Friday, 1 July 2016

When friends share beer...

When Drunk Polkaroo stopped into Donny's Bar and
Grill, he came bearing a gift - the Puzzler IPA from
his homebrew outfit, Enigma Brewing, with pal Glen,
a.k.a. BigCanuck1975. The brew boys were pleasantly
surprised when they cracked open the first beer from
the first batch they have made. "It looks like beer,"
said Polkaroo in the video. "I think we have beer!"
There was a big entrance coupled with a big exit on Thursday, June 23.

The exit was interesting as the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which is, in essence, an economic body encouraging trade between 28 member countries. As I have now read all about the social, economic and political ramifications of the Brexit vote, I'm getting the sense that it was not a smooth move. However - and this part's important, people - this is how democracy works. The masses vote, the results are tallied and then the will of the majority over-rules the will of the minority. What I think about it all from across the ocean means diddly-squat. And if I'm being completely honest, while I, like most North Americans, am familiar in all things Hillary, Bernie and The Donald, I had only heard about Brexit in mid-June - maybe a week prior to the big vote. Had you asked me even at the beginning of that month, I would have guessed it was some sort of snack cracker. Or perhaps that Brexit was related to Hodor on Game of Thrones. There's so many characters on that show that I probably would have outright lied and mumbled, "Oh... right! I remember him now."

So I guess if Brexit was a self-help book for countries, it'd be entitled "He's Just Not Into EU." But Britain, you of all countries should know, if you want to leave, do it properly by dumping a crap-load of tea into a harbour.
This editorial cartoon naturally gave me a chuckle as it
invokes the Monty Python skit "Ministry of Silly Walks"

But again, in complete honesty, while I saw the hashtag #Brexit popping up, I had no idea what it meant. When I figured it out (Britain exits - duh) I thought it was kinda clever. So if other European countries want out of the EU, I hope they come to me for their hashtags. Austria, you get #Outstria. Italy, how do you feel about #Italeaving. Finland, I have #Finished for you. Portugal, a couple up for grabs - #Departugal or #Portugone - so pick your favourite. Czech Republic, you were so easy - #CzechOut. Unfortunately, Romania, it looks like you're stuck in the EU as the best I could do for you was #Remainia. I'll keep trying. (Until I forget in less than 10 seconds.)

Drunk Polkaroo's Beer Fridge after a trip into Toronto
with pal Brett was full to overflowing. He scored that
Muskoka's 20 Anniversary Oak-Aged Cream Ale from
me (top centre) but from everyone else? Aye carumba!
Now, frankly, the big entrance on that day was of far greater interest to me as beer writing buddy, Drunk Polkaroo (a.k.a Robert) and his pal, Brett (a.k.a. The Wobbly Moose) landed on the patio of Donny's Bar and Grill as a brief stop on their way into Toronto. After being greeted warmly by both myself and my son, David (a.k.a. Huggy Kid), I was presented with a special gift - a one-litre (34 ounce) plastic bottle of his The Puzzler IPA, the first beer to come out of his Enigma homebrewing outfit with buddy Glen (a.k.a. Big Canuck 1975). The guys were shooting for an Octopus Wants To Fight or Ransack The Universe style IPA. Aiming for an 8.7% ABV, they measured it later and erroneously thought it was about 4.7%. That's okay, Glen said in their video (I'll link to it at the end), "we made a session IPA." Uh, no. After drinking it, they quickly realized it was close to 8%. And when I had it later that day, I realized it was something else. Namely, it was delicious. A healthy citrus aroma, nice orange rind on the tongue, by thunderin' Jaysus, these guys made an honest-to-goodness sure-as-shootin' first-rate IPA.
After coworker Marie hooked me up with a Danger
Zone Imperial Farmhouse IPA, Drunk Polkaroo
matched that with a 1-Up Double IPA. Marie had
also given me a 1-Up a couple of years back but it
was fun having these side-by-side. Two different
styles of Imperial IPAs as the Danger Zone really
amped up the spiciness in that true Belgian way. 
Gonna say between 70 and 80 IBUs (international bitterness units) and the lacing on my glass? Top to bottom! Beautifully carbonated. Praising it on Instagram, it caught the eye of coworker Jay-Dawg, who asked, "Was it really that good or were you being really nice to a friend?" No, I told him, it was that good. "Huh," he noted, "Maybe we should be homebrewing?"

