Friday, 16 September 2016

"And this one time... at 5 Paddles..."

Hey, look where I am!! It's 5 Paddles Brewing in
Whitby!! Fortunately, I had my trusty photographer
(and son) David along for the ride to provide this
photographic evidence to support my claim here...
A little less than a month ago, my son David and I were visiting my life-long friend, Johnny, and his wife Trish at their comfy suburban home in Whitby.

If I take the toll Highway 407 from Burlington to Whitby, it's about an hour and a half to get there. That's a little more costly as a travel route but it would take something like three or more hours to get there via Toronto's always-clogged Highway 401, which is brutal. I have been in 401 traffic jams at midnight. Really? Who the hell is on the road at midnight? Well, apparently, me. And the thing is it's pointless to get angry about traffic jams, the reason being you are never stuck in traffic. No, the simple fact is you are traffic! You'd be getting angry at a situation in which you are a key component. That's what makes Canadian Road Rage a rarity. We don't really yell at others. And frankly, we're good until some guy starts screaming in German. Because that shit is just plain frightening to hear.

So having visited them long before Highway 407 was even built, I'll gladly spend $50 round trip for a deserted stretch of road and the expediency of that route. At a certain point in your life, time becomes more important than money. I mean, in my youth, I always said I wanted to "make ridiculous amounts of money." I now realize I should have chosen my words a little more carefully.

But back to the visit, it seems my boy David is somewhat obsessed with time, as well. A naturally-curious lad, it seems his favourite question is, "How long have you known me?" I have no idea why that's important to him but it certainly seems to be. At first, I thought perhaps he measured our importance in his life by that equation but that doesn't seem to be the case. He's happy with people either way, whether he's just met you or known you for years. I honestly think he just wants to know.
This is always an entertaining part of a weekend
at Johnny's. I call it the ritual DVD Negotiations
whereby David pours through the massive
collection of DVDs at his Uncle Johnny's and
then negotiates which ones he is allowed to
"borrow". And by that, I mean keep. At my

insistence, he usually only gets two or three.
The biggest part of being a Dad isn't understanding the why's of our children's various whims. It's just learning to go with the flow. And if you find the trait annoying, you just say it must come from his mother's side.

And so the Question Period unfolded on Johnny's and Trish's patio. Uncle Johnny was on deck. "Well, I have know you since the day you were born so I've known you 25 years." Indeed, I believe Uncle Johnny was one of the first, if not the first, visitor David had when we got him home. The two girls were easy. Since Melissa is 19 and my rambunctious god-daughter Julia is 12, that's how long they've known him. Then came his Aunt Trish and since she and John hadn't even met when David was born, it was actually a pretty good question. One I certainly didn't know the answer to. "I would say I have known you for 19 years," said Trish. "You see, your Dad used to come visit us on weekends when he didn't have you so he and Uncle John could hang out. But when Melissa was born and there was a baby in our house, that's when he started bringing you, too. So you could see the baby." I honestly had no idea that's how it all unfolded all those years ago.

Then Uncle Johnny added the cherry on top. "And even back then, you were always the happiest little boy ever!" David beamed. I beamed even brighter. Yeah, my boy has that extra chromosome and man, he rocks the hell out of it. The world's happiest, sweetest kid.
David poses by the chalkboard of treats at 5 Paddles
when we stopped in on August 20. And I remember
that day well. It was the day of the final Tragically Hip
concert and the boys at Paddles had their tunes blazing

But there was another visitor to the festivities over the weekend. Trish's friend Susan was popping by because she heard Trish's "craft beer friend" was going to be there. Now Susan is a big supporter of Whitby's three-years-old brewery, 5 Paddles and as such, she came bearing a gift for me. A bottle of 5 Paddles' Home Sweet Home. That was pretty thoughtful. What style is the beer, I asked her, reading the label and only seeing references to honey and vanilla. "It's yummy!" came her enthusiastic reply. "Well, then," I smiled, "I'm glad we got that settled." When I got home, I Googled it and the Home Sweet Home is listed as a Spice-Herb-Vegetable beer, the ubiquitous category brewers use when creating specialty beers that don't fall among the usual styles. Hey, I'm always game. My credo since I started this column has always been: "I will try any beer!" A free one is a gimme!

Because I missed 5 Paddles during our July visit, there was no way that was going to happen again. When I Googled their location afterwards, I was kind of mortified to see they were on Hopkins Street, right across the road where I had previously visited Brock Street Brewing.
This was my 5 Paddles score! Their In Your Face IPA, a
bottle of Home Sweet Home and finally their Lunch
Money Pale Ale! All three were strong in different ways.
Of course, my co-worker Jay-Dawg also got In Your Face
and Lunch Money as he likes his beers tasty and hoppy.
When I told Beer Bro Stevil St Evil of my blunder, he was howling. You see, at that moment, he was planning a month-long visit to the UK and courtesy of Google, he had always charted a course to every bar and brewery he planned to visit in England, Scotland and Ireland - three very separate countries. That I missed a craft brewery literally across the street from the one I had visited at the same time he was charting out dozens upon dozens of bars and breweries hundreds of miles apart, well, I earned what was coming. "That is the biggest rookie mistake ever!" he yelped. "Have I taught you nothing?" Well, that's not exactly true. Stevil has taught me there is no such thing as substance abuse. He prefers to think of it as "teaching substance a valuable lesson!"

Well, I made no mistake this time around. Stopping in at 5 Paddles, I checked out the selection and since I already had a Home Sweet Home, I grabbed a pair of In Your Face IPAs and a couple of Lunch Money Pale Ales - one each for me and a pair for coworker Jay-Dawg, who loves to get his hop on. As it was August 20, the day of their last ever concert, the Tragically Hip blasted across the sound system in the brewery. "At The Hundredth Meridian" was the tune of choice when we arrived with "Ahead By A Century" playing on our way out.
Spencer McCormack is one of the five guys who started up
5 Paddles three years ago. The other four are Mike Bray,
Ed Woods, JP Tibensky and Ian Mills. Ironically, the
brewery won five medals at the 2016 Ontario Brewing
Award held in April with both In Your Face and Home
Sweet Home among those taking hardware back to them.
Turns out, intentionally or not, it's all about numbers at 5 Paddles.

Well, since this is a beer blog, let's see what was in that goodie bag, shall we? Let's start with the gift - the Home Sweet Home. Reading on the label that it was brewed with vanilla and honey malt, it was far less sweet on the nose than I expected though the vanilla was lightly discernible. But on the tongue, this 5.5% beer kicks it up on the sweet tooth scale. The more I sipped it, the more honey and vanilla I got. Fortunately, the body was nicely light so it wasn't overpowering. What the brewery has created here is a near-perfect dessert beer, one that would pair beautifully with cake and coffee.

Okay, right off the top, the In Your Face IPA has one of the sickest labels ever! First thing Jay said? "Okay, that's a cool label." Oh yeah. And the beer was pretty darn good, too. I got some fruit and pine on the nose with lots more of the same, especially the fruit, as well as some straw on the tongue.
Last time, Daddy posed by the Brock Street Brewing sign out front
of the Hopkins Street brewing. This time, David got his moment...
At just 6.2% and I'm guessing 65 to 70 IBUs (international bitterness units), this is a solid IPA. Whitby drinkers are well-served by this one. I quite liked it but Jay really enjoyed it.

No, my favourite on this day would be their Lunch Money Pale Ale. At 6.4% (slightly higher than the In Your Face) and 42 IBUs, this has a huge whiff of juicy tropical fruit on the nose followed by more of the same on the tongue. This high-test pale ale would definitely be my go-to brew if I was a Whitby resident. Really nice job on this one, so much so that it hardly even reminded me that bullies used to steal my Lunch Money... *Quietly sobs in a corner *

Well, of course, there's no way I'm travelling to Whitby without visiting my fun-loving homies and homettes at Brock Street Brewing. But to be honest, it may be my last visit to the Hopkins Street establishment! Ever!
This photo, courtesy of my buddy Paul The Beer
Guy, shows Brock Street's Taylor manning their
front counter. It was Taylor who served me when
David and I visited in July and noticing David
look around the bar into the brewery, she asked
him if he wanted to go back there. With all the
shiny toys back there, David was gone like a shot.
People like Taylor are what makes Brock Street
the fun brewery it is. She is a total sweetheart...
Okay, that sounds a little more ominous than it should. The actual fact is quite some time back, the brewery bought the property at the corner of Brock and Dunlop Street in downtown Whitby and recently got approval to tear down the existing structure (which was done last week) and built a brand spankin' new brewery. The new building, underway shortly, will be 13,000-square-feet with the brewery on the first floor and a Bavarian-style restaurant on the second floor. Having seen online pics from the architects, this new facility is... what's the architectural term again... oh yeah, frikkin' gorgeous! This will absolutely become a destination place not just in Whitby but all of Durham Region. With the odd sprinkling of Burlington visitors. Slated to open next Summer, I may have one more, maybe two, visits to the Hopkins brewery left in the tank. We'll see.

But before I wrap this up, it seems I have a bit of urgent business to take care of at my Oakville Beer Store. You see, among a very impressive array of craft beer, we have a strong arsenal of IPAs, including Amsterdam's Boneshaker, Railway City's Dead Elephant, Lake of Bays' 10 Point, Flying Monkeys' Smashbomb Atomic, Collective Arts' Ransack the Universe, Double Trouble's Hops and Robbers, Muskoka's Mad Tom and Twice as Mad Tom and even an American import, Smuttynose's Finestkind. Obviously, I watch the best-before dates on all of them because these are my babies. Well, I just noticed we had two and a half cases of Twice As Mad Tom stamped "Enjoy before October 8, 2016". That's three weeks from now. I instantly grabbed 12 after my last shift and planning on repeating the process until they are gone. I honestly don't believe they will make it too far past next weekend. But that's on me. There will never be old-code IPA sent back from my store! Not on my goddamn watch! I took an oath. Or maybe just dreamed I took an oath. Who knows? But guys and dolls, that's it, that all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain...