Panel: Cider Drinkers
Our second instalment in the 30 Days of Ontario Beer panel series was a departure, I think, from the expected. This time we talked to people who don’t like beer. I got together with Joel, Lauren, and Bev, three friends who are consistent about their eating and tweeting habits, on the Entourage-esque rooftop patio of Joel’s building. We drank, ate oysters and talked about beer.
On food and wine I respect what they have to say and enjoy reading what they write on those topics. All three freely admit that beer is really not their thing. When push comes to shove in a pub without a good wine list they’re likely to order cider or “whatever cheap white they’re going to put in a glass.”
From previous discussions I know that all three have had limited success trying dark beers so I tried to aim my selections in that direction.
1. Hockley Valley Black and Tan (and oyster knife incident):
Bev: Smells promising
sip, sip, sip, head tilts
Bev: It's weird, it's definitely more malty but it's kinda thin.
Lauren: The taste is thinner than the colour belies.
Bev: Yeah…And it's thinner than the smell too. It smells very robust.
I introduce the oysters
David: So yeah…would we drink this again?
Joel: I like this.
Bev: Yeah I would.
Lauren: It's actually…because it's a lighter palate than the colour it's pretty summery
I begin trying to get into the first oyster…
David: And I'm bleeding
Sharp (though sympathetic) sucking in of air from around the table.
Joel: Should we…uh…run downstairs?
David: Uhmm…I think I'm fine.
Joel: That doesn't really look fine to me.
Joel goes to retrieve his first aid kit.
Lauren proceeds to talk me through the injury by referencing the triptych of photos on the wall at Ceili Cottage of a shucker being hospitalised after putting a knife through her hand.
Bev becomes squeamish.
Lauren kindly steers the conversion back to the beer to distract attention from the fact that I'm bleeding pretty thoroughly.
David: “So, if we don’t like beer how did you guys start drinking?”
There was some back and forth here so I’ll summarise. Joel started drinking with his older sisters who were, naturally, connoisseurs of Doctor McGuillicutty’s Peach Schnapps. Bev doesn’t like beer because she started drinking “cheap draught at the National Hotel in Calgary”. She was of a certain age and her friend’s band played there a lot. Lauren was force fed Molson.
2.. Hockley Valley Dark
Bev: This smells like cheese.
David: What kinda cheese?
Bev: It’s gone…now it’s just sweet.
3. Old Credit Amber Ale
I introduced this one as being “not your typical aley ale”. Joel asked if that was a quote. So, yes, Joel I guess it is a quote now.
Joel tastes the beer and makes the face non-beer-drinkers make when they taste hops.
David: “He [Aldo Lista, owner of Old Credit] claims this is a favourite of women.”
Bev: “Oh it’s right at the end….It tastes bitter.”
I jumped in and try to explain the ice beer process and that I think this beer is really quite moderately bitter.
Bev: I just get stabbed with bitterness in the craw.
No dice. This beer just wasn’t for this panel.
4. Cherry Ale from Trafalgar
While I’m telling the story of how I came to have a life-long (so far) aversion to cherry beers Joel, having tired of slurping, tried to use his oyster knife as a fork. The ghost of Miss Manners smotes him and causes the oyster to fall on the rooftop patio.
Joel: I can’t believe I just did that. Did anyone catch that?
David: Oh I did.
Bev: Ahhhh…some seagull is going to be very happy.
Joel: No they’re not…
5. Hockley Valley Stout
David: The can here says “pours like liquid midnight”
Lauren: That’s worse than a wine tasting note.
Lauren: So here’s what I taste as the difference between a stout and a porter. Stout is meatier…I feel like I can taste animal meat. Maybe it’s the smokiness….Whereas porter I feel like is cleaner at the end.”
Bev: Wow that’s molasses smelling.
We talked a bit about serving temperature for beer and agree that the stout should have been a bit colder. Bev seemed to think that this stout was too smokey for her tastes and Joel was on the fence because he wondered how a full serving would have affected his opinion.
6. Great Lakes Project X Belgian Dark Black Jacques Shellack
I didn’t really know what to expect here and threw this one out as a bit of wildcard. It’s hoppy and pretty bitter. I liked it but Bev had to leave the table when she tasted it. She returned to declare that it was like drinking pure pith.
Not everyone was a fan of every beer by a long stretch but all were great about giving them a shot and offering their opinions. Both the Black and Tan and the Stout from Hockley Valley were beers that panellists thought they might try again. Thanks to Bev, Lauren, and Joel (click the links to read more of their unvarnished opinions).
Written by David Ort
As one of Spotlight’s contributing editors, David enjoys turning his mind (and keyboard) to a wide variety of topics ranging from recipes to restaurants to craft beer. When he’s not writing for Spotlight Toronto, David shares his thoughts on new restaurants and beer at PostCity.com and all things food and drink on his own site, Food With Legs.