Tag Archive: c’est what

There’s a new beer festival in session

It’s no secret that the Toronto Festival of Beer has skewed itself more towards the mainstream for quite a few years now. While good beers and times have been found (I will never forget human foosball) the event is definitely an example of quantity over quality.

While I may not dislike it as much as some folks, I was still quite pleased to receive an email from Curt Dunlop and Jed Corbeil, the duo behind the Griffin Gastropub and the Muskoka Beer Festival, informing me of their plans to hold a craft beer festival in Toronto.

The idea is incredibly exciting… local beers and food should attract a crowd of like-minded enthusiasts and the opportunity to sample some new brews (Tree Brewing from Kelowna, BC is sending their Hophead IPA!) is not to be missed. With 21 breweries attending at last count and each of them bringing 1 to 5 types of beer, it’s going to be a very busy day!

Corbeil and I made arrangements to meet at C’est What? which was appropriate considering the pub is basically a temple to local craft beer. It was quickly apparent that he’s the kind of guy who loves what he does. His passion for beer is definitely there and he knows his stuff but he’s no snob either. Noticing he was well into his pint of Black Oak’s 10 Bitter Years (my favorite of the moment) I ordered myself one as well and we got settled in to talk about Session, the Griffin Gastropub and Ontario Craft Brewers.

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Neustadt works for me

Neustadt knows what they’re doing.

The first beer of theirs I ever tried was the 10W30 which they had on tap at Fressen, a vegetarian restaurant on Queen West. While the food didn’t knock me out, the beer certainly left an impression. It didn’t taste quite the same when I bought a tallboy at the LCBO so I didn’t make any effort to buy anymore when I came across it later on.

Then there was the Scottish Ale I first tried at a local bar in Neustadt for lunch. Again, the meal was nothing special but I was excited because they carried every Neustadt product on tap and I had originally planned on trying one of each.

I never got past the first ale though and there’s no point trying to get ‘em all when you can only have two pints because you’re driving. I can’t say I minded though; this ale was fantastic; medium-bodied with a smooth, somewhat malty with a bit of hop to make things interesting.

Since then, I haven’t had an opportunity to try the Scottish Ale again because no bar serves it to my knowledge in Toronto (although the guys on RateBeer keep on talking about a Double Fuggled being served at C’est What? which is like the Scottish Ale but better…) so when I saw a can at the LCBO on Yonge St. I decided to give it another shot and see if it outperformed it’s kegged brethren.

A couple of glasses later, I’m pleased to report that it holds its own and my (admittedly imperfect) memory is hard-pressed to bring any glaring inconsistencies to the forefront. It’s very drinkable and perfect for those evenings when you want something a bit more substantial but more of it.

Apparently, Neustadt uses New Zealand hops in its beers so I have yet another reason to get excited about my time there. It’ll be interesting to see whether I can find some similar ales there to compare and contrast.

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