I love beer. More specifically, I LOVE winter ales. Anytime a brewery has a special holiday brew out, I always feel like I have to try it.
So I was thrilled when LagerShed (Shaun & Ed Brewing Co.) hooked me up with tickets to attend a sold out Hoppy Holidays ‘Craftmas beer experience’ at the Berkeley Church (315 Queen St E) They’re a fairly new brewery located in Dundas, Ontario (65 Hatt Street).The team at the event told me they had just opened in April and were on their way into being available in the Beer Store and LCBO. This was good news for me, as I really enjoyed their BarrelShed brew – it was aged gently in wine barrels to produce a pretty unique, woody taste. If you’re ever in Dundas, they have a brewery there where you can pop by for a peek and some samples. For more info check them out at www.LagerShed.com.
Now onto the Berkeley! This is my second year attending Hoppy Holidays and I might even dare to say that the event may be out growing the venue! We arrived about an hour and a half after doors opened and it was pretty packed. We also had a lengthy wait for the coat check as it was “full & unavailable” when we first arrived.
Other than that, the event was really fun. Drink Inc events usually hit the nail right on the head from the brews and food they choose to their event space. This year’s participating breweries were Amsterdam, Barnstormer Brewing Co, Beau’s, Big Rock, Goose Island, Walter’s Caesar mix, MacKinnon Brothers, Old Tomorrow, Pint Pursuits, Shaun & Ed Brewing Co, Mill St, Brickworks Ciderhouse ,Niagara Oast House, Side Launch, Shiny Apple Cider, High Park Brewery, Velha & Co, and f Nickel Brook Brewing….WHEW!
I’m not sure I remembered there being ciders available at last year’s Hoppy Holidays (but don’t quote me on that!) so I was happy to see a little more variety this year, as I’m pretty partial to ciders. I finally got around to trying Brickworks’ Stadium Cherry cider (I had a hard time trying to find it at the LCBO for some reason) and if you’re a fan of sour/tart ciders I would really recommend it. It was a nice way to break up the ale samples and I could see it being my go-to summer drink for next year. I’m hoping they’ll release a few more flavours and always look forward to trying their new products – not to mention I love buying local!
An interesting winter ale I tried was Barnstormer’s Polar Pumpkin Ale, my boyfriend said it smelled like pumpkin pie and it was pretty easy going down despite being a heavier ale. It had pretty distinct notes of cinnamon and nutmeg and makes a great desert beer.
Other honourable mentions of winter brews that I enjoyed were:
Niagara Oast House’s Roasted Chestnut Brown Ale (malty and nutty aroma, hint of chocolate or what my partner described as coffee)
Nickel Brook Brewing’s Winter Porter
Big Rock’s Yuletide Stout
…If you haven’t noticed, I prefer darker ale!
I’m pretty sure that I am late to the game with this one, but I was really intrigued with Beau’s ‘New Lang Syne’- which the Beaus team described to me as champagne and Beau’s mixed together. I’m not the biggest fan of champagne but upon trying it was a bit sweeter than I thought it would be, it has hints of lemon zest, papaya and tropical fruits. I liked it so much that I hopped onto the Beaus website to learn a bit more about it. They age part of the brew in pinot gris barrels for 4 months before blending the barrel aged portion back into the rest of the batch. It’s light and bubbly and I will definitely be picking up a, to be honest, beautiful bottle of it to bring to a New Years Eve party this year. The bottle is actually what caught my eye first, with colourful font and cork top. I was told it’s suitable for aging, so I will probably buy a few to keep around the house.
I always look forward to these events so much since I usually find a new favourite or learn about a new up and coming brewery. I’ve definitely added a few new brews to my list of what to pick up over the holiday season and maybe after reading this you will have too!
Until next event!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.