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 from sessiontoronto.com

Session V

Yesterday we attended the fifth annual Session beer festival, for our fourth straight year. This year it was in a significantly more convenient location for us: Yonge Dundas Square. More on that later.

First, the important stuff. Here’s what we tried:

  1. Brickworks Batch:1904 cider
  2. Oast House Bound To Your Own Weisses — collaboration with Cuff The Duke (both)
  3. Broadhead Long Shot White (him); Underdog Pale (her)
  4. Nickel Brook Berliner Weisse German sour (him); So Say We All session IPA (her)
  5. Lake Of Bays Lake Monster red wheat (him); Sarsaparilla Belgian wheat (her)
  6. Bell City session IPA (him); Lenoir Belgian ale (her)
  7. Sawdust City Always Take The Weatherman’s Ad-Weiss rhubarb dunkel weiss (him); Golden Beach pale (her)
  8. Central City Red Racer IPA (him); Steam Whistle Dark Sea Salt IPL — collaboration with The Darcys (her)
  9. Beau’s Maddaddamites Noobroo summer gruit — collaboration with Margaret Atwood (him); Flying Monkeys Citrus Mistress (her)
  10. Junction Columbus pale ale / Flying Monkeys Genius Of Suburbia session pale (him…dumped the Columbus after the first couple of sips and hurriedly replaced it with the Genius); Brakeman’s session ale (her)
  11. Spearhead Jamaican Fire coffee stout (him); India White ale (her)
  12. Wellington chocolate milk stout (him); Hillside Island Hopper pale ale — collaboration with the Hillside Festival (her)

For the second year in a row my favourite was a milk stout. Last year it was the Beau’s/Tom Green collaboration, and this year it was my final beer: the Wellington chocolate milk stout. Speaking of Tom Green, he made an appearance, still promoting (and drinking) said milk stout.

There were 18 other breweries that we didn’t hit, mostly because we’d either already tried everything they offered or the one-off produced for Session didn’t grab us. Or because we just didn’t want more cider. We did consume our annual Sassy Lamb cupcake though.

Overall, I enjoyed this year’s festival far more than last year…actually, it’s probably my favourite Session that we’ve been to overall. Last year’s location was further away, much more cramped, and it didn’t help that the weather was scorching. This year the weather was beautiful but temperate, and the bathroom situation was entirely civilized. The crowds were also much more reasonable..I think splitting it across two days allowed everyone to have some elbow room…you didn’t have to fight through a crowd to get another beer, and there were plenty of places to stand and drink. Well done, Session organizers.

We walked home after that last one, or rather, we walked straight to dinner at Triple A. A huge plate of nachos was exactly what we needed before heading home and splitting a bottle of — naturally — the Session Saison.

.:.

Cover photo from sessiontoronto.com

Session 101

Okay, it wasn’t actually called that, but I’ve been thinking of it as the third annual Session 99 beer festival…hence 101. Officially, though, it’s just called Session Toronto now.

Since the festival had moved from 99 Sudbury up to Wychwood Barns, taking Uber there and back — especially on such a stinking hot day — was a worthwhile splurge. And when I say stinking hot, I mean hot enough that pretty much everyone was sweaty and various degrees of stinky. I was stupid enough to wear jeans, and spent the whole afternoon yelling, Nick Miller-like, at the sun. Going inside didn’t help as the humidity in there was worse…especially when it came time to make my one and only bathroom stop. It must have been over 50° in there with the humidity, and by 7pm the situation had become something less than sanitary. I vowed never to go back in, no matter how dire the bladder situation became.

Right, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the beer…so much of which was outstanding this year.

  1. Oast House ‘Hef’ hefeweizen
  2. Sawdust City ‘Red Rocket’ coffee stout
  3. Left Field ‘6-4-3’ double IPA
  4. Great Lakes ‘Thyme Lord’ saison
  5. Beau’s ‘The Tom Green Beer’ milk stout
  6. Spearhead ‘Jamaican Fire’ ale
  7. Wellington SPA
  8. Lake Of Bays ‘River Walker’ summer ale
  9. Highlander Brew Co. ‘Lion Grass’ summer ale
  10. Muskoka ‘Dragon slayer’ tripel
  11. Indie Alehouse ‘High Maintenance’ Belgian strong ale
  12. Central City ‘Red Racer’ IPA
  13. Flying Monkeys ‘Machete’ oatmeal stout
  14. Muskoka ‘Dragon slayer’ tripel (again)
  15. Left Field 6-4-3 double IPA (again) as we stopped in to buy me a shirt
  16. Black Oak saison

Also: a killer pulled pork sandwich from Hogtown Smoke, and cupcakes (Spearhead Moroccan brown ale teacupcake, Canadian mancake) from The Sassy Lamb.

We left shortly before closing, and walked around the corner to The Stockyards to pick up dinner. Sadly, it seemed like all the other Session-goers had the same idea, and when we heard the chef yell that it would take at least thirty minutes for any fried chicken orders, we bailed. We picked up some wings on the way home, and ate them with an ice-cold Shawinigan Handshake from Trou du Diable. Beer day for the win.