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Thursday, October 27, 2005

It's Sunday afternoon - let's get wasted!!!

This past Sunday afternoon, six of us gathered at my local and drank beer – lots of it. This however, was not your ordinary leisurely Sunday drink over late brunch, nor was it a “sports are on, gotta have a beer” situation. This was the Volo Café Cask Days and Greektown, Midtown Girl, the Bride and her fiancé as well as Noogie, all imbibed.

My local has got some of the very best Ontario Craft Beer on tap – a huge selection of draft beer and a staggering beer menu with bottled beer from all over the world (several pages of Belgian Beer, of course). Their beer menu makes the Bier Market and the Beer Bistro (both favorites) a little jealous. Can I also say that I’m so incredibly excited that the staff at the bar not only know me, but know my drink??? Yes kids, I’m officially a Torontonian.

The Volo, having established a great relationship with Ontario brewers, decided to host a one-of-a-kind event – Cask Days. Local brewers put together casks of beer, just for this occasion, and the Volo hosted a sold-out two day event that allowed common folk like myself to taste cask beer for the first time (and incidentally find out what the heck cask beer was – let me tell you – the first taste was a bit of a surprise!), as well as mix and mingle with the beer makers themselves. They also brought in local artisanal cheese and bread vendors, with tastings included in the oh-so-incredibly-cheap price of $15. That’s right - $15 got us tickets to the event, cheese and bread tastings, a souvenir pint glass and five beer tasting tickets.

So what the heck is cask beer??? From the Toronto Star’s Jon Filson: “It can reasonably be considered the purest form of beer. It has to be pumped out of the cask by hand, it's made with all natural ingredients, and it's naturally carbonated… It's called "living ale" because the beer is still fermenting in the cask it's served from. This is called a "secondary fermentation" and the key component of a cask-conditioned ale….What that means is that the beer is "alive," with the yeast still floating around in it. The beer's taste can change on a daily basis as a result. Its presence also means the casks are delicate beings — yeast can get angry, evidently, if disturbed.”

So what an awesome day! I chatted up two hilarious guys, Steve and John, who kindly walked me through what cask beer was, how beer was made and the very basic difference between ale and lager. Oh, and they’re the ones who suggested the Princess Leia idea. Greektown also chatted up the author of a book on downtown restaurants (she’s fun when she’s drunk!) and the two of us shouldered (okay, maybe just I shouldered) a couple of old-timers in order to sit with them for a while.

From my perspective, as a novice beer drinker, it gave me a much better understanding of what I was drinking. It was only after years of going to wine festivals and asking questions, tasting multiple wines and comparing them, that I became as comfortable as I am around red wines. Now that I have an additional passion (odd, that all my passions involve alcohol??? Okay, not all my passions – I’m currently stalking a Nine West handbag), it was only time that I learned a bit more about it… and now have a bit more to talk about with the staff of the restaurant – you know, other than, “can I please have another Blanche de Chambly?”

Posted by Brown Eyed Girl :: 12:04 PM :: 0 Comments:

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