27 February 2016

You Never Go Full Polkaroo

Hey you.
Yeah, you, the guy at the end of his rope after a bad day.
Wanna get a case of Old Mil and just drown your sorrows in shitty macro lagers? Sounds awesome doesn't it. But what you don't know is that all that is going to do is make your day worse and your morning a disaster. Chug away anyway but don't say I didn't warn you.
That was what I used to do when I had a rough day. Get hammered and ease my mind out of the conscious world into the unconscious one. It was so easy to just pound tasteless beers into my gut one after the other until I could barely remember my own name, let alone all the garbage that life was throwing at me. But of course this never solved what troubled me, it only made it worse because I would now be hungover and still have the problem to deal with.
I have many times explained how craft beer helped me to slow down, engage my beer in a responsibly and generally stop being such a jackass. I mean, I'm still a jackass, but with nicer beer glasses and of course, better brews. Check out one of my earlier posts, A Brief History of Me  for a summary of how I came to be here.
What happens now when I have a rough day? I still want to get hammered and forget all my problems. Sometimes it is very strong, that siren call of oblivion. But I no longer respond to her tasteless, empty cry. Instead I let my emotions run their course, vent a little to someone I trust and begin my ritual of choosing a beer for the night. I describe some of my techniques for slowing down in my post Just One Beer. The biggest thing I can do when I have one of those days, that we all do sometimes, is to remind myself that I have stared into the abyss of losing everything so many times and kept going. That's good solid advice there. How many times have you thought you can't possibly go on and look at that, you're still here. You and I are pretty awesome.
Last night was one of those times and I really took my time in choosing my beer. I wanted something to just sip and enjoy so that I could roll my issues around my head while keeping it clear. I have shared how I have developed a process I call The Ritual, that helps me to really consider what I am doing and choose my beer accordingly. It is important to me that I embrace all the flavours, aromas and textures of my beer every time I have one. A new beer means a chance to write a review, attempt to take an "artsy" picture and share it with the world. This is my favourite time of the day and I don't want to ruin it by just mindlessly pounding shitty beer. Or good beer. Never waste good beer on a bender. That's just stupid.
Artsy beer pictures are my thing now. Weird.
I chose a big 9 % ABV Cameron's Brewing Company Obsidian Rum Barrel aged Imperial Porter and it was delicious. A large flavour profile beer that I knew would keep changing as I drank it, so I really sipped and savoured. Just a great beer for helping to see that even the worst of your problems have a solution or an end. And if it's just not going to get better for a while, why not at least have an hour where all you do is embrace your beer. It worked for me, along with some tunes, and I felt like a human being again.
So the next time you think cramming shots and chugging flavourless macro brews is the only thing you can do to forget your problem, try to consider what I've shared with you. I am proof that you can still drink beer and not give in to that inner voice that wants all the beer, right now. Call a friend, take a walk or do something to get your mind moving. Then open the fridge, pick something amazing from your favourite brewery or maybe a new one. Pop the top, pour it into a glass and settle down to contemplate what's troubling you. Let the beer be part of the solution, not an addition to the problem.
And remember kids.
Even though it sounds awesome...
You never go Full Polkaroo.
It doesn't end well.

