Saturday, 19 May 2018

"Can I see some ID?" - Brew Wizards makes my day/week/year

I remember Matt tweeting something about a tap takeover at Brew Wizards but I thought it had been and gone, so when I popped in to the downtown Oshawa games and craft beer emporium after a delivery shift my only goal was to have a beer before trudging home to bed.

Matt, Manantler Brewing's co-owner and social media guru, may not have believed me, but that's the truth.

So when I walked in and noticed a couple or three of Manantler beers on the tap list I really didn't think anything of it; the brewery and the bar are friends of long standing.

So I ordered a taster of 5 Paddles' Coconut Cream Pie and Single Minded - Azacca from Market Brewing (both very tasty) and contemplated which Manantler beer was going to be my nightcap.

Brew Wizards Board Game Cafe in
downtown Oshawa
That's when Matt tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me for coming in to see him and support my once and always favourite brewery. "Yeah, yeah, that's exactly what I did Matt. No problem," would be my usual go-to response to that statement but I was feeling a bit tired from a 15-hour shift (split between two jobs) so I took a different approach.

I was honest.

"Actually, I forgot. I thought it was last week or yesterday or something. So this is a happy coincidence I guess."

And then I ordered my beer. One of Manantler's Lollihop series of single-hopped pale ales. A Lollihop-Cascade (double dry-hopped), to be exact.

And two things happened that I will remember for months - nay, years - to come.

The second thing is the beer was amazing. An instant contender for Pale Ale of the Year. But I'm getting ahead in the story; the first thing happened before I even got the beer in my hand.

I was carded.

No word of a lie. I am 58 and while I tell myself I am unbearably handsome and have retained most of my boyish charms, others (read everybody else) say something different.

In fact, other than some young guys at work who thought I was in my 40s (they think everybody over 30 is old anyway), the general consensus is I look at least 50.

Matt and his beard at Manantler
So while my ex-wife (I'm looking at you Christian-Ann) and a few of my 40-plus women friends (I'm looking at you Shannon) get asked for ID from time to time and never fail to tell me (and even brag) about it, I have not been asked to prove my age for at least a quarter-century.

(Except for that time in Orlando four years ago, but that doesn't count. For reasons.)

So this was a big thing.

I know my jaw dropped, though my shit-eating grin was able to hold it high while I fished out my drivers licence to show my server, who was clearly new at the job - first day, maybe? - and eager to follow procedure to ensure all patrons have some identification.

Not that I was complaining (then or now) about the inconvenience. In fact, I vowed on the spot to brag to everyone I know about it (done that already), and even write a blog highlighting this momentous occasion.

I can now say I've done that too.

But enough about being ID'd - I want to get back to talking about that beer. (I've told most everyone I know already anyway.)

I swear Manantler has done Cascade before in their Lollihop series - it is one of the three classic 'C's of west coast hops - but it was certainly never double dry-hopped, a process that, among other delicious things, brings out the aromatics of the beer much better than the traditional hops-in-the-boil method.

It worked beautifully in this beer. Lots of citrus in the aroma, with orange, grapefruit and a little pineapple shining through on the tongue. Delicious.

Death's Tar Imperial Black
IPA from Manantler
So while I should have been home sleeping, I instead whiled away an hour drinking a couple of Cascade Lollihops and catching up with Matt on all things beer.

We talked about the Death's Tar Imperial Black IPA I enjoyed the night before - amazingly good - and how I would have to go back to Manantler on Saturday to get more, as well as some of the Cascade Lollihop, to give to Beer Bro Don when I visited him in Oakville later that day.

He told me the story of how the brewery landed Corey Fairs - the man is just knocking it out of the park these days - and how awesome it was to see Jim Gorry (Manantler's original Brewmaster) back in Bowmanville brewing up tasties at Chronicle Brewing.

We talked about Matt's beard - okay, we didn't, but it's an awesome beard and we should have - and then I thanked him for buying the first round and I was on my way home.

I'm glad I got the tap takeover dates wrong because happy coincidence are pretty cool.


I was back in Bowmanville two days later as promised to stock up for my trip to Falgarwood Estates in Oakville to see my college pal Don and I of course stayed for a pint of Cascade Lollihop and to chat with my server, the lovely Mariska.

It was Dog Day at the brewery, by the way, with three pooches having the run  of the place. The two bigger dogs belonged to a couple at the bar ("I hope you don't mind dogs," asked the young lady, which surprised me, but I guess there are anti-dog people that walk among us) and the little fellow trying his best to establish dominance - was his name Jack? I think so - belonged to Mariska.

So after watching the dogs play for a bit Mariska and I got to talking and she asks me how my weekend was going. Anything interesting happen lately?

Well yes, I said, now that you mention it and just then Matt wanders in from the brewery. "Matt, tell Mariska what happened to me at Brew Wizards the other night ..."

Finally - a brewery for Oshawa!

With the number of breweries in Durham Region now in double digits it seemed just a matter of time before one set up shop in Oshawa.

The Shwa can now say they have one, with a possible second brewery on its way.

The Oshawa Brewing Company opened its doors recently and while they've experienced some hiccups in the early days, I'm hopeful they can get locked in for the days and months ahead.

The brewery - founded by Daryl Radovich - is open on Wilson Road South and is offering six beers right now: Oatmeal Molasses Stout, Blonde Ale, Dark Irish Ale, European IPA, Copper Ale and a Grapefruit and Lime Radler.

I sampled a few at Buster Rhino's last week and while I remember the Dark Irish Ale being tasty, all the beers were severely lacking in carbonation, a sentiment shared by most of us freeloaders regulars taking advantage of free beer.

My beer friends Linda and John - both experienced homebrewers - were a little more complimentary after visiting the fledgling brewery, so I'm optimistic that once they get the growing pains out of the way they can get down to making great beer.

A second Oshawa brewery is in the works as well. The Bunkie Brewing Company  has a website and social media set up but are not quite ready to open their doors.

Good luck Bunkie. And welcome to the neighbourhood.


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