Beer innovation in Toronto went next-level in 2013, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Here’s how to enhance your brew enjoyment in 2014.
It was a year of experimentation for beer makers (and drinkers) in the city—from celebrity-made suds to the arrival of bierschnaps to IPA-and-bourbon pairings. A host of talented brew-newbies also emerged on the scene, like Left Field Brewery, Collective Arts Brewing, and the super inventive urban cidery West Avenue.
For 2014, I’m predicting a back-to-basics approach will be adopted by some outfits, like Bellwoods, which is currently crafting some low-alcohol, gimmick-free brews. To better appreciate this new era of restraint, here are five swear-on-your-pint pledges that’ll be easy to keep for the next 12 months.
Always pour your beer into a glass: Our tongues only register six different flavours, but our noses can distinguish between more than 10,000 smells. To really taste your brew, you have to get a whiff of it. Try a few short, hound dog–style sniffs, followed by a sip. A tulip-shaped glass suits most beers nicely, as the turned-out lip will help contain your beverage’s scent and hold in lots of bubbles for your sensory pleasure.
Drink with breakfast (not for breakfast): Wheat beer’s Champagne-like bubbles make it the perfect partner for all things eggy. Plus, its spicy and fruity flavours act like a squeeze of citrus and freshly ground pepper over your eggs benny. Choose a Belgian or German-style wheat (known as wit and weisse respectively), pour into a champers glass, and clink.
Log those brews: Can’t remember the name of that beer you were digging last night? Download the world’s most popular beer app, Untappd, to keep track of your favourites. Check out what everyone else is sipping, which bars pour which brews, and how many stars they’re garnering. (Oh, and don’t forget to share your drinking adventures with me @crystalluxmore.)
Move beyond the six-pack: At a sizable 750-ml, oversized beer bottles (often packing over eight per cent ABV) can be intimidating. But fear not: They’re meant for sharing. My personal favourites are Les Trois Mousquetaires Grand Cuvée Weizenbock and Liefmans Goudenband.
Drink and learn: To deepen your sudsy savvy, pick up Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer, which outlines common ingredients, flavours, and styles. Or plan the pit stops for your next tasting tour using The World Atlas of Beer, a guide to world’s most famous and up-and-coming brewing regions (holla, Spain!). The coffee-table tome was co-authored by Toronto writer Stephen Beaumont.
Your 2014 to-drink list
Jever Pilsner, Germany
An exercise in perfect balance.
$13.25 per six-pack, The Beer Store.
Rochefort 8, Belgium
Brewed by monks, it’s worth ruminating on.
$3.20 per 330-ml bottle, LCBO.
Founders Centennial IPA, U.S.A.
A new American classic.
$13.75 per six-pack, LCBO.