21 February 2016

A Tale of Two Beer Nights

What a fine week this Polkaroo had. So many new and amazing Craft Beers and not one, but two beer festivals! One was a Cask Night at Collective Arts hosted by Nickel Brook and the other was the Toronto Winter Brew Fest at the Enercare Centre. The two could not have been more different in price, feeling and execution.
The Cask Night was held Thursday night at the brewery right here in Hamilton. It featured 6 brewers, Wellington, Stone Hammer, Great Lakes, Nickel Brook, Collective Arts and Cameron's. They each brought two casks of beer, some unique to the event and all of them were tasty. Cask beer carries no additional carbonization, unlike your local pub or restaurant, so it is less bubbly and the flavours are smoother. A definite must if you see one near you. It was a fairly intimate event and along with the beer, amazing food was served. The whole thing cost only $20 a ticket, all in, including a mug. No other costs and let me tell you a blast was had. There was background music, but it didn't overpower your conversation. You could really talk to all the people from the breweries, including some of the owners. Mrs. Polkaroo and I met some really wonderful new beer friends and had a great time together. It was a real experience and one I won't soon forget.
Friday night, we travelled to Toronto and the Winter Brew Fest. I won the tickets on Facebook from Cameron's Brewing and considering we hadn't planned on going, it was a surprise. The cost if tickets was similar to Cask night, around $20 and you got a nicely branded beer mug, but those were the only similarities. When we arrived, we were ushered through a few levels of security, heard the buzz of the crowd and the very loud thump of the music. In order to get beer samples (4 oz.), you had to purchase paper tokens at 10 for $10 and exchange them for your brews. This is where we encountered the first of several issues many people have been taking to social media to vent about. The lines were very long. Not surprising given the amount of people, but after the quick and easy access to beer the night before, it was a little off putting. But I am a good Canadian and know how to line up for stuff.
The next problem was the cost and portion size of the samples. Most of the beer cost between 3 and 6 tokens. For a 4 ounce sample. That is $3 to $6 dollars, People were quite unhappy with that. You could fill your glass by doubling the tokens, but $12 for 8 ounces of beer was a lot for me and I wanted to try as many as I could with the limited time frame we had because of work the next morning. I am sure if I had more cash and time, I would have pushed through, but I think my money is better spent at the brewery getting new beers and taking them home. Most of them do samples for free or for a dollar or so at most and while I understand that this is a for profit event, it was very expensive.
The music was very loud, very club-like and not in tune with what I am used to when in drink my beer. I didn't mind the style or choice in music really, for me it was the volume. I almost had to shout to make myself heard and when you are ordering a beer or trying to talk to your wife about anything, that isn't pleasant. I know I am an older guy, but this was a little much.
There was a  presence from the breweries themselves, with tents and staff on hand, but the majority of the beer was served by bartenders at islands with several breweries listed. I am sure this a logistical and space issue and perhaps that was one of the biggest problems my fellow craft beer drinkers were having. We like to talk about our beer, especially with the people who make it. On Thursday, I spoke to owners, people who work at the breweries and fellow enthusiasts, On Friday, with such a crush of humanity, it felt too loud and harried to do that. There was very little sense of the community that I love and cherish present. It was just too damn corporate and that is indeed something we bristle against. Perhaps it was not aimed at the regular craft beer drinker, like myself, but why alienate us to cater to people new to the wonders of Craft Beer. There has to be a better way to accommodate everyone.
The cost, long lines, overpoweringly loud music and overall vibe of Brew Fest was somewhat of a disappointment. I am not sure what I expected, but after the joy and happiness of Cask Night, this left a sour taste in my mouth. I am very new to the whole scene of Beer festivals and I am open to trying again. There are so many of them coming up as the weather warms that it is inevitable I will want to go. I just want the experience to be a joyous one about all that Craft beer can bring to your life. A celebration of the amazing things the people who create and run the breweries show us with their innovative and unique beers. I know these events need to make money in order to survive, but cramming us cheek to cheek with ridiculous lines, tiny pours and costly tickets isn't going to help the community grow.
I may be new to the festivals, but when I leave an event I got to go to for free and still feel that I didn't get value for my dollar, something is off. I am one of the most positive people when it comes to beer. I always look for the upside and I want this whole idea to work. When the breweries themselves run events, the sense of togetherness was pervasive. In a corporate one, it feels forced. We can do better and I hope people will continue to give the organizers feedback on what didn't work for them. I am not sure if we will be heard, but if they don't listen, we can speak with our dollars and take them elsewhere. I hope this isn't the case and will work diligently to be a voice for the change we all want. It is easy to vent your frustrations on Social media, but typing rants and doing nothing else is not really productive. Let's come together to make things better, not just yell at the things we hate. It is something I know I am trying to do myself.
So it was a very different type of week for this guy. I am not used to going to events like these and I hope to do it more as we come into the spring. I know there are so many breweries I want to get to and with all the growlers I am purchasing, I will have to revisit them to get refills on unique and one off brews. This is just the beginning and I am really getting jacked up on all that I am starting to see.
Note from the Drunk Polkaroo
I am not going to be doing a Beer of the Week anymore. It was an idea that I had when I first started my journey, but one that seems forced now. I am getting so many amazing beers every week that the idea of choosing one isn't really fun or productive. I will still be working on lists for special days, like Super Bowl, St. Patty's Day or Christmas, but I think the need for me to pick one a week is a spent force. Instead I will continue to focus on my journey with Craft Beer and how it is helping me cope with my personal growth. I will be posting every Sunday for sure and when the muse strikes me throughout the week.
If you like my reviews, I do at least one a day on my Instagram account, check it out. And of course there is my new found love for the video review on my YouTube channel. New videos every Tuesday and Thursday, so subscribe and follow along. All of this will be easily available to you if you'd like by becoming a fan of the Drunk Polkaroo on Facebook. It ties all my different streams together  along with other unique content. Thanks for all the support and please feel free to stop by and say hello!

