So, uh, now I drink beer?
A long-time friend from a MUSH swung out to Toronto to see another member of the MUSH and myself. While I’ve never been a big beer drinker for a few reasons, he really wanted to check out a local Toronto brewery, Bellwoods Brewery. Adam & I went along, got to learn a fair bit about beer, and had a great time.
Bellwoods Brewery is on Ossington and Argyle, a microbrewery with a handful of delicious things on tap and bottled – more of the former than the latter, much to my dismay (I wanted to go home with some Jelly King or Jelly King Apricot). It was a very busy Sunday and we had to wait awhile for a table, and the tables (old picnic tables in many cases, done in a hipster-esque repaint) were often being split between parties of various sizes.
I loved going with someone who could teach me about what I was tasting, what was there… this friend is to beer what my father-in-law is to wine. He could taste a beer and name the type of hops in it! He got a bottle (no mean feat, that) of a beer called “Skeleton Key”, which is an imperial stout aged (or whatever it is they do) in rum barrels. You could taste the rum in it – it wasn’t just “hey, we poured it in & poured it out” but had a definite kick to it. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of it.
The second place I visited with another friend was Halo Brewery, near The Junction. It was much smaller and quieter, but I think I’d argue somewhat more family-friendly as well: while I was there with no kids in tow, at least three other couples came through with small babies. It had a greater distribution across demographics, and that could have to do with the generally more affordable beers on tap/available, or the neighbourhood, or day/time, or… any number of things.
Halo had six beers available while we were there (mostly all gaming/geek themed – yay!) and I tried all but one of them – I wasn’t sure I could handle six tasters, the last one being an 8% ABV, after so long not drinking. They were nice, and I think my favourite was Wit or Without, a Wit beer (which I learned is the identifier for Belgian Wheat Ales, and they are almsot always spiced and a fair bit fruitier). My second favourite was a saison with rosehips, Tokyo Rose. I have also learned through drinking a can of a local Toronto brew that I am not a lager fan, at all. And that probably helps explain why I have always said “I hate beer”… virtually everything I’ve ever tried has been lagers.
I really appreciated the fact that the employee on hand took the time to tell me things about the beers on tap rather than just let me go wild – he explained what the differences were, what people often said, and notable things about them so I could make a better decision on what to order/try. Another thing I really liked was that the taster glasses came in a nice little holder with chalkboard-painted corners, and they got labelled with which beer was in it, which corresponded to the numbers on their board.
So – in the world of beer – I’m still pretty uneducated, but it’s getting better…!