Photo by images_of_money, used under Creative Commons license

The key word here is control.

Oh, right. The LCBO might go on strike. Yawn.

Seriously, I don’t see this as a problem at all. Which is probably not what the LCBO wants to hear, since they’re counting on using the threat of a strike on the eve of May 2-4 weekend — Think of all the poor cottagers! And where are frat boys supposed to buy their Laker?! — for leverage. But, living where I live, it’s a minor inconvenience at worst.

I assume that resourceful establishments such as Volo, Beerbistro, Bar Hop, and Wvrst will still have a healthy supply of beer coming in. If I want to bring excellent beer home I can always just pop by Bellwoods or Beer Academy.

And I get that I’m lucky (though I prefer to think of it as being well-prepared) to have >100 bottles of wine at home just waiting to be opened, but — like the rest of Toronto — I’m an hour away from Beamsville and Vineland, where we can buy stellar wine from the likes of Thirty Bench, Rosewood, Hidden Bench, Fielding, Daniel Lenko, Tawse, Kacaba, Megalomaniac, Foreign Affair, and Vineland Estates. People at the east end of the GTA or Ottawa are 2-3 hours from Prince Edward County, where they could enjoy the scenery and stock up on more than enough outstanding wine to get them through an LCBO blackout.

Remember: nature abhors a monopoly. It also drinks local.


Photo by images_of_money, used under Creative Commons license

A week of drinking well

Our recycling pile and credit card bill would suggest that we drank very, very well this past week:

On Sunday we had a bottle of 2007 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay. On Monday we had a 2009 Twenty Twenty Seven Featherstone Vineyard Riesling. On Tuesday it was a 2009 Thirty Bench Triangle Vineyard Riesling. Wednesday was a 2009 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir, and on Thursday (after I had two pints by Great Lakes at Volo, the Katy Brown Ale and the Karma Stoutra) we had a bottle of 2009 Tawse Misek Riesling to go with our Thai takeout.

By Friday we’d decided we’d done our part for the Ontario wine economy and branched out somewhat. We had a few glasses each at REDS (2008 Foreign Affair Conspiracy, 2009 Nuestro Ribera del Duero and 2009 Jean Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Cotes du Rhone for me; 2008 Flat Rock Chardonnay, 2008 Foreign Affair Conspiracy and 2008 Rubrato Aglianico dei Feudi for Nellie) before strolling down to Wellington Street and trying Trevor for the first (!) time. We appeared to be the only non-Winterlicious people in the place, and the bartender expressed his appreciation when we ordered a full bottle of wine; I think we may have been the first to do so that night. We warmed up with a 2008 Bogle Zinfandel (me) and 2010 Bogle Chardonnay (her), and drank a bottle of 2010 McManis Petite Sirah with our mini Kobe burgers, tempura shrimp and truffle goat cheese poutine.

Yesterday we slept in (obv) before picking up supplies for the week, including a bunch of Garrison beer, one of our Halifax favourites which happens to be on feature at the LCBO this week. Last night we had a pretty disappointing dinner at a pub near the theatre where our movie was playing, so we made it up to our taste buds with a visit to Paese before the screening. I know I had a Malbec and a Foreign Affair Cabernet Sauvignon, while Nellie had an Amarone (in fact, they recognized her from the last time we were in and, remembering her affection for the last Amarone they sold by the glass, immediately poured her their new one) and a California Chardonnay; I don’t recall the details beyond that.

All in all it was a smashing good week of wine drinking, punctuated by the odd burst of beer and decadent food. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to the gym.

Planning for my future

I bought one of these bad boys today. The reviews I’ve read suggest it’s well worth the high price. Still, thank the maker for LCBO gift cards.

The recommended time frame for drinking is 2016 through 2022. It’s killing me to put it away for four+ years. But goddamn-and-a-half, it is gonna taste good when we finally crack it.

Finally…a breather

We got back from Australia three weeks ago, but it’s been tough trying to catch up, both at work and in real life. So I was more than a little happy to see this long weekend coming.

Granted, it wasn’t a long weekend for everyone (including Nellie) but it was long a weekend for me. At least, it was supposed to be a long weekend. I actually spent a full day in the office (part of the aforementioned ‘catching up at work’) before heading to old friend the Duke of York for a drink. The Duke pubs have always had a pretty generic draft list, but that night I had two from Muskoka (a Mad Tom and a Dark) and Nellie had a Hop City Barking Squirrel. Anyway, that’s where I’d planned to meet another old friend, someone I hadn’t seen since university. Nellie (who also knew her) joined us a little later and we got caught up. We then took her to Fieramosca where we were well entertained and, predictably, ate ridiculously well — I had the risotto special with prosciutto di parma, butternut squash and…something else that slips my mind, and our wine was some spectacular thing that I can’t remember.

Saturday featured beautiful weather, maybe some the last we’ll see this year, so I found an excuse to go for a walk. That excuse? Wine! Just a few bottles from the new Vintages release, nothing serious. Meanwhile Nellie was buying gifts that we took with us over to T-Bone’s place, to meet the new addition to their family, drink their wine and share some Indian food.

Sunday started with one of my favourite things (breakfast at Hank’s) and just got better from there.

Good weekend. Quiet, but good.