Now oddly, that day, while #Brexit trended hugely on Facebook and Twitter, Polkaroo and my historic meeting did not. I suspect it was because we didn't have a flashy hashtag. Hmm, perhaps if we went with #TheseTwoNeverShutUp or #WeGetItYouGuysLoveCraftBeer we would have definitely trended in the, uhhh, double digits. Maybe even trending as high as 17 retweets and 24 likes. Seriously, it's all in the hashtag!

But while I forgot to give Polkaroo some great Detroit beer glasses I had set aside for him, I did have a Muskoka 20th Anniversary Oak-Aged Cream Ale for him. Haven't had it yet, neither has he. We'll let you know soon. But Polkaroo had one more in his arsenal for me - that being the world's biggest cooler that fits into a Mazda trunk. A Block 3 Danger Zone Imperial Farmhouse IPA.
New Zealand buddy and Beer Bro Stevil St Evil has been
so impressed with some of the beers given to me recently
by Rib Eye Jack's Ale House GM Steve that he created a
little graphic after noting that I always call it Steve's Stash

But as it turned out, my co-worker Marie had just given me one a day or two prior so he quickly switched it up and gave me their 1-Up Double IPA, instead. Now Marie had also given one of those a couple of Summers back but now I could try them side-by-side. Which is exactly what I did (although if you've read this before, me explaining my beer drinking habits is more pointless than a Safe Sex Guide in the hands of a Kardashian.)

As both Beer Bro Stevil St Evil are huge fans of the raunchy TV show, Archer, I loved the label of Danger Zone which borrows heavily from the cartoon's opening credits. Well, what can I say, Block 3 from the tiny hamlet of St. Jacobs continue to impress! Danger Zone is an Imperial IPA with a Belgian touch but not too much of one, meaning some nice spice on the nose with more on the tongue but also pine and some citrus in the herb-like bitterness.
Did someone mention Steve's Stash? Well, these two beers
from Innocente Brewing in Waterloo are the latest to fall
victim to my back patio. As different as night and day...
At 9% and 70 IBUs (international bitterness units), it was a nice step up from many Belgian-style IPAs. But their 1-Up Double IPA, baby, that's all west coast happening in that bottle. Using Magnum, Summit, Crystal, Citra and Cascade hops, this 8.7%, (roughly) 85 IBU smokeshow is orange rind on the nose with citrus and lovely maltiness on the tongue. Two great offerings from a tiny brewery that will continue to rise in the craft industry.

Rib Eye Jack's Ale House General Manager Steve is always generous with new finds so let's look at a couple from Innocente Brewing (Waterloo) in a little segment I like to call Steve's Stash. (Halton Police, this stash is not drug-related but if there are concerns, I'll give you his address.) First on deck was their Two Night Stand Imperial IPA which took gold at the Canadian Brewing Award, even surpassing my all-time favourite Canadian Imperial IPA, Nickel Brook's Immodest, which collected bronze.
When I teased Sassy Cassy over the simplicity of Sleeping
Giant's Bay Street Brown Ale label, she said that if they
ship their beers out to the LCBOs or Beer Store, they put
proper labels on them. For the ones sold at the brewery?
Quick stickers and hanging name tags. Hey, it works...
Okay, Two Night Stand is insanely fruity on the nose so small wonder you get healthy dollops of juicy mango plus pine and malt on the tongue. At 8.5% and 100+ IBUs, this was a very limited run so you'll have to wait patiently for the next run. Do so. It's that good.

