Thursday, 19 January 2017

Of laundromats and tasty beers!

Well, I haven't had to use one of these in decades but it
did the trick. Although I was shocked and appalled...
the machines matched. Oh wait, that wasn't me!! That
was some crazy lady reviewing a laundromat all of things.
Something kind of strange happened in the deluxe complex that houses Donny's Bar and Grill at the end of 2016. We were without dryers, those being the kind that dry your laundry. Living on the first floor, I'm just down the hall from the laundry room (which is damn convenient) and having been in this building since 2006, I figured out the best times to go into the room to do my traditional two loads every couple of weeks.

You see, when I moved in, the laundry room had posted hours - 7 am to 10 pm. But here's the thing. At one point early on, I discovered the laundry room was never locked. Like, ever. You wanna know how many machines are in use at midnight or 2 am or 6 am? Zero. You know what the penalty is for using them off-hours? Also, zero. The Laundry Police is not a concept that caught fire in my building. Another concept that has not caught fire since I've lived here? Actual fires. I'm pretty good with that, too.

But while there were five regular washing machines, there were only four dryers. But they were those big-ass ones like the laundromats have. Huge suckers. Still, there was one problem. Every time I went in there, one was out of order.
Yeah, I do my laundry during off-hours but it's not
like anyone was watching me. Right, Ned Flanders?
A different one each time but almost always, one was down. I didn't care. That's left me three which was one more than I needed. And at the hours I was doing my laundry, there was no competition. But sometime in early November, property management decided enough was enough and decided to replace all the dryers. No problem as they posted that new ones would be installed by November 15. Nope. Then it was November 25. Still nope. And on the notes went. December 9 and then December 20. Nope and nope. Finally, the new ones were installed about a week ago. I was willing to ride it out as guys can wear the same shirt for a week and the same pants for a month. The only snag? Underwear. Even guys change those daily (or almost.) I tried to ride it out by buying more but at a certain point, even when I amassed enough new underwear to pitch out the thread-bare ones I should have tossed out three years ago (but still haven't because of What? They're still good! reasons), I knew I was fighting a losing battle and went to the closest laundromat.

Clearly, in a perfect society, every machine
in a laundromat would be uniform and meet
the standards that we expect. But sad to say,
they're not all the same. Anarchy abounds!
Turning to Google, I found the Mount Forest Laundromat exactly 1.9 kilometres (a mile and change) to my east. That would do. But I also noticed the laundromat (and others) had reviews. Seriously? We're at that point in society where we're reviewing frikkin' laundromats now? It had two reviews. One fellow gave it the full five stars, applauding its cleanliness and functioning machines. However, a lady decided it was only a three-star facility. She noted while the equipment all worked, the "machines were all different and fairly out-of-date," it was "not very comfy" and they had no Wifi. Different machines? No Wifi?? How low have we sunk? Granted, the last time I was in one, neither cell phones nor Wifi existed so perhaps my expectations of today's laundromats were not particularly high.

So I decided to write my first, last and only review of a laundromat, just to counter hers. This was my five-star online review. "I went in with dirty laundry and came out with clean laundry. As far as laundromats go, it did the job beautifully. Also I had no idea that laundromats were where strippers practise their routines off-hours. That was a pleasant surprise. Also the strippers seem to have a ton of change, which is handy because... laundromat. No Wifi, as one review noted, but I have an adult-sized data plan so it wasn't an issue."
Let there be two. Longslice Brewing has released their
next beer, Loose Lips Lager, a follow-up to their highly
successful Hopsta La Vista IPA. The boys have done it
again as this is a lager with some nice punchy flavour!
To be clear, there were no strippers practising their routines there, mostly because I don't think they really need to do that. A little bit of shaky-shaky and the taking-off-of-the-clothes part is probably more than enough for the strip-club aficionado. But no one disses the functionality of the Mount Forest Laundromat on my watch during the Dryer Crisis of 2016. I got your back, Laundry-Bros!

Okay, since this is supposed to be a beer blog, not the Laundromat Review Hour (now with strippers!), let's start by walking down some familiar turf  - the boys at Toronto's Longslice Brewing. The Brothers Peat (Jimmy and John) as well as co-founder Sebastian Lesch have finally released their second beer, this time, John's recipe for Loose Lips Vienna Lager. Okay, you see that Detroit Beer Company glass it's in? From the top right down to the word Detroit, you get the toasty malts on the nose and tongue.
The richness of this stout will mooooove you. (Yeah, I
went there.) As explained to us at the Rib Eye Jack's
Beer Fest in October, the chocolate used in this one
is Belgian chocolate. The difference between that and
our chocolate? They have a few centuries headstart
perfecting the Dark Chocolate Arts. (Witchcraft???)
As you can see, the colour is a little pale for a Vienna so I kinda figured that's how this would go down - a malty, easy-drinking lager to the end. But about halfway through that logo, the Millennium and Saaz hops in the 5% brew start to pop a little and you get some really nice bitterness on the end. Not hugely so but enough to notice as the taste does a shift in the latter half. (This is also why you need a full beer, not just a sample at a Beer Fest, to truly assess one. Only strippers go by samples alone.) It doesn't top their Hopsta La Vista IPA in my books but then, these guys came out of the gate huge with that one. Still, this was quite refreshing!

