Toronto Beer Week: Saturday (Part Two)

My final Toronto Beer Week event was the C’est What Fall Festival of Craft Beer, the Saturday night version. The C’est What Spring and Fall Festivals have become so popular that it made sense to spread the fest over two nights, adding in different specialty beers each night. The premise is simple: $1 sample beers, with the odd one at $2. Mainly Ontario beers with the odd one from Quebec, plus lots of cask beers. I don’t really need to talk anymore about how great it is as that would be redundant, because you’ve already heard that a lot from myself, other bloggers and probably anyone you met during Toronto Beer Week. So let’s get straight to the tasting notes (in order sampled, just for fun)!

  • Black Oak Papaya Pale Ale (cask) (Ratebeer): Pale straw colour, lots of floaties (papaya? yeast?). Sublte papaya, but nice bitterness. Nothing to make me go wow, but a nice start to the night and a solid 7/10.
  • Muskoka Dark Chocolate Ale (cask) (Ratebeer): Looks like muddy swamp water, which is not how I want my beer to look. Milk chocolate aroma. Strong dark chocolate taste, but not too complex. Is that a bit of umami in the background? Nice lingering aftertaste. Cask is probably not the best option. 6/10.
  • F+M Chachi Dry-Hopped Pilsner (Ratebeer): really, really pale. Quite sweet – like a lemon meringue pie, but that’s not really the taste I want in a pils. Slight pepper, but no hops. No thanks! 2/10.
  • Flying Monkeys Smashjezebelhoneybomb (Ratebeer): Yes, yes, yes! Can’t say this is much different from the Smash Bomb (especially as the Smash Bomb is still being tweaked and tastes different all the time), but compared to everything else so far, just a treat. I ended up waiting till later in the night to award its score, but it was definitely the only  10/10.
  • Duggan’s English Ale (cask) (Ratebeer): Funny to think that Duggan’s #9 was costing two tickets at this event last year and is now a mainstay at better bars. Just shows how much changes in a year. The English ale was not what I expected – chicory and ginger, making a very spicy beer. Bit of vegetable notes as well. Reminded me of an herbal coffee mixed with a Chinese veggie bun. Can’t believe I gave this a 3/10.
  • Great Lakes Miami Weissendunkel (Ratebeer): The Miami Weiss is a very bitter, citrusy wheat beer, and the Weissendunkel is pretty much the Weiss with some darker malts. And while the darker malts obviously create a different looking beer, the taste was not that dramatically different. Lots of grapefruit and hops, but I thought my eyes were fooling me – there were no roasted notes to be found! Still tasty, though. 7/10.
  • Barley Days County IPA (Ratebeer): Starts with caramel malts and some nutty notes, then moves into bitter. Nice, until some diacetyl in the end. Closer to an English style than American. 5/10.
  • Big Rock Scotch Ale (Ratebeer): This was a wild card (and, now that I think of it, oddly from western Canada) that I might have passed on, but my friend Mike liked it and it was only a $1 sample (hard not to try beers at $1/pop). Glad I did because this was a glorious beer. Can’t say how it fits in the style, but it is tasty and malty – brown sugar, toffee, cloves, cinnamon. This was the liquid version of the sticky toffee pudding at the Harbord House, which is a very good thing. Very sweet, possibly too much for a full pint, but it was so good that I got another. 8/10.
  • C’est What Coffee Porter (Ratebeer): Nice aroma. Initial coffee blast, but thin dissipates and becomes a weak, thin coffee. 5/10 was probably a little generous.
  • C’est What Chocolate Orange Ale (Ratebeer): Nice roasted flavours – chocolate, hazelnut, just a bit of orange in the background as a fruity contrast to all the richer flavours. Drinks well, but nothing that is a must try. 6/10.
  • Grand River Kölsch (Ratebeer): By now both my palate and notes are starting to get fairly muddled (Quote: “I can’t even hold on to my fucking pen!”). So when I call it a sweet bomb with none of the subtleties in a beer like Beau’s Lug Tread (one of a few beers in the kölsch style that I have tried), know that I wasn’t in top form. But it definitely didn’t win any points from me. 2/10.
  • Grand River Highballer Pumpkin Ale (Ratebeer): This was the point in the night when you start buying pints of the beers you liked, but I felt a sudden urge to try the Highballer again and make sure my good experience two days earlier wasn’t a fluke. Nope, definitely my favourite pumpking beer in Ontario. 7/10.

There were more samples, but my notes end there (actually, my notes end halfway through a review, leaving it sadly unfinished). Many of the new beers and one offs weren’t exactly fall beers in my opinion, but I also passed on both Oktoberfest beers (Mill Street and Amsterdam). Another great festival, though, and my thanks to C’est What for going through the effort and trouble of putting on these evenings.

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