Sunday 1 April 2012

An Afternoon of Beer Tasting at Bellwoods Brewery

Great things always happen during my birthday week. I don't know why, they just do.

Teena and I were put on a list to be a part of a beer tasting team for Bellwoods Brewery. The brewery, located at 124 Ossington Ave between Queen and Dundas, is right in our neighbourhood and is not yet opened to the public. Yesterday was my birthday. Today we were at Bellwoods Brewery for a private beer tasting.

They are planning to have a beer area inside that will seat 20, another seating area for 20 upstairs and a patio that will seat 40. We are looking so forward to the patio! The front of the brewery also has a large roll up door that will great for the warm/hot weather. The furniture and atmosphere is very casual, one I am very comfortable with.

Inside, along with the brewing equipment, is a small kitchen which plans on serving shared plates, oysters, and hopefully a BBQ on the patio. Jerked chicken was mentioned which made Teena's eyes light up.

There were three tasting sessions and we were part of the second one. We sat with a fun couple, Piper and Gatlin, who also were beer lovers. Bellwoods have a long list of one offs they wish to brew but have narrowed the list to 8 to be their first brews. We got to try the first 4 of their beers, which offered a great variety of styles. Very daring for a brand new brewery!

We started off with the Bellwoods Common, a 5% ale which uses American hops but keeps that extra hoppiness that come from that kind of hop toned down. It likely will be their mainstay brew and best seller as it is a very nice beer geared more towards the mainstream beer drinker. This was Teena's favorite of the day and a beer which I would have any time.

Second up was Farmhouse Ale, a saison. I love saisons but they are hard to find. With a place opening right around the corner from where we live and offering a saison, could it be too much to ask that they make a good one? Well, they make a very good one. I can see myself on a hot Friday night walking home from work, stopping in and having a couple of these on the patio, reading or just watching people going by.

Next up was Toil & Trouble, a Double Belgian Double. It was nice and full of flavour. Michael, one of the brewers, says that they use the same yeast used by Trappist brewery Chimay. There was a comment on the Bar Towel about this which I loved and is so true ... "You guys want the full details or will a "damn good" suffice?" Layers of flavour, a little on the sweet side, it was a thoroughly enjoyable beer.

Last one offered was the Witch Shark Double IPA. Right away I could smell the citra hops in this one, although other hops were definitely in the mix. It was my favorite of the day. It is lighter in colour than I expected but the west coast hops are there. It is a well-balanced IPA as the hops don't slap you in the face right away but come on full in the finish. A well-done IPA which I hope is a regular of theirs, although at 9% APV, it is not a beer to have too many of.

Everybody there seemed to enjoy themselves and the staff all were great. For myself, the Witch Shark IPA was my favorite. I am happy that Teena did not like hers and gave it to me, plus Michael gave me another before we left. The saison was my next favorite followed by the Toil & Trouble and finally the Common.

The soft launch is next weekend. I hope the weather is great so Teena and I get to try out the patio. There is an excellent interview with co-founders Mike Clark and Luke Pestl here.

Teena's review is here.
Here I am with my favorite, the Witch Shark IPA

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