18 February 2016

Winning Never felt so Good!

Late last night as I was getting ready to head to bed, my phone buzzed with a notification from the Facebooks and when I opened it, I found out that I had won tickets from Cameron's Brewing to the 1st ever Brew Fest in Toronto this Friday. To say I was excited would be an understatement. We couldn't really afford to get the tickets this month and I was resigned to just following my friends on social media as they experienced yet another event. But the fates have shone upon this Polkaroo and now I get to immerse myself in all that a beer festival entails.
The first time I went to an event was last month at the Burlington Beer Festival. It was a real hoot and even nicer than the beer was getting to finally meet some of the people I had met only online. There is something about Craft Beer that makes everyone a little friendlier, willing to help out and cross promote each other. Not only the breweries, but us, the humble bloggers, reviewers and travelers of this road have a love for great beer and want to share that with everyone.
I am certain that I will have fun. We can't really drink much, but for me that is okay. It is not just about the beer, but the culture that surrounds it that intrigues me. I want to meet the people that help create the great beer I try on a daily basis, maybe grab some new glasses or other branded items and hopefully meet even more of the people I have come to think of as friends.
It is a surprise to me how much I have come to look forward to seeing what beers some people are posting on Instagram at night when I get home. Their reviews help to shape what I search for, especially for those people who are not in my area. When I see a beer that someone I respect reviews well, I try to find a way to acquire that brew. I am always pleased when I can return the favour and turn someone onto a beer they haven't had yet or remind them of an old favourite.
I am by no means discounting real life experience by touting my online presence. I suffer from anxiety and depression and the struggle to push myself to get out of the house is one I refuse to lose. The whole interacting through social media has given me a boost in confidence and helped me to believe I will be able to go out and have new experiences, without suffering from some unknown disaster. I used to mask my problem with copious amounts of crappy macro beer. Now I try to understand and take my time with my beer to help me slow down and appreciate all the great flavours available from Craft Beer.
My advice to you is to find all your favourite Ontario Craft Brewer on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and give them a follow. Share your thoughts on their beer with them and you will be surprised at how often they respond. Play in their contests, most of the time it is as simple as liking a post and commenting on it. For this win, I just had to tell them my favourite beer that they make, on a post about the Brew fest.. It is the Dry Hopped Tripel by the way and it is delicious.
Before I forget, I just got tickets to Cask Night tonight at Collective Arts here in Hamilton. Only $20 and it is going to feature 6 breweries and some really unique and one off beers. You still have time to get some for yourself. Hope to see you there!
This is shaping up to be a great weekend.

