18 May 2018

Friday on the Train

"I'm out"
His parting words to the people at work who knew him Monday to Friday as a jocular, easy going guy. Never a moment of anger or dissension, he put in his 40 plus hours with a smile and a laugh. No one knew him outside of working hours but they felt as though they did and that allowed him to keep his descent into the darkness to himself while keeping up appearances. Long practiced at concealing his true nature, he was able to present one face to the world during the day before his mask slipped and the madness took over.
This particular Friday found him actually bounding down the steps as he hopped in an Uber for the ten minute ride to the train. The big city awaited and a weekend of semi conscious poor decision making was is the offing. Knowing that he could day drink Sunday if he left his car at home, he made sure he wouldn't be an asshole and utilized his one good choice in the next three days to take that ride.
The train always presented him with the opportunity to pre game a little, as it were. While not a fan of whisky, he knew it would smooth out the edges before he had to hang out with his distant friends who only knew him as a glad handing social drunk who loved to have a good time. He was acutely aware of appearances and his new travel coffee mug wouldn't make the return trip but held a healthy wallop of booze to give him the liquid courage he needed.
The key to drinking in public always began with knowing to keep to yourself. Headphones, an obscure book not read but well worn as a shield against unwanted conversation and a pair of shiny cop sunglasses made his face all but lost in a crowd. He took care to find a quiet spot and leaned against the window as though sleeping, occasionally taking a long pull from the mug, the whisky burning a little but warming his soul to the thought of spending time so close to where they found their happiest moments not so long ago.
Hid melancholy of the past few days was fading as he felt the heat of a boozy love give him the false hope he so longed for. While the people he would be spending time with were surface friends, he would not have to delve deep this weekend, he still had to keep that facade of happiness intact. Letting people see any sadness or weakness left him feeling like they would reject him and he would truly be alone. So onward the train went, deeper he fell into the rabbit hole of a drunk and once again the curtain came down on the one act play that was his responsibility. He cut ties to the world and let his inner demons out for another trip into the dark side. Who came out the other side of this weekend wasn't his concern, he had forgotten that anything beyond his next drink existed.

17 May 2018

Thursday at the Liquor Store

"Jesus Christ"
He muttered under his breath as he looked across the table at the half finished growler of double IPA without a lid on it. A reminder that he was down another Spiegelau glass after his ill fated attempt to pour with one hand last night. He knew it couldn't go on like this but was resigned that it would. How could things be any different when he kept going back to the same damn routine day after day?
Picking up the sad remnants of his now shattered IPA glass and then pouring the flat citrusy beauty left in the growler into the drain, silently cursing his drunk self for wasting such a lovely beer on a bender he couldn't afford.
Shrugging at another hangover with Tylenol and a few glasses of water, he trudged his way through the day, acknowledging his superiors in the way they were accustomed and cheering on subordinates in the way they were. Not wanting to let anyone in on his misery, he placed a mask between the world and who he truly was as he had done since long before he could remember. More days than he was willing to admit to himself existed where he was a functional alcoholic dealing with a bender and 4 hours of sleep and today was another empty slog through the motions of reality with no end in sight.
  Passing through the doors after his 10 hour shift finished, he wondered if he should just go home and try to make amends. She couldn't still be mad and maybe this time he could keep his promises. Or the other sad reality was on it's way and he headed to the nearest liquor store for reinforcements on a Thursday night alone.
Walking the aisles with a basket over one arm and his phone in the other, he looked like any other suburban dad on his way home for a few beers to BBQ with and he liked to live in that fantasy a bit. Maybe he'd let the kids sneak a sip and they'd laugh about the faces they made as his Imperial IPA made junior stick out his tinge and pretend to throw up. Kids man, who knows what else he missed out on as life crashed from one mistake to the next. Pausing at a new release from an old favourite brewery, he wondered if he should take a road trip and spend the weekend in the big city. Lots of taprooms and people he knew in a slightly familiar way would mean an a acceptable amount of cover for his continued descent into the darkness. The budget wasn't exactly loose with free cash but he figured that was a problem for Monday's man and with a long weekend approaching started making mental notes on where he could go and who he could get to join his merry band of one.
Thursday's often ended earlier than other days but tonight he was headed home with a half dozen tall boys and a mickey of cheap whiskey, a warm breeze meant he would be out on the Patio long after the lights dimmed and his neighbours went to sleep.
Drinking alone tonight wasn't on his radar that morning but as was his way, he went with whatever impulse promised even a moment's relief from his ordinary and altogether unremarkable life. Not how he envisioned things turning out but that was now beyond his scope as he immersed himself into his own little world. Delving deep into his beer, he left everything else behind as he played at a hobby masking something he couldn't understand anymore. 

16 May 2018

Wednesday in the Taproom

"It's fine.", he said.
Picking up the tulip glass in front of him, he held it up to the light for a moment and paused at it's cloudy golden colour. What was he doing here at 3 in the afternoon on a Wednesday? Was it because he had no where else to go or was he hiding out?
He came to the brewery just often enough to get a nod and a "Hello, how are ya?", from the guy working the taproom but not enough to become overly familiar with anyone. He took a spot at the end of the bar, 3 or 4 times a week, and had 2 glasses before leaving.
Today wasn't any different but it was. He didn't know what he was doing with his life anymore, so he came here and sat, drinking first a pale ale and now a saison. He thought, "Maybe just one more.", and despite the fact that he would probably not stop at 3, he ordered it anyway
Making his way to a table, he had already decided he wasn't going to drive home and loosened his tie with the intention of never putting it on again. Maybe it was time to change the direction of his life or maybe it was too late already.
These kinds of decisions always plagued whenever he had more than 2 glasses and as he slowly dipped his fourth beer, the sour cherry note reminded him of when he was a kid and summer meant fresh cherries from the backyard, when life was full of promise.
This kind of melancholy wasn't helping and as he set his glass down and called for the bill, he realised he had done this before, last week to be exact and now he was faced with the realisation that even the thing he loved had become part of the monotony
In the cab on the way home, he held his growler close. The double IPA inside a breakwall against the night, he hoped. Looking into sunset, he pulled out his phone & called her, again, with little hope except that of a drunk with a beer fueled optimism that he could make it better

