Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Cosplayers and Stan Lee - but no damn Moralite

I had marked Fan Expo down on my calendar months ago, but the closer I got to Toronto's biggest comics and pop culture event, the more I realized I was there for the beer.

Moralite, to be exact. That's Dieu du Ciel's glorious IPA collaboration with The Alchemist, the famed Vermont brewery that brought the world Heady Topper. And it was listed on the online menu at the Beer Bistro in downtown Toronto, just a short walk from Fan Expo's digs at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

So when I got to Union Station, that's where I went first, all giddy with excitement. Giddy like P Diddy after he discovers his net worth jumped 20 per cent while he was napping on the couch. That kind of giddy.

And then the bartender laid down the bad news: "We're out of that. Sorry sir."

Damn. I had tried this beer just once before, at C'est What after a spring comic con adventure with fellow Musketeers Cat and Don. An if memory serves, it was a half-pint that I had  to share, so I was eager to try it again.

She is portraying
I dunno and don't care
Oh well. The only IPA on the menu that I hadn't tried was Bellwood's Boogie Monster IIPA, but the price tag of nearly $20 was a little rich for my blood, so I had a 10 Bitter Years from Black Oak and headed to the convention centre.

I still enjoy comic conventions well enough, but once I picked up a few issues I needed and toured Artist's Alley for the comic art I love (a Lee Weeks Daredevil and a Mike Del Mundo Elektra went home with me), I was pretty much done.

Well, except for the people watching. I'd like to say once you've seen your first dozen or so cosplayers, you've seem them all, but it seems the participants outdid themselves this year. There was a ton of outstanding costumes, including a few that were all original. And most of the other cosplayers were representing characters I never heard of. Sure as hell weren't comic characters, that's for sure.

But when you look like this woman on the right, who cares?

There was one more item on my Fan Expo list I had to check off before I left: Stan Lee.

At 91, Stan Lee, creator or co-creator of nearly every Marvel character and a bigger draw than any of them (yes, even a bigger draw than Scarlett Johansson), is still the man. Nowadays, conventions are what he does and interacting with the fans is what he does best.

The Man
One doesn't go to a Stan Lee presentation to hear anything controversial or even new (though he did slip in a few teases about some upcoming Marvel movies - Black Panther AND Black Widow films green-lighted? Maybe...), but the fans in attendance - some 2,000 strong - ask the same questions year after year so they don't care.

It's Stan Lee, man.

Once I got my Stan Lee fix, I headed for the door but instead of turning into Union Station for the long GO Train ride back to Oshawa, I kept going east on Front Street in the direction of C'est What.

After all, if that's where Moralite was found last spring, it couldn't hurt to try again.

Alas, no Moralite. But I did have a Hop Addict from County Durham (meh) and a Smashbomb Atomic from Flying Monkeys (outstanding as usual) to help wash down a delicious chicken dinner.

Maybe next year Stan and I can go out bar-hopping after the convention. Maybe we run into Scarlett and that woman pictured above and we all drink Moralite from Dieu du Ciel together.

Maybe next year.


I have a long list of new beers I haven't reviewed yet, mostly because I haven't written anything in a while. Here's a couple or three.

I saw Black Oak's Break of Dawn APA on the chalkboard at Buster Rhino's and I figured if it was from Black Oak, it must be good.

Break of Dawn from Black Oak:
An outstanding session beer
When I'm right, I'm right. This beer was outstanding.

Hopped up so much it tasted juicy, this beer had big grapefruit flavours along with some pine and citrus to give it a wonderful bitter finish. At just 4.5 per cent it is a fantastic session ale rivalling All Day IPA from Founders Brewing of Michigan for the best under-five per cent beer I've ever tried.

Unfortunately it was a summer release and now it's gone.

Something new from Rogue Ales showed up at my local LCBO recently, so I had to give it a go. OREgasmic Ale, a six per cent ale packing a powerful 90 IBU punch, was brewed to showcase Oregon's hops, malts and barley and uses nothing but in the recipe.

It pours a dark bronze with a creamy head and tastes thick and malty, with lots of caramel, some dark fruits, a touch of citrus and a hint of spice. Really tasty stuff.

Another newbie I found in the liquor store was Hop Bot IPA from Hop City. At seven per cent and 70 IBUs (along with five west coast hops used in the brewing), this beer came with some lofty expectations.

Alas, I didn't get the insane amounts of citrus as advertised, Very little, actually, though there was lots of pine and decent bitterness. It poured dark (and a little evil looking) and I picked up more tropical fruit than citrus, along with prominent sweet malts. I liked it, but it wasn't really a west coast IPA.


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