16 February 2016

10 Thoughts on Craft Beer for a Tuesday Morning

1. They treat you right - Responsive, human and accessible. Craft beer makers are truly one of the best businesses when it comes time to interact with their consumers. It can be a wonderful back and forth when you take time to engage your drinkers. Thanks for listening.
2. They'll push the envelope - The big boys of beer may not understand it, but we love that our craft beer guys and gals take chances on new and innovative styles. Are they always a home run? No, but we never question their motives and applaud their ingenuity. Molson 67 Session IPA is a sad, desperate attempt to trick macro beer drinkers into not going Craft. Shock Top or Blue Moon? Just no.
3. Drinking local - Getting fresh beer and being able to sample different ones is such an awesome feeling. Supporting a local business is a wonderful thing. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than in your local breweries' tap room.
4. Discovering something new - Flavours, styles and aromas make up most of my beer experience. Finding out that banana and candy can be a beer note and that I could come to love and understand it was just amazing. Lagers are great but there is a whole wide world of beer styles out there.
5. Their events are about tasting and hanging out, not getting drunk. - Any event I attend for craft beer usually involves many different companies. It is always about getting to know the brewers and meeting up with fellow enthusiasts as much as the beer. The Coors Light Mystery Mansion probably isn't going to be about trying something innovative, just getting hammered on shitty beer.
6. Collaborations are the norm and not the exception - Ontario Craft brewers work together to create new beers, host events and generally support each other. They will drink each others beer and be open about it. I doubt you'd see the CEO of Molson's drinking a Bud or helping them out. Craft brewing is stronger because they stand together and while they each want you to try their beers and become a fan, they also realise that we want new and different things all the time and encourage us to be fans of all their friends as well.
7. Growlers - Big 1.89 litre jugs of my favourite beer. Fresh, refillable and cool looking. I keep buying one at each brewery I visit and sometimes I get two. If I live close enough, I can get something different every week. Awesome.
8. Seasonality - Bringing different beers out as the seasons change is a wonderful way to celebrate the year. I love waiting and anticipating the next release. Bring on the spring beers!
9. The Names - There are times I laugh so hard at a beer name (Long Dong Pilsner), that I just have to tell everyone about it. Craft brewers can have some fun with their branding and will push the line in naming them sometimes. It is always a treat to see what they come up with next.
10. The art of the label - Many craft brewers use local artists to decorate their offerings. Two of the best are Collective Arts and Great Lakes Brewing. As a guy who love to use his beer bottles and cans as decorations, it is great to have so many unique and amazing choices.

There you have it, 10 things this Tuesday morning to think about when you go looking for a new beer. Try something different today, your taste buds will thank you.


14 February 2016

Beer of the Week - February 7th to February 13th

When your week is filled with amazing beer, it is a good time to be alive. So many great Canadian Craft Beers that I have a hard time choosing just one to be my Beer of The Week (BOW) this Valentine's Day. But choose I must and I would be missing a wonderful opportunity to share one of the oldest and finest brewers in the province with you if I slacked off my duty.
Great Lakes Brewery from Etobicoke celebrated their 29th birthday this past Friday and what an accomplishment that is. To be able to stay nimble, innovative and at the forefront of the craft beer industry for over a quarter of a century is truly amazing. I am constantly buying anything I see with the GLB logo on it and this week I made a quick trip to the brewery to pick up a few beers you can only get at their retail store. I picked up the Blonde Lager, Red Leaf Lager, Long Dong Pilsner (stop laughing), and the most unique offering I've had in a while, Body Dubbel Belgian Ale.
I grabbed two because I wanted one to review and then one just to enjoy and savour. It spoke to me from the crack of the can. I can't say it any better than I did on my Instagram review :

"Pours an amber colour with a fluffy off white head that lingers an laces. Smells a little fruity. On the sip, that's why I drove all damn morning to get one. Dark fruits, cherries, brown sugar and molasses kick off the front end witb a nice malt sweetness and a dry, crisp slightly bitter end."

