I love being back in Toronto because it means I get to attend things like the C’est What Fall Festival of Craft Breweries. Lots of specialty, hard to find beers were available for $1/sample (with the odd one at $2). It was a first for Soph and I, but we were smart enough to get there right at 5pm. For the next two hours, we tasted our way through fifteen beers that ranged from the spectacular to the deplorable. The best part is that they were all from Ontario (we had already tried the Quebec offerings). I’m going to cover the samples I bought, then give quick notes on my tastes of Soph’s. Included are my rankings for each beer. (Scoresheets make a night of beer tasting even greater!)
Pictured are my first two samples: Flying Monkeys Hoppapotamonkey and Denison’s Dunkel. (Edit: the Hoppapotamonkey is not a new brew, but the Hoptical Illusion with a slight variation. Read the comments from Flying Monkeys’ Peter Chiodo.) The former was, well, really strange. It poured cloudy and had a great hops smell, which followed through to the initial millisecond of taste. However, the beer then becomes a carbonated glass of grapefruit juice with a really watery mouthfeel. There was an astringent aftertaste that was not the hop burst that I expected. I gave it a 6/10 but it was the first of the night and, after reading my description, was perhaps a little nice. The latter was a pleasant, opaque brown with a nice roasted maltiness to go along with raisin undertones. A German style beer that I really enjoyed, earning it an 8/10.
The next duo started with the Great Lakes Redneck IPA, served on cask. More grapefruit and a bit of butterscotch on the finish, but this one was utterly dominated by hops, including a really dry finish that lingered for some time. Would’ve probably loved this if I was a hophead, but it was a bit too overpowering at times. Still worthy of a 6/10. Up next was the Black Oak Oaktoberfest. Served on cask, it was an opaque, light auburn with a small taste of orange. Mild, fleeting, disappointing, 4/10.
One of the beers I was looking forward to was the Mike Duggan #9 IPA. Another one on cask, this was a deep, rich auburn. It was hoppy, but not too much, proving to have a nice balance with hops and malt. Very reminiscent of Tankhouse (Duggan used to work at Mill Street) but not as bitter. 8/10. The Railway City Dead Elephant Ale came with advanced warning that it had a distinct smoky quality and it delivered. Hops upfront, but then it tastes like an ashtray. I actually found it enjoyable at first, giving it a 5, but it grew tiresome and ended up with a 3/10.
Another beer that had considerable debate swirling around it from beer circles was the Trafalgar Hop Nouveau. Definitely not at IPA levels (it’s technically an English Pale Ale), but very drinkable, considering Trafalgar’s poor reputation. It deserved every bit of the 7/10 I gave it, but the greater praise is that I went out and bought a bottle right after I left the bar. Then I ended the night the only way I knew how, with a sample of Wellington Russian Imperial Stout, one of my desert-island beers. It’s like drinking a cold, perfectly made espresso, but with a slight creaminess. If you don’t know what people mean when they say a beer tastes like a meal, find this one. No surprise: 10/10.
Now for Soph’s beers (not in tasting order):
- Amsterdam Oranje Weiss: Aroma was slightly better than taste, but still decent. Would love to compare to the Muskoka Hefeweiss. 6/10.
- C’est What Caraway Rye: Disgusting butterscotch/diacetyl taste. 2/10.
- C’est What Chocolate Hazelnut Ale: Ditto. 2/10.
- Church Key Scarlet Pilsner: Nothing scarlet about it. Flat, sweet and tasting very vinous. 2/10.
- Grand River Highballer Pumpkin: Very “meh.” 4/10.
- Grand River Vienna Lager: Burned with diacetyl. Terrible. 1/10.
- Mill Street Oktoberfest: Biscuity. Better than the Black Oak. 5/10.
Soph’s selections did not do much for me, obviously, but it still made for an enjoyable evening. The event was great mainly for the fact that we got to try so many different beers for a lot less money than having to buy a pint or bottle of each. Now we also know which beers to avoid (though it is very likely that some will change based on the scores they received). When you’re trying so many beers, it becomes really easy to differentiate the good and the bad.
Today: 800(-ish)mL. Year-to-date: 12.33L.