Sigh. Left Field. What can I say? Like watching a friend’s child grow from cute quirky kindergartner into a mature confident adult (I’m looking at you, Taylor Jackson), I have been so very lucky to have been witness to one of the most lovely success stories in Toronto in recent years. From hanging out in a friend’s basement making and drinking home brew, to seeing people react to an oatmeal brown ale at an Iron Brewer event, to watching a fledgling business quickly outgrow one contract brewing arrangement and have to find a second, right through to seeing a brewery built in a beautiful old building, and a two-person operation come to provide stable and meaningful employment for a staff of 12, I have watched and cheered with each new step and each new success. So with this, Left Field’s 3rd anniversary month (as many important dates in their story happened in February), I am so very happy, and so very lucky to be able to review one of their anniversary brews. Anniversary No. 3 Strong Saison is a big saison made with French saison yeast and Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. Funny enough, exactly the kind of beer I make for myself, on the occasions I dust off the home brewing kit, and make a beer, just like me and Mark used to do, back in the Brewmance days, when I assumed Mandie thought I was a doofus, and I would have told you that you were mad, if you suggested that one day we would be making a podcast about craft beer together. Let’s do this!
From a 650ml Left Field bomber, Anniversary No. 3 pours a gorgeous hazy yellow with traces of orange in the centre of the glass. A big bubbly head of at least 3″ drops to a dense layer of foam that stays through the whole glass and leaves epic lace. Aroma is fruity and juicy, showing tropicals from the French saison yeast, as well as characteristic Nelson Sauvin hops. Grapes, white wine, pineapple and mango all show up on the nose. Taste is more of the same, and just beautiful. More white wine, gooseberry, mango, with white pepper, and just a hint of bready malts. There’s a champagne like grape dryness on the finish, that, paired with the quite dry body and soft yet ample carbonation, give this beer an elegance deserved by an anniversary brew. The hops clearly are adding some dry bite to the finish as well, but in balance with its higher abv, this still drinks much more like a yeast-driven saison than a hop-driven Belgian-style pale. It is fantastic and something I would reach for again and again and again.
Cheers to Mark and Mandie and their incredible crew! Here’s to the next 33 years and beyond! Thanks for having me along: to Oktoberfest and everything else.
Buy Anniversary No. 3
In the Left Field bottle shop at 36 Wagstaff Drive in Toronto, along with 1st & 3rd Beliner-weisse to celebrate the anniversary, starting tomorrow, February 25th. Buy many of both. And probably some other stuff too. And get there early.
Drink It With
Well, I kind of want to say something baseball-related, but really, big cheeses or mussels are really going to be stellar with this one. But here’s an idea:
What you should top your hot dog with to pair with this beer
Okay, this might be challenging at the SkyDome, but as you can’t get much in the way of craftbeer there anyway, no matter. Make yourself a nice frank or sausage. Get some wine sauerkraut, but like, the not-fermented type. You’re not looking for funk/tart, but rather earthy and vinous. Now, toast an herbed bun (maybe rosemary), smear it with a fragrant spiced mustard (Kozlik’s Green Peppercorn, Herbed Rosemary, or Niagara Classic would be fantastic), drop in your wiener (haha), then top with the sauerkraut and a good grind of fresh pepper. Play ball!
About The Brewery
Left Field Brewery was established in Toronto in April of 2013 and brews a series of baseball-inspired, distinct and full-flavoured beers. Born from a passion for both craft beer and baseball, Left Field Brewery was founded by Chartered Accountant-turned-brewer and Niagara College brewing school graduate Mark Murphy and his wife and marketing communications professional, Mandie Murphy.
The Left Field Brewery Bottle Shop and Tap Room is located at 36 Wagstaff Drive, Toronto and is open daily from 12 noon – 9pm