Last night I got back after a 5-day excursion to Calgary, ostensibly for work but with an extra 36 hours or so thrown in for a city visit. Little did I know I’d develop a sinus infection while there. Anyway, here’s the extracurricular summary:

Beer sampled: the rooftop at the National on 8th with my now-Cowtowner friend Andrea. I had a flight of 6 locals. Beer Revolution, where I tried two local pints while having an excellent (pizza) lunch with a colleague. I also had a coffee at Kawa which, once the sun’s over the yard arm, serves a very solid beer selection; alas, I was there too early.



Coffee drunk: I had a nice little espresso at Cucina, another at Kawa, a cappuccino at Phil & Sebastian‘s Simmons Building location, a latte to go from P&S which I drank sitting by the Bow River, and…like, 8 coffees over 3 days from Monogram, which happened to be right next door to my conference hotel.






Food scarfed: The Catch’s Oyster Bar for some crab cakes and oysters when I landed. CharCUT for dinner my first night, since it was in my first hotel. Small world confirmation: the bartender had also gone to Dal, and her boyfriend used to work at Bishop’s Cellar and, as such, has probably sold me booze at some point. My last night there I went to Modern Steak in Kensington, which was outstanding and had a nice Irish bartender. I walked home, along the Bow for a while and then across the Peace Bridge.





Movies watched: Sicario and Eye In The Sky on the flight there. Hyena Road and most of Stories We Tell on the flight back. I had to take my headphones out for the last twenty minutes of the flight because my ears weren’t popping (never did) and I was in such severe pain.

Random thoughts thunk:

  • The Le Germain is a much better hotel than the Westin.
  • Downtown Calgary is pretty compact, but the walkability is marred by highways and rail lines bisecting the core.
  • I skipped the private rodeo organized by the conference, partly for health and partly because I despise rodeos, and don’t regret it one bit.
  • While I generally prefer an aisle seat when flying, when flying into Calgary I will always try for a window seat so I can see the mountains when I land. We did this time, and I also happened to get a smashing picture of Winnipeg from the air halfway through the flight.

Session VII

Our seventh Session craft beer fest went off yesterday, and once again our friends Adam & Alicia joined us. Actually, they came over first to enjoy the views, do a bit of snacking, and sample a few beers before we left: Refined Fool Pouch Envy Australian Pale Ale, Left Field Sunlight Park Saison, and a phenomenal one-off Saison/rosé collaboration between Burdock and Pearl-Morissette winery. That bottle went straight to the hall of fame.

Then, off we went to Yonge/Dundas Square for the event itself. Here’s what I tried, as best I can remember:

  • Sextant “Why So Sirius?” pale ale
  • Big Rig “Great White North” hoppy wheat (collaboration w/ Central City)
  • Oast House “Haarlem Globe Trotter” koyt beer (collaboration w/ Jopen)
  • Stack vanilla chai amber
  • New Ontario “Sap Sucker” maple brown (collaboration, but not really)
  • Redline “Cruise Control” mango + lime session IPA
  • Nickel Brook “Arkells Morning Brew” coffee brett pale (collaboration w/ Detour coffee)
  • Nickel Brook “Uncommon Element” brett pale ale
  • Sawdust City “1606” barrel-aged raspberry stout
  • Sawdust City “Bitter Beauty” double IPA (collaboration w/ Jason Collett)
  • Muskoka “Ruff Draught” tropical blonde (collaboration w/ Born Ruffians)
  • Sawdust City 1606 (again)
  • Amsterdam “Revelator” Bock (collaboration w/ Jordan St John)
  • Sawdust City “Blood of Cthulhu” imperial stout

Oddly enough the Oast House was probably my least favourite, which surprised me. The New Ontario and Stack were pleasant surprises, but the 1606 was friggin’ outstanding.

We returned to our place, stopping at Batch to pick up some wings, and knocked down a few more beers (Fat Tug IPA, Great Lakes Hanlan’s Point coconut coffee porter) before calling it a night.

Overall, pretty happy with this event again. Lots of great beers, not too crowded, and unlike Cask Days I actually got every single beer I asked for. Add good friends and gorgeous weather, and it was a pretty top-notch day.

Cover photo by Seth Granville, used under Creative Commons license

“Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

Being sick, and then really sick, and then less sick, and then cold-ish, and now just slightly underpowered, has meant that I’ve had time to watch a lot of TV, including some mini-series.

I really liked The Night Manager (imdb | rotten tomatoes). I’m hit and miss with Tom Hiddleston (note: Nellie is not. She is very, very hit.) but he was terrific in this, and so was everyone else in the series. Could have done with another two episodes since the middle (middleston?) felt a bit rushed, and there were a few characters who could have done with a touch more development, but overall excellent. Very clever dialogue too.

Speaking of dialogue, Show Me A Hero (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was adapted by David Simon from Lisa Belkin’s book and it told such a deep, detailed story about one long, unbelievable (and, of course, utterly believable) story of Yonkers in the late 80s as integrated low-income housing was forced on them. Oscar Isaac was outstanding, as is often the case, and a few other surprising turns (Jon Bernthal, Winona Ryder, Catherine Keener) added to it. Recommended, especially if pneumonia fells you and you have six hours to kill.

We’ve also started watching Bloodline (imdb | rotten tomatoes) but I’m not sure yet if I like it. It could be an interesting, if slow-building, story, but apart from Kyle Chandler and Chloe Sevigny I despise literally every other major character on the show.


Cover photo by Seth Granville, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Matthew Winterburn, used under Creative Commons license

“The last word always belongs to the mountain.”

Last weekend we watched Everest (imdb | rotten tomatoes), a movie made a couple of years ago about the same disastrous attempt to summit Everest described in Into Thin Air (amazon | google play). It wasn’t necessarily a great movie (though it was lousy with Oscar nominees…5!) but I was so enthralled with the story that I downloaded Into Thin Air and read it until 3am. I finished it Monday.

Like I said, not a brilliant movie, but worthwhile. It’s fascinating to watch (or read about) these people who willingly climb into a place that is trying, by its very nature, to kill them.


Cover photo by Matthew Winterburn, used under Creative Commons license