9 June 2016

Perfect Life? No...Even Better, Our Life!

A little while ago someone commented on one of my Instagram photos that my life was perfect. I've had other people tell me they love my posts about my life and how much fun it seems I am having. It's a weird thing to hear and something I didn't think too much about until the last week or so. If you follow all the other places I ramble on about my life, you'll know we had a few events last weekend that really illustrated how much Craft beer has changed my life.
On Friday we went to a All You Can Eat Lobster and Rib fest after I won a ticket from Waterloo Brewpub Abe-Erb. The Rotary club did a great job in planning and our dinner featured some fine beer in addition to the piles of food. As we finished, I turned to Mrs. Polkaroo and told her that Descendant's Brewery was only 10 minutes away. She loved the idea and off we went for a flight and a pint. When we sat down at our table, we joined a couple who were already there and started to talk about our adventures. It turned out that they were Brewmaster and founder of Descendant's Robins' parents. A lively hour or so of exchanging stories and tasting some great beer took our night up a notch. The things that happen when you simply say hello and open yourself up to conversation never cease to amaze me.
Winner, winner, lobster dinner!

3rd lobster of the night

Flights at Descendant's
I could get used to this view!
Saturday found us climbing onboard the Toronto Craft Beer Cruise with our friends Joan and Steven for a 3 hour jaunt around the water with that beautiful skyline as our backdrop. 10 amazing Ontario Craft brewers were aboard with more than double that in offerings and we cast off with hope in our hearts. The weather was outstanding and as I sampled my way around the boat, ran into more beer friends and hung out with the Mrs. it occurred to me that the life I have is indeed very sweet. Brimstone Brewing and their Sinister Minster IPA were my beer of the boat and I had a great time sharing some of my journey with them as I enjoyed more than one sample of this balanced IPA. Running into Jeff and Susan from Muddy York probably was the highlight of my night though (forgot to get a picture...next time). When we visited the brewery in March for Polkapolooza, Kat and I were blown away by Jeff's personality and enthusiasm. Not much has changed since then and he and Susan took the time to talk homebrewing, life and the changing landscape of craft beer in multiple visits to their station. Mrs. Polkaroo is not a craft beer gal, but she absolutely loved the Helles Lager from Muddy York and we both can't wait to go visit and see all that has been happening with one of our favourite breweries. Thank you for always having time for us guys. Seriously, if I lived closer I would no doubt be making multiple trips a week for beer and conversation.
Cruisin' with my favourite person!

Beer of the boat

Beer of the boat! Sinister Minister from Brimstone!

Pretty lady on the boat!
 A year ago I couldn't imagine spending a night in Toronto on a cruise with such a diverse group of people and beer when I was still pounding macro lagers and wasting my nights. The times they are changing indeed.
 I'm not a bar guy anymore but couldn't pass up the chance to hit up legendary Craft Beer spot Bar Volo and it was there that I faced the toughest decision of my life, their tap list. It was intimidatingly huge and for a guy who has had a fair amount of beer, I had only had 2 or 3 of their 30 plus offerings. Luckily Steve grabbed me a Jelly King from Bellwoods Brewery and helped end the stalemate or I am sure I would still be standing there trying to decide. We laughed, ate and drank till the wee hours before heading home and a day off on Sunday.
Is this heaven? Close enough.

This smile never left my face!
When morning dawned and I finished my coffee waiting for Kat to wake up, I decided we should go visit my beer friend Adam up in Guelph to drop off the Grandma's Boy from Bellwoods I had picked him up the week before. After finally getting to meet face to face and have a few minutes of planning something for the future, we made another decision that perhaps shows why we may look a little crazy to our friends and family. I had loved Jelly King so much that I needed some more in my life, so off we went to Toronto for the second day in a row and yet another trip to the red bell on Ossington.
A quick stop was all I had time for but we did managed to grab a bunch of old faves and some new stuff that was put away for later in the week. Once again I had noticed a stop I wanted to make before heading home and despite a timeline that included our nieces' 16th birthday party, Kat was agreeable and we popped in for a flight at one of the newest brewpubs in Ontario, Bandit Brewing. Gorgeous and very cool looking with perhaps the most coveted glassware in the city, I grabbed four samples with the White IPA being the standout and a promise to return for a more thorough "investigation" and perhaps a pint or three.
Flights are my joy!

That logo is a keeper. just don't steal the glass!
Making my way back to work Monday found me in a wondrous mood and while many people find my Relentless happiness difficult to believe, I persist in trying to find the positive in the everyday. The weekend had fuelled my heart to accept more joy and the work week floated by in the best of ways to find us last night (Wednesday) having a small BBQ dinner and thinking of what to do with a night off with no work for either of us the next day. We had heard of a delicious little ice cream spot from Joan called Bang Bang and who doesn't want dessert, even if its an hour away. Coincidentally located nearby was Bellwoods and off we went. Bang Bang is small but mighty in the ways of flavour. Their wall of choices was a huge hit with Kat and we sat just outside the bustling spot on a chilly June evening marvelling at our treats.

Lots of choice here...wow!

My choice...What? Too obvious?

Someone was super happy!
A short walk brought us to my destination of choice for beer and we again decided to sit down for a spell and soak in the atmosphere. Their patio is buzzing almost every time I go and we each grabbed a drink, Jelly King (of course) for me and a West Avenue Cider with cherries and Brett yeast for her. Funky, sour and refreshing, it was a shame we could only have one. Our service was outstanding and attentive, spot on staff. We ordered a plate of crispy fries and enjoyed the vibe as the sun set on the city.
My happy place!

That Bell signals something special here
I was alerted by a friend on Twitter that Henderson Brewing was only a few minutes away and since they were open for a little while longer, made another surprise stop. Big space, more great people and beer I am excited to try made this one a hit in my books. I perhaps bought a growler of their Blonde Ale, but that's another story.
New to me and another cool spot for good Craft beer!
 These things keep happening and each time I marvel at how far my life has come since wallowing in self pity, drunkenness and depression only a short time ago. I know it seems that we do nothing but drink beer but to be honest, Craft Beer and the people and places that make it are only the catalyst to drive us out of our comfort zone and into the world. We use visits to breweries to explore Ontario and beyond with some real exciting things planned for later in the summer. It has become less about the drinking and more about finding neat things to do and see in the course of our travels. I am comfortable with what we have accomplished so far and excited for this new chapter in our lives.
So while my life is far from perfect and I have bad days like everyone else, I think the fact that we actively pursue being happy as a goal and don't sit around complaining about how unfair life can be makes a difference. We all have bumps in the road, but that's no reason to hide from the world. Get out and do something you love, push those negative thoughts out of the way and try to embrace all the good that is out there. I know my life is getting so much better every day because of it and yours can be too.
As always, beer isn't the reason for my happiness, but it helps to have some to celebrate all your accomplishments, big and small.
Raise your glass and your standards, one beer at a time.

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