I was never a fan of any kind of dark beer that contained fruit flavours at all. It was a turn off because my palate was only used to tasteless macro lagers and that over consumption life I used to lead. Growing as a person and a beer drinker, I have really come to appreciate the distinct flavour profiles of Belgian style brews, from here or Belgium itself. I love the warming, sweet molasses that made its way into my belly and gave me a healthy glow. Beer may not be the answer for everyone, but when it's this good, who cares what the question is.
Cheers to Great Lakes Brewery for both their birthday and for winning this week's BOW. May you have many more inspiring decades to bring us all the joy from the land of Hops and Barley.

13 February 2016

Ode to My Lake Effect

 From the moment I pop the top and catch a whiff of the tropical notes, to watching the beer cascade down into my glass...the anticipation builds.
  I know what is coming, but still I wait. Swirl and sniff, smell it again, for the first time, the last time. Take a sip. Not a gulp, just a taste and get that pineapple, grapefruit and crisp citrus rolling around your head.
  Juicy, bitter and oh so good. I won't rush, savour and sip till it is almost gone. 
 And then comes that final moment. The one I love and dread at once. The last taste comes too soon and then I am done. 
 Until I grab another one.

11 February 2016

In Defense of The Hammer

I was out and about on Tuesday and when I was coming home from Toronto, crossing the Skyway bridge, I started to think about all the times I hear and see people slamming my hometown, Hamilton, Ontario. So many times, especially on social media, I will see people posting about how they can't wait to get out of this city, how all the people here are losers and so on. I am struck by how they feel. I am not sure if they realise that it isn't Hamilton that does

7 February 2016

Beer of the Week - January 31st to February 6th

Sunday morning is usually a slow burn for us here at the Polkaroo manor. I work almost every weekend, but usually close the store on Sundays, so I don't have to be at work until noon. This week is the exception to that rule as it is the busiest day of the year for us in the food service industry, Super Bowl Sunday. So many damn chicken wings to cook. It's a great day for me, to be honest, and I look forward to it all year.
This week, I talked about low ABV (alcohol by volume) beers that will allow you to have a few without getting hammered while watching the big game and having to deal with the hangover the next day at work. I have many of them in my fridge chilling right now for when I get home from work and look forward to enjoying the spectacle. I was not really surprised then when it was a low alcohol beer that caught my eye and taste buds.
It is a recurring theme on my blog that I have really come to enjoy stouts and this week I had two that were just outstanding. First up was my 2014 Amsterdam Brewing Tempest Imperial Stout. I bought two of these last year and was disciplined enough to actually age one for 15 months in my cold cellar. It was an amazing beer that really smoothed out with aging and I noticed some more nuances in the flavour profile had changed since I first tried it. The only disappointment was that they no longer are making this, so I cannot buy the 2015 version to age and compare. Hopefully it will make a comeback in 2016.
My other standout stout is my choice for Beer of the Week (BOW) for a variety of reasons. Hailing from one of my favourite breweries, Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, The Tom Green Stout is a wonderfully put together beer that has found its way into my heart. It is a milk stout, and the organic lactose and oats make for a real creamy mouthfeel. Fantastic dark colour with a thick tan head.  It has a bitter coffee bean smell and flavour that doesn't quit. A chocolate note comes on nicely in the middle, while the finish is dry, hoppy and outstanding. The roasted malt flavours are so damn delectable that I went out the next day and grabbed a couple more to keep on hand for a treat.It is only a 5.0% ABV, so despite its big flavour, it is a sessionable stout. Usually this style is a little bigger in the alcohol department, so it is nice to find one that is so crushable.
It feels like I am constantly praising Beau's for their beers and it is with good cause. they keep coming out with innovative and different approaches to new and old styles. This week I had three different beers from their menu and each one was fantastic. The Bogwater (a Gruit) and Grisette (Belgian Style Ale) were great examples of what a brewery can do if they let their brew master's imaginations take hold and create something out of the ordinary.
 So it is without trepidation that I congratulate Beau's for yet another BOW and hope you can get your hands on The Tom Green Beer so that you can see what a fine brew it really is. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