25 April 2018

Be a Better Beer Friend : 3 Things you can do

 Welcome back my friends, it's been a while. Life happens like that and while the last few weeks have seen my usual Instagram and Youtube posts going out daily, I've been struggling on my longer form thoughts. A not unusual phenomenon when you combine those long ass days at work with stretches between days off reaching 11 or more in a row. It makes it difficult to find inspiration when your only goal is that comfy chair and a few pints.
   I find myself going to the LCBO more than usual as I don't have time to visit the craft brewers I would like to and it was while I was looking for a bottle of wine the other day that it hit me. I know almost nothing of wine, looking for local Ontario brands and grasping my limited spectrum of experience, I fall into descriptors on the tags and cool looking artwork. I know I like full bodied reds and the occasional fruity white but I have no idea what is good, bad or indifferent. I imagined people wanting to get into craft beer and being overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices that line the coolers and shelves at their local liquor store, most people new to it don't even realise how many breweries are close to them when they first start exploring the craft. For most of us who love talking beer, we get those questions from our friends all the time and try to help steer them into things they would like based on their preferences and maybe sharing some of the more adventurous stuff when we can. With the proliferation of pseudo craft and big beer buy outs that are inevitable, how can we help those who want to support local and honest to goodness craft beer. 
  Here's the 3 things you can do to make the world a better place for craft beer newbies
1) Take them to a Craft Brewery
  The first step is to help steer them to local breweries close to where they live. The amount of civic pride I've found as I travel all over the province is found at the taproom in small town Ontario and neighbourhoods in the big cities. People are only too happy to talk about why their particular local craft brewer is awesome, from the tiniest hole in the wall to the gleaming cathedrals and giants of the industry. The easiest way to help someone become a true believer is to show them that the taproom experience of craft beer is as important to the whole community as the beer is. Get them into that mind set and watch them become a big fan quickly.
2) Share the wealth

  Nothing better than being able to showcase your favourite beers and breweries by hosting a tasting or a bottle share. With a few pals who are into craft beer already or on your own with those new to it all, you can be a great ambassador of it all by simply sharing. Pick a theme, go wild with a whole bunch of styles or focus in on one in particular. Know your audience and try to deliver the journey in front of them with an eye to growing their palate, not scaring them off. Start with craft lagers, pilsners and cream ales before exploring the bigger and fruiter saisons or even the hoppy IPAs. Make it a fun evening by targeting the likes of those you are helping with some things to challenge their preconceived notions about craft beer.
3) Stop Beer Shaming
  Guilty of this one myself, I have come to see the light. There is a fine line between advocating for better beer and being an asshole about it. Talking down to or making fun of other people's beer choices does absolutely nothing but put up a wall that is tough to go around. Educate don't humiliate should be your mantra as people will defend their personal choices to the end. The very best thing you can do when it comes to showing people great craft beer is know what they like and give them an option that is similar. Someone who likes a light macro lager will most likely not like that Double Dry hopped Imperial IPA and all you will have done is turn another person off the path to a brighter future when it comes to beer. Be respectful of what someone else likes and at the end of the day, the most important thing isn't what's in your glasses, it's that you are spending time with the people you care about.
  A little simplistic but 3 things that could have a huge impact in the beer life of a friend who's ready to leave the macro brews behind. Lots of great beer loving folks, brewers included, still have PBR, MGD or any other acronym macro floating around their fridges and enjoy them for what they are. Be a better beer person and bring the love to everyone, it's a community that grows by being more open than we used to be to new things.


Cheers!
Polk

5 April 2018

All my Polk's in Niagara - Polkapolooza Day 4


 
  Heading round the Golden Horseshoe and driving south east lies the Niagara Region, home to wine, The Falls and a burgeoning craft beer scene. We ventured this way to check in on many breweries we had visited before, but not for quite some time. The changes we encountered were at times admirable and applauded and in a one instance, just not worth the time and money we spent on our stop there. Focusing on the positives is what we try to do for the most part, but those of us who share our beer and the resulting adventures in it shouldn't shy away from when things aren't quite right. The exceptions to what we find as good experiences are not overshadowed by a few poor ones, but we have a duty to our friends and the truth to uphold at all times. Niagara Day begins with pints shared among friends and finishes with a surprise extra stop in a small town ready for it's own spot in the Ontario Craft beer spotlight.
  We were happy to be able to sleep in a bit as this day started at Brimstone Brewing around noon and we took advantage to enjoy a leisurely morning slowly recovering from the 600 plus kilometres we travelled the previous day. This day was going to prove to be much shorter but with the added bonus of my 'work daughter' Shyann, who is a student at a nearby college, joining us on our jaunt around the region. We wanted to show her what craft beer could be and were looking forward to sharing a few stops with her after our first one.

  Pulling up at Brimstone, we were struck by the huge glass and steel enclosure covering a part of their patio that wasn't there when we last visited. On a chilly March day, it was warm and inviting the moment we stepped inside and that was doubled when our pals Preston and Len were already hanging out waiting form our arrival. As good of an excuse as any, I grabbed a pint of the delicious Belgian IPA on tap and we sat down for a much longer visit than anticipated. Trading stories about fave beers, trips and festivals, we lingered a while as the brightly lit cube gave us a warm and happy place to hang out. Brimstone is located in Ridgeway and it is also the home of the annual Albino Rhino Beer Fest, put on by the legendary beer YouTube beer reviewer of the same name  and at which all proceeds go to Ronald McDonald House. We went for the first time in 2017 and would love to repeat that appearance again, as many of our favourite brewers and plain old beer nerds like us converge to enjoy and do some good at the same time. Parting is such sweet sorrow but we had a member of our extended family to pick up and show around, so we trundled off into the day with a smile and some beer for further examination.
 
Grabbing Shyann after her classes for the day were done, we headed next to Fonthill and Kame and Kettle Beer Works in a new and improved space. As soon as we entered, we were greeted warmly and grabbed a couple of flights to try out everything on the tap list. Walking Shyann through how we try to work our way through the beer, I had her start with the kolsch and cider/beer hybrid to ease her into the larger flavour profiles. We encouraged her to try everything and then let her finish whichever ones she enjoyed the most. Not easy for a 20 year old to learn moderation but a skill much needed at any age. The beer was much improved from our visit of over a year ago and while they still have a ways to go, it serves the community well and that is exactly what matters as they grow and mature as a brewery. Nothing stood out but we also enjoyed the atmosphere which enhances any visit to a brewery and can play a large part in repeat business. We had many more stops to make and we bid farewell to Kame and Kettle to head to one of Canada's premier tourist attractions at Niagara Falls proper and the brewery staged on its' busiest street, Clifton Hill.
 