Well, Big Rig Brewing out of Kanata, Ontario just keeps churning them out. Again, another example of  my "A sample ain't ample" credo as I tried (and quite enjoyed) the Midnight Kissed My Cow Double Chocolate Stout at the Rib Eye Jack's Beer Fest here in Burlington last October. By no means a complex stout, this 5.6% black pour with the tan head offers more coffee and toasted malts on the nose than anything else. But once on the tongue, the chocolate punches its way to the foreground. Given all the bourbon-barrel-aged stouts I've have recently, the body on this seems a little thin by comparison but then again, it's nice to get back to basics. This one does the trick beautifully. To be honest, I feel like I've been clobbered over the head with a bourbon barrel when I drink some stouts these days. I love them but man, they're hardcore.
After I learned that $1 from every litre of Royal City's
Remembrance Red Ale went to the Wounded Warriors
Canada campaign to help injured soldiers, I bought a
few of them. A good cause and I love my red ales so...

Let's look at a beer that had some heart in the vat. That would be Royal City Brewing's (Guelph) Remembrance Red Ale. Now I know a lot of folks think red ales are kind of bland but I have always loved them. Still, a lot of people are pretty bland so truly, life balances out that way. Granted, since I have actually online reviewed a laundromat now, I'm probably in that group, too. ("The machines were very washy and sudsy with my clothes...") But way back in early-November, I watched one of my beer writing buddy Drunk Polkaroo's video reviews about this beer and learned not only was it damned tasty, it contributed to a good cause. It seem a dollar for every litre (34 ounces) sold went to the Wounded Warriors Canada group, which aids our injured soldiers. So sign me up, Sergeant.

It was, as promised, one tasty little ale. Pouring a reddish-amber hue, there was a bit of malts and dark fruits on the nose with some apple tastiness on the tongue in this 6% ale. So you know, I am the only guy who gets some apple taste from nearly all red ales. I get challenged on that a lot from other craft drinkers but now that I'm a renowned laundromat reviewer, I suspect they'll keep a respectful distance.
Oh Good Golly, Miss Molly, this was so sweet. Created
by Sawdust City Brewing and Sweetgrass Brewing, this
tasted EXACTLY like a butter tart! So very very sweet.

Okay, since I'm looking at all sorts of styles today, let's really go for broke. That would be a collaborative effort between Sawdust City Brewing (Gravenhurst) and Sweetgrass Brewing (a husband and wife team that own The Auld Spot bar in Toronto and contract-brew out of Wellington in Guelph.) Every year, it seems the tiny town of Midland, Ontario has this wild and crazy Butter Tart Festival. It's their claim to fame. Since butter tarts are very much a Canadian thing, allow me to explain to my American and international readers what they are. Imagine a pastry shell that's tart-sized but you filled it with a solid but sticky concoction of raisins, maple syrup and sugar. Guess how that tastes? Sweet, you say? Yeah, good guess, You don't even care that raisins are in there. I have no idea why "butter" is even in the name. So this 5% Maple Butter Tart Ale was created specifically for that festival. And contrary to all brewing science, this beer tastes exactly like a liquid butter tart.
How on earth did I manage to land a Clown Shoes
Space Cake Double IPA? I honestly have no idea.
Beers just magically land in front of me and to be
polite, I drink the hell out of them. I'm just that nice!
Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Neither. It's a butter tart thing. So very sweet, you could not have more than one. Truth to tell, I had trouble finishing mine. But the festival asked for a butter tart beer and those two breweries delivered. There can be little doubt that this is one of the most unique dessert beers I've ever had. But oh man, so sweet. You have been warned.

Okay, let's finish this off with a big IPA since I have been all wandering all over the beer style boardwalk today. While clowns usually scare the begeezuz out of most rational people, their big-ass shoes are pretty hilarious. So you have to admire a brewery called Clown Shoes because it's a funny name. Like Turd Ferguson. But while I had this beer review in my written transcripts - that's where I listen to my voice recordings and simply type them onto an ongoing email page addressed to myself - the review was quite dated. So I was curious how the hell this Clown Shoes' Space Cake Double IPA landed in my hands. As a man who constantly crosses the Niagara Falls, New York border for American craft beers, I strongly suspected it was one of Beer Bro Glenn's finds and there's a simple way to track him down. Go onto RateBeer and see if he's done a review. And by gawd, on June 12, 2016, there it was - Glenn's review. So he's the likely culprit.
Oh calm down, people! What could possibly go wrong??

Depending on the source, Clown Shoes contract-brews out of either Ipswich Ale Brewing or Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, Massachusetts. But since both are listed at the same address, I'm guessing there's simply been a name change. So how did they come about? Well, founder Gregg Berman entered "Clown Shoes" into a Beer Advocate best-name contest years ago. How did that turn out? "Our submission didn't crack the Top-Five," noted Berman. "This burned me up inside. While driving one day, the epiphany came. I could make my own Clown Shoes beer." So he did... and they became popular. Not too hard to see why. The Space Cake Double IPA at 9% and roughly 85 IBUs (international bitterness units) starts with (my transcribed words) "a shit-ton of citrus and pine on the aroma" but was both "heavily-malted and yet bitter on the tongue." My five-word summation of it? "I'd happily drink this again." There you go but that's enough for today. So guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain...