Saturday, May 24, 2008

Beer Notes

A while ago, I was at the Kingston Brewing Company with a few friends. It's actually a restaurant, and, as the name of the place suggests, they themselves brew most of the beer they sell. So it's actually a brewpub, and since it's the only brewpub in town, it's The Brewpub. Normally I opt for one of their regular self-brewed offerings. If I'm there long enough to order a second pint or pitcher, I might try one of the "brewer's whims". They aren't as whimsical as the label might suggest, since most of them seem to be seasonal offerings, connected with some local event, like Queen's Homecoming, Kingston Blues Fest, First Capital Day, or Winter. Whimsical or not, though, they're usually tasty. Not everything they sell is their own. You can get Guinness, and a number of lesser-made brews, mostly from Ontario and Quebec breweries that haven't yet been bought by Molsons or Labatts. If I'm in the mood for variety, but none of their whims are sufficiently appealing (or sufficiently existing), I might go for one of these non-brewpub brews. This was the case the last time I was there. One of the beers that they had was a Coffee Porter from Toronto's Mill Street Brewery. The owner (or co-owner) of the Neustadt Springs Brewery had suggested this one to me a couple years ago when they were still selling their beer on site. So I was curious and I finally had an opportunity to try it without making too much of a financial commitment. I was also cautious. While I enjoy both beer and coffee, I wasn't sure that I would enjoy both together. So I only ordered a half pint. I'm not enough of a beer connoisseur to know when a beer is malty, hoppy, or has overtones of anything, so I don't have anything to offer in that regard. All I can say is that I should have asked, "Does it come in quarter pints?" After my first mouthful, I wondered whether I was going to be able to finish the remaining 221.8ml.

A couple years ago, Creemore Springs, one of Ontario's bigger micro-breweries was bought out by Molson. I thought to myself, and probably said to a few people, that I should drink as much of their flagship lager as possible before Molson ruins it. It was a cynical comment, and perhaps premature. When the takeover took place, customers were assured that Creemore Springs would still operate independently, and so there did remain some hope, albeit guarded, that the quality of the beer wouldn't change. A few weeks ago, I had some again, probably the first time since last August. Now it may be all in my mind, but this time it tasted like I was right to drink as much as I could immediately after the buyout. There may be other factors at play. Perhaps they were at the tail end of a keg, so I wasn't drinking their product in its best form. Maybe the onion rings I was eating just before changed the way that beer tasted. It's still not bad, mind you. It just seems that it's not quite as good as it used to be.

This past Tuesday, I went out to the Iron Duke, a new bar in an old location, with a friend for drinks. He was pretty excited for something he called Beau's organic. (Searching for "Beau's organic" on google, however, won't get you very far. The actual name of the beer is Beau's Lug-Tread.) He arrived before I did and had already ordered the beer by the time I got there. The beers that I like tend to be hard to see through. When the pint was poured, I saw that this one wasn't, so I was sceptical that I would like it. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by how good it tasted (again, I lack the expertise to accurately describe what made it taste so good to me). I was also surprised by the spelling of the name, and the size of the bottle that it came in. Only having heard the name, I thought it would be spelt Bows, or perhaps Bose. And the container? It's a behemoth 3.78 L [1] brown bottle with a $4.00 deposit, certainly a sight to behold. Though, at least at this pub, it was not a bottle to be held and taken home. My friend offered the waiter the $4.00 deposit to keep the jug, and then $10. The bribe was not enough, and he went home jugless. You can get it at the liquor store (Though possibly not at the beer store. Ontario liquor laws, you are awesome!), but only in 1.89 L [2] bottles. Questions of spelling and containment aside, though, I would recommend trying this before it gets bought by Molson.

The Iron Duke also deep fries a mean sweet potato fry. Normally I don't like sweet potato fries, but I couldn't stop eating these.

[1] Or 1 American gallon. Canada's conversion to metric has gone swimmingly, don't you think?

[2] Or 0.5 American gallon. Or 2 pints. Once again. Way to go metric conversion.

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