In the home, hoppy stretch

During my long radio silence (I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging…sorry!) there’s been much progress made on Project FiftyBrew:

  • I have now officially knocked off 39 of 50
  • I have six at home in my fridge, courtesy of friends driving them here from Kentucky and Montreal:
    • Dieu Du Ciel Fumisterie
    • Dieu Du Ciel Solstice D’hiver
    • Unibroue Éphémère Cassis
    • Unibroue La Terrible
    • Unibroue Quelque Chose
    • Unibroue Raftman
  • There is a bottle of Propellor London Style Porter waiting for me at my brother’s house in Nova Scotia
  • I can get the Wellington Iron Duke at a local beer store, and last time I checked Volo still has the Alley Kat Olde Deuteronomy in stock.

That leaves two problem children: the Alley Kat Full Moon Pale Ale (which Volo seems to be out of at the moment) and the Unibroue Eau Benite. So if anyone living in Alberta happens to come across a bottle of the Full Moon, mail it to me, ‘kay? Likewise anyone living in Quebec if they seen an Eau Benite at their local dep.

Project FiftyBrew

About a month ago Troy Burtch — author of the Great Canadian Beer Blog — reposted a speech by Steve Beauchesne, the co-founder of Beau’s Brewery entitled “What If Ontario Had A Beer Revolution?“.

What if Ontario had a beer revolution?

What do I mean by a beer revolution? Well revolutions usually involve overthrowing tyrants, and instituting a new form of governance, but my revolution is maybe a little less violent than that, although by no means is it less radical.

Right now in Ontario, 1 out of every 20 beers drank came from an independent, Ontario brewery. By beer revolution, I mean, what would happen if Ontarians chose to drink an Ontario-made independent beer 1 out of every 2 times they drank beer?

Mr. Beauchesne goes on to make an economic argument for Ontario craft beer which doesn’t actually work all that well, but no matter: there are benefits to supporting local — if not necessarily independently owned — brewers. Besides, no living human should be made to drink the likes of MolsonCoors CanadianLight or its ilk. I felt, after reading the transcript of his speech, that I should try to drink primarily local beers. But it was the summer, and it was boiling hot, and goddammit I love me some German weissbier.

Then, this past Thursday, Nellie and I ducked into Smokeless Joe on our way home from the TIFF box office. There we met the charming and gracious Kaylea from WineNotOntario who recommended the Dieu du Ciel foursome on feature. I was no stranger to DdC, having enjoyed their Rosée D’hibiscus and struggled through their Péché Mortel (seriously, man…it tasted like a peach fucking ashtray) but I wouldn’t have noticed them all tucked away down there on Joe’s chalkboard had she not pointed them out. So I tried. I liked. And I decided: I should do with beer what we’ve been trying to do with wine: drink Canadian whenever possible. Uh, this October trip to SanFran/Napa/Sonoma notwithstanding…vacations don’t count. Aaaaaaaaanyloophole, I needed a plan. It wouldn’t do to swear off all non-Canadian beer, that’s just too drastic. But I figured I should make an effort to at least try the best local stuff, especially those I might not normally try. Hence: Project FiftyBrew.

Here’s the project plan:

  1. Go to and download the list of what, according to their users, constitute the top 50 Canadian beers (DONE!);
  2. Mark off the ones I’ve already tried (DONE!);
  3. Vow to try the remaining 33 (subject to availability) over the next…oh, I don’t know. Whenever. No rush, right?

I’m looking forward to scouring the LCBO, Volo, Smokeless Joe, Beerbistro and C’est What for the unconquered bottles. I’m sure we’ll also plan a trip to Quebec ’cause, uh, they’re nearly all from there…Unibroue, Dieu du Ciel and McAuslan alone make  up more than half the list.

Also, by the time I finish these fifty I’m sure the list will have changed, but I look forward to trying the new entrants too. I may be coming at this from a somewhat different angle than Mr. Beauchesne, but I do hope one of his bottles of Beau’s climbs into the top tier.

Wish me luck.

"I don't dance with naked soldiers."

Though Thursday and Friday were supposed to be a short vacation, we actually used them as get-shit-done days. Here’s what we’ve managed so far, the major points anyway:

  • Got my driver’s license and health card renewed in what must surely be the most efficient government-related service experience ever. Ten minutes after entering the Service Ontario office at Bay & College I’d completed both renewals and was on my way home. I was actually a little shocked, and left wondering if I’d done something wrong.
  • Watched all four Wimbledon semi-final matches, or at least parts of them.
  • Went to the distillery district with Nellie (who left work at noon) in search of a hopside down glass (since I broke one) but to no avail. We had a bite to eat and a couple of cold ones at the Mill Street brew pub, and managed to get home without being rained on.
  • Went for a run. Good one too.
  • Watched Passchendaele (imdb | rotten tomatoes), which I had really hoped would be good, but it wasn’t. At all. It could have been, but when a movie called Passchendaele spends the majority of its time in Calgary it wastes whatever potential it has.
  • Walked along the waterfront, checked out the new wave deck at the foot of Simcoe, despaired at the putrid wasteland that Queens Quay becomes east of Yonge.
  • Visited the LCBO to pick up some wine for tonight (simple, tasty Cab Sauv from J. Lohr) and a few bottles of the Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask, as recommended on the always-helpful Great Canadian Pubs & Beer blog.
  • Bought a new camera bag for the SX10 at Henry’s.
  • Finished off (more or less) some rearranging we started last weekend. Lots more room now, junk recycled, shelves put up. Time to finally hang that diploma I got last fall.
  • Picked up the new bench for our balcony at Andrew Richard Designs.

Now we’re getting ready to grill some Rowe Farms steaks, maybe watch a movie. It actually feels more like Sunday than Friday…I have to keep reminding myself that we have two more days off!