Monday, 17 April 2017

When the Redmond boys hit Barrie

My son, David, had very explicit instructions for me,
Hago and Kaitlyn when we visited Flying Monkeys
Craft Brewing in Barrie. Fortunately, that was our
game plan all along. And David? Well, he was the
group's designated iced-tea drinker for three stops.
"So how do we greet Hago when we get to his place?" I quizzed my son, David, on the drive to Angus, a tiny (but rapidly-growing) hamlet just 15 minutes outside Barrie.
"We salute him!" responded David cheerfully.
"And why do we do that?" I continued.
"Because he's a soldier and soldiers are heroes," came the happy response.

And true to form, when Hago came to the front door, David gave him his sharpest salute from the bottom of the steps. And thus began one kick-ass Saturday in Barrie on April 8. Started with a military note, followed quickly with a warm civilian hug, of course. Because of David reasons.

But we were barely through the door when the festivities began in earnest. "I understand you just had a birthday?" Hago asked my boy as his pretty teenage daughters Tiana and Meadow (on occasion, the hilarious co-stars in Hago's videos) descended to the living room. Indeed, it was two weeks prior. With that, Hago presented him with two Star Wars gifts - models of the cool TIE Fighter Jets used in the movies. That said, we didn't come empty-handed ourselves as I gifted Hago with a specialized Nickel Brook Mix-Six - Headstock IPA, Naughty Neighbour Pale Ale, Immodest Imperial IPA, Malevolent Imperial Black IPA, Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout and Continental Drift Belgian Pale Ale. Brewery-fresh to boot.
The pic that launched a thousand WTFs on my
Facebook page. As a diehard Maple Leaf fan, I
was forced to wear Hago's Montreal Canadiens
slippers when I went out for a smoke. Yes, they
are hideous... but they kept my feet warm and
they fit better than his wife Aime's pink ones.

On top of that, David had purchased a Nickel Brook Naughty Neighbour T-Shirt for his new buddy so within seconds of our arrival, it was all Star Wars and craft beer. And that was the purpose of the whole trip up Highway 400. Barrie, a landmass of just 77 square kilometres (30 square miles), has not one, not two but three craft beer breweries in town. That's one craft brewery for every 47,144 Barrie citizens. As well as the occasional interlopers from Angus. (Love your steaks, Angus!) The Star Wars stuff? That was just a bonus.

And shortly afterwards, Hago aimed his car for Barrie with Redline Brewhouse being Target #1. Having recently called their Clutch Pale Ale "probably the best pale ale in Ontario right now," Hago noted that if I liked that, I was gonna love their Double Clutch Double IPA. But our Party Of Drinkers wasn't quite complete just yet. Hago had texted his buddy, Shawn, to meet us there and I was given firm instructions by Kaitlyn K to text her when we were on my way there. I first dealt with Kaitlyn at my Beer Store way back in her Flying Monkeys days (she's a Redliner now) so we actually go back a few years but only on the phone. We have never met. Poor lady - meeting two Redmond boys in one day. Fortunately, one is well-behaved. Good thing, too - the older one's a frikkin' mess.
Kaitlyn asked Alex (this nice lady) to bring a couple
of specialty bottles from the (super-secret) room in
the back. Here, Alex is pouring us Series 1 Barrel-
Aged Golden Brett Saison (7.8% of wow!) which was
followed by Artifacts, a 6.3% Farmhouse Brown aged
in a port barrel using Brett yeast and sour cherries.

When we arrived, the lady in the retail store instantly recognized Hago (let's assume he's been there once or twice) and gave us a tour of the brewery section. Man, they packed a lot of fermenting vats and equipment into what is not a huge amount of space. On the way over, Hago gave me the backstory of how the brewery was created in 2014. Husband and wife team, Doug and Kari Williams, craved a new challenge, enlisting their son Devon and daughter Darci into a true family-owned operation. Grabbing head brewer Seb MacIntosh right out of Niagara College's Brewmaster and Brewery Management program, they created one of the province's most up-and-coming breweries seen in quite some time. Their reputation is already strong among craft drinkers while in actual fact, they've really only just begun.

Well, there was little doubt about what was going on my paddle and (surprise, surprise) it was a Mini Festival Of Hops, featuring Clutch Pale Ale, Double Clutch Double IPA, Rainbow In The Dark Winter Rye IPA and a Sprung! Belgian Pale Ale. All four have different hop and flavour profiles... and all four were dynamite. Frankly, I confessed to Hago on the way out, I could have stayed there all day. Loved the set-up, the ambiance, the whole noodle. But I was faced with a greater challenge.
This is probably the Best One-Two Sucker Punch in Ontario at this exact
moment. While I have already raved about Clutch Pale Ale in this space,
it is now Double Clutch's turn. Peachy and mango on the nose, it has a lot
of tropical fruit and citrus with a touch of pine on the tongue. Outstanding.

