Monday, 9 October 2017

Hanging with Hago...

The Three Amigos hanging at Flying Monkeys Brewing in Barrie. Hago
had their latest sour. I, of course, was all over Juicy Ass IPA and my boy,
David, was content to sip away on cranberry juice. It was Stop #3 in the
latest Barrie tour my son and I had done. I came home with some beauts!
When my son, David, was very young, I got him into the world of superheroes. As a long-time comic geek, I wanted my son to be equally immersed in the world of fantasy and heroics because I think that helps build a stronger creative mind and imagination.

Before I go much farther, I should add that this was much to the chagrin of his Mom, who, years prior, thought my dedication to my comic book collection was the single dumbest thing an adult could spent money on. I remembered that every time I tripped over one of the 5,218 pairs of shoes she owned.

So David was quickly aboard the Superhero Appreciation Train even as a toddler. So we talked about Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America and all the rest.
Asked early on by David who my favourite super
hero was, I pointed to Wolverine of The X-Men.
I mean, he's Canadian, has these super-cool metal
claws and a healing ability. From that point on,
David has called me his "scruffy Wolverine man."
We wore the T-Shirts, we saw the movies, bought the DVDs. We were all about the superheroes.

But at some point, I realized it was important for him to understand that the real world had its heroes, as well - real people just like him and me. (Well, him, anyway.) So when we talked about real-life heroes and he wanted an example, I instantly offered up "our soldiers" as the best one. As the conversation continued, I brought "fire-fighters",  "nurses" and "teachers" into the hero fold, as well. These, I explained, were real life heroes - the fighters, the protectors, the healers and those who educate. Just like those in the fictional super-hero world - a parallel I emphasized so he would understand, the real world also has its Captain America's. They just don't wear the colourful costumes and capes.

Now, despite being special needs, when something gets locked into that curious little brain of David's, it's in there forever. So during our first visit to Beer Bro Hago up in Barrie back in April, the mere mention that Hago was, in fact, a soldier (now part-time as he has completed 20 years service) was all David needed to hear. Though Hago wasn't aware of it, my son was previously conditioned to elevating his occupation to a higher level of esteem, even though he and Hago had never met.
Hey, guys, where are we? That's right. We're right out
front of Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing in Barrie, a
stop that we all enjoy. But there were two others, as
well so hitting Redline Brewhouse and Barnstormer
Brewing and Distilling were also must-stop visits!

Now, of course, in the real world, that's a narrow mindset so over the years, I have slowly introduced the notion that there are many other kinds of heroes walking this Earth. From police officers to doctors to the people that drive the bus or clean up the school when the rotten kids go home, the idea that perhaps everyone has a hero inside. (Somehow, I left lawyers off the list.) I suspect if a child can't learn the way you teach, then simply teach them the way they learn. To me, that meant using superheroes and incorporating them into real-life scenarios with real people. You want your children to see there is good in everyone. To paraphrase Tom Cruise, mission accomplished. (Seriously, how many missions does this guy have to complete before people stop calling them "impossible"? There's been like seven so far.)

So when David met Hago for the first time, it was with a pretty snappy salute. And the next time we visited, a couple of weekends back, that salute was accompanied with a loud and enthusiastic "Hago! Sir!" While the first visit was an over-nighter, this time we were just up for a day visit because both Redline Brewhouse and Barnstormer Brewing and Distilling had some new releases I was eager to try.
The first words out of Drunk Polkaroo's mouth when he poured the Lil'
Donkey Pale Ale, a collaboration from Rainhard Brewing and Redline
Brewhouse was, "Oh, this is a murky bugger!" He's certainly not wrong
And, of course, you don't go to Barrie without stopping into Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing so our agenda was set.

Now since this is not a column about my dubious parenting techniques (keeping in mind our Quality Father and Son Time is being spent in breweries) but rather beer, perhaps it's time we looked at which beers had me so eager to get back to Barrie. And topping that list was the brand new Lil Donkey Pale Ale, a collaboration between Rainhard Brewing (Toronto) and Redline Brewhouse. Now since it was brewed at Redline, Ontario laws dictate it can only be sold out of their Barrie retail. When Mark Twain once said, "The law is an ass," this is precisely what he meant. In this case, a real dumbass law.
Hey, look, my first ever crowler!! What's a crowler exactly? Well,
it's a 946-ml (32 ounce) can of beer that's almost a 1L (34 ounce)
howler but it's a can, not a glass jug. When I saw Redline still had
some of its delicious Air Ride IPA in this format, I jumped on it!