2 February 2016

Super Bowl Beers

The big day is fast approaching. You've got your nachos, pizza, wings and assorted bowls of snack foods prepared to go. Friends and family will gather round the glow of your big screen and take part in an American ritual older than me. I'm of course talking about the Super Bowl and all that it entails. This year is the 50th version of the NFL Championship and it seems to get bigger every year. It doesn't matter if you are a football fan or not, most people know of the game and many have some sort of party that involves food and of course, beer.
But there is a catch to all this fun. It is on Sunday. That means work the next day for the vast majority of people and if you're like me, you do not want to spend Monday fighting a hangover for 8 plus hours. So it is with that in mind that I bring you some suggestions to help you enjoy the game with some great beer that won't leave you hanging the next day.
I have been evolving on what I bring with me when I go to a party or event. I went way too big and robust on New Year's Eve and even with moderation had a bit of a headache the next day. My subsequent revisions of my travelling beer list has helped to alleviate this problem. I would advise you to avoid anything Imperial or above 7% ABV. When you get to having a good time, sometimes you forget that those big boozy bastards can pack quite a hidden punch.
I'm thinking lower ABV, but not lower taste. You don't need crazy high alcohol to enjoy great flavour and what better way to celebrate the end of the gridiron season than with some fine Canadian Craft beer. I'll give you some different styles so you can mix it up and have something for everyone. All of these should be easily available at your local LCBO, so get shopping now and chill these babies for Sunday. If you'd like to see these and some other great choices, go check out my YouTube channel, for my weekly video post. This week is all about choices in your beer for Super Bowl.

What we think of as regular beers. If you have someone who drinks Coors or Canadian, give them one of these. They have all natural ingredients, great flavour and even better, they are lower in ABV.

  1. 416 Local Lager - Amsterdam Brewing Company (4.16%) Clean, crisp Lager.
  2. Craft Lager - Muskoka Brewing Company (4.8%) - Unfiltered, cloudy. Malty.
  3. Anti-Gravity - Flying Monkeys Brewery (4%) - Full bodied.
  4. Tennent's - Caledonian Brewery (4%) - Scottish. Malt and floral notes.
  5. Dark 266 - Cameron's Brewing (4.5%) -Black Lager
American Pale Ales
These beers have a little more in the hoppy department. Not crazy big, but definitely a change from the everyday.

  1. Naughty Neighbour (4.9%) - Nickel Brook Brewing - Classic APA with citrus and malt.
  2. Canadian Pale Ale (4.9%) - Old Tomorrow Brewing - Mango and citrus front, ready caramel back.
  3. Cruiser Pale Ale (4.9%) - Amsterdam Brewing Company - Pineapple, grapefruit and malt again. Crushable.
English Pale Ales
Getting a little more bready and biscuit flavours. More toasted malts than bitter hops. Smooth.

  1. Pompous Ass Ale (4.2%) - Great Lakes Brewing - My go-to brew. Crisp and slightly bitter.
  2. Special Pale Ale (4.5%) -Wellington Brewery - A little hoppy, but great malt and accessible.
Amber Ales
Get some red love in your life. Sweeter with almost no bitterness.
  1. Grindstone (4.8%) - Broadhead Brewing - A slight bitter to go with the sweet.
  2. Amber (4.25%) - Hockley Valley Brewing - Smooth and clean. Easy drinking.
Get your hops on without getting crazy drunk. Bitter, piney and citrus coming at you.
  1. Red Racer ISA (4%) - Central City - Light and fruity with citrus and malt back.
  2. Genius of Suburbia (3.8%) - Flying Monkeys Brewery - Piney. Strong citrus up front. Drinks bigger than it is.
  3. Detour (4.3%) - Muskoka Brewing - Fruity and hoppy.
  4. State of Mind (4.4%) - Collective Arts - Citrus, resin and pine. Dry Finish.
Blonde Ale
Blondes do have more fun if you like a little orange and lemon in your brews.
  1. 100 (4.2%) - Hockley Valley Brewing - Hints of lemon. Light and crisp.
  2. Cause & Effect (4.7%) - Nickel Brook Brewing - A little hoppy with a clean citrus flavour.
  3. Saint of Circumstance (4.7%) - Collective Arts Brewing - Cloudy. lemon and orange with some zing.
Grab Bag of Styles
Three more that are low ABV and give you some different options.

