Saturday, 24 June 2017

Motley Cru Day

"I'm going to Bellwoods tomorrow," I say to Jessica as I nurse a beer at the bar, post-shift. "Do you want anything?"

I knew she would say yes, because the tomorrow in question was Motley Cru Day at the brewery and this year's beer is a barrel-blend passion fruit sour ale. Jess, as I have mentioned in this space before, is a massive sour beer fan.

The problem, I rambled on to no one in particular, was that parking at Bellwoods' Ossington Avenue brew pub in west Toronto was always a problem. The logistics of what to do with my car while I wait an hour or more with hundreds of other beer lovers - this annual release is a really big deal - was seriously hurting my brain.

"So go to the Hafis Road location," Jess offered, giving me that look usually reserved for small children and mildly inebriated customers.

I knew Bellwoods had opened a second location to help them handle their new-found success, but I just assumed 'Hafis Road' was somewhere downtown-ish and never bothered to look it up.

"I think it's somewhere near the 401," Jess ventured helpfully.

Well now. That changes everything. I was headed to my parents home for my bi-weekly lawn maintenance visit and their place is just off Highway 401 at Keele Street.

So I looked up Hafis Road. Damned if it isn't in the Keele and Lawrence area, not more than 15 minutes from my childhood home. And parking, up there in northern suburbia, is never going to be a problem.

I might just have found my new 'local' Toronto brewery.

So after completing my chores on a sunny Saturday, dashing down my chicken sammy and doling out hugs, I was on my way to Bellwood's newest brewery to join the line for bottles of their annual anniversary beer.

I spotted Darryl, Buster Rhino's valiant, versatile and vivacious boss, and chatted for a minute before going to the back of the line. Optics, you know. I also saw Robin, a fellow #Beersaint from brew day at Manantler, and before I could say "are we there yet?" the line was moving towards the door.

Motley Crue
Thanks to the two location system, the line was just 40-strong and in less than a hour I was inside and stocking my case with beer from the Bellwoods fridge.

There was Roman Candle, their world class IPA, as well as Jutsu (American Pale Ale) and Double Jutsu (Imperial IPA). Wizard Wolf, the brewery's top-ranked Session IPA, was in the house, as was Monogamy Azacchia, a single hop IIPA, and Jelly King, the dry-hopped Sour that turned me on to dry-hopped Sours.

And there was Motley Cru, the reason all these people had lined up for an hour or more.

Each year Bellwoods produces a different Motley Cru variation, though it has been a Sour/Wild Ale three of the past four years, with the 2017 release being a one- and two-year barrel blend passion fruit wild ale.

There was no guarantee I would love this brew. I have been digging the dry-hopped sours lately, but this would be closer to a traditional Sour Ale, just stepped up a notch. Bellwoods style.

Besides, with all those great Bellwoods IPAs and their friends in the brewery fridge and about to be in mine, there was no way I would leave disappointed.

And it turned out I liked Motly Cru. Not in the passionate, I Must Write a Blog Professing My Love kind of affection, but it was really good. The aroma was sour and the carbonation was just popping. There was more sourness on the tongue, with a hint of passion fruit in the finish. Lemon, green grapes and a bit of funk as well.

I wouldn't line up for an hour just for this beer, but I'm real glad I did.

Cockpuncher IIPA from Indie Ale House
I made it back to Oshawa in plenty of time for work, where Jessica got her 750 ml bottle and I was content in the knowledge I had found my go-to brewery, and just a few blocks south of my old 'hood of Downsview too.

I'm headed back to see Mom and Dad today so I was thinking I would hit up Hafis Road to see if there's any Milkshark (Mango) left. No brainer, with it being so close to home and to Highway 401.

And then Indie Ale House - located straight down Keele a few miles in the Junction neighbourhood - posted that it was releasing Cockpuncher this week. One of the world's best Imperial IPAs and definitely one of the world's finest beer names, this beer goes fast and is a must buy.

And I can't get to Indie Ale House from my folk's place without passing Rainhard and Shacklands breweries on the way.

What to do; what to do.

I'll see them all. That's what to do.

Rate Beer and 420

There's been a lot of chatter in the craft beer community about Rate Beer - the world's largest beer rating forum and my personal data base to keep track of my beer ratings - since Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired a minority share.

Some breweries - Dogfish Head notably - have been very vocal in their opposition to the sale, citing potential conflict of interest because scores of InBev-owned brands could be artificially inflated.

Meh. If anything, rate beer users - a significant percentage of whom are those pretentious beer snobs we avoid at parties - will go out of their way to trash InBev brands. So if this is a marketing ploy it's a stupid one.

No, this is all about data mining, with (I assume) the minority share giving InBev access to the buying habits and preferences of Rate Beer users.

Cypress Hill
Good. Maybe they'll learn something. Maybe they'll learn we in the craft beer community like good beer. Maybe InBev will start making that, instead of the shit they currently produce.

I won't hold my breath.

In the meantime I will continue to use Rate Beer, who recently honoured me on the occasion of my 420th rating with a clip from Cypress Hill: Hits from the Bong.

Very appropriate. The only problem was I couldn't watch it on account it was blocked in Canada. Perhaps also appropriate.

Oh well. It was the thought that counts.


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