Yum, yum: Toronto Beer Fest

We had the pleasure of attending Toronto Beer Fest a few weeks back.
It was so good we went twice in one weekend, in fact. For a great price (about $38), you
can sample hundreds of beers from around the world and experience some great
food offerings. Plus, what’s better than an outdoor festival in the sun, with tasty local and international suds?

We tasted beers from all over the place, and there are so many that we enjoyed. It was tough, but we narrowed it down to our three favourite breweries.

Based out of Barrie Ontario, this brewery’s motto is “normal is weird.”
The style of this booth (and the beer) was exceptionally colourful and fruity.
Not into their very berry flavours? Grab a bottle of Hoptical Illusion, a
flavourful hoppy beer. You can often find us downing a pint of this at 416 Snack Bar for some post-work stress relief.

“Do one thing and do it well”, is the motto of this brewery. Not only is the beer refreshing, we had fun wearing the Steam Whistle box hats around the park, which have been a part of the experience at Toronto’s Festival of Beer since the brewery’s inception. Evidence below.

Normal is weird…
Based out of Tokyo, their rice lagers are very dry and extremely drinkable. Not only good for a visit to your fave sushi restaurant, the beer is perfect for a trip the cottage. Plus, for our wheat intolerant friends, this is one gluten free beer that doesn’t taste like a compromise.

While drinking pints, it’s necessary to have something great to
nosh on, lest we get out of control. Our favourite food vendors from the weekend were some local favourites

We loved the Gorgeous George, which includes a heavenly combination of
peanut butter, bacon and pulled pork. Sounds odd, tastes, well…. gorgeous.

The line up for this booth was absolutely the longest. But we could see
why after sampling their rolls, that consisted of chunky lobster, a light mayo
and crispy buttered bun. Drool.

Make sure to keep your eyes on the http://www.beerfestival.ca for regular updates about next year’s fest. You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be there again! 

Yum Yum: Sausage League

What’s Sausage League you ask? Listen, we know Pride Week just ended but let’s keep our minds out of the gutter. Now in its second year, Sausage League is hosted by Marben (488 Wellington St.) each Wednesday from May to September. Chefs from restaurants across Toronto compete to see who can create the best sausage dish. After hearing rumblings of this epic swine showdown, we attended last week’s round with The Black Hoof battling it out against County General

The Sausage League arena – Marben.

Here’s how it works: $25 buys you a plate from each competitor, a bottle of Steam Whistle and a voting ballot. The dishes are served anonymously and are identified as “red plate” and “blue plate”. Last week’s red plate took a more traditional approach with a Polish-style sausage served with pierogies, creme fraiche and beets. The blue plate went way outside the box with a boudin noir stuffed with apricot roasted peanuts, topped with popcorn (!!) and greens. Needless to say, our vote went to the blue plate. It turns out we were in the majority, as the blue plate (a.k.a. The Black Hoof’s Brandon Olsen) took home the W.    

Who will be this year’s champion?

Based on our visit last night, here are some Sausage League “do’s & don’ts”:

DO: Make a reservation. 

DON’T: Make your reservation late. Ours was for 9 p.m. and half our table didn’t get sausages because they ran out. Learn from our mistake: the early bird gets the sausage.

DO: Go with a bunch of people so you can try other menu items too. We highly recommend their burger. 

DON’T: Be afraid to try something a little out of your comfort zone. The Black Hoof’s entry was blood sausage, which sounds terrifying but was actually super delish (see above). 

DO: Keep your eyes peeled for the infamous Chef Grant Soto. We spotted Twitter’s golden “chef” sitting at the bar testing out the bangers. We almost asked for an autograph, but held ourselves back.

A hot dog isn’t a sausage, but we couldn’t resist this picture!

Tonight’s showdown is Yours Truly vs. The Yukon. You can view the complete competition calendar below or here

Yum, yum: Our favourite ways to drink beer

Admittedly, most of us weren’t the biggest beer fans until we became well acquainted with various university beer promos: Toonie-Tuesdays at the campus bar, beer pong tournaments and $25-four-litre pitchers at an infamous Toronto pub. Beer used to be a means to an end, but years of enjoying this beverage have led to true love of that refreshing combination of hops, barley and bubbles.

Here are some of our favourite ways to consume brewskis, with a summer spin:

The Beergarita
A lovely combination of lime, tequila and Mexican beer that is delightful when enjoyed on a patio.

1 can frozen limeade
1 pint tequila
3 to 4 Corona (or other similar beers)

Combine one cup of tequila with three to four beer in a large pitcher. Stir in limeade and serve over ice with a slice of lime and dash of salt. Mmmmm. 

The Beer Float
Josh Rubin of The Toronto Star opened our eyes to the possibility of beer as a dessert beverage. It’s a tasty, sweet snack that’s perfect for a warm evening. 

Vanilla ice cream
Dash of maple syrup
1 bottle Rickard’s Dark (or other flavoured beer – we are keen to try the Nickel Brook Apple Pilsner with a scoop of vanilla and dash of cinnamon, and Mill St. Coffee Porter with a scoop of chocolate).

Toss a scoop (or two) of ice cream in a tall glass. Slowly pour in beer and add maple syrup to taste. Best enjoyed with a spoon. Whipped cream optional.

The Ice Cold Pint

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Head to your favourite pub, patio or bar, grab some pals and down a frothy glass of your favourite brew. Top picks: Alexander Keith‘s, Mill St. Lemon Tea, Steam Whistle and Stella Artois.

Photo courtesy of http://www.guardian.co.uk 

Bonus points for appropriately branded glassware and a smooth pour.

Bottoms up!