Stuff You Need to Know Today – March 10, 2012

Phew, it’s been a long few weeks.  Sorry for the scant updates! Let’s get all caught up to speed, so I can fall behind again!

Conflict of Interest

Double Trouble Brewing Co logoMany of you who follow me on Facebook will already know this, but I got a new job.  At the end of January, I officially started working with North American Craft, promoting our own brand, Double Trouble Brewing Co’s Hops and Robbers IPA.  This is the main reason why posts here have nearly dried up.  Between starting in the new position, and the fact that we were preparing for our launch, it’s been a very hectic time.  Now obviously, this puts me in an interesting position.  Many people asked me if I had plans to stop posting here.  The easy answer is “no”.  The more wordy answer is, of course I’ll keep posting.  What I won’t do is any further review-type posts of bars.  This is simply because I wouldn’t want to be accused of any form of payola; trying to land a draught line by saying nice things about a bar.  To be clear: I would never do that, but I also am aware that writers need to be very careful about this type of thing.  Furthermore, when I review a beer that is a product I represent, I will be very clear about that.  I nearly never post negative reviews, and this will continue.  I won’t knock our competition, nor will I stoke my own brands.  I will remain as objective as I ever have been (you can decide for yourself just how objective that is.  I assume it’s a least a little, or why would you be reading?).  To take this idea further, these actions fit in the general “vibe” in the Ontario beer scene.  Sure, every brewery is looking to expand their market share, but there isn’t that killer instinct among (most) of the sales people.  Most of us are at least acquaintances, if not friends.  We drink together.  We call each other for help.  We give each other leads. So to be fair, there isn’t really a conflict of interest at all.  But it is a catchy heading.


Speaking of catchy headings…. This year, a group of female brewers from around Toronto are banding together to raise funds to support The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  There will be a Beer for Boobs event at Volo on March 25th from 2-8pm. All proceeds from the $20 admission, beer and raffle will go to CBCF.  The beers available will be a variety of collaborations by the various female brewers, as well as a batch brewed by all nine at Volo under their House Ales brand.  Beer for Boobs TO will become an on-going series of fundraising events, so watch out for coming cool stuff coming up.

Celebrating a Saint

Saint PatrickYup, it’s that time of year, when we all pretend to have an Irish grandparent or something.  We don’t, and we all know that, but for whatever reason, we feel this desire to be Irish.  Or just to drink a lot of stout. Either way St Patrick’s day is fast approaching, and I figured you might want to have something in mind, to avoid the seemingly endless swaths of pseudo-Irish Frat-boy types who will inundate even the most respectable of bars next Saturday. Thankfully, there are a variety of options.

Loose Moose

So, remember when I said I got a new job?  Well, we’re throwing a party with the crew at the Loose Moose.  Specifically, a little St Paddy’s festival.  On March 15th (this Thursday) at 5pm, we’ll be featuring 20 products from across the North American Craft line-up, both in bottle and on draught. Voting for favourites will result in the top four getting spots on the Loose Moose’s rotational taps for 90 days.  So come out and have a great time, and also support getting some really excellent craft beers into one of the biggest bars downtown.  This is truly an awesome chance for some of our smaller breweries to get some serious exposure, and also to encourage some of our friends drinking the bigger brands, to try out some new options. Patrick would be proud!

