February 26th

Friday was a long day that was mostly taken up by attending my first library conference. I’m sure most people know how exhausting a day of networking and lugging around free crap can be, so the desire for a drink at the end of the day is one that should get plenty of empathy. After some brutal weather in the morning, it had warmed up by 5pm and I couldn’t resist the short walk to Smokeless Joe’s. It’s nice to have a good bar in an otherwise brutal stretch of downtown, but my past two visits have not made me want to rush back. Once a bastion for imported beers, most of the bottle offerings were available from the LCBO but with a three-hundred percent markup. The draft offerings were a small but nice mix of imported and local craft beers, though also at a considerable cost. My Durham Extra Special Bitter was not only $7.25, but also one of the cheaper offerings. Smokeless Joe’s is a nice place to drink, but I don’t think it’s worth the extra cash.

Focusing on the beer, what surprised me most was that it was served on through a nitro tap. I associate nitro taps with porters and stouts, as mentioned last week in my visit to Mill Street, where a creamy mouthfeel is more expected in the beer. Having that creaminess in a bitter was perplexing and I could’ve done without it. It really brought the caramel flavours forward, as well as a grainy undercurrent. The hops got muddled and lost somewhere in the depths of the glass. I’ll look out for the ESB on regular tap or cask next time, but recommend avoiding the nitro.

Durham Extra Special Bitter on Ratebeer

Today: 550mL. Year-to-date: 67.33L.

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