You see, one of David's chores when he's with Daddy is putting away the clean dishes. As such, he tends to balk when I purchase a new craft brewery glass. So much so that I took to calling him the Glass Nazi. And there was no way I was walking out without a Redline Brewhouse glass. Well, here's where Hago stepped up and showed the experience he's gained by helping to raise two daughters. "Hey, David," he suggested cheerfully, "why don't you pick out a new glass for your Dad?" By making him part of the process, I watched as Hago magically transformed my lad from Glass Nazi to the Glass King. Simple? Yes. Brilliant? Absolutely!
The Three Amigos - David, Hago and Kaitlyn K - pose
happily at Redline Brewhouse. Believe it or not, there
is a Redline Brewing in Burton, Michigan hence the
"Brewhouse" in the name. No matter, it's all great stuff

So how was that Double Clutch Double IPA that Hago promised would blow my doors off? Oh, it did precisely that! Also took out the windshield, broke the transmission, stripped the gears and blew out all four tires plus the spare. At 8.4% and a presumed 83 IBUs (international bitterness units), head brewer Seb used Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade and Galaxy hops in the boil before dry-hopping it with Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Columbus. Using flaked oat malts (among others but those are prominent), this was all peach and mango on the nose followed by tropical fruit, citrus and a wee touch of pine on the tongue. And that's why it does all of that previously-mentioned vehicular damage - it's a goddamn car bomb in a glass.

Next on our Plan Of Brewery Attack was Stop #2, Barnstormer Brewing. However, I bought so much beer there and have such a great story about how they hoodwinked both Hago and I on April 1st, that I am holding their story until next time. Clearly, I'm not done with Barrie stories yet. Well, as least not as much as Barrie's probably done with me! (Upcoming Press Release from the Barrie Chamber Of Commerce: "Seriously, it's okay, Don. You can pretend you were never here. We'll give you a gift certificate!")
There was no way I was leaving Flying Monkeys without their Juicy Ass
IPA. But since it isn't bottled or canned, that meant buying a one-litre
(34 ounce) howler of it. I didn't care. It was coming home with me. Also
making the trip: Graceland Too White IPA, collaboration with one of my
favourite stops in Halifax, Propeller Brewing, and of course, Shoulders
Of Giants Imperial IPA, a favourite that I assumed had long vanished.

So if we can just fast-forward to Stop #3 and that would be Kaitlyn's old stomping grounds, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing. As this was Kaitlyn's first trip back there in quite some time, the hugs she got were flying, well, fast and furious. Like the movie. But without cars. Because Redline blew them all up. Great family, great brewery... not so nice to cars.

I have wanted to visit Flying Monkeys since I started drinking craft beers. Their Smashbomb Atomic IPA was my first love and ask any guy how well he remembers his first love. Hell, I know I'll never forget Good Ol' Whatzername. She had it all - face, arms, legs, basically all the body parts.
Even the equipment signage is colourful at Flying
Monkeys as Hago poses next to "Moe's Magic
Tunnel and Bottle Dryer." Tis a magical place...

The only thing that was greeted more warmly than Kaitlyn at Flying Monkeys was the glass of Juicy Ass IPA, an insanely-good beer, that I ordered. Well, okay, Kaitlyn gets the edge because she was such a great Brewery Tour Guide for the day but damn, this IPA was a close second.

At 7.1% and 69 IBUs, it was a long-time favourite of mine on tap at Rib Eye Jack's Ale House in Burlington. You can smell the hops from the glass as it sits in front of you, teasing and taunting. Deep citrus on the nose, this is all fruity goodness on the tongue and damn, it is juicy. Love this beer.

As for my partners in crime, well, David was absolutely thrilled to go there because being a huge Wizard of Oz fan, he's always loved the name. And Hago? Well, he got a cool new Flying Monkeys sign for his downstairs, as well as a menu (with a gnarly Flying Monkeys licence plate on the other side) that somehow fell in the sleeve of my jacket. How does that even happen? It's the damnedest thing. When something mysterious like that happens, there's only two possible explanations. It's either Odin's Will or black magic. (And we're all out of magic. All hail Odin.)
Either David and Hago are pointing to the Redline Brewhouse sign or
they're in a ZZ Top video. The jury's out because I'm pretty sure I
heard Sharp Dressed Man as I was taking this picture. The start of a
day in Barrie that will go down in the memory books. Great fun there

Okay, I'll be back in a day or two because, oh man, so many more Barrie stories to come. (Barrie Chamber of Commerce: "Seriously? Do we need a restraining order?") There's the whole Barnstormer visit (where David ate deep-fried pickles for the first time), not to mention a kick-ass visit to CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Borden where Hago plies his trade. That place, which is huge, has planes and tanks and big-ass artillery guns. It was all the cool toys of which a Canadian boy can dream. (Also, I think David very much enjoyed it, too.)

And I told you what I brought Hago from Nickel Brook but hey, what did he sent with me back to my Burlington home? Did one of them actually hurt him badly to send it home with me? (Yes... yes, it did.)

And speaking of beers that Hago has tragically lost from his collection, what sour beer from Barnstormer Brewing did Hago buy that his lovely wife, Aime, decided was her new favourite thus depleting his stock even further? Hago's my buddy and you don't rub salt in the wound of your buddy. But shit, Hago, I really loved mine! Just sayin'...

And finally, some serious reflection on my lifestyle. If, like me, you drink way too much craft beer, eat nothing but junk food and never exercise a day in your life, eventually you'll need a motorized scooter. Frankly, I'm not seeing the downside here. But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here. Until next time, with much more Hago, David and Kaitlyn K, I remain, as always...