We had been to the Niagara Brewing Company once before in January of 2017 and wanted to come back primarily to see what had changed as the beer had been serviceable if not decent with the Ice Wine beer being our most sought after repeat. A busy joint on a Wednesday as it was March Break, harried parents looking for a break, excited kids and a bright and airy taproom with food, live music and the brew house taking center stage at the far end. We grabbed a table and order a flight with one of every beer on tap, even paying the extra for that premium Ice Wine beer just because. The service was quick and friendly and we were quite happy despite many warnings from beer friends to avoid this obvious tourist destination. That all changed once we had our fist sips of the beer put before us. Kat noticed it first on the Ice wine beer and commented that it tasted buttery, a sure sign of the off flavour diacetyl and a big no no when it comes to any brewery we've visited. Taking a sip, I noticed it as well and found myself trying to keep a happy demeanour as we explained what we found to Shyann and why it was so rare. I'll share what I posted on Instagram when I had some time to calm down and truly think about what we had experienced as I think I captured our reaction bang on :
  "Family flights Niagara Brewing Company on Clifton Hill. Taking my work daughter for her first mini tour of Ontario and I wanted her to see all sides of craft beer. While I'm not one to say an unkind word, my $28 flight had some issues with diacetyl or buttery flavours and that was unfortunate. I don't want to be an asshole but it was supremely disappointing to spend that kind of money of 8 samples that would run maybe $20 in most craft breweries. I'm not mad so much as upset, but let's face it, I'm not the target audience anyway...that's what the unsuspecting tourists and novice drinkers are for.
I appreciate seeing craft beer in one of Canada's premier travel destinations but shudder to think international or Canadian tourists will view this as indicative of our craft beer scene. It isn't our best foot forward and I know it can be better. If you know me you know how hard I struggle when I don't like something or feel misled by a Brewery but this tour is about the truth through exploration and someone else shouldn't have to experience this kind of off flavoured and over priced beer. I'm sad to say we won't be back anytime soon, there are just too many options and they deserve our dollars and our support. Hopefully one day I can return and report back wonderful things, but I highly doubt that. This is the first time I've come away saddened by my experience on a beer tour. Hope lies within our next stops and that drives me on."

 
At this point we needed some food and because I had never stopped in there before, despite us spending many nights in The Falls, we hit up Taps on Queen and grabbed some grub to fuel the rest of our day. Not fancy at all, but with the feel of a neighbourhood bar, we arrived on 20 cent wing night and that was just fine by me. Traditional bar wings are kind of my jam and these were right in that wheelhouse. Not gourmet but rather reminiscent of my old time hangouts, the ladies grabbed a burger each and I settled in for a flight and a few dozen wings. The beer is brewed in house and is fine to passable with the IPA being the most true to style and easily my favourite of the bunch. Our stops had been wholly uninspired so far and our next one was where true redemption of Niagara was to begin.
 
The Exchange Brewery is located smack in the middle of downtown Niagara on the Lake, one of Ontario's prettiest towns and we wandered in looking for some true innovation and adventure to give our young friend. We were not disappointed as they delivered some tasty beer that had us smiling and finally enjoying what was in our flights. A Peach pie and then a cherry beer made the biggest splashes with us and we marvelled at the sleek and lovely taproom that has the feel of a high end bar with fantastic beer. This was a solid choice for showcasing what wine country and craft beer makers can come together with and we left with a better feeling than we arrived.
 
For all the time we spent at less than stellar breweries earlier, we missed our chance to visit Oast House brewers just up the road and sadly drove past cursing our luck on this midweek winter trip. We will return in the summer no doubt for another go at the Strawberry Rhubarb Ale if it returns. Such a delightful beer it was...
 
What was supposed to be our final stop, but was ultimately the penultimate one, Virgil's own Silversmith Brewing was the very first Ontario Craft brewery I wrote about on this blog 2 years ago and I was stoked because I had a pint waiting for me on their "Buy Someone a Pint Wall" and who doesn't love that! Grabbing a glass of The Black Lager...yes it is indeed The Black Lager in my humble opinion...we settled in for our last stop as the ladies shared a flight of some one offs that were on tap that night. This former church now houses a beautifully appointed brewery that is in the process of a massive expansion to keep up with the demand for their on point beers. A community hub and tourist destination, I have always been partial to visiting here for both the beer and atmosphere where all things feel a little more like home. We dawdled a bit as after this stop we would be returning Shyann to her dorm before heading home, making plans for a summer trip around Hamilton now that she had the bug about trying all the styles and flavours craft beer had to offer. It has been my pleasure on more than one occasion to help someone discover this amazing scene and all it has in it and when its someone who has become part of your extended family, that's pure gold.

  Our tale should have ended here but for the Ontario Bev Net Map (found here) that popped up when I tried to plot our way home. I am a fan of this website and their map, having shared it many times and extolling it's virtues to anyone who is looking to do a road trip in Ontario. Just 15 minutes from the college, in the small town of Port Colborne lies Breakwall Brewing, opened less than a month at that point and we headed up the road laughing at ourselves because this is what we do now. Let the fates take us where they may and hope for some good beer at the end of the road.
 
Walking into this sleepy burg we were struck by the full and lively Wednesday night crowd at Breakwall. Still feeling the vibe of opening, the locals were buzzing with excitement over both food and beer while we stopped to try a sample of one or two of their beers before heading home. Again we were wrong, as the friendly conversation with founder Fred Davies turned into a full tasting and a preview of their next version of the 9 O'clock Whistle IPA (deliciously hazy and citrusy I might add) on this mid week capper to a very odd day. They are taking recipes from the original Port Colborne brewery and bringing them back to life as well and the honey ale was simply beautiful. Reinforcing the growing narrative of all beer being local once again, it was evident that this town had not only embraced Breakwall but damn near took all the beer in the fridge! Lucky for us, some of their Sailor Saison was still available in tall boys and we grabbed a few to take home. We left with the promise to return for dinner sometime soon so we could get the whole experience of what they were trying to bring to the community they live in and love so much.
  To say the least, Niagara is a dichotomy of clashing styles, goals and cultures when it comes to beer. The solid wine tourism industry is a good model for what can happen in this area, albeit with a little more blue collar crowd and a whole lot more collaboration between the breweries. We saw some of the finest examples of what good beer is and some of the worst. Craft beer has a long way to go in some aspects and it is up to us to help hold that mirror up and call out things that are less than stellar. If a beer does what the brewer tells you it will, that's all you can ask for. When it falls short or your experience is just not right, we have obligation as members of the community to ask questions or let our friends and family know when things aren't on the level. Never talking about things that aren't pleasant not only brings the whole industry low, it allows for creeping mediocrity to take hold and that is something I am passionate about not letting happen. We will be back to revisit most of these places, but our dollars must go to supporting those who value quality over everything.
  Next up was our annual overnight trip and this time we headed southwest to visit a town coming into it's own when it comes to Ontario Craft beer.


Cheers!
Polk




Niagara in a Snapshot!


1. Brimstone Brewing
Website - http://www.brimstonebrewing.ca/
1st Impression - sunny and bright
Favourite Beer - A Mountie and a Buffalo Walk into a Bar Belgian IPA
2. Kame and Kettle Beer Works
Website - http://www.kameandkettle.ca/
1st Impression - Improving
Favourite Beer - Schwarzbier
3. Niagara Brewing Company
Website - https://niagarabrewingcompany.com/
1st Impression - Nope
Favourite Beer - Water
4. Taps on Queen
Website - http://tapsbeer.ca/
1st Impression - Norm!
Favourite beer - IPA
5. The Exchange Brewery
Website - http://exchangebrewery.com/
1st Impression - Fancy
Favourite beer - Belgian IPA
6. Oast House Brewers
Website - https://oasthousebrewers.com/
1st Impression - Big Red!
Favourite Beer - Grandma's Strawberry Rhubarb Ale
7. Silversmith Brewing
Website - http://www.silversmithbrewing.com/
1st Impression - Beer Church
Favourite Beer - The Black Lager
8. Breakwall Brewing
Website - http://www.breakwallbrewery.com/
1st Impression - Rocking!
Favourite Beer - 9 O'clock Whistle IPA

1 April 2018

Northern Polksposure - Polkapolooza Day 3

 


  There was zero chance we wouldn't be heading north during Polkapolooza : Rise of Polk this year, it just doesn't happen. Our first trip up 3 years ago was one of my favourite memories and we repeat it a few times a year because it is so beautifully Canadian. I get emotional just thinking about it. Driving through the Canadian Shield, surrounded by endless forests and lovely lakes, we travelled once again to 8 breweries in 4 cities that dot the northern landscape. Our earliest start to date, as our first stop opened at 9 a.m. meant another Timmies breakfast and some car rocking tunes to shake the rust off our bones.


  Muskoka Brewing in Bracebridge has long been a pal of Polk and we were once again greeted warmly by the people manning the taproom early on that Tuesday morning. Kristen and Steven made this stop memorable by inviting us to sit in on the daily sensory panel Muskoka does to ensure the highest quality beer makes its way out the door. Joining a room full of happy folks, we did a simple thumbs up or down on appearance, aroma and taste for 4 fantastic beers and while we did, I had the freshest Detour Session IPA I've ever had (hours old) and tried what may very well be the beer of Summer 2018, Tropical Summerweiss. A loaded mango and passionfruit take on their classic wheat beer, it was sunshine in a glass and a hell of a way to kick off any day. Lingering in the taproom talking about the changing landscape of craft beer in Ontario, we were struck by how much Muskoka had changed themselves in the three years since we started traversing the province. Growing from a small bottle shop to a full tasting room and outdoor space to the further plans and future for this northern light. We could have stayed hours but just a short trip down the road waited another favourite and it was time for a proper pint.
 

Located in Gravenhurst, Sawdust City Brewing looms large over the Ontario Craft beer world after an outstanding 2017 that saw amazing beer come out almost weekly. Solving the problem of getting those beauties late last year with the opening of their online store, a collective happy yell went up from beer fans all across the province. My purpose on this trip, as always happens at this time of the year, was the amazing Twin Pines Double IPA. Brewed with balance and bursting with big hoppy genius, I grabbed a glass for myself and ordered Kat one of the dangerously smooth 11.2% Titania Bourbon barrel stouts. As we were preparing to sit and take a picture, we were surprised to see the smiling face of co founder and brew master extraordinaire Sam Corbeil come into view. We had been to Sawdust many times before but this was indeed the highlight of any trip as his creations have delighted us so many times. Taking advantage of his offer to show us the brewery, we spent the next hour wandering the brewhouse floor, talking about his journey and all things Sawdust while we marvelled at everything we were seeing. Descending the stairs to the barrel room was out of this world as some of Ontario's most sought after beers were resting just below the bustling production facility upstairs. We peppered Sam with questions and he was too kind when it came time for us to leave, giving us a few treats from the cellar to take home. We left reluctantly but with happy hearts at a stop filled with so much fun.


 
  We paused a bit in our search for beer to seek out an under construction new Ontario Craft brewer in the town of Orillia. Filling the void between Barrie and the northern portion of this beer run, Couchiching Brewery is poised to bring good beer to another town. While we couldn't tour the construction sight due to safety reasons, we had a fine chat with Kaylea and walked around the large building as she described what amounts to a busy place with food and entertainment when they are up and running later this year. Lots of love going to be found for this place when the locals get to sit at their own craft brewery and join the revolution.


 The road next took us back south to a small town with three breweries that are also part of our annual tour every single year because of the people as much as the beer. Time was pressing a bit when we hit Barrie so we had to make a couple of quick hits in order to enjoy a flight and a pint with our good pal Brett, one of Ontario's finest beertographers as showcased on his Instagram channel(IFindBeerEnjoyable).
Flying Monkey's Craft Brewery has the funkiest taproom and a vibe that shows in their beer but this time we had but a few moments as we grabbed a six pack and looked around at the colourful and inviting room we had drank in many times before.
A short trip landed us at our good pals Barnstormer where Brett was waiting and our flight was solid. Brad and the folks at the brewery were welcoming as always and despite our itinerary, we lingered far longer than we thought we would as the beer talk compelled adjustments to what was quickly becoming a strained timeline. Another round of sad goodbyes and we headed for our last stop in town at another brewery that had a bunch of outstanding releases in 2017 and had just brought back one of the best Double IPAs in recent memory.
Redline Brewhouse and Double Clutch had captured so many hearts last year with its hazy, hoppy dankness and it made for yet another quick hit as we popped in and grabbed a few to take home to enjoy. I hate when we don't have time to explore each stop and Barrie was a prime example of what I'd like to change next year with regards to quantity over quality when it comes to the tour. But that's a story for another day, onward we go.

  Collingwood was but an hour away and housed 3 more stops that would include a much needed dinner and break before the long road home. Collingwood Brewery was up first and we made it just under the wire as they were moments from the end of their day when we pulled up. A quick scan of their fridge yielded a couple of great big boozy beauties and we loaded a few of them into the already full trunk as we headed on down the road to one of our regular stops on this tout and home to my favourite regularly produced wheat beer in Ontario, Side Launch Brewing continues to lead when it comes to hitting the marks with that banana, bubblegum and orange peel beauty and I sidled up to the bar for a fresh as can be glass as is my custom. We had a great visit with the Side Launch team and despite missing our friend Kat, who is a brewer there, we were surprised when she told us she left a few treats at the brewery for us to take home in her stead. A six pack and a barrel aged stout reminded us of all the great and generous friends we had made in the last 3 years and we will be back to stay over when she finally moves out of the city and we can truly enjoy a night of beer drinking fun!


  The 8th and final stop was a tasty one as Northwinds Brewhouse came into view and two weary Polkaroo's settled in for a much needed meal. A packed brewpub on a March break Tuesday meant a small wait so we hit up the bottle shop and by the time we had put them in the trunk, our table was ready and we happily plunked down for a spell. Chicken Wings done right with a flight to boot, we had wonderfully quick and friendly service that made the experience as we had remembered it. Never rushed despite to busy time, we soon said adios and hit the trail to make our way home.
  There is little doubt we were very ambitious on this leg of the journey but any one section would make for a wonderful day trip for anyone to explore. There are so many more northern brewers we didn't get to or have yet to visit so plans are afoot for a summer tour that focuses solely on our friends above the granite and I think that would be a fine way to spend a week off.
  The breweries we did visit are all fairly established in the Ontario scene but we noticed the changes happening at many stops as the marketplace demands more out of a visit than simply buying or even tasting the beer. We want to immerse ourselves in the ethos of the brewery, absorbing it's culture and feeling the vibe that comes with taking your time to explore everything. The beer matters and if it's your local craft brewer you may do quick stops more often than lingering, but for a road trip you want to see what goes on beneath the surface and try to understand where and who your beer comes from. The target has shifted and while the big boys of macro beer sold lifestyles that gave you the impression your life was shitty without their product, craft brewers want to tell a story and have you in it with them. This trip kept telling me this, even when I was too busy to listen to it. Lessons learned and as we progress through these posts about our trip, I am beginning to see where I want this tour to go as the years pass by. Tales to come but the conclusion is getting clearer every day.


Cheers!
Polk

Go North Old Polk Quick Hits


1. Muskoka Brewery
Website - https://muskokabrewery.com/
1st Impression - At the cottage
Favourite Beer - Twice as Mad Tom


2. Sawdust City Brewing
Website - https://www.sawdustcitybrewing.com/
1st Impression - Rustic
Favourite Beer - Twin Pines


3. Flying Monkey's Craft Brewery
Website - http://www.flyingmonkeys.ca/
1st Impression - Holy colours Batman!
Favourite Beer - Mythology


4. Barnstormer Brewing
Website - https://www.barnstormerbrewing.com/
1st Impression - Pizza!!!
Favourite Beer - Cocky Captain


5. Redline Brewhouse
Website - http://www.redlinebrewhouse.com/
1st Impression - Vroom Vroom
Favourite Beer - Double Clutch


6. The Collingwood Brewery
Website - http://www.thecollingwoodbrewery.com/
1st Impression - Where are we?
Favourite Beer - Whitney's Vintage Ale


7. Side Launch Brewing
Website - https://www.sidelaunchbrewing.com/
1st Impression - Tanks on tanks
Favourite Beer - Wheat


8. Northwinds Brewhouse
Website - http://northwindsbrewery.com/
1st Impression - Busy, hungry
Favourite Beer - Rainmaker


27 March 2018

A better Polk I'll be

   At some point in the last three years I bought my last two-four of macro beer and didn't know it. I wasn't aware of it nor did I make that a conscious decision. It happened while I was still drinking rather heavily but I didn't plan on it nor could I have understood the transformation I was embarking upon.
  I've been known as an outspoken, even cruel critic of macro beers as my baptism into craft beer finally took hold and I went through the evangelical phase with a gusto I used to reserve for when we'd bring out the dual funnel and I'd chug 4 Brava lights in under 15 seconds. I railed against pseudo craft in all it's iterations and heaped scorn on those who would indulge the perceived evil that was Goose Island or Mill Street. It was as though I took my dismissal of the better beer I had shunned for years in pursuit of the cheapest drunk I could find and channeled it into bringing that rage down on anyone I deemed not true craft beer.
  I have struggled for most of my adult life with poor impulse control and made decisions that left me scrambling to live. I turned to beer because it fit my persona as a party guy who didn't give a fuck about anything and even as my personal Rome came burning down around my head, I continued to plunge head long into binge drinking that left me shaking my head when I'd wake up after another lost evening.
  Since my journey into craft beer, I have developed my palate and continue to refine it every day. It was a pleasure to leave behind the bland and boring Old Milwaukee and MGD and explore hoppy IPAs, fruity Saisons and so on. But I still woke far too many mornings with a hole in my memory and some great beers drunk in the blackout that I would never see again. The quality and cost of my beers had changed but I had not truly left my old self behind, I was just hiding behind the fa├žade of craft beer and continuing my destructive ways.
  In May of 2017, I counted and posted every single beer I drank that month and was kind of flummoxed that the final tally numbered 150. No doubt a little spurred on by trying to raise the total and be cool about it, I nonetheless took action to be more conservative in my consumption and started to have less of my go to craft beers in the fridge and focus on trying to review everything I consumed but not overdoing it. There were indeed a few more moments of ridiculous behaviour but slowly I could feel the tide turning and as of the last few months, I haven't truly been outside the norm when it comes to consumption. A couple a night with perhaps 3 or 4 on my night off and that seems to be it for this old fella. The desire to slip into a beer induced haze has left me and all I feel the need for now is to experience every single nuance and subtle note my beer has to offer.
  So how does this tie into my not buying macro beer anymore? Well, what I discovered was that while a large part of what I do is all about supporting the local craft brewers and encouraging others to do the same, it is also about drinking less and enjoying more. I shun events where the goal is mass consumption, regardless of the participating breweries. Let's face it, the only reason your going to a beer fest is to get snackered in the guise of trying all the beer. I don't want to beer shame people anymore (well except green beer, that stuff is so nasty), but I also wont buy it because it serves no purpose except to intoxicate as multiples of any beer seem to be the antithesis of everything I stand for. No one buys a single can of Pabst for the flavour, it's designed to deliver the 5% in a crisp and clean boring lager that has you reaching for another one so much you might just be DJ Khaled. So I don't buy macro anymore because it doesn't suit my needs, it gives me nothing to think about and certainly doesn't help me support my local community or engage in my favourite pastime of reviewing and talking about beer.
  I am trying to be a little better about letting people enjoy the things they want without crapping on them and I'd like to think I am succeeding. I no longer have room in my fridge or glass for anything I don't want to explore and I am confident that I have seen enough broken mornings with the empties to prove it that I no longer need to purchase any of the big boys of beer. But drink what you want and I'll still be here doing my thing, bringing the best I can find and shining a light on things that maybe aren't quite right. I'll drink a 50 when I'm at the legion and maybe a Mill Street if that's what is available but if I'm given the option, I'll choose true craft every time, be the DD or have a nice full bodied Red Wine instead. The choice is yours and I will do my utmost to respect it.


Cheers!


Polk





26 March 2018

Toronto Day - Polkapolooza 3 : Rise of Polk


The most difficult days for any tour of craft breweries are Monday and Tuesday. So many are closed for brewing, cleaning, taking care of outside accounts or just to have a day off. I begrudge no one a day apart from the masses and understand the economics of staffing versus sales and the need to maximize when you can be open. It was in this vein that I decided to take our traditional Toronto Day on Polkapolooza and move it to Day 2, which was Monday March 12th this year and what a day it turned out to be.
 
Starting out with a couple of Etobicoke breweries that we are big fans of and that followed in the tradition of taking way longer than I had budgeted for. Something we will visit at the end of this journey and hope to take advantage of for next years tour. Black Oak Brewing is fast approaching their 20th anniversary and as part of the original 2016 tour, we wanted to revisit and see the changes to the taproom and retail facility. Coming off a solid rebrand last year, we were interested in the return of Love Fuzz and Nox Eterna Stout as the clock passed 11 a.m. on that sunny morning. While we were chatting at the bar, Black Oak founder and Ontario legend Ken Wood came out from the brewing floor for a chat about all things crafty. Before you knew it an hour had passed and a short tour of the back with more talk of the past and future of Black Oak was had, with a sprinkling of side chats down the rabbit hole of taking on the big boys of beer in the fractured landscape of selling beer in Ontario. Saying our good byes, but not before a pic with the man himself, we grabbed a few beauties from the fridge and headed out on the road for a short drive to stop number two.

To say I spend a lot of time drinking, thinking or enjoying Great Lakes Brewery beer would be a massive understatement. One of my most visited and an original, longstanding Friend of Polk, we pulled into the parking lot to be greeted by our pal, the Ontario Beer Guy himself, Ken Pyper. he had just missed us at Black Oak and joined us at GLB and a few stops after to boot. 
Hanging at the bar, having a few samples as we pondered the latest releases from Great lakes, we were soon joined by our good friend Troy Burtch, Marketing and Communications manager at GLB and lover of all things beer. He was kind enough to break a few gems out of the cellar and we were all too eager to enjoy them with him. A 2015 Imperial Bout Imperial Coffee stout and some Ezra appeared and we chatted once again about the trip we were on, stops we should try to make and the state of the Ontario Craft beer family. It's not all roses and sunshine,  but this kind of inspired beer talk happens everyday in every place and I was so happy to spend another hour at one of my favourite breweries with some fine folks.
 
Another dozen beers found their way into our trunk and we prepared to skip across Toronto and make our way to another Original 2016 tour stop, the recently expanded and ever Friend of Polk, Muddy York Brewing. Having been here just a few weeks before to help celebrate their 3rd birthday, we knew a few delicious things were waiting in the bottle shop for us to buy and take home.
  Walking through the front door, we were greeted with the tropical warmth and familiar smell of brewing taking place. A new batch of their delicious Haberdasher Hefeweizen was in the tank and I love that scent, malted barley is the new coffee in my mind! We grabbed a few samples before loading up another 6 pack and stealing a little of Jeff's time as we talked about our trip so far and even reminisced a little about our stop 3 years prior when Muddy York was still getting up and running and where they were now. It's so hard to pull our selves out of this cozy taproom but we knew the journey must continue and we said our goodbyes with an eye to returning as soon as we could for a longer stay.
 
A short drive later we pulled down a familiar alley, parked and made our way to stop number four on the day, the rising star that is Left Field Brewery. Coming off an amazing year with a string of releases that left Ontario banging down the door and ordering online to get their fix, Left Field as another Original 2016 stop that we make part of any Toronto visit because how could you pass up such great beer and atmosphere. A couple of short samples and a glance at a busy brewery on a Monday morning and we made our way around the corner for stop five.
  As we go along, I am sure you may be asking yourself, "Why didn't they go to this brewery or that one?". Fair enough and the truth is many weren't open or didn't open until well after we had passed by. Have no fear, your intrepid travelers have noted the suggestions and consulted our handy map to make sure we can return and visit with every one of them later this year.
 
Eastbound Brewing company was where we paused for a few moments and grabbed a flight and a seat to rest up for the second half of this whirlwind day through the Big Smoke. We had visited back in November and it was good to return to a fridge with new beers and a tap list much expanded. While tempted by the scent of delicious food, we held fast for our dinner plans had crystalized and we were excited for that addition to our day.



Our 6th stop of the day was also the very first craft brewery I had visited perhaps 6 years prior but had no real recollection of as I was knee deep in the pit of darkness and over drinking at the time. Steamwhistle and the iconic Roundhouse sit in the shadow of the home of the Toronto Blue Jays and was pretty packed for a mid Monday afternoon, with tours and groups of thirsty folks filling the considerable tap room with joyous laughter, I had to get my mitts on a mug of the famous Unfiltered pilsner and was not disappointed. Fuller and tastier than the already amazing regular Steam Whistle, it's a fine excuse to spend some time sipping and marvelling at a Canadian Icon.
   Our usual plan of lunch across the street at the Amsterdam Brewhouse was curtailed by our new plans for dinner, we made a short visit to the bottle shop and were surprised with a six pack to take home. Always a pleasure to hang out and enjoy the vibe, we made a promise to ourselves to come back soon and watch the planes land while we explore the food and beer this lovely spot on the lake has to offer.
  By now, we were starving and ready for a sit down meal after two days of eating in the car on the run. Our good friend and one of my favourite writers of beer and other things, Robin LeBlanc lived not too far from our 7th stop so we were thrilled to pull up outside of her Cabbagetown walk up and have her take us to her favourite local pub for some food, drink and wide ranging catching up. The House on Parliament is a cozy pub that I wish I could transport to walking distance from our house. A good feeling from the moment we walked in was made even better by fresh Lake Effect IPA from GLB on tap and a filling meal that helped us slow down and relax during this jaunt across T.O. .
  Getting to spend some time with one of our favourite people without the maddening crowds of a beer festival or brewery event was such a joy and we will be taking Robin up on her offer to host an overnight visit this summer. Fire up the smoker, chill the beer and get ready for Polk's night out! A pleasure as always, we now would make the sprint to finish our day with full bellies and a smile in our heart. Thank you Robin.
  The final 4 stops were short and sweet due to time constraints as many closed before 10 p.m. and we didn't want to miss one. A lucky parking spot right across the street let us pop into Bellwoods brewery on Ossington with little trouble and we grabbed a few new to us beers as well as some old faves and looked longingly at the taproom and wished for more time to have a pint and some amazing fries but time waits for no man and onward we went.
 Henderson Brewing had sent a few bottles my way since our friend Erica started working there and it was a good prompting to remind me we hadn't been there in quite some time. Despite the late hour, our Instagram friends Anthony and Emma were there when we arrived and it was nice to finally say hello in person. It was another example of how we need to better plan this tour because we arrived just before closing and had to keep our chat short. A hopeful promise to hang out this summer and we made our way back to the car for two more stops.  Literally minutes down the road was another place we hadn't been in far too long and we hustled in to grab a few bottles as our time wound down in Toronto. Bandit Brewery has one of the best logos in Ontario Craft brewing and the beer has grown to match it. I was sad to say we couldn't sit for a flight or a pint but it was clear we had pushed ourselves and needed to head home for a rest...after one final stop.

