June 24th

Thursday morning was a bit rough after the Wednesday night pub crawl, but I shook out the cobwebs (no, that does not mean “barfed”) in time for the Great Lakes Project XXXX, a special OCB Week version of their monthly cask night which was celebrating its one year anniversary. The concept is quite simple – $10 gets you four beer samples and food. Normally Great Lakes brew a one-off beer for the cask, but this week they brought in some other OCB brewers (Muskoka, Flying Monkeys, F&M). What is not always simple is getting out to Great Lakes on a Thursday evening due to their location in south Etobicoke, which is why it was my first time attending Project X. Once again, the weather was sunny and hot, making it a beer and BBQ out of the lawn of Great Lakes.

The food was delicious: spicy lamb and pork sausages cooked in Devil’s Pale Ale (though I wondered if the beer would actually penetrate the casing), grilled red peppers and salad with Green Tea vinaigrette. Between our eight coupons, Soph and I easily made it around to all the casks, plus a couple of bottles:

  • Flying Monkeys Smashbomb IPA (Ratebeer): Made with citra hops (whatever that means), the Smashbomb was delicious on cask. Lots of citrus, a bit of grapefruit and a nice bitterness – just enough to clear the palate. I didn’t try the bottle because the cask was too good. Flying Monkeys are still tweaking the recipe and all I can say is, “Stop!”
  • Great Lakes Lackey’s Casky (Ratebeer): This was Soph’s sample and it was not as nice as the version I had at the Cloak and Dagger, perhaps because the cask were all gravity and not handpull. The grapefruit was hidden in the sample.
  • Great Lakes Miami Weiss (Ratebeer): A bottle sample, this strong hopped weissbier (50 IBU) is a little too harsh. I don’t get enough of the banana and spices before the hops assault the palate. More of an IPA/weiss hybrid that straight-up weiss.
  • Great Lakes My Bitter Wife (Ratebeer): A pale IPA, this sample worked well with the spicy sausage but the bitterness was too much on its own. It felt like my mouth was being stripped with paint thinner. Not anywhere close to balanced.
  • Muskoka Dry Hopped Cream Ale: I was a bit shocked when I saw this, which meant I had to try it. With a strong cloudy amber colour, it definitely didn’t look like a cream ale. Nose of citrus. Malty beginning and just when you think the hops will kick in, there is a sweet bubblegum flavour. Very odd. Not really good, but at least Muskoka was trying something different. (And I also heard a great explanation by their rep about how their Pilsner Light differs from other light beers because it isn’t watered down. I still really want Muskoka to brew something that has some complexity, though.)
  • F&M Stonehammer Strawberry Blonde: The F&M cask beer was a draw to Sophie, who loves her fruit beers as much as her IPAs. It smelled like feet and barely tasted of berries. Not my thing at all.

In addition to the beer and food, there were also some roller derby girls and a nice homage to the G8/20 fake lakes (an inflatable pool with a couple of Muskoka chairs). While the beer was mixed, the event was a great value and really well attended. It was nice to have a lot of different breweries there and to be able to chat with the brewers and reps. Obviously that opportunity is rarely offered, but it was nice to see lots of people taking advantage of the extra breweries. It was my first Project X but definitely won’t be my last.

Today: 500mL. Year-to-date: 127.08L.

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