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Market finds – beer edition

4 Jun

Twice a month, a good friend of mine does the 5 hour drive from Toronto to Michigan. Before you snicker, please realize that Michigan has a few things that we in Ontario do not have – one of which is a great beer selection.  There’s been a fair amount of coverage about Ontario government’s monopoly and our lack of freedom to choice, and, without getting into the argument, the bottom line is this: a beer lover like me can’t try  many world-class beer or discover some of the award-winning beer our US neighbours are producing.  So average Joe’s like me are reduced to finding a sherpa friend to bring back beer and re-fill my beer cellar.

This is how things usually transpire:  my friend David tells me he’s going to Michigan for a few days. I get over-excited and send him a list of beer to look out for. He calls me at work and I get increasingly excited and end up mumbling “JUST BUY IT ALL!” repeatedly.

David’s cross-border trips have eliminated all of my LCBO and Beer Store purchases. Other than buying directly from breweries like Great Lakes Brewery, I have no need to choose the narrow selection you find at the LCBO.  I have also been reunited with my true beer love: funky/sour beer. *beerswoon!*

De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva,La Trap Oak-aged Quad & Dr Fritz Breim Berliner Weiss

You’re looking at my dream beer. My beer Xanadu, if you will. I present: De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva.  I tried this 11 months ago in Antwerp on my birthday. It was a mouthful of barrel-aged heaven. Imagine an oaky Cherry Coke, but in the form of a slightly sour and delicious beer.  I’ve spent the past 11 months trying to find a way to buy it in Ontario, New York or Michigan.  Its an incredibly hard-to-find Belgian beer that supposedly wasn’t shipped to North America last year.  My heart was broken…until I randomly asked David to see if the supermarket (yes, Ontario, civilized countries sell beer in supermarkets) had it. “They have four bottles and the beer manager just gave me a smile and the ‘thumbs up,'” he said.  I now have a birthday present for the next four years. Thanks, David!

La Trappe Quadrupel Oak Aged – Batch 6 is a blend of beer aged in New Oak Medium Toast (20%) and White Wine used Oak (80%).  The non-oak aged version of this is available in the LCBO once a year, but apparently, the flavours do not compare.

1809 Berliner Style Weiss was a beer suggested to us by the beer manager. Berliner weisse beer are the sourdough breads of the beer world. This was made with a traditional recipe and it should make a nice summer drink.

Jolly Pumpkin beer

Jolly Pumpkin is one of my favourite US breweries. They use brettanomyces, which is a slow-fermenting wild yeast that results in a funky/sour/tart beer. Think of something between white wine, beer and lemonade. Some people don’t get it, but these are incredibly flavourful and complex beer. Coors Lite, it ain’t.  Not only are these beer delicious, but I use the dregs to inoculate some of my home brews. It works amazingly well.  Some of Jolly Pumpkin beer are aged in oak barrels, giving that delicious toasted, dark, woody flavour.  As you can see from the above selection, Jolly Pumpkin with funk up any style, including stouts and ales (with cacao!!).

Jolly Pumpkin beer

Jolly Pumpkin beer

My panic email to David was about the beer on your left; its a sour, plum ale.  How delicious does that sound! It was released at one grocery chain and limited to 3 