Toronto, Ontario, January 2014, Part 1 — My first beer-drinking adventure of 2014 took place in Toronto, one of my favorite beer cities. I’ve explored the beer scene in Toronto a few times over the years, but I’d never been to Bellwoods Brewery.
Just two days into the new year, I found myself on a busy business trip to Toronto. I spent two and a half straight days in meetings without leaving the hotel, so when I finally got a free afternoon, I was more-than-ready for a beer. A local suggested Bellwoods Brewery, so I hopped in a cab on a snowy Sunday afternoon and trekked over.
What an experience…I had a seat by the window of this cozy brewpub, where I could watch the snow falling while sipping pints of craft beer and nibbling on fresh olives and smoked almonds with cayenne and honey. The salty-sweet combination of my snacks went perfectly with all of the beers I sampled from the draft menu.
I sampled the:
- Boogie Monster (10.1%), a big, hoppy Imperial IPA
- Blitzen (9.6%), an Imperial Saison brewed with plum and lemon zest
- Grognard (3.8%), a sessionable Stout
- Grizzly Beer (6.2%), an American Brown Ale
- Cat Lady (7.3%), an American-style IPA
- Catherine Wheel (7.3%), a Belgian-style IPA
I was having such a great time at Bellwoods that after working through the house-brewed beers, I sampled from the guest taps — Saison du Tongka brewed by Le Trou du Diable in Shawinigan, Quebec.
Bellwoods Brewery had a funky-friendly vibe that was amplified by the jazz band that set up in front of the brewery tanks. They entertained with improvisational jazz at its finest. The band leader invited anyone to shout out the name of a song they wanted the band to play. Not the name of a real song – this band doesn’t play covers. No, he invited anyone to shout out a song, and the band would make up the music to go along with the name. So someone shouted out “Boogie Monster” and away the band went, their brassy horns playing “Boogie Monster” as I sipped on the Bellwoods beer by the same name.
I was inclined to linger into the evening but one of my favorite brewpubs — C’est What? — was next on my to-do list. But before I hopped back in a cab, I popped into the bottle shop to pick up a couple of bombers for the hotel room, including Farmageddon, a bottle-conditioned Brett Saison (7.2%).