30DaysONBeer – Day 10

With over 100 taps featuring a selection of imported and local craft beers West 50 Pourhouse and Grille is the perfect place for a beer lover to spend an afternoon. It's also a fitting place to host a beer tasting. Last Thursday as part of OCB Week the Mississauga bar and restaurant held Beerstock II a tasting event of nearly 50 beers by over 20 breweries from around the world with a heavy emphasis on local microbrews. Throughout the evening there was a steady and enthusiastic stream of customers who were eager to taste samples and find out what made the beer they were drinking unique.

 Beerstock II was subtitled Battle of the Casks and four of Ontario's Craft Brewers were showcasing the combination of brewing skill and whimsy that makes them unique. None probably more so than Flying Monkeys. The Barrie craft brewer won best cask for Bubble Scream—a curious bubble gum infused beer. This was not the kind of subtle infusion that has you searching to find the marquee flavor. It tasted as if a truck full of Flying Monkeys beer had collided with a truck full of Double Bubble on the way to the event. The beer wasn't really sweet. It had the refreshing and slightly sour character of a wheat beer with all the flavour of a hunk of pink gum complete with some of the white powder that keeps the gum from sticking on the finish. Whether that sounds appealing is a matter of opinion but you can't deny the ingenuity.

A little more conventional was Cameron's Hopburn ale—a more hopped version of the company's Auburn ale. Since it was dry hopped, a no-boil technique that preserves the hops' acids, the aroma was very floral and grapefruit-like but the flavour was without much of the bitterness you taste in a highly-hopped beer. My favourite keg and beer of the evening was Wellington's Ce'da Bitter Blue. Wellington essentially started with their cask ale and added blueberries and cedar to create a beer with distinct and complex flavours that worked in harmony. Whole cedar branches were added to the boil which brought cedar flavour as well as a subtle earthy forest floor note. The blueberry flavour was also there but it was neither sweet nor overpowering.

Both the cedar and the blueberry melded well with the natural low carbonation and yeastiness of the cask-conditioned ale. The result was an almost session-like quality for such an unusual beer. The Guelph brewery was also pouring its Russian imperial stout. A dark malty style of stout with elevated alcohol levels first made to survive the cold trip across Baltic Sea from England to Catherine II of Russia. It has a creamy round mouthfeel and a slightly bitter finish with the bold flavours and aromas of mocha and dark chocolate.

Another popular beer was Spearhead's Hawaiian Pale Ale, which took best in show. The new Toronto microbrewery adds a touch of pineapple juice to this pale ale. But the pineapple isn't upfront or sweet. Instead the malts provide much of the sweetness and notes of caramel and honey with the pineapple most noticeable in the aroma and subtly on the finish. In typical West Coast fashion it wears its hops proudly on the nose and in the citrusy and slightly bitter finish. That combination makes for a very balanced and refreshing beer. Spearhead wasn't the only Ontario brewery to take home an award at Beerstock II. Beside best cask Flying Monkeys took home most unique beer for its nearly double IPA Smashbomb Atomic and Hop City won the people's choice for its Mr. Huff Persuasion Pilsner. So it seems creativity was well rewarded by the beer lovers at Beer Stock II who no doubt will be eager to taste the adventurous beers Ontario's craft brewers brew next.

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30 Days of Ontario Beer 30 Days of Ontario Beer


30 Days of Ontario Beer Index

Written by Mike Di Caro

Michael Di Caro covers all things vinous at Spotlight. His lover affair with Ontario wine began over a decade ago and he’s been in front of tasting bars trying to sweet talk staff into pouring a taste of a library wine or the latest unreleased bottle ever since. Since good wine can’t be made without great grapes, you can also catch him amongst the vines trying to persuade the winemaker into revealing his/her next big thing for you on Spotlight. His epicurean tendencies don’t just stop in the glass either. During the rest of his free time you can find him searching for the perfect bowl of Dan Dan noodles, exploring the city’s best tasting menus or baking cookies and mucking about in the kitchen.

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