Now their Giant's Causeway Wee Heavy caused me a wee heavy bit of trepidation. That's, of course, a $10 word that many translate to fear but since I fear no beer, let's go with apprehension. The reason was simply that it is a blend of their red-wine barrel-aged Scotch Ale and their Irish Red Ale. Why the concern? Not a fan of red wine. At all. So how was it? Much to my surprise, I loved what the wine barrel influence added to this 7.7%, 31 IBU deep dark beer. It added some deep plum on the nose and gave it both woodiness and nuttiness on the tongue. A beer that a wine lover would enjoy. And apparently me. Well, I am half Scottish and half Irish so this blend pretty much had the Redmond name all over it. Two very different but equally outstanding beers.
Well, this would be one I shared with Beer Bro
Glenn. The Greetings From Canada Coast to
Coaster Imperial ESB, a collaboration beer
made by Garrison, Trou Du Diable, Flying
Monkeys and Phillips Brewing. Tasty stuff!!

One of my biggest pleasures of the Summer is when Sassy Cassy returns home from her stint at Thunder Bay's Lakehead University. For starters, she's a much-beloved Beer Store daughter. But she must do well at school because she's smart enough to always bring me some beers from Sleeping Giant Brewing. That's both book-smart and street-smart... as her sweet gesture benefits me!! She brought me their 2016 Ontario Brewing Awards gold medalist Beaver Duck American Pale Ale, which I had much earlier this year and raved about in this spot. But she also had their Bay Street Brown Ale for me. Now I am not the biggest brown ale fan. The style has been around for so long, I feel like I should reloading my musket between sips. But I quite liked the Bay Street. The 5.2% reddish-brown ale had some nice dark fruits on the nose with nips of caramel and a nice maltiness on the tongue. Did I like it better than Beaver Duck APA? Hell to the no! But for a brown ale, it impressed me more than most. Good job, boys!

Here's one that I shared with Beer Bro Glenn during a recent stop at Donny's Bar and Grill - The Greetings From Canada Coast to Coaster Imperial English Special Bitter.
This is my little Sassy Cassy winning the
Outstanding Residence Council Member
Award for 2016 at Lakehead University.
That means she was chosen as the person
who helped those in residence get the best
of their experience. And yes, she's very,
very pretty but back off, guys! She has a
boyfriend and a father and a Beer Store
Father and we will beat the tar out of you!
Dug out from the back of my fridge, we shared this collaborative brew made by (moving east to west) Garrison Brewing in Halifax, Microbrasserie La Trou du Diable in Shawinigan, Quebec, Flying Monkeys from Barrie and Phillips Brewing in Victoria, BC. So truly, coast to coast and how appropriate that I'm sharing this one on July 1st, Canada Day. (Total fluke but...) Okay, kids, this ain't your Daddy's or Grandpappy's ESB, I tell you that. At 7.6% and 50 IBUs (way high), you get a lot of malt but also citrus on the nose and some real burnt bitterness and caramel on the tongue. Almost like those British-west coast hybrid IPAs, this thing is goosed to the gills. This is like no ESB you've ever had - a big taste for a big country from four of our premier craft brewers. It's so Canadian, you'll say "sorry" after the first sip.

Okay, some sidenotes to all the stories told today. As I mentioned, I'm half Irish-half Scottish. I suspect my relatives still there would like a word or two with the Brexit voters. I also mentioned the Danger Zone was Belgian style. Belgium, your EU exit hashtag is #Byegium. Also when Drunk Polkaroo was getting me my bottle of The Puzzler IPA, I noticed one had 7 written on the cap. "Oooh, Lucky 7," I said. He was pulling out #4 but asked if I wanted to switch. "Nope, number 4, Bobby Orr, I'll take that." You have to be either Canadian or from Boston to get that.

And finally, Halton Police, when I threw Rib Eye Steve under the bus, I need to know one thing. Crime Stoppers still comes with a cash reward, right? Because snitches get stitches and I want some craft beer during my recovery time. Well, gotta go. Hope all is going according to plan. Well, if my plan was "Drink beer now, figure out life later," then yes, everything is going according to plan. I'm not suggesting it's a one-sided relationship... but I wonder if craft beer thinks of me all day? Oh yes and that Drunk Polkaroo The Puzzler Video? It's right here. Click on: Puzzle Me This, Batman! But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain as always...