Well hello again

Hey there beer people in Toronto! Not sure if you noticed, but I’ve been gone for nearly two weeks.  Indeed, I was off in Nicaragua (more on that in a moment) and while I’m not too pleased with the 40C difference in temperature (seriously) I’m glad to be back in the land of awesome beer made with lots of hops.  So, let’s get caught up, and talk about where we’re going, okay?


Me in Nicaragua

Last full day in Central America; boat tour on Lake Nicaragua. Tona; $1. Local cigar; $2. Something about something priceless.

Wow, just wow.  I was so stoked to be able to go with a group from my church, to Managua, Nicaragua, for a ten day learning and service trip.  So, first up, what’s a learning and service trip?  It’s a chance to take people (in this case 9 teens and 6 adults) to a very different place, where they learn about the local culture, how our actions as North Americans affects their lives, and also how to do “something” new while serving the people we’re working with.  In this case, we were there through a group called Compañeros, and working in partnership with Techo.  Techo builds affordable, dignified and reliable housing for people throughout Central and South America.  Our group participated in building four homes, with the families as well as community volunteers.  We also helped with painting a mural on the wall of the school in the community.  So most of the group got handy with hammers, saws, etc, and a few of us (myself included) learned a lot about spray-painting/graffiti.  In addition to living with Nicaraguan families, and working in a fairly impoverished community, we took time out to do some sightseeing, and touristy stuff.  We hiked an awesome volcano, did some zip-lining and spent an evening in Grenada.  If you’re interested in more info on the trip, we’ll be hosting an evening with the group that went down, showing pictures, telling stories, and doing fund-raising for 2015 (hopefully our next trip down).

But what you really want to know about, I’m sure, is what I drank.  Well, the answer is, Toña.  There are two main brands available in Nicaragua, Victoria and Toña.  Victoria has two varieties, Classico (my least favourite) and Frost (which is served below 0C).  But Toña is far and away the nicest.  Yes, it’s still a North American Lager, but there are some nice peppy hops to it, and the hints of corn I got were fairly subtle.  Plus, when it’s 28C when you wake up at 6am, and the mercury nudges 39C by mid-afternoon, you want anything you drink to be hella cold (other than a lovely local hot coffee after meals).  At like 1C, Toña still has a pleasing crisp hop to it, and it goes down like you’d hope: fast and refreshing.  While at Atlanta Jackson-Hartfield while we were on stop-over heading down and coming home, I got to drink a few pints of Sweet Water (Pale Ale and 420 IPA) both of which were very nice and made me wish I had time to pop into the brewery, and a bottle of New Belgium Ranger IPA.  Seriously, I didn’t even have to walk far to find these beers.  At the airport.  Makes my heart hurt for Pearson…..

If you are interested in taking a similar trip, check out Compañeros. They are an excellent organization, doing great working connecting North Americans and Nicaraguans, making us partners.

Score one for the good guys

Hey, remember when I wrote about The Bell, in Bath England?  And how they were trying to raise enough money to buy the bar as a community, and save it from being bought by a major corporation?  Well, have I got good news for you: They did it!  They were aiming to raise £575 000.00, and yesterday they announced their total: a whopping £720 000.00!  There’s still a lot of legal stuff, “t”s to cross, and lower-case “j”s to dot, but the big hurdle — the finances — has been cleared.  Vaulted over, really.  So raise a glass and toast the crew at The Bell.  Congratulations guys!

Non-buyers remorse

Okay, maybe you read my post, and thought it sounded super cool to buy into a bar.  But maybe the single share price was too high for you (as it was for me).  Or maybe you didn’t have time to pull together a group of like-minded folks.  Or whatever.  If you’re feeling a bit stung that you missed out, fear not!  Our friends at Kensington Brewing Co. are here to save your day (and not just by making awesome beer).  They have announced their Community Supported Beer Project.  Kensington has been brewing on contract at Wellington, but announced a few weeks ago that they had secured a location for their Kensington Market brewery (at 299 Augusta) and would begin construction this Spring.  The concept of community support has been part of Brock’s vision from the start, and now it is time to execute it.  To help fund the brewery construction, they are reaching out to beer folks in Toronto.  Using a program a bit like Beau’s Greener Futures (which raised money for solar-panels by selling one-off beers), Kensington has a bunch of levels of membership/packages, ranging for getting gift cards, to a specialty beer release program, to getting to make your own production batch of beer.  While you won’t legally own part of the business (unlike with The Bell, where you would actually own a share of the business) you will be supporting local beer, and will get access to some amazing perks.

Check http://www.kensingtonbrewingcompany.com/csb-info/ for details!

The Beaunly

Hey, I’ve got an idea!  If you want to hear more about my trip down south (and smell me smoking Nicaraguan cigars), or just have a bunch of awesome beer, have I got the perfect place for you: The Only Cafe.  This Saturday.  Where they’re partying with Beau’s.  So obviously, it’s called The Beaunly.  Fabian has the list going here: http://www.theonlycafe.com/theonly/beaunly.html. If you read that and don’t get stoked, you might be dead.  See you there!

And if you like that

You’ll be stoked to know Beau’s has announced a Spring release of a new beer, “Wag the Wolf”, and I’m pretty excited about it! It’s a late-hopped wheat beer, using Kiwi hops which give it a stack of tropical fruit notes (which makes me think of every breakfast in Nicaragua, where papaya, pineapple, mango and guava were standard fare. Indeed, mangoes were literally dropping of the trees while we were there).  Says Matt O’Hara, Beau’s Brewmaster, “This is a versatile, ‘shoulder-season’ kind of beer. Spring weather in Ontario can be pretty unpredictable, so we decided to brew a beer that that plays equally well with duck, sausages and spicy food as it does with summer salads and goat cheese.” Look for it starting March 28th!

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