  Indie Alehouse is an uncompromising leader in the Ontario Craft beer world and the beer reflects that dedication and intensity. Spying one of the best Imperial IPAs in the province, Cockpuncher, available is shortie cans, I grabbed a couple and was happy to find a Belgian IPA and a stout for Kat as well. Another great place to eat, next time we will make room to settle down and nosh a bit.

  The end comes quickly on Toronto Day and we felt lucky to have had friends meet us and spend a little time sharing our trip. The 39 breweries in the city had has actually grown by 2 in the week since we were there and that just means more trips and better planning will be necessary to make that happen next time. We've been to 30 of them and hope to complete the city before the summer hits or the 13 planned breweries open their doors and we will need a week just to explore Ontario's capital.
  The craft beer scene in Toronto is split between a few different styles and certainly reflects the diverse city housing them. From simple taprooms to restaurants and brewpubs and the huge goliaths that lead the revolution from the front, it has enough stops that any day trip could result in something new for anyone to discover. The industrial chic still holds sway but the newer breweries are trying to stamp out their own look and brand to grab the attention of a very busy and crowded market place. The local community surrounding any brewery will be vital as the shelf space and options at the LCBO prove difficult for smaller operators to navigate. Appealing to the community closest to you and then the larger craft beer world is on display full force in this city of 2 million plus people. Something we will explore at the conclusion of our trip to be sure.
  Another Toronto Day was in the books and we looked North for our next trip, 8 stops, 4 cities and over 600 kilometres on the road. I'll be back soon to tell you all about our Tuesday in Cottage country soon!


Cheers!
Polk

D.Polk in the Six - the short and sweet

1. Black Oak Brewing
Website - http://www.blackoakbeer.com/
Favourite Beer - 10 Bitter Years Imperial IPA
1st Impression - Your uncle's bar with better beer
2. Great Lakes Brewery
Website - http://www.greatlakesbeer.com/
Favourite Beer - Audrey Hopburn Belgian IPA
1st Impression - Legendary and growing
3. Muddy York Brewing
Website - http://www.muddyyorkbrewing.com/
Favourite Beer - Dereliction Double IPA
1st Impression - Pull up a seat, stay a while
4. Left Field Brewery
Website - http://www.leftfieldbrewery.ca/
Favourite Beer - Greenwood IPA
1st Impression - Go Jays...kids, dogs, moms, dads and great beer !
5. Eastbound Brewing Company
Website - http://www.eastboundbeer.com/site/
Favourite Beer - Let's go Exploring IPA
1st Impression - Queen Street Chic
6. Steam Whistle Brewing
Website - http://steamwhistle.ca/
Favourite Beer - Unfiltered Steamwhistle
1st Impression - Clean and crisp
7. Amsterdam Brewhouse
Website - http://www.amsterdambeer.com/
Favourite Beer - Double Tempest Imperial Stout
1st Impression - Scenic with beer
8. Bellwoods Brewery (Ossington)
Website - http://www.bellwoodsbrewery.com/
Favourite Beer - Jutsu Pale Ale
1st Impression - Nirvana
9. Henderson Brewing Company
Website - https://www.hendersonbrewing.com/
Favourite Beer - Rube Goldbeer
1st Impression - If DaVinci ran a brewery
10. Bandit Brewery
Website - http://banditbrewery.ca/
Favourite Beer - Juice Box Pale Ale with Ekuanot/Denali
1st Impression - That logo though...
11. Indie Alehouse
Website - https://www.indiealehouse.com/
Favourite Beer - Cockpuncher Imperial IPA
1st Impression - Uncompromising



22 March 2018

Day One - Polkapolooza 3 : Rise of Polk


Any time we hit the road in search of great craft beer, we are always on the lookout for the new and interesting. We seek a taproom with personality and the stories we find when we stop and take a seat at the table. We want to talk beer with the people who make make it and those who drink it. We are not purveyors of a fine lifestyle, but rather your regular working folk who do some things with a little more enthusiasm than your average person would require. Live large and explore isn't just something we say, we live it everyday and Polkapolooza is that special time of year when we shed the coils of work and home to celebrate Ontario Craft beer.
 

This year's tour kicked off on Sunday March 11th with an early morning 230 kilometre drive to the northeast of Toronto and the beautiful town of Bowmanville. Manantler Brewing was our destination and we arrived just as the doors opened to sidle up for a flight to kick things of for the week. Often we stop in and grab some bottles to try at home, sometimes a few samples to split and others, like this one, we are joined by distant old friends and new ones we just haven't met yet. First through the door was Josh, a young guy who is quickly building a name for himself in both the craft beer and woodworking worlds with his beautiful creations. Our old pal Glenn was next to show up as we were close to his hometown and it was a welcome sight to see a fellow beer writer settle in across from me. Jen and Shannon were last to arrive but would remain with us all day as we raced the clock of early closings to make all of our stops on Day 1 of Rise of Polk 2018.
  We ordered our flights and that's when Manantler's own beer saint Matt showed up and the bottles started to appear from behind a magic wall. Samples of past, present and future creations were doled out and the chat turned from where Manantler was, to where they are going in the context of a burgeoning scene in the region. Finding your voice and keeping the ball going forward is never easy in any business but when it comes to craft beer, the fickle nature of humanity is in full play.
 The taproom has grown since our visit last year and you can feel the vision becoming a vibe as Manantler grows to fill and respond to the needs of their community. Laughing and joking while discussing his own journey, Matt was the epitome of a good host as we reluctantly said our good byes after what was supposed to have been a half hour stop gone on 4 times that long. A common theme this week and one we will be addressing at the conclusion of these look backs. I'm not one to stop a good time so we threw the timetable out the window for the sake of just that.
 
