Thursday, 22 September 2016

Beer and Opera Joined Together - Hopera Quartus

Every year at this time, beer is celebrated all over the city with Toronto Beer Week. Tonight, Teena and I attended one of the more unusual events during the week, Hopera Quatus.

Join us for this celebration of craft beer and opera. On September 21st and 22nd, opera singers will entertain guests with a selection of eight operatic arias, duos and trios. Each song will be accompanied by a sample of local craft beer. Pairings will be presented with details on the musical selection and the beer style as well as why they were chosen. Hopera is an intimate event and will provide meaningful insight into both the world of local craft beer and the world of opera...

Not knowing opera but two people who enjoy beer we had to give it a try. We both went in, not knowing what to expect. What we discovered is that this was a lot of fun.

Opera paired with beer, an interesting concept, one that only could have been conceived by Mirella Amato of Beerology. She once was in the opera herself, then decided that the world of beer was more to her taste. In the world today there are cicerone's, (equal to sommeliers) but Mirella is one step above that. She is the only Master Cicerone in all of Canada and one of six in all of North America.

I was fortunate enough to have taken a course from her a few years ago, and yes, she knows everything about beer. She has written a book, Beerology, that new comers to the beer world and those that already love craft beer, would enjoy.

On, on to the show which was hosted by Melanie Esseltine and Mirella. Before each musical selection everyone was given a 4 oz glass of a style of beer. Melanie (below left) would describe the aria that we were about to hear, what it was about, plus what the opera was about. Mirella (below right) would then describe why this particular beer was selected to pair with the number, it's aroma notes and what we may find in the taste.

Here is an example which is taken from our program.

Melanie: Steal Me, Sweet Thief from The Old Maid and the Thief by G. Menotti.

After manipulating her employer, Miss Todd, into stealing cash and beer to keep him in the house, Laetitia laments the fact that Bob the itinerant wanderer has made no advances toward her despite her ensuring he has easy access. She longingly sings of him stealing her away.

Mirella: Beer Pairing, Nickel Brook Raspberry Uber Style Weisse

This piece is driven more by lust than love, so a beer made with ripe, juicy berries seemed appropriate. In fact, some believe raspberries are an aphrodisiac. The juicy flavor of this beer is followed by a sour finish, which is appropriate considering how this story ends ...

Melanie Esseltine, Lyndsay Promane and Geoffrey Sirett.

Geoffrey Sirett.

Soave sia il vento from Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart.

Jean-Francois Daignaault

It was a fun night. Teena and I went in not knowing what to expect, and had a great time. The entire night was well thought out and done in an intimate venue. Tickets are still available for tonight.

This was the fourth Hopera that has been put on and Teena and I plan to be at the fifth.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

My September 2016 Canada Craft Club Delivery

Yesterday when I arrived home, I found I had missed my monthly beer delivery from Canada Craft Club. Teena, being the awesome wife she is, stopped off at the post office on the way home from work tonight and picked it up.

We did all the work so you don't have to. We've scoured the planet and found true gems especially for our members — delivered direct to your home or office every month.

Our packs are delivered in discreet packaging (so no one swipes your brews) and prices include shipping. You can trust that every single beer has been hand-selected for your pack by Canada Craft Club’s experienced tasters and experts, some of whom sit on tasting panels in prestigious worldwide brewing competitions. What this really means is that we tasted, tested and rated every single beer before giving them our stingy stamp of approval for our treasured members. We try to shake it up for you, and fill your pack with beers you might not have had or can’t get anywhere else.

They do a great job of it too. So far, I have really enjoyed the variety and quality of the beer I have received.

In this month's package are two large bottles of beer. One is a 650 ml bottle of Blue Monk Barley Wine from Brewsters Brewing Company in Calgary and the other is a 600 ml bottle from Trou Du Diable from Quebec.

Mmm ... more tasty beer to try!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

A Chorus Line at the Stratford Festival

Many years ago, Teena and I saw a small production on A Chorus Line at Stage West in Mississauga. We enjoyed it so when we saw it was going to be at the Stratford Festival this year, we bought our tickets right way.

It is playing at the Festival Theater by the Thames River. We took the Stratford bus from Toronto to downtown Stratford, had a snack and a beer at a new spot in town, The Hub, then walked through a bit of drizzle to the theater.

We passed William Shatner's plaque in front of the Avon Theater along the way which was unveiled last year.

Trumpeters give the ten and five minute warnings.

Now about the play.

On stage, they move as one. But each member of that glittering line has a unique history of hope and heartbreak, revealed in the life stories they share in this inspiring musical masterpiece.

A Chorus Line first opened on Broadway in 1975 and set a record for the longest running play until their record was broken by Cats in the nineties. In 1976 the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The production we saw yesterday ran two hours with no intermissions, unusual for a play of that length. I can see why. It would be hard to put a break between the flow of stories.

One interesting aspect of the play is that there is really very little stage design involved, as it is about the final tryouts for dancers, the chorus line in a Broadway show. No set involved but I enjoyed the way the walls behind the dancers would rotate from humdrum brick to lit up mirrors.

The acting was excellent. The play has humour and drama, and I found myself cheering on some of the dancers to make the final cut, such as Sheila, fabulously played by Ayrin Mackie. Her character, I felt, had the greatest development during the show. There were no poor performances but I thought hers stood out.

Some of the stories I found to be overly long as was one of the dance numbers but when it comes down to it, this was a great show, well-performed and well-worth the trip to Stratford.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Beer of the Week - Prestige Lager

Teena was in Quebec this week and returned home with some beers that I cannot get in Ontario. Two of them were Prestige Lager from Brasserie Nationale d’Haïti (BRANA). I love that they come in stubbies ... it takes me back to the seventies in Canada when all beer came in stubbies. Beer shelves then did not take up as much space as they do now.

But I digress.

BRANA was founded by Michael Madsen from Denmark. He was on a hunting trip with a friend whose family owned a Jamaican brewery where he was convinced that Haitians did not have their own brewery and needed one. So the brewery was opened in 1973 and Prestige was launched three years after. It still is the only beer that is native to Haiti and this one line holds 98% of the Haitian market.

In 2011, 95% of the brewery was bought out by Heineken, The brewery also makes Pepsi, 7Up, athletic drinks and a whisky.

So, how does it taste?

First of all the label says strong beer but comes in at 5.5%. The laws there must be a little tighter than here.

Prestige pours an extremely light golden colour, one that is easy to see through. It has a small white head and there is a little biscuit aroma to it.

The taste is much stronger than the looks imply. It is like a North American lager but amplified. Sorry, that's the only way I can describe it. A pronounced biscuit flavour comes through. There is a little bitterness in the finish but not much.

A nice lager and I'm glad that Teena brought me home two as I'm going to have the next one right out of the stubby, just like the old days.

Beer of the Week Stats

Beers Profiled 329
Breweries 300
Countries 49

Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Beer Delivery From Quebec

Teena was in Quebec this week and as usual brought me back some beer that I am unable to get here in Ontario. She comes home with the heaviest suitcases, and, yes, I always really appreciate it!

This time she brought me back:

Looks like some fun beers to try!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Jays Manage Just Two Hits in 8-1 Loss to Tampa Bay

It was a beautiful day for baseball this afternoon for the Toronto Blue Jays - Tampa Bay Rays game. Since September started, the Jays have played eleven games going into today's game but have only won three. Jays fans were hoping to be able to turn that around today.

Marco Estrada was on the mound for the Jays and struck out the first five batters he faced. In fact, he didn't give up a hit for the first three innings.

The Jays started off the first inning in an excellent manner. Travis stroked a double, Saunders bunted him over to third and Encarnacion brought him in with a long sacrifice fly ball. Textbook small ball.

Here Tulo takes a strike.

Encarnacion fouls one off.

Bautista flies out.

That was one of the Jays' problems today. Only two hits all game.

In the fourth, Carrera runs out of room chasing down a Kevin Kiermaier two run homer. The Rays added another run in the inning.

Carrera runs down a fly out.

Devin Travis scoops up a hot ground ball for an out.

Matt Dermody came in to pitch in the sixth inning. This is his second pitch. I like the way I caught the ball just leaving his hand. The problem is that after it left Dickerson's bat, it went for a two run homer.

Encarnicion flies out.

Another great day for attendance, although many left when Tampa ran the score up to 8-1 in the ninth.

A bad day at the ball park beats a good day a work any day!

Tulowitxki hauls in a pop up.

Saunders chases down a fly ball.

This would have been a great pot to leave with!

Alas, it didn't come home with me.

Depending on tonight's Boston/Baltimore game, the Jays could be two or three games out of first. They still would have a grasp on the wild card game. The Jays really need to get it together and go on a winning streak of some sort to have a chance at first in the American League East.

Just 17 games left!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Beer of the Week - Cowbell Brewing Absent Landlord Country Kolsch

This week I was looking for something a little different and found a Kolsch from Cowbell Brewery in Blyth. Ontario, called Absent Landlord. This is a fairly new brewery on the craft scene and currently is being contract brewed out of a Hamilton brewery. The new brewery and restaurant is currently being built in town, not just to brew beer but to be also be a tourist attraction for the town. The architect concept picture is below.

Their name of their first beer reflects the town's founding and history.

Originally the town was founded under the name Drummond, in 1851, perhaps after Sir Gordon Drummond, the first Canadian born officer to command both the military (War of 1812) and civil governments. He died an hour and a half south to the south in London, Ontario.

In 1855, the entire town was bought outright, sight unseen by Henry Blyth Esq. from across the ocean in England. It seems that Henry never made it across the ocean to see the town he owned, that also heralded his name. Thus the name of the beer, Absent Landlord.

And the beer?

It pours a cloudy, light golden colour with a white head, which took some time in disappearing. I could not detect any aroma, as I am a little stuffed up. Not too stuffed up, mind you, to notice the flavour.

Absent Landlord starts off with an excellent tartness but finishes more sour than tart, if that makes any sense. It's a beer I really enjoyed.

I bought two to try but wish now that I had bought more as it is delicious and a little different. I do know one thing for sure ... I will be buying more!

Beer of the Week Stats

Beers Profiled 328
Breweries 299
Countries 48