‘International destination’ beer bar coming to Toronto’s Little Italy

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Tomas and Julian Morana, two brothers whose family is behind Bar Volo, Cask Days, and–through their import business Keep6Imports–a large chunk of the cool import beers you can find in better Toronto restaurants and bars, have confirmed that they are opening a new bar.

As Toronto Life pointed out yesterday (damn you for scooping me! *shakes fist*) the location of the long-rumoured “second Morana family bar” has finally been revealed as Little Italy. Specifically, the bar will be at 612 College Street in the former home of Souz Dal Tiki Bar next to The Royal Cinema.

I spoke with Tomas Morana and he filled me in on some details. Continue reading “‘International destination’ beer bar coming to Toronto’s Little Italy”

Seven totally true facts about Cask Days

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Now in its 11th year, Cask Days is virtually inarguably the biggest beer event in Ontario, if not Canada. Featuring hundreds of breweries pouring cask-conditioned, unfiltered, naturally carbonated beer over Oct 23rd, 24th, and 25th, if you’re a fan of craft beer there are probably few things you don’t already know about this epic tribute to real ale, so this year I dug extra hard to bring you the inside info that no one else has.

Here are seven totally true facts about Cask Days. Continue reading “Seven totally true facts about Cask Days”

Sierra Nevada is coming to Ontario

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There is exciting news for Ontario’s pale ale fans: Chico California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Pale Ale will soon be available on tap in Ontario bars and sometime a little after that, on store shelves in your LCBO.

This weekend, I spoke with Andrew von Teichman, the president of Von Terra Enterprises Ltd, the agency responsible for bringing Sierra Nevada to Ontario, and von Teichman confirmed rumblings you may or may not have heard at Cask Days when that event’s organizers brought Sierra Nevada to Toronto along with a handful of other California beers for the event.

Von Teichman confirmed that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale will be available on tap in Ontario in February and that an LCBO launch will likely follow in March. The beer will launch exclusively on draught at all six Bier Markt locations on February 9th and then will roll out to other accounts in March. No other accounts are confirmed yet, but von Teichman tells me that they’ve talked to a number of restaurants and bars and, not surprisingly, they’ve basically just said ‘let us know when and we’re all over it.’ Continue reading “Sierra Nevada is coming to Ontario”

Stepping up the game: A conversation about beer and food with Bar Isabel’s Guy Rawlings

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Appropriately, when I first try to contact Guy Rawlings, he’s busy hoarding beer.

The self-proclaimed “General Manager in a chef’s body” has just learned that Les Trois Mousquetaires’ Hors Serie Gose, part of the LCBO’s long-delayed 2014 summer beer release, has finally hit store shelves and he’s loading up. When I reach him, he’s pushing a shopping cart full of the stuff, having just cleaned out the Dundas and Dovercourt location of the liquor store, and he’s juggling a cell phone trying to get his haul home.

“Sorry,” he says. “Can I call you back?”

His ability to seek out (and covet) good beer is one of the reasons I want to talk to Rawlings.

A chef by trade, Rawlings’ name has been attached to a handful of the city’s best restaurants in the last few years including the Black Hoof, the now-closed Lucien, the also-now-closed Brockton General, and Room 203, his own “event space and food lab” where he threw intimate, multi-course, private dinners featuring elaborate, collaborative and foraged menus. Continue reading “Stepping up the game: A conversation about beer and food with Bar Isabel’s Guy Rawlings”

Fewer beers at events, please

Beer Festivals

As we enter June, we’re essentially entering prime time for summer beer events in and around Toronto (here, for example, is a handy list of ten such events) and while Session Toronto, Cask Days, The Toronto Festival of Beer, et. al, all tout the number of beers that will be on hand as something a badge of honour, I’d like to propose that where beer selection is concerned, less is actually more.

It seems to be a mark of success to show that the number of beers at a festival has grown exponentially from one year to the next. Cask Days, for example, boasted 230 different beers this year from 140 different brewers, up from 150 different beers the year before.

While this sounds awesome, I actually think it’s more overwhelming than it is exciting. You can’t possibly drink 230 beers at one event, even if you were to attend all three days of Cask Days, so quite simply, it’s too much. I know that the organizers of beer events (Cask Days in particular) work very hard to bring in unique and interesting offerings for their events, but with no way of trying all of them, I just find massive beer lists stressful. Continue reading “Fewer beers at events, please”