided to learn since I gave them up 2011*.  It’s really as simple as describing how dark a beer is but the formula would make any math nerd squeal 


Am I right or am I right?

This is what SRM looks like for the visual learner.


Pour yourself a blonde, a bitter, and a porter and watch physics in action. My high school teachers would be proud.

*TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle


Festival at the Welly

Wellington Brewery held their annual Cask Festival today – a collection of inspiration, collaboration, and creative brewing. How creative?  Some of the casks contain pomegranate, sumac, prickly pears, and Lego candy [you can re-read that last one if you like].  It really is a great party. There seems to be an absence of Jalepeno and Ghost pepper this year – which is okay because last year the Ghost pepper stout almost made me barf – for reals.

I learned that a good comment, when you don’t know what you’re talking about is “”Fresh mown hay maybe?” Thanks Brother-in-Spain-who-was-in-Guelph.

And cask fests aren’t only about beer.  The Sumac infused Sumacintosh by West Ave actually tasted of ketchup chips and tahiti treat – it was soooo good.

You also kick your kid brother’s butt at old school pinball [time and time again].

Eat foods from the 39 Carden Street food truck

Ask two people you don’t know to put their heads in the cask buddy photo thingy, so that you don’t feel silly on your own.

and play some bean bag slant board – the game really is this easy.

 


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?