Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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The Friday Link Roundup – Post City and liquor edition

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I drink things other than beer.

And sometimes I get to write about those things.

David Ort, who, in addition to being a blogger and a cookbook author, is also an editor for Post City magazine, has actually been letting me write occasional non-beer posts for his employer for the last few years, and it’s served as a pretty great way for me to try to learn a bit more about certain categories of alcohol and then try to share my findings and tasting notes with an audience. And let’s be honest, it’s also proved a pretty good way to get the occasional bottle of something interesting and strong sent to the house.

As I grapple with another one of these sporadic musings on spirits (Cognac! Coming soon), I thought it might be a good occasion to revive the near-dead Friday Link Roundup, a feature I’ve been neglecting wherein Ben’s Beer Blog used to lazily point you to other beery things worth reading on the interwebs. For this resurrecting installment, I’ve put together list of some of my Post City musings so that I might inspire your non-beer drinking this weekend.

Cheers.

wildturkey81-601392bb Sometimes enjoying whiskey can feel overwhelming: On Wild Turkey 81.
torontodistillgin-ee0e8234 In Spirit: On J.R.’s Dry Organic Canadian Gin by the Toronto Distillery Company.
casamigosanejo-9a9c12a7 Time to trade-up your tequila: On Casamigos Añejo
wisershopped-ea557631 Bringing the characteristics of beer to a bottle of whisky: On JP Wiser’s new Hopped whisky

 


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In Spirit: J.R.’s Dry Organic Canadian Gin by the Toronto Distillery Company

In Spirit is the new bi-weekly contribution I’ll be making to Post City’s website. The name of the column was chosen from a short list of other horrendous “spirit” based puns and the idea is that, every other week, I’ll open a bottle of something and write about it. For this, my first entry, I wanted to write about a local Toronto distillery. If you’ve got ideas for overlooked, undervalued, rare, or just plain tasty booze worthy of look for my future posts, please send me an email with your suggestions! And watch out for my future editions. Cheers.  

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The term “gin” is really something of a catch-all.

A scan of the entry for gin in any thorough bartender’s guide will show you that there’s a lot more to the clear spirit than you might have first assumed.

There are four different legal definitions of gin in the European Union alone and a handful of ways you might make a product that can be called gin, including pot-distilled gin, or column-distilled gin, or the lesser “compound gin.” Really, the only thing all gins have in common is that they use juniper berries and some other combination of botanicals to flavour what begins as a neutral spirit. The botanicals a distiller uses are essentially what makes any gin taste different than any other and ingredients as diverse as grapefruit rind, cinnamon, dragon eye (yes, that’s a thing), orris root, and saffron might be used to flavour the stuff. Even the way these botanicals are added varies greatly from one gin to the next. Bombay Sapphire, for example, is distilled using a “gin basket” whereby a selection of botanicals are placed in a basket in the path of distilled alcohol vapour, and in so doing, the vapour takes on the flavours of the botanicals. Beefeater gin uses botanicals that are steeped in the base spirit for a day, like tea, and then filtered and redistilled.

Most people, sucking down G&Ts at the cottage or unwinding with an ice cold post-work martini, probably don’t appreciate the complexity and variety of what’s in their glass.

But then Jess Razaqpur isn’t like most people.

Having co-founded the Toronto Distillery Co. in the Junction with his high school friend Charles Benoit, Razaqpur is a self-confessed “gin guy.” And so while the company business has thus far been largely devoted to the production and marketing of their unaged organic whisky, it’s clear Razaqpur is excited for the launch of “J.R.’s Dry Organic Canadian Gin.”

And yes, that really is him on the label.

Read the rest of this post over on Post City…


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Allowing booze sales in convenience stores is a dumb idea

Convenient Beer

Clearly, I’m among those who feel that the province’s beverage alcohol retail system needs modernizing.

I think most would agree I’ve been pretty vocal on that subject in the past.

You’d think then, that I’d be on board with recent initiatives from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) to lobby the province to let them sell booze.

Well I’m definitely not. Booze in convenience stores is a dumb idea.

In fact, allowing convenience stores to sell alcohol will simply give us more of the same shitty system we already have, just in more locations. And more of the same isn’t better, it’s worse. Continue reading


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What to Drink This Week: The French 75 (aka The Southampton)

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This installment of “What to Drink This Week” features a drink that for me is a summer time staple. It’s supposed to feel like close to 30 degrees today, and I’m sure that won’t last, so why not try to squeeze out a little more summer with a cocktail today before we all hunker down for the winter with dark beer, brown liquor, and German erotica….er, just me?

Anyway, this is a summer drink I thought I invented–but most certainly didn’t.

The beverage is technically the French 75, though my version is modified slightly and rechristened The Southampton. 

Both beverages are a ridiculously potent mix of champagne or proseco and gin.

The French 75 was so named because the act of having a few is not unlike the feeling of being assaulted by the French 75mm light field gun, arguably the first piece of modern artillery, capable of  delivering 15 rounds-per-minute (which was not bad when facing an enemy with bolt-action rifles in 1897). Continue reading


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The lost barrel of “Trombsterdam”

This is actually the best picture I took of the beer. Make of my phone's choice of focus what you will...

This is actually the best picture I took of the beer. Make of my phone’s choice of focus what you will…

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be among a select group of “media influencers” chosen to attend a private dinner at the still-under-construction second location for Toronto’s Rock Lobster. Now if hearing “media influencers” and “private dinner” makes you picture an intense session of social media junkies instagramming the shit of their meals, you should know this: 1) You’re absolutely right, and 2) I don’t care what you think I ate an amazing seafood dinner and got an article out of the deal.

You should also know this: In addition to the aforementioned delicious meal, the evening provided some excellent libations. Barrel-aged cocktails are the name of the game at Rock Lobster so it was no surprise when a handful of good ones ended up in my belly that evening. What was a surprise though was the appearance of a collaboration I had heretofore never heard of: Trombsterdam, a seemingly-right-up-my-alley joint effort from Tromba Tequila and Amsterdam Brewing Company. Continue reading


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Mill Street Brewery’s Beer Hall: So how’s the bierschnaps?

Bierschnaps

On Wednesday I had occasion to finally get out to Mill Street’s new Beer Hall location (yes, secret revealed, I wrote a story about The Beer Hall for blogTO without ever having set foot in it. Sue me).

It’s a pretty spectacular place and despite what a handful of reviewers and snarky commenters have to say about the decor, I think most people will be impressed with the place–if only for its size. Pictures don’t really convey how bloody massive the place is and, given that Mill Street is embracing a “soft open” approach, the size of the place seems all the more cavernous given the sparse attendance (but expect that to change once word gets out about this place and once the absolutely massive patio opens later this month). Continue reading


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Still Waters Distillery: So how’s the booze?

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A couple weeks ago I was on something of a whisky kick; penning a post for blogTO about fledgling distillery Toronto Distillery Company, announcing the release of Still Waters Distillery’s first single malt whisky, and even finding new reasons to rant about the province’s liquor laws as a result of said writing.

Somehow, in the shuffle, I forgot to include my thoughts on what should always be foremost when it comes to booze and beer: the taste.

I was lucky enough to be shipped a small sample of Still Waters’ very limited first release (the 46% version) and, while it’s a touch late to inform you about whether or not you should line up to get yourself a bottle when they were released (back on April 27th), here are my notes on the province’s only commercially available micro-distilled whisky. Continue reading