The greenest not-green beer

Steam Whistle LogoIndeed, Steam Whistle Brewing, one of the most environmentally friendly brewers around, and also users of their distinctive green bottles, has a series of Padraig-related events to keep you busy and pleasingly sated through St Pat’s. Their main party will be at the Roundhouse on Saturday, March 17th, from 2pm-midnight.  You can join with 1000 of your closest nearly-Irish friends and toast the snake-vanquisher in style. There will be music, dancing (both your own rendition of a jig, as well as actual dancers from Irish dance academies), and plenty of Brewery-fresh Steam Whistle Pilsner. If you’re a healthy athletic-type of pretend-Irish person, and you really want to make a day of it, plan on arriving at the Roundhouse a bit earlier.  Like, at 10:15am.  And bring your sweats and shoes and join in the 10th anniversary of the Achilles St Patrick’s day 5km run/walk.  All funds raised will support the Achilles Track Club, which helps people with disabilities receive the benefits from running.  It will be a fun time, with lots of camraderie as well as Steam Whistle to rehydrate at the finish, and Irish food in the brewery. And of course, St Patrick’s Day couldn’t stumble drunkenly past the calendar without a parade.  This year, it takes place tomorrow, March 11th, starting at 12pm at Bloor and St George (I bet Padraig loves that…), then heading down Yonge and over to Nathan Phillip’s Square.  Expect the usual community groups, bands, and floats, as well as the fleet of green Steam Whistle vehicles.  Steam Whistle also has a promotion at bars across Ontario.  Buy a 1 litre glass boot full of Steam Whistle, and you take the boot home with you.  Oh and just in case you didn’t think Steam Whistle was really bitten by the Irish bug (I think they’re bed bugs), they have some Irish themed recipes on their website.  Check them out!

The Irishest Irish Bar

It goes without saying, Ceili Cottage lights it up for St Pat’s.  Heck, the guy who owns the place is named after the saint himself. So Paddy has covered his patio in a tent, and has a week’s worth of events.  Every night is partnered with a different Irish drink, and features music, dancing from the Gilchrist-Cavan Irish dance school, oysters and other food, and a whole heap of craic (look it up if you need to.  There will be plenty). Check the full schedule here: and make sure you plan on attending at least a few of the nights.

If Patrick Went to a Different Island

So, we all know the story of St Patrick, right?  Kidnapped to ireland, he grew up, left, became a monk, then came back to preach God’s name.  And may or may not have vanquished all the snakes in Ireland.  But what if, instead of returning to Ireland, he got side-tracked, missed the emerald isle, blew past Ascention, and ended up in Cuba?  Well, then perhaps we would celebrate San Patricio with green Mojitos and bowls of Moros y Christianos.  But we don’t.  But if you’re looking for a place devoid of leprachauns, green top hats, bad accents and drunken frat boys, why not come hang out at Castro’s Lounge in the beach?  With four casks of beer, our all vegetarian menu (with vegan and gluten-free options), our TV that predates JFK, and live music, it could be the best San Patricio day you’ve ever spent.  You could even raise a pint of stout celebrating another saint, St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout.  St Ambroise never vanquished any snakes, but he might have been the first person to commercially produce beer in Canada, unless (as my friend Nick says), he wasn’t.  Oh, and he’s not actually a cannonized saint, but if anything, that makes him even cooler.

Stouts and Reds and Porters Oh My

So there’s a lot of seasonally appropriate beers available to toast Ireland’s Patron Saint.  And here they are:

Guinness – I think this goes without saying.  The classic dry Irish stout.  The good news is, it seems the shipping debacle has been resolved, and it’s likely we’ll have plenty of the black stuff in the province in time for next weekend.

Murphey’s – The hipster alternative to Guinness.  Irish.  Black.  Creamy head.  Available at bars around Toronto.  Two I can think of off the top of my head are Ceili Cottage, and The Monk’s Table, both of which would be excellent spots to toast Patrick.

McAuslan – As I mentioned above, St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is a great Canadian way to toast a few saints (real and assumed).  Rich and smokey, and like velvet on your tongue.

F&M – Stone Hammer Oatmeal Stout is another excellent oatmeal stout, this one from Ontario.  It’s nearly gone for the season, but I know for a fact we have a firkin in the cooler at Castro’s, and the silly romantic part of me might just save it for next weekend, and throw it on a handpump.

Trafalgar – Bringing two offerings for this year, check out their Irish Ale, which is a brown ale made with Williamette hops, which would go great in and with a hearty stew.  They also have their regularly produced Paddy’s Irish red, which is a classic red ale.  Malty and smooth, plus it has an Irish setter on the label.  What else could you want?