Now I bought some Lil Donkey not just for me but also for Drunk Polkaroo because I had lost a bet to the dude. I'll include the video explaining all that at the end but the thing is a collaboration between Redline and Rainhard could not be ignored - they are two of our favourite breweries. And that's even though this sounded like the world's worst idea for a beer. The ingredients stamped right on the label? Tortillas, corn, rice, beans, lime and cilantro. Holy snappin' arseholes, Margaret, they've lost their goddamn minds. (I have no idea who Margaret is.) Okay, turns out they created this for Toronto Beer Week 2017 and well, I guess brewers Seb MacIntosh and Jordan Rainhard like their burritos? (Well, I get that - I think we all do. After Salma Hayek, they're Mexico's greatest gift to North America.) So how was this 5.4%, 50 IBU (international bitterness units) pale ale? At first, kind of odd. (Polk said "interesting.") But the taste very quickly grows on you. Hago loved it instantly!
When Barnstormer Brewing and Distillery created the new
Cirrus Heavenly Pale Ale, they had some fun with the label.
They did a riff on Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"
(yeah, the famous one in the Sistine Chapel) but the wrap-
around label took out Adam's face and swapped in the
face of brewer Jeff Woodworth instead. Crazy bastards! 
The use of El Dorado, Cashmere and Idaho 7 hops gives this a real lemon-lime kick on the nose and tongue and I ended up really enjoying it. After my tastebuds understood that this was a drink and not a meal, things settled in nicely. This is most definitely the funkiest and freakiest collab of the year. I've said it before and I'll say it again... craft brewers be all cray cray.

Moving down the road to Barnstormer Brewing and Distilling, Hago and I had a quick brew there but it was all about hitting their retail shop. David, on the other hand, had an iced tea and some deep-fried pickles, which involve battered pickles being, well, deep fried. That brings me to two thoughts. Who among us will finally speak up on behalf of battered pickles? It's like society pretends it doesn't exist! And secondly, there's a dill-dough joke in here somewhere but I'm gonna pass. Two great retail offerings from our friends here - first up, the Cirrus Heavenly Pale Ale.  As the name nearly implies, this 4.5%, way low 24 IBU (tasted hoppier than that) ale had some nice citrus and a whiff of wheat on the nose, a tangy back-end, this is a really nice sessioner. I would suggest it pairs well with deep-fried pickles but I gave them a pass. That said, Hago and David were all over those. They don't care about the poor pickles' plight.
While I did enjoy this, I found the body a little thin for an
Imperial IPA that had been bolstered with oat malts. Still,
the 8.2% IIPA did have some nice flavours shining in it.

Which then brings us to their wet-hopped Sierra Hotel Imperial Oat IPA. Okay, before I even get started here, a couple of things. This was my first wet-hopped ale of 2017 (several have since followed), which is always a treat. And second, "Sierra Hotel" is pilots' lingo for "shit hot" as in "That landing was Sierra Hotel, man." Hago will confirm that all branches of the military frown upon profanity coming through the head-sets (or being voiced out loud in general and especially to Generals) so, well, some creative word-play comes into the picture.

Hey now, the beer itself. I did find the body a little (okay, a lot) thinner than I'm used to for Imperial IPAs but the 8.2%, 90 IBU beer was not without its charms. There was some nice peach and mango on the nose and you could feel the oat malts on your tongue, as well as more mango and some citrus. Crazy bastard brewer Jeff Woodworth used Jarrylo (huh?) and Chinook hops in this one. As a one-off, I quite enjoyed it but their Accelerated Stall Double IPA definitely has the edge over this one, especially in terms of body. Still, it was pretty good.
This would be Brad Ariss, one of my favourite
dudes at Barnstormer Brewing and Distilling. It
seems Brad is shifting things and become a sales
lead in Toronto, ditching the comforts of the
brewery's confines for uncharted turf. I dig that.

Okay, let's finish this out with a quick shout-out to my main man, Brad Ariss, who handles all the social media and creative duties for Barnstormer. He has nicely Punk'd both myself and Hago on Twitter in the past and since then, became a favourite. But here's a guy who went through school to become - I shit you not - an economist. At that point, I can only surmise something heavy fell on his head and he decided, instead, to tour the world upon finishing post-secondary. He eventually landed at Barnstormer where his motto was "I might drink a lot but I do it professionally." Hey, man, everyone appreciates professionalism. But because we're Facebook friends, I noticed he put his Barrie apartment up for sub-let. So, of course, I had to ask: "What the deuce, man?" Turns out that Brad's position within the brewery has shifted. In his own words: "I wanted to leave the restaurant and town so we changed my role. I'll be organizing the outside sales and work on larger business development." (Sounds like a little bit of that economist is still in there, eh?) So Brad has recently moved down to the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto to do exactly that. Since I am in and out of Toronto far more frequently than Barrie, I think we'll need to have a brew together soon, Brad. You got a promotion so the beers are on you, brother! (See how smoothly I did that?) And here's the part where Polk talks about Lil Donkey called: Polk talks Burrito Beer! But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here!! Until next time, I remain...