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


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Beer Baron: Christmas in June | The London Beer & BBQ Show 2016

The Beer Baron is back! This post comes from Matt and you can find him on Twitter & Instagram @geekcanuck 

The London Beer & BBQ Show has steadily been getting bigger and hoppier with each passing year. At last year’s show, I discovered Elora Brewing Co.’s Lady Friend IPA and Maclean’s Ales’ Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout, two fantastic beers that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many times since. What wonderful Ontario craft beer discoveries are in store for this year? Read on to find out!

The Ontario craft beer scene certainly seems healthy and ever growing. It’s pretty amazing what has happened in the last decade. This year, my most pleasant discovery of the show was Four Fathers Brewing Co., from just north of Guelph, which is a pretty wonderful part of the province for craft beer.

There is no such thing as a bad time for Russian Imperial Stout, so despite the almost-summer heat, I couldn’t resist trying their Pyotr Chetyre Russian Imperial Stout with Cinnamon and Vanilla and I’m glad I did. Hiding it’s 8.5% abv well, it was a welcome addition to the Ontario stout scene and was nicely balanced and not at all overwhelming, despite the style and spices.

On the other end of the abv and flavour spectrum - but no less a wonderful craft beer discovery - was Highlander Brew Co.’s Beerded Lady, a delicate but lively light ale that they somehow managed not to call a session ale, despite the rising popularity of the name. Beerded Lady had a subtle sweetness and a light hop finish that would make it a perfect summer ale.


Speaking of summer, Neustadt Springs Brewery brought their Sour Kraut raspberry lager to town, which is always a nice, tart treat. While you can sometimes find it Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium in London, the brewery in quaint and adorable Neustadt, Ontario is worth a visit if you happen to be heading up to Wiarton or Tobermory and need a nice place to stop for a break. The people and the historic brewery are both top-notch, as is the beer, though it seems in need of a marketing refresh to compete in the bold new age of Ontario craft beer.

Speaking of marketing and none-too-subtle segues, we have Cameron’s Brewing from Oakville, Ontario, who just this February rebranded and launched their bold and wonderfully simplistic new labels. Cameron’s beer has always been solid but I expect their rebranding will serve them well, just as Wellington Brewing did with their own bold rebranding and subsequent growth years before.

On the newer sider of the Ontario craft beer scene, we have Whitewater Brewing Co., from the Ottawa Valley. Interestingly enough, I first tried their Midnight Stout oatmeal milk stout at the tiny but wonderful Bayfield Wine & Food Festival in May. There is nothing tiny about Midnight Stout, it is creamy, bold and inviting and - god and LCBO bureaucratic processes willing - I’ll be thrilled to see it on the LCBO shelves this fall.

While it is the London Beer & BBQ Show (and a shout out to Shmokey’s for always having the best BBQ in town), there were a couple other surprises to be had, namely in the form of booze! The Clockwatching Tart and I both love gin and the Tobermory / Georgian Bay area, so it is no wonder we were drawn to the trying a gin & tonic from Georgian Bay Spirit Co., which featured juniper sourced from the Georgian Bay area and was really quite wonderful.

Just as the Georgian Bay Spirit Co. adds local flavour to make its product special, so too do the people behind Chic Choc spiced rum, who import their rum and then add a blend of nordic spices from the Chic Choc mountain region of Quebec. Smooth and happily not sweet, Chic Choc was another nice discovery and makes an excellent dark and stormy mixed with ginger beer or dark ginger ale.

That wraps up another London Beer & BBQ Show for us. Like Christmas, it was full of wonderful surprises, amazing scents and tastes, and fantastic people - and is also followed best by a nice afternoon nap. Cheers!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy Hour: Lavender Lady

I've been experimenting with gin cocktails lately. Gin is so refreshing as it gets warmer outside. 

I didn't used to be a fan of gin. Although my first-ever cocktail was a Singapore Sling (when I was not quite legal age), I found gin to be a little harsh when I was younger. I particularly disliked the combination of gin and tonic, which tasted like pine trees to me.  
It's amazing how our tastebuds change as we age.  Now I will seek out a refreshing gin or complex bourbon cocktail on a menu instead of something safe and sweet.

This cocktail is based on the "Lady" cocktails popular after prohibition.  A Pink Lady is gin, grenadine and eggwhite.  A White Lady is gin, Cointreau and lemon juice. I love the White Lady, so I thought I'd try to make a Lavender Lady with lavender from my garden. 

I made a lavender simple syrup by mixing a cup of sugar with a cup of water and steeping 5 sprigs of fresh lavender in the syrup as it heats.  I left the lavender in the syrup to strain as it cooled, for about an hour, creating a subtle, floral syrup.

Mix 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce lavender syrup and 1 ounce fresh lemon juice in a cocktail mixer half filled with ice.  Shake until the mixer is cold and frosty on the outside, about 30 seconds.

Pour the drink into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of lavender.  It's not a purple drink, but it is light, floral, refreshing, and very lady-like.