Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Temperance in Toronto

Mr Wort Hog and I are in Toronto this week to celebrate a major professional accomplishment for him:  admission to the Fellowship of the Society of Actuaries. It takes years and several incredibly difficult exams to fulfill requirements for admission, so this is a very big deal and one worthy of much celebration. While here, I'm working part time from our hotel.

As with all trips and excursions, we did some research prior to leaving Kansas City. If there was one place I wanted to visit, it was Toronto's Beer Bistro. Their menu looked phenomenal, both food and drink. We got to the bistro on Sunday around 5pm and bellied up to the bar. I ordered a Stone-Mikkeller-AleSmith tripel, a collaborative beer that sounded promising. Sometimes, it's worth being adventurous. In this case, it certainly was not. The up-front flavor was great - fruity, spicy, and yeasty with a great fresh aroma. And then it was gone - the finish fell flat! Perhaps my beer was old or stale, but I was highly disappointed in this beer, given the price. Ah well. Win some, lose some.

There need to be more places like this in the US, combining a relaxed but classy atmosphere with excellent food and beer. Higgins in Portland and The Brewers Art in Baltimore are two places that get it right. Beer Bistro just earned a spot on my list. They even cellar some beers, allowing you to order aged beers and verticals in some cases. We tried getting the Rogue Old Crustacean vertical in 6.4oz bottles (1999, 2000, and 2004) but they were out. We dined on excellent frites, tartare, and duck confit corn dogs (yes, that's right) but really focused on the beer that was available.

Some highlights of the night:
  • Panil Barriquée, a Flanders Red made in Italy. If you like sour beers, you must try this beer that's aged in Cognac barrels. This is a solid sour beer.
  • Nørrebro La Granja Stout. I have wanted to try beers from these guys for a while, but it seems I always opt for something else. We got both the stout and the Skärgaards Porter. While the porter was good and solidly in style, the stout was remarkable. I've never had a sweet stout with coffee, but I fear the bar has been set unreasonably high now. If you enjoy sweet stouts or coffee beers, seek this one out. It's worth your hard-earned money.
  • Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast. We fully intended to order Breakfast then Brunch, but decided we'd pretty much hit our limit after Breakfast. In hindsight, we should have ordered Brunch. Beer Geek Breakfast was a great coffee stout, highly recommended, and I would definitely order this again. However, we have had Kopi Luwak and loved it and I don't believe there's another beer out there that includes it. Guess I'll have to pick it up at the store; I have seen both Breakfast & Brunch at Lukas down in Martin City.
Toronto's Beer Bistro is a must-stop for any beer lover and, unlike many beer geek bars, won't disappoint you with the food. We celebrated John's accomplishment in full style up here in Canada-land, and even got some free beer on top of all that we ordered. Call it preparation for some Canadian Breakfast Stout at the Saucer next Thursday.


  1. Stop telling people about CBS, I want it all to myself :)

  2. Wow! Congrats to Mr. Wort Hog for his accomplishment and celebrating properly!

    I was pretty disappointed in the Stone-Mikkeller-Alesmith Tripel, too. Not that it was bad, it just didn't live up to my unreasonably high expectations. Worked well in a blend though.

    Had a bottle of 2007 Panil at the Saucer a couple weeks back- only $15! I'll be drinking that before the CBS if some is still around.

    Lemme know if you can't find any Brunch. It has disappeared from most shelves but there is some hidden out there.


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