Ringing up a solid amount of beers to go with some lovely gifts, we turned next to a brew pub beneath one of my favourite smokehouse restaurants in the province. Sir Monty's Brewing is located underneath Stuttering John's Smokehouse in Courtice, Ontario and has an English pub like feel to it as you descend the stairs. Jen, Shannon and Josh made the trip with us and as we walked in I was greeted by a couple of other beer loving pals we had met briefly a few weeks before at Left Field in Toronto. Out for a bite and a pint, they wanted to say hello and welcome me to their region as the tour kicked of on day one. I loved being able to chat with people who love great beer as much as me and was greeted warmly as we headed for our table by another fellow beer lover who was following along on social media. Extolling the virtues of both the food and drink, he was an example of something that became a theme more and more as we travelled. People are proud of their local craft brewery and want nothing more than to share that with you. Local is quickly becoming a watchword and something we will encounter as we look back and then forward on this week.
  Feeling the press of time, we split a few flights and found that the beer was promising with the Irish Red being the standout for both Kat and I. Only growler fills available, so we left with nothing but memories of meeting great people and a new brewery we will revisit when we can to see what changes as they grow.
 

Saying goodbye to Josh at this stop, we next made our way to two breweries in Whitby that we had spent considerable time in last year on the Beer Saints tour with our friends from all over Ontario. Brock Street Brewing is still awaiting their new downtown location as construction continues with it's usual delays and complications but their original location was full and rocking for a Sunday afternoon and we grabbed a few more cans to add to a generous gift Josh had delivered on their behalf earlier.
 
A short drive down the road led us to 5 Paddles Brewing and we once again stayed a little longer than planned as a few samples of their recent wares were tasted and discussed along with the purchase of some very anticipated IPAs and stouts. They have increased the space in the taproom by putting some retro movie seating and couches into the brewery proper and it was buzzing with folks enjoying an afternoon among the bright tanks and fermenters.
 
We next made our way to Whitby's newest addition and a big space with lots of possibilities. Little Beast Brewing has some very cool label art that incorporates their beast logo and will help them to stand out from the crowded sea of beer popping up in Ontario. Talking about the challenges of getting people out and visiting, we were soon joined by 3 more beer friends from the Society of Beer Drinking ladies on their way back from Ottawa and the room filled with excited chatter and raised glasses. Always good to get to see our friend Erica, however briefly, and we soon had to head out, with some tasty saisons to boot, and try to keep the day on track.
   
Town Brewing makes it 4 craft breweries in this town of 130,000 people and showcases the different philosophies and styles that help each stand out in the beer world. Known already for their fine beers, Town's sours and IPAs keep grabbing everyones' attention, and we took a seat to experience some samples of the beer and a much needed snack. The taproom was filled with people of all ages and the conversations were boisterous and happy as Sunday moved towards its closing. A place that would be at home in any city, we lingered to enjoy some tart treats and plan for the final leg of a 400 plus kilometre opening day.
 
Heading east toward home, we made an all too brief stop at Ajax's only craft brewery, the just turned one year old Falcon Brewing. Located in a strip mall like you'd find in any city, it had the feel of a neighbourhood bar with a bright, airy feel and a nice tap list. We grabbed a few bottles and made our apologies that we couldn't stay longer but our goal was in sight and the early closing times on Sundays made it impossible to sit and chat at every stop. So many people pop in and out of breweries every day and that is part of the larger story we will tell as the week goes on.

 
Jen and Shannon had beat us to our final destination and when we arrived at the 8th and final brewery, it was a bittersweet moment because we only had a little time left with these two who had stayed with us all day. Located in Markham, home to 329.000, Rouge River Brewing has quickly built a reputation for making great beer and pushing the envelope when it came to flavour. The Imperial Stout with coconuts was like drinking a chocolate bar through that tropical fruit and was outstanding and of course, the IPAs were spot on and deserved further reflection at home. The sun drew low in the sky and we knew the day was drawing to a close but we lingered a little at the bar having a little chat about beer and brewing with the guys from Rouge.
  Hugs and promises of future trip around Lake Ontario were exchanged as our young friends headed home and we did the same. It always feels heavy when Day1 is done because you realise how much is out there and how little we can actually do with the time we are given to explore. It was a great way to kick off Polkapolooza and this growing region will be a hot spot for people looking outside the typical Toronto centric view we too often have.
  Having said that, Monday would find us heading for the Big Smoke itself as I am not immune to the pull of Toronto and the 35+ craft breweries contained within. That story will come in good time but below I'll give you a snapshot of each stop and our impressions of each. Keep in mind, some of these were less than 15 minutes, while others stretched in an hour or more. Look all of them up next time you're out that way and experience it for yourself.

Cheers!
Polk

Polkapolooza Day 1 - Something Polk this way comes...the short and sweet

1. Manantler Brewing
Website - https://www.manantler.com/
Favourite Beer - Siesmic Narwhale Imperial IPA
1st Impression - Hanging out in a pal's rec room, but with better beer.
2. Sir Monty's Brewing
Website - https://www.sirmontys.com/
Favourite Beer - Irish Red Ale
1st Impression - A Fool and Flagon but less British
3. Brock Street Brewing
Website - http://www.brockstreetbrewing.com/
Favourite Beer - Black IPA from All Ontario Hops Competition
1st Impression - Bursting at the seems. Cramped and busy.
4. 5 Paddles Brewing
Website - https://www.5paddlesbrewing.ca/
Favourite Beer - In Your Face IPA
1st Impression - That punk bar you went to when you were cooler.
5. Little Beasts Brewing
Website - https://www.facebook.com/LittleBeastsBrewCo/
Favourite Beer - Dark Saison
1st Impression - Spacious and anxious.
6. Town Brewery
Website - http://townbrewery.ca/
Favourite Beer - Superfluos Sour Ale
1st Impression - If I had an older sister, this is where we would hang out
7. Falcon Brewing
Website - https://www.falconbrewingcompany.com/
Favourite Beer - Too soon to tell...
1st Impression - Your neighbourhood burger bar.
8. Rouge River Brewing
Website - https://www.rougeriverbrewingcompany.com/
Favourite Beer - Summer Pale Ale
1st Impression - Where the cool kids from high school ended up.