  1. Newcastle Brown Ale (4.7%) - John Smiths - English. Nutty, lightly malted
  2. French Press Vanilla Stout (4.8%) - Double Trouble Brewing - Chocolate, vanilla, coffee. Tastes bigger than it is.
  3. Steamwhistle (5%) - Steamwhistle Brewing - Pilsner. Grassy and floral. Crisp and clean tasting.
There you have it. I think having some different beers for the night makes it a little more fun. I rarely drink two of the same brew when I watch the game because I really like to experience a bunch of flavours and it helps me to slow down a bit so I can actually be coherent and enjoy the spectacle. So plan ahead, get something you haven't had before and try to give your guests something out of the ordinary.
As always, please don't drink and drive and be sure to have options for your friends to stay over or take a cab home. No one wants to be remembered for being a jackass and driving while intoxicated is probably the stupidest thing you can do. Stay safe and enjoy the party.

1 February 2016

Beer of the Week - January 24th to January 30th

Sometimes your best intentions don't always work out. I usually make my Beer of the Week post on Sunday morning, but with all the excitement of the Burlington Beer festival and trying to squeeze in a nice breakfast with Mrs. Polkaroo before work, I plum ran out of time. But I am committed to this as part of my process and though this one may be a little late, it's because of action not inaction.
It is with that in mind that this weeks BOW came into being. I was out and about on Thursday when I was struck with the notion that I hadn't been to Nickel Brook Brewing Company in Burlington for quite some time. It is only about a 15 minute drive from my place just over the bridge and I had intended to get there way sooner. So of I went in search of beer. Be it new to me or an old favourite, I just needed some refreshments.
When I arrived, I poked around and just sort of checked everything out before deciding on what beers I wanted. They have a wall of glass so you can peer in on the action at the brewery, pretty cool. The staff was friendly and very kind. I picked up a bottle of their Pilot Project, Cafe Bastardo, for a later date.  It's an Imperial stout and I can't decide whether to age it or drink it now. Tough choices.
To age or not to age?
That's the real question.
Some cans of Headstock found their way into my box as well as some wicked stickers and coasters you can grab while they fill your growler. But it was what I put in my growler that makes it to the top of my list this week.
I can vaguely remember having Naughty Neighbour some years ago and being turned off by the pine tree flavour I used to think all IPAs' had. I couldn't stomach any kind of real flavour in my Brava Light days and it remained an elusive mystery to me. Fast forward to 2016, and I am a full fledged Hop Head. I love the tropical citrus notes and the bitterness that a good pale ale can bring to the table.  I picked this beer for my Growler for a couple of reasons. One was that a fresh IPA is the best kind. Unlike a big old stout, this style is really at it's most desireable when it is right from the brewery. The second was that it is only 4.9% ABV and I love a good "sesssion" beer. That of course is a low alcohol brew that you can have a few of in a night without toddling off into the land of the Drunk Polkaroo.
Naughty Neighbour is an extremely accessible Pale Ale. It most definitely has the citrus notes, but also has a smooth malt body that helps to temper that sort of bitter, piney and resin flavour that will turn off a novice beer explorer. It's a crisp and refreshing beer that will leave you with the impression that maybe you could handle something a little more intense. Maybe try Headstock, which comes in at 80 IBUs compared to NN's 38, but is still very much a tasty brew. I like that I have come around on this style of beer and if you are able to get a growler fill of an IPA from your local brewery; Run, don't walk.
The freshness factor coupled with the low ABV and delicious flavours make this an easy choice for the BOW to end January. Check out my video review of how awesome it is to drink Naughty Neighbour on my Youtube channel. It was just a fine damn beer.
Thanks once again to Nickel Brook for all the great flavours and congrats on the BOW for Naughty Neighbour! A classic beer and one that will always be found in my fridge.