Sunday, 17 December 2017

Whitby Craft Brewery Invasion: The Newbies!

THUG'S LIFE: That's the bunch of us in Little Beasts Brewing, hanging
by the kettles and vats. From left, it's Josh, myself, Hago, Joe, Candice,
Glenn and Paul. Just a group of quiet and shy Beer Geeks out for a day
of fun and sober reflection. Just kidding - all of us got seriously trashed.
Okay, gang at Cheers, it's time to wrap up the Whitby Craft Brewery Invasion 2017 with a look at the final two craft breweries - Little Beast Brewing and Town Brewing. As you may or may not recall, thus far, we had taken a shiny white stretch limo to the site of the upcoming NEW Brock Street Brewing, followed by the actual Brock Street Brewing on Hopkins Street and then 5 Paddles Brewing just up the same street.

Now between the second and third stops - 5 Paddles and Little Beasts - well, let's just say the wheels started falling off our little wagon. For reasons I can't even imagine, three of our group were sharing what appeared to be a cigarette in the parking lot. Not sure why they were sharing as smokes are cheap and readily available here. It's a mystery.
Candice snapped off a selfie of herself and Glenn in
the limo. As you can see, this was one of the very rare
instances where our nice driver Gus had the partition
down. Most of the trip he had it up due to volume. Our
volume. We went full Spinal Tap and dialed it up to 11.

But when we seven - myself, Joe, Hago, Candice, Paul, Josh and Glenn - all climbed back into in the limo, Joe had purchased two bottles of 5 Paddles' Maple Paddler to share for the ride to Little Beasts. At 10%, two bottles of Maple Paddler, even split seven ways, still did a bit of drain bramage, especially to those sharing that funny concert-smelling cigarette. And we had already piled back a fair few pints. So let's just say, that group you see above, all happily in front of the vats and kettles at Little Beasts, well, we were nicely numbed from the elements at that point. But that was the entire purpose of the day - to roam the Whitby countryside, stopping for some great craft beers along the way. And no one needed a wild day out more than our young, talented carpenter Josh. His work truck had broken down just a few days prior and his initial $700 mechanic bill quickly spiraled upwards to close to $1,200. Mere weeks before Christmas. He needed to end his week on a high note!

But as we go along here, I will provide little secrets of our day. Okay, Little Secret #1 - since Candice was aboard with six guys, some of which she did not know, there were assurances from all the guys that no one would "go full Weinstein."
Our man, Josh, has a helluva way with his phone's
camera as he snapped off yet another beauty at Little
Beasts Brewing. I'm not sure which Beasts beer he was
having here but they have a very cool logo and labels.
As it turned out, one of our group had first volunteered and later became paid to work with the Toronto International Film Festival and had actually met the morally-repugnant Hollywood producer. I was curious. "Look, it's unfair to base anything on a person's looks but man, he just looks sleazy. Was he?" I asked. (Granted, I asked this, knowing fully what he has been accused of so looks or not, that's what his image will always be.) Our man absolutely confirmed that there was an air about the man that was quite unsettling. Let's just say his Spider-Senses were tingling when they had a brief encounter. It's pretty telling, indeed, when a guy creeps out another guy.

But back to the fun stuff - the business of drinking! Our third stop, Little Beasts Brewing, was highly anticipated by me as I has heard Glenn sing their praises after his first visit. Created by Brewmaster Erin Broadfoot and brewer-partner John Henley, it opened just a few months ago but when we arrived, it was hopping. The word has spread quickly. I was hoping either would be available for a quick chat as it's fun talking to the pros but Erin and John were a little tied up at that exact moment. It seems they are the only two employees and were quite busy pouring libations for thirsty customers.
Holy crap, look who met us at Little Beasts Brewing! It's
Paul The Beer Guy, something of a Durham Craft Beer
Legend to us all. Paul had earlier commitments but had
promised Hago at some point he would join us. Awesome!

Erin, a graduate of the Siebel (Brewing) Institute in Chicago, is also a former brewer at 5 Paddles while John was a home-brewer and both have their Beer Judge Certification Program credentials. The brewery's name "revolves around the most important part of the brewing process - the yeast!" Erin said in a media release back in May. "It's the little beasts that create the final product that we all love." Add to that the fact that they have one of the coolest logos in Ontario craft beer and you have one bitchin' product.

Lemme tell you first-hand their La Saison d'ete is a saison unlike any other I've had. The 6% brew is clearly jacked up on hops, unusual for the traditionally-mild style as both orange and spice (the latter meaning probably a funky Belgian yeast) pop on your nose. I don't want to call it a hybrid because I have no idea how they brewed it but it was like they mixed an IPA's hops with a saison's yeast. I will tell you this - it works very well!!! Just an unbelievably hoppy, poppy, spicy, tasty treat!
Aside from the group shots, this is my favourite photo of the day
as Hago is book-ended by Paul The Beer Guy and Matt Allott,
the co-owner of Manantler Brewing in Bowmanville, who also
joined us at Little Beasts because he'd never visited the brewery.

Little Secret #2 - Okay, because I booked the limo for the day, it was assumed I was the one paying full-freight for it. Not so. Both Hago and Joe made significant financial contributions towards our sweet ride which I happily accepted so it was by no means a one-man show. It seems Christmas caught the best of all three of us.