Mill St – Their Cobblestone Stout is at more and more bars around Toronto, and provides an excellent local dry Irish-style stout. Bitter-sweet with mocha notes, this is a classic.

Beau’s – The crew at Beau’s has produced an Irish red ale as well, Strong Patrick Irish Red.  It’s a red ale, that is partially barrel-aged. A classic red colour, it’s got a toasty malt profile with caramel notes, and hints of whiskey from the barrel with a touch of vanilla.  I really really want to try this one.

Neustadt Springs – Joining the stout party, Neustadt has made a batch of Texas Tea Honey Stout.  A smooth stout enhanced with local honey, there is a subtle sweetness to balance the classic dry bitterness of the stout.

Granite Brewery – Ron and Mary-Beth at the Granite have the stout front covered.  The usual Keefe’s Irish stout is available, but they also have a batch of stout called Black Gold Stout.  I’ve had a few iterations of this brew, and it’s really remarkable.  Get both at the Granite Brewpub and select bars around Toronto.

Grand River – While not really a traditional Irish tipple, I would be remiss not to mention Grand River’s epic Russian Gun Imperial Stout.  If you are all dry-stout’ed out, grab a few bottles of this awesome imperial stout.  Incidentally, I’ve heard if you drop a splash of port into your glass with it, it goes to whole new places.  Just sayin…..

Black Oak – Black Oak has it’s awesome Double Chocolate Cherry Stout around Toronto, and it makes an excellent alternative to traditional dry stouts.  Dry and roasty, but with a sharp cherry tang, this is a really lovely stout.

Muskoka – If you’re lucky, you might still find some of Muskoka’s amazing Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout.  A higher abv (I think it’s 8%) stout, with tart rich local cranberries, it is a great dessert after you’ve tried all the above beers.  You should never skip dessert.

A Free Lesson

If you were watchful, you might have noticed something: Nomenclature used in this post.  Specifically St Patrick and his various names.  I saw a great lesson on this here (, but thought I would summarize.  A Patty is a thing that goes on a hamburger bun, or is left by a cow in a pasture.  It is never a name referring to the patron saint of Ireland.  It’s St. Patrick, St. Padraig, St. Pat or St. Paddy (or any of those ommitting “St.”).  It makes my skin crawl to see “St. Patty”.  Stop already.

A Serious Note

Another thing the site I linked to above mentions, but that I want to touch on, is another naming convention.  The Irish Car Bomb.

On Saturday August 15th, 1998, at 3:10pm a van loaded with 500lbs of fertilizer-based explosives detonated in the central shopping area of Omagh.  The group that planted it actually called in a bomb threat to the local courthouse up the road, specifically so that people would be evacuated from the courthouse and removed to an area closer to the bomb.  Molten shrapnel, glass and car parts from the bomb and the van tore through an area 300 yards in radius, immediately killing 21 people; a further 8 people died from their injuries sustained that day.  220 other people were injured in the blast. Included in the dead  were both Catholics and Protestants, children visiting on a school trip, tourists, shoppers, and a mother pregnant with twins.  29 people lost their lives because the Real Irish Republican Army (a fanatic off-shoot of the IRA) was displeased with the Good Friday peace agreement.

There is no glory or honour in car bombs, Irish or otherwise.

If, for some reason, you want to drop a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s into a pint of Guinness (and I can’t imagine why), go ahead.  Just don’t call it an Irish Car Bomb.  There is nothing worth celebrating in that.


  1. Paul
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear about the new position, Chris. Good for you!

    Hope to see you at a North American Craft event sometime.

  2. Doug Shoemaker
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink


    I agree with You whole heartedly on the “Irish Car Bomb.”

    Slainte, Doug

  3. Posted September 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Nice post which And bring your sweats and shoes and join in the 10th anniversary of the Achilles St Patrick’s day 5km run/walk. All funds raised will support the Achilles Track Club, which helps people with disabilities receive the benefits from running. Thanks a lot for posting this article.

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