Friday, January 23, 2015

The 2015 Toronto Rock Home Opener

Teena and I have not missed a Toronto Rock game in two and a half years. Last year we became season ticket holders and are again this year. Tonight was the Toronto Rocks home opener and they came into the game having won their first two on the road.

Tonight was Guaranteed Win night. If the Rock lost, everyone got a free game in the future. The hell with the free game. We wanted a win!

Tonight we were taking on the Buffalo Bandits. It's a natural rivalry as they are only an hour and a half down the road from Toronto.

The Rock were welcomed into the arena by 11,413 fans and lined up in a "T" for Toronto formation and saluted the fans.


There was a tribute and a moment of silence for Terry Sanderson, the Rock's General Manager and assistant coach since 2009. He was General manager of the Rock in 2005, when they won a championship, and after being fired and winning another championship with Calgary, returned to Toronto and won a third in 2011.

It was a nice tribute.

After a team huddle by the net, it was game time.


Some action.


The red wig guys were back.

So were all the season ticket holders in our section. It's a fun crowd. We high five after every goal and the Rock flag comes out. Toronto broke into an early lead, taking a 2-1 lead.


Nick Rose was sensational early in the game. The crowd yells "ROSIE" after every save.

Buffalo came back to tie the game and the first quarter ended tied at three.

More action.

Iggy Rock was all over the stadium and in our section. He is a "new" Iggy and only the second to wear the suit. I thought he did a great job.


Things fell apart in the second quarter. The Rock had a 5-4 lead but the Bandits put in three in a row before the end of the half to go into the dressing room with a 7-5 lead.

Teena and I at the half.

In the third quarter, the Rock came back scoring the only three goals in the first eleven minutes of the game including this one where the ball and goalie both ended up in the net.

On a power play we hit the crossbar!

At the end of the third quarter, the game was tied at nine. The Toronto Rock Cheerleaders came out to energize the crowd.


The final quarter went the way we wanted it to go. The Rock scored the first two goals before Buffalo countered with one of their own. Then with three minutes to go in the game, Toronto put in another two in a row before Buffalo scored.

At the buzzer, the Rock had won their third in a row 13-11. They congratulated each other and as usual shook hands with the opposition before taking a lap to salute the fans, something they do win or lose. It's more fun when they win.


We are looking very forward to next Saturday nights game against the Calgary Roughnecks.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christmas at Judy and Doug's

Christmas was a little late this year as it was tough to get everybody together at the same time.Three weeks after Christmas was the best opportunity to celebrate the season but still there was one person missing.


She has a very nasty cold and coughs from down in her very soul. So she made the wise decision to stay at home. Here's a hint, though, that she found that works. Put a slice of onion by your bedside and the cough will go away. Apparently it worked!.

Below my brother-in-law, Doug, my son, Ken, and his girlfriend, Jasmine, start the present opening.

My nephew, Kyle, and his wife, the super-mom Kerri.

We bought Colton this truck. He loved it! Here he is with Kyle, his dad.

Kyle and Kerrie's daughter really loves Ken and Jasmine. They watched some shows together.

Colton never stopped playing with his truck.

Judy tried to take a picture of Mom, who is not a willing subject.

I snuck one in. She looks great for 87!

My step dad, Keith. Looking great for 88!

Colton loves his truck!

Madison and Jasmine enjoy the show on the iPad.

Having fun.

It was a very fun weekend. It was the first time that Jasmine has met this side of the family. Thanks to Judy and Doug for making her feel so welcome! And thanks again guys for having us down and showing us such a great time!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beer of the Week - Fullers 2011, 2013 and 2014 Vintage Ale

Fullers started brewing their Vintage Ale in 1997. Their idea was to use basically the same recipe, slightly tweaked from year to year, the same yeast, but use the only the very best malt and hops of that year. I started with the 2008 and have done every year since except for 2012. I have no idea what happened there!

Fuller's Vintage Ale is brewed in small batches each bottle being numbered. They used to say how many were produced but I can't find the number for the past couple of years. There were 150,000 bottles of the 2011 produced but I am unable to find how many of the 2013 and 2014 were bottled.

I enjoy storing the beer, Fullers recommends laying the beer down when doing so, and then trying and comparing to the previous two years. The beers below I tasted on three separate days to ensure I didn't confuse the flavours.

The 2014 (Bottle 60,862)

This is the 18th edition in the range and has been brewed with three of this year's finest hop varieties from both sides of the Atlantic. Goldings, from England, has been used for subtle bitterness and American varieties Liberty and Cascade were used in dry hopping to give a zesty, grapefruit aroma. 

“As a truly distinguished bottle-conditioned ale, each vintage improves in the bottle with time. Bottle conditioning means that a little yeast is left in the bottle, which will mature slowly over the years like a fine wine or whisky- well beyond the 'best before' date that we are obliged to state. 

Interestingly, the best before date on this one is the end of 2024, ten years from when it came out.

The 2014 pours amber in colour with an off white, slightly brownish head. It's a lively beer and was very hard to keep the head down to a decent level. Even though this beer uses American hops, the aroma is dominated by the scent of the Goldings, an English hop which seems to always claim that yes, this is an English ale. A hint of caramel also is present.

I find that this starts with a little sweetness, with a slight caramel taste before those wonderful English hops come through. The is a little grapefruit in the bitterness but the English Goldings dominate.

What a wonderful ale. I can hardly wait to see how the other two bottle I have ages.

The 2013

The 2013 Vintage Ale, our 17th edition, is brewed with four of this year's finest hop varieties. Goldings, Sovereign, Challenger and the trophy-winning Admiral. With a dry spring and wet summer, we have chosen a winter barley which, when combined with our unique yeast, gives a rich and complex result.

As with the 2014, this beer pours with the same amber colour and same head. The head's not as lively as the 2014.  It's aroma is slightly yeasty.

The 2013 starts off a little funky in taste before the English hops come through. It does not have as much bitterness as the 2014 and that hop bite falls away quickly and the beer ends with a long earthy finish.

A decent ale which I really enjoyed.

The 2011

The 2011 Vintage Ale, our 15th, is brewed with some of the finest of this year’s malt and hops. The malt grist includes a portion produced by Warminster maltings, from organic barley grown by Sir James Fuller on the Nestone Park Estate. This will be married with the choicest Goldings, Organic First Gold and award winning Sovereign hops, to produce a beer with a firm malt base, marmalade notes and a satisfying bitter finish.

The 2011 was quite active as I poured but not as much as the others. Again the same colour profiles apply. I found the aroma to have a very earthy tone to it. No caramel, or hops, but earthy is the only way I can describe it.

When I sip it, I do find some caramel in the start which gives way to a nice little bit of English bitterness in the finish. It is a very smooth, well layered and complex tasting ale, which would be the result of three years of aging. It's my last 2011 and was very very enjoyable.

I have two 2013s and two 2014s aging to go along with the 2015 which should come out in December. Comparing the different years is just so much fun to do!

Book Review - Lost Breweries of Toronto

Ever since I passed the Old Dominion Brewery Building on Queen Street E, discovered that Todmorden Mills was once also a brewery, and that there was once a brewery on Queen Street across from Trinity Bellwoods Park, I have wondered what the brewing industry in Toronto was like back in the 1800s. Jordan St John, who is Canada's only national beer columnist and hosts a blog called St. Johns Wort, Beery Musings And Amusing Beers, writes about just that in Lost Breweries of Toronto.

Explore the once-prominent breweries of nineteenth-century Toronto. Brewers including William Helliwell, John Doel, Eugene O'Keefe, Lothar Reinhardt, Enoch Turner, and Joseph Bloore influenced the history of the city and the development of a dominant twentieth-century brewing industry in Ontario. Step inside the lost landmarks that first brought intoxicating brews to the masses in Toronto. Jordan St. John delves into the lost buildings, people and history behind Toronto's early breweries, with detailed historic images, stories both personal and industrial, and even reconstructed nineteenth-century brewing recipes.

This is a very interesting book. It's not just the story of many of the breweries that existed back in the nineteenth century but is also the story of Toronto itself and many of the small villages on the outskirts of the city that one day would come to form the core of the city. It's hard to envision that a brewery built in the  Kensington Market area in 1837 was too far from north the city of Toronto to succeed.

Fire plays a very prominent role in the book, as it it seems that during the 1800s it was almost a fact of life that if a person ran a brewery, it would one day burn down. Most of the breweries in the book caught fire at one time or another. It's telling in the chapter the Servern Breweries that By the 1850s, taking into account the destruction of several of the local breweries by fire, it would have been the largest in the environs of Toronto.

The book is filled with sketches of the old breweries and many of the old beer labels. I was surprised at the size of many of the breweries of the period.

I enjoyed this book so much that I plan to read the first one he wrote Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Trip to the Beaches in Black and White (Mostly)

I have never been to the beach in the Beaches area on Queen St E. between Kingston Road and Neville Park. Teena was there once but over 30 years ago. Even though it was -2 Celsius (28 F) and feeling like -12 (10 F), it was a great day to go. In fact, I actually saw a man ending a swim and calming walking up from the lake to put on his coat and pants. Wow!

Being cold and at the beach made me want to capture the feeling of the cold and desolation of the beach in winter, so I shot much of the day in black and white. For instance, to me the black and white below conveys the feeling of cold and bleakness more than the coloured shot, although both look quite frigid.


I went out today with the idea of capturing a lifeguard station, standing empty on an empty beach. the shot at the top of this post works very well but my favorite is the first one one directly below. The one below it is also a decent shot.


More shots of our walk.


A couple of colour shots of the water.


Our walk along the beach ended at the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant in Neville Park. Built in the 1930s and beginning operation in 1941, it's a magnificent piece of architecture.


Although we had a fabulous day, we're looking forward to returning on a nice hot summer afternoon. Walking the boardwalk along the Beaches is a great way to spend an afternoon any time of the year.