December 19th

Last night was, intentionally, a night of two brewpubs and, unintentionally, a competition between the oldest brewpub in Toronto and the newest. As I was working in the area, Soph and I met up for dinner and drinks at Granite. My excitement was for the fact that I would finally be trying the Granite Gin Lane Ale, one of the few Ontario barley wines. Poured in an psuedo-snifter, it initially looked like murky apple cider, becoming more opaque as the beer settled and warmed up. At nine percent ABV, it’s not the strongest barley wine out there and not the most flavourful. Mostly raisins and a bit of toffee, it lacked the alcoholic bite and strong dose of hops. While still tasty, my big problem with Granite beers is that they always seem to be very thin and this continued the trend.

Fighting weariness from our long work days and the big meal we had inhaled, we still managed to check out the new brewpub opened by Mike Duggan. The #9 IPA has been around in Toronto for sometime now and has become a reliable option at some bars, so there was a certain level of expectation already put on the rest of his beers. Only the top part of the brewpub was open, a swanky looking dining room and bar. Not ordering food, the menu escaped us but there was definitely some poutine and pulled pork going around, as well as a chalk board oyster sign. Definitely looks like this part of the brewpub is meant to lure in the business clients or beer geeks looking for a fancier night out. A nice touch was the decorative glasses on each table that were filled with different types of barley, though we were tempted to snack on some of it while sitting there.

My order was the London Porter and Soph got the Asian Lager (which I drank a good portion of, so it’ll get a writeup). The first surprising aspect was that all beers are served in lager glasses. Whether it is intentional or they just don’t have the glassware situation sorted out, I don’t know. (It wasn’t busy enough to be out of clean glasses.) The porter was a very dark brown with a lot of chocolate and a bit of oak. Very drinkable, I could picture having this around a fire. The lager was made from Asian rice and hops, creating a really different beer. The lemon and pepper are really evident, but also a trace of banana and sweetness that worked well. The hops in the finish made it a thirst quencher that just makes you want more. I know rice is usually the sign of a terrible macro beer, but that isn’t the case here. Hopefully they’re selling growlers of this in the summer.

Our very nice waiter also offered to get us samples, which is hard to turn down. I got a mini-stein of the Festbier, a German lager that was their strongest brew at 6.7% ABV. Very bready and grassy, it was nice until the alcohol hits you in the finish. Definitely try it before you buy it. The other beers currently available are the IPA, a German pilsner, Irish stout and a weissbier. The IPA is not available for take-home purchases yet but our server said they were hoping for next Monday. (They did have bottles and packages on display, which looked quite snazzy.)

While we were impressed with our visit to the brewpub, especially as it had only been open four days, the location does not seem like an ideal spot. The building is nice, but I can’t see there being a lot of foot traffic. There’s nothing else open on Victoria on a Saturday night, but they may be banking on the 9-5 crowd. I’ll definitely be back, especially when I can buy some of the IPA.

Granite Gin Lane Ale

Mike Duggan Asian Lager

Mike Duggan Festbier

Mike Duggan London Porter

Today: 1.1L. Year-to-date: 38.38L.

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