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Greg Clow, publisher of Canadian Beer News and Beer, Booze & Bites, is pleased to announce the Canadian Beer News Dinner Series.

This ongoing series of dinners will bring together some of Canada’s top breweries and beer importers with outstanding chefs and restaurants to create unique and exciting beer and food pairing, invest in the stock market experiences.

The first dinner will take place at The Windsor Arms Hotel on Tuesday, December 6th and will feature a gourmet vegan meal prepared by Chef Doug McNish. Paired with the four courses will be the beers ofBeau’s Brewing, presented by Beau’s co-founder, Steve Beauchesne.

If you’ve only tried a couple of their beers before (Lug-Tread and Festivale) this dinner represents a great opportunity to try some of their more limited releases that don’t always make it over to this part of Ontario, including rarities from the Wild Oats Series and the Greener Futures Barrel Aged Beer. Having had the pleasure of sampling some of Chef McNish’s fare before, I’m expecting this night to be a good one.

According to Greg, the dinner is almost sold out so if this sounds like your sort of thing, you best jump on it soon and how to invest in the stock market.

Canadian Beer News Dinner #1: Beau’s Brewing & Chef Doug McNish

The Windsor Arms Hotel
18 Saint Thomas Street, Toronto

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
6:30 PM – Reception with passed hors d’oeuvre & beer pairing
7:15 PM – 4-course Dinner with beer pairings

Tickets are available now for $95 (inclusive of tax and gratuities).

Due to a change in internet providers and subsequent equipment difficulties, I’ve been without internet access for the past while.

It wasn’t till now that I figured out how to access WordPress through my phone (a baseline Nokia smartphone). However, the idea of tapping out a couple thousand words, two thumbs at a time, is hardly ideal and I’m waiting until my internet gets up and running before I start posting again.

Rest assured, I have quite a backlog of material and not all of it is out-of-date. At the very least, I promise quite a few recipes, both drink and food-related, that will come in handy in these coming blustery months.

What have I been doing? Taking full advantage of what remains of the good weather, the changing seasons and stock market how to invest when I can.

I’ll be back before you know it.

In the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of going to two distinct festivals in Toronto (sorry Session, I heard you were terrific but I was unable to see past my throbbing hangover after a best friend’s birthday).

The Hart House Craft Beer Festival is in it’s 4th year at UofT. Held in the quad that sits smack-dab in the middle of the aforementioned cultural centre, it’s got an impeccable reputation with enthusiasts and it wouldn’t be difficult to argue that it’s played a large role in the craft beer renaissance taking shape in our city.

Beside the excellent beer, they’ve got a free BBQ and a couple of DJs from CIUT, one of the best radio stations around. Did it live up to my expectations?

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The Toronto Festival of Beer has gotten quite a bit of flack in years past for being a vehicle for all of the mainstream brands and this criticism isn’t entirely unwarranted.

I’ve only been going for a couple of years but both times featured plenty of tired brews being sexed up with “booth babes” and loud music, a real-life commercial.  Neither they nor the massive drunken hordes they were serving knew or cared much about beer; the modus operandi could very aptly be summed up as “if it feels good, do it”.

While it can be easy to dismiss this attitude as simplistic and stupid, it can also be a lot of fun with the right friends. I still have fond memories of Human Foosball from two years ago and while a crowd this size will always draw its fair share of idiots, I tend to remember the people I liked.

Bacchanalia notwithstanding, there is some other merit to the event. Great Lakes Caskapalooza!, featuring 20+ unique casks that encompass a wide range of beer styles, has been a consistent favorite ever since it started and I’d expect this year to be no different. Mill Street will have a “busker experience” which I imagine will pair music with their beers.

Last year, all of the Ontario craft beer was featured in the center of the grounds, giving them some much-deserved attention. This year’s attendees include Flying Monkeys, Railway City, Black Oak, Amsterdam, Spearhead and Granville Island, at least a third of which will be featuring seasonals.

Mirella Amato of Beerology will be offering guided tours of the festival on Sunday, at 2:30 and 3pm.

One interesting feature making its debut this year is Mash Up, where 8 breweries will collaborate on developing one-off beers for the festival. Pairings include Beau’s/Black Oak, Nickelbrook/Flying Monkeys, FM/Wellington and Amsterdam/Great Lakes. Expect to see these special brews at each of the brewery’s booths.

I really enjoyed the joint cask by Great Lakes, Amsterdam and Bar Volo that was featured at the Hart House Craft Beer Festival and am definitely looking forward to see what these guys bring to the table this time.

While those who don’t appreciate drunken crowds will stay away, those up for a bit of fun with their beer will probably manage to enjoy themselves. It’s not Session, it’s not even the Hart House Craft Beer Festival but it really shouldn’t be.

I’m just happy I’ve had four festivals to go to this year.

The festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 5 to Sunday, Aug. 7. Thursday and Friday will be evening hours from 4 till 10pm while Saturday and Sunday will be more of an all-day affair from 1 till 7pm.

Friday and Saturday are already sold out but you can still get tickets for Sunday (and avoid some of the weekend crush).

(Photo taken from the Toronto Festival of Beer website.)

Woo boy, it’s been awhile since I posted some links but between all of the fun I’ve been having this summer and the inevitable procrastination that results from sleeping in, I’ve not been able to produce anything regularly.

So… new idea. Two biweekly links posts per month. This gives me time to gather material, try out recipes and otherwise enjoy myself.

I’ve also reorganized the format slightly. DRINKS will feature cocktail recipes to try when out out on the town and make at home. NEWS will be all about the science and the politics behind what we put in our mouths while FOOD will stick to recipes.

Let me know what you think.

DRINKS

An essential list of some favorite NYC cocktails of the summer of 2011. While there’s no direct connection, I can imagine any reason why anyone planning on visiting wouldn’t pair it with the food guide below. (Off The Presses)

Looking for a fantastic cocktail at Dram? Better stay away from July 20 to the 23rd as their all-star list of bartenders will be in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, the industry conference and booze-fest.

If, however, you’re looking for something a little more low-rent, come for 86′d, a pop-up, quintessential, dive bar experience. Depending on what sort of person you are, this is either a whole lot of fun or far too fucking precious. (The New York Times)

If you want add a silky texture to your cocktails and prevent crystallization, it’s time to start adding gum arabic to your simple syrups. (About.com)

Gum syrup will particularly benefit “tropical” cocktails. (Wired)

This Clementine Fizz sounds perfectly delicious except for one thing: they use vodka. Substitute a floral gin but keep the lovely cucumber-wrapped glass please! (Bakers Royale)

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If you attended the first outing of Session last year, you might have been inclined to think it didn’t have a much of a future. Despite the quality of the beer and a thoughtful crowd, the location at Sunnyside was difficult to arrive at, the weather was tempermental and the G20 was a collective bummer in Toronto’s psyche.

Thankfully, Jared Corbeil and Curt Dunlop are back this year with a second iteration of the Session Craft Beer Festival, this Saturday (June 25) and desire to a expand on the possibilities of what a beer festival can be.

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COCKTAILS

Got the perfect summer cocktail? Whether it be something original or a clever twist on a classic, Adam McDowell would like you to submit it for his contest. Winners get bragging rights, 15 min of fame and some bar swag. I entered for the hell of it. Rob Montgomery’s already been featured with his Blackberry Cabarnet Caipiroska, a take on the Brazilian caipirinha. (National Post)

NEWS

While the situation for established and aspiring bartenders may be improving, it can still be difficult to source out all of the right products. (NOW)

Why booze doesn’t have nutritional information on the label. (The Globe And Mail)

There are macro-lagers and then there is craft beer and no matter how much Molson-Coors or InBev would like us to believe, never the twain shall meet. They can buy up as many breweries as they like but there will always be some ambitious fella who wants to make beer his way. (National Post)

Mill Street Brewery’s expanding to Ottawa. The way they’re going, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes knocking, looking to buy. (CTV)

If you’re young and Irish and your country’s going to hell, you come to Canada and ask Jimmy McVeigh Sr. to find you a job. (Open File)

Toronto used to be a whisky-town before cheap beer and Prohibition came a-knocking. (Toronto Standard)

FOOD

The best burgers are griddle-smashed burgers. Go to Burger’s Priest and then get back to me. (National Post)

While the Globe might be none-too-subtly trying to suggest birch syrup might be better than maple, I’d posit they both have their own merits. Give the former a try if you haven’t yet. (The Globe And Mail/em>)

I know I said I’d get links up each and every Monday but it’s time for a reassessment. I have far too much fun on the weekend and not enough happens in a week that’s worthwhile compiling. Every other week, on a Tuesday, gives me time to grab some real gems and recover from whatever I trouble I found myself in from Thursday-to-Sunday.

COCKTAILS

I don’t know about you but for me summer is less about boozy, classic cocktails and more about fresh ingredients. I want it to fizz and remind me of all the fantastic things I could be doing outside!

To that end we have the Unstrung Harp, a Dark’n'Stormy by way of Italy. The NY Times is calling it the drink of the summer; I don’t know if I’d go that far but if you have a little bubbly and ginger syrup (you do, don’t you?), you might as well whip one up. (The New York Times)

We can all agree that fresh is what it’s all about when it comes to this season’s cocktails but there’s no point in punishing your ingredients. All you need to do is spank your herbs. (The Kitchn)

New York City agrees with me! Check out these outstanding cocktails and then tell me you don’t want to jump on a Porter flight tomorrow. (Time Out New York)

If you love Great Lakes’ Crazy Canuck Pale Ale as much as I do, make a cocktail out of it and convert the rest of those unbelievers! The Gringo is the perfect marriage between a couple of essential summer elements (St. Germain elderflower liqueur and freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice) and my go-to refresher. (Endless Simmer)

Summer’s different once the sun goes down and you need a different kind of drink at night. Something edgy that burns a little. You need the Spicy Lady. (Marcus Samuelsson)

NEWS

How to drink with Koreans. It’s kind of like drinking with Russians. (Los Angeles Times)

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toronto wine and spirit festival 2010

Thanks to the Attorney General of Ontario, the summer of 2011 will go down in provincial history as the first season where people can attend their favorite festivals and drink to their heart’s content without being crammed like cattle into beer tents. Scenes like the above from last year’s Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival are now a thing of the past.

While the Distillery District is quite pleasant to look at, the experience left a lot to be desired. Once a drink was purchased, it had to be consumed before one could move on to the next tent, which lead to traffic jams, overcrowding and rushed consumption.

While over 8,000 people attended (and I think most of us had an outstanding time), Scott Rondeau, the president of Power Juncture (the event company behind the festival) thought they could do better.

“[We saw] Polson Pier as one big open area with 215 feet of untapped waterfront and we liked it. You’re right on the water, watching the sun set and there are no more pavilions. You don’t have to finish your food or drink before moving on to the next vendor.

If you’re in a group and each one of you wants to try something different, you can do that and move along. No one’s stuck.”

When asked about the changes to the liquor laws, Scott is enthusiastic.

“While the onus will always be on the organizers to provide responsible service, it’s nice to see the public be treated in a more adult fashion.”

With 45 vendors bringing over  200 products for guests to sample, the new set-up should make it that much easier to get around and give everything a taste. According to Scott, most beer samples will cost $1; with wine costing up to $3 more and rarer spirits fetching no more than $8. The cigar lounge from last year will return although this time, the smokes will be paired with scotch instead of rum.

Tickets are available in advance for $25 or you can purchase them at the door for $30. As usual, your entrance fee starts you off with 5 tickets.

The Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival is open from 6pm until 11pm on both Thursday and Friday, June 16th and 17th, respectively. On Saturday, June 18th, the festival opens at 12pm and, except for a brief period from 5pm until 6pm, will remain open until 11pm that night.

(Photo taken from the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival blog.)

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For an experience like in the video above, get yourself a membership to the Toronto Temperance Society. I had the pleasure of checking them out a couple of months ago and their cocktail list is the shit. Exclusive tastings, ultra-professional staff and the kind of atmosphere that allows for a decent conversation don’t hurt either.

Some people gripe about the price but it’s cheaper than a gym membership and you’ll probably use it more.

NEWS

Ontario’s finally becoming a little less staid as the provincial government says it will relax the liquor laws come summertime. Whether this is pandering to voters in the upcoming provincial election or not, I know it will make this year’s festivals so much better. (The Globe And Mail)

In a move designed to gussy up its image a bit, The Beer Store is opening a new concept in Liberty Village called “The Beer Boutique”. While it will feature the same selection as other stores, customers will be able to feel better about buying their beer from a private monopoly. No word on whether the boutique will feature transients returning empties in shopping carts. (PostCity)

A profile of Will Predhomme, the sommelier of Canoe and the fun, fascinating and often tricky world of purveying wine. (Toronto Life)

Even the tea leaf has its own sommeliers now. Andrew Marone and Judy Lin who run t-buds will find the perfect cup for you. (PostCity)

El Gordo, the food court home to Agave & Aguacate, now has a patio. No more standing up while you make a mess of Francisco Alejandri’s tostadas! (Spice City Toronto)

If you think the only good champagne is branded Dom Perignon or Veuve Cliquot, think again. Their blends don’t compare to individual vineyard’s efforts, known as “grower champagne”. (Good Food Revolution)

For those of you excited by that recent Japanese study, let me rain on your parade with a little calorie-counting. Two pints of beer can equal about 45o calories. Two cans of regular soda contain 300 calories. I always felt kind of smug about not drinking soda but I’m going to stop right now (feeling superior that is; I’m still going to drink beer). (National Post)

FOOD

If you couldn’t get enough of his amazing sandwiches, Caplanksky’s is about to increase the ways to enjoy them with two delivery bikes and a food truck! Sure beats a hotdog… (Taste T.O.)

Supermarkets that are open all twenty-four hours of the day can be awfully convenient but get some shopping done at one of the many farmer’s markets operating in Toronto. (The Globe And Mail)

Nick auf Der Mauer, owner of Porchetta (one of my favorite places to eat in the city), shares his recipe for rapini with garlic and chili. I’ll still go to his shop for the sandwiches. (The Toronto Star)