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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Beer Baron - 2014: A Craft Beer Year in Review

March: Any time you start you beer year with Bell’s Expedition Stout – or really, any good Russian Imperial Stout – you win. It was also my first post as the Beer Baron and I managed to equate Expedition Stout to Batman, so it was a win-win.

April: Ah, spring, when a young man’s fancy turns to road trips, Arcade Fire concerts and craft beer. On our way down to Nashville, we stumbled upon Country Boy Brewing in Lexington, Kentucky. The beers – especially their Sexual Dracula cherry-bourbon stout – and hospitality were so good, we are headed back for another visit. 

April: Apart from learning just how awesome Nashville is, another highlight of our spring road trip was discovering Asheville, North Carolina, which is an artsy, modern, beer-friendly little city nestled in the hills amidst winding road dotted with farms. Along with all the amazing coffee shops and hipster-friendly tacos shops, we also found by Wicked Weed Brewing, which, as luck would have it, had recently released a barrel-aged sour cherry ale that I was more than happy to bring home to cellar.

June: To celebrate Ontario Craft Beer Week in June, I took a little trip to Guelph, which is home to one of my favourite Ontario craft breweries, Wellington Brewery, as well as one of my favourite beers in the province, F&M Brewery’s Stone Hammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout. You can celebrate Ontario Craft Beer Week anywhere, but if you had to pick a city, you could certainly do worse than Guelph.

July: As the temperature (and amount of yard work) started to rise, so too did my consumption of session ales, especially Muskoka’s Detour, which was my go-to choice when I was hot and needed to keep my wits about me.

August: The Clockwatching Tart and I love Detroit. We don’t need any specific reason to visit but going to see Jack White play might qualify as one of the best reasons ever. During our little trip, we discovered Atwater at the Park in Grosse Pointe, which we will be sure to visit again.

August: August also brought the Forest City Beer Fest, which turned out to be an amazing day despite a little bit of rain. The craft beer scene in London is getting better and better every year and it is thanks to the people like festival organizer Aaron Brown. I am proud to say I visited every single booth and took photos of all the friendly faces.

October: The weather was beautiful over Thanksgiving and on the way home from a beautiful wedding in Trenton, we took a little detour off the highway to stop for lunch at the Woolwich Arrow, which boasts consistently great food and craft beer.

October: Now in its 10th year, Cask Days is a dizzying experience – 6500+ guests, 336 firkins, 120 breweries / ciders, and 150 volunteers all fill the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto over 3 days – both literally and figuratively. This year, Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea imperial porter brewed with cacao and chili peppers, was the standout to me but there was a lot to bring smiles to everyone’s face.

December: December sees the release of quite a few wonderful seasonal beers and Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium is one of the best places in town to enjoy them along with some great, locally sourced food. Milos is another big part of the growing craft beer movement in London and we are lucky to have him and his bar in town. Pictured above is something I likely wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else in town: Colossus, a Dunkleweizen Dopplebock from Side Launch Brewing that was absolutely fantastic.

December: Finally, my year of craft beer ended with a bang thanks to our local brewery, Forked River Brewing Company, releasing Weendigo, a barrel-aged imperial stout. Hand-dipped in wax and perfect for cellaring, Weendigo was available both at the brewery and at the LCBO and made for a perfect Christmas gift – though I made sure to keep a few tucked away for myself to help ensure 2015 is just as delicious as 2014 was.

This post is by The Beer Baron, Matt Brown.  Find him on Twitter @geekcanuck

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