Okay, in limo-related moments, when we got to Little Beasts, Hago wanted out first so he could film us getting out of the Big White Beast. That lead to the Quip Of The Day when Beer Store Buddy Paul yelled at him, "No Upskirts!" That, of course, refers to the paparazzi's penchant for trying to take shots up the skirts of actresses struggling to get out of fancy cars. Frankly, if I wanted a picture of underwear, I have a drawer full of them at home. Fancy-ass superhero ones! Nothing Julia Roberts wears is gonna be as cool as mine. But the time spent at Little Beasts was also a reunion of old friends and new as both Paul The Beer Guy and Matt Allott, co-owner of Manantler Craft Brewing in Bowmanville met our group there.
When Pauly Met Glenny! My Newmarket Beer Store
Brother Paul first met both Glenn and me at the Great
Lakes Brewing 30th Birthday Party back in February.
Since then, their paths have crossed frequently as Paul
comes down to Oshawa to visit his mother and often
pops into Buster Rhino's Southern BBQ as it has the
best craft beer selection in all of Oshawa. Great place!

I had never met Paul so that was great and Matt, gawd bless him, came with a trunk full of Manantler beers and swag! Once again, Joe stepped up and insisted on buying my goodies so I now own a Manantler t-shirt and got bottles of their Liquid Swords IPA and their Polar Vortex White IPA. I have yet to try the Polar Vortex but I enjoyed the Liquid Sword the other night and it's a dandy. At 6% and roughly 65 IBUs (international bitterness units), this has a very forward citrus scent with some pine tones while on the tongue, heaps of grapefruit. Just a beautiful job on this one! And we were all thrilled and grateful to see both Paul and Matt there, contributing to the day's adventure! You guys rock the house.

Now because Liquid Swords was inspired by the 1995 Wu-Tang Clan album/song of the same name, Paul had bluetoothed his phone into the limo's sound system and soon we had seven people in close quarters yelling/singing the lyrics out to Wu-Tang Ain't Nuthin To F**k Wit along with the song. (I only knew the chorus line but that's always where I truly shine for every song ever.)

And that left our final stop - Town Brewing - another one that opened this year.
At Town Brewing, Candice illustrates quite well how
we all went from being reserved (well, not quite) to
being very "served" which is very true. My memory
of Town was kinda fuzzy at best but I have many of
their beers at my pad, which I (oops) stole from Paul.
But first, it's time for Little Secret #3. Our limo driver, Gus, was a much beloved and very key component to the day. But since I rented the limo, only I knew his real name. (Unless he told us. I don't remember.) Guys and one lady, the man who shuttled us from brewery to brewery was actually named Ghassan. When I met him in the parking lot to settle the bill beforehand, I asked him his name. He told me but then said, "But please call me Gus, okay?" Just as well. We would have been butchering his real name by the end.

Now brings us to Town Brewing which actually just opened a month before our big day! However, the brewery, created by founder Jeff Talmey and Head Brewer Tim Ferriman has clearly caught Whitby by storm as the 5,000-square-foot facility was jammed when we arrived! Keep in mind that by this point, it was late afternoon - prime craft beer drinking hours. At this point, because he was meeting his wife, Aimee, and daughters Tiana and Meadow (such sweet girls) in Whitby at her aunt's house for an early Christmas dinner, Hago had to switch to water. I can't decide whether that was a blessing or a curse for the guy as we were all pretty blasted at this point. But I do remember it being a loud, festive and fitting finale to the day. By far, it had the most "play space" of the four breweries that day.
As we were dropping Hago off at his early Christmas
dinner on our way back, Josh snapped a selfie with
him and paid tribute to Hago's 20-plus years in the
Canadian Armed Forces, telling Hago it was a real
honour to drink and shoot the shit with him all day.
Maybe next time, we'll start with Town out of fairness so our (or at least, my) memories will be clearer. I suppose we all could have drank a little less before we got there... nahhhhh.

Now, I did enjoy their Leap of Faith Series' IPA while there but I inadvertently took all of Paul's Town beers the following morning when I went home. So I want to single out their Square Wheels Wheat IPA today. The 6.8% and probably 70 IBU ale is tons of fruit and spice on the nose with much more of the same on the tongue. The wheat malts give this tasty beverage a beautiful haziness so hey, Paul, thanks man! (I may be a brazen thief - by honest error - but I am also a courteous klepto.)

We shortly after dropped off Hago with his family and somehow he says he managed to hide his condition from them. (Doubtful - they knew what he was doing all day. But because he's a great partner and father, they probably all smiled and were glad he had a good time.) And then it was back to Buster Rhinos Southern BBQ for the rest of us. Our day was coming to an end.

But that bring us around to Little Secret #4 and that belongs to our man, Joe.
In this brilliant Josh Beaven photo, you see Candice on the left, Paul
pushing the luggage trolley filled with our beers and me on the right
heading to the check-in at La Quinta Hotel about 50 metres down the
road from Buster Rhino's. I dare say we came in like a wrecking ball.
When we were all introducing ourselves and what we did, Joe told us he was the General Motors liaison to the Canadian Auto Workers Union. Very true. But he left out that he is also the Vice-Chair for United Way of Durham Region. Or that he became a grandfather for the first time to his daughter's new-born son, Jack, just three weeks prior to our big day. Or that he has an extensive guitar and amp collection. Turns out Joe, the calmest of the bunch, was the biggest rocker in the limo!! Also he's a great (and very generous) guy who was just thrilled to be part of the action.

Gang, that's a full wrap on the Whitby Craft Brewery Invasion 2017 and it was one of the best days ever! Our squad of craft beer lovers was the best squad ever! And I sincerely thank the other six for making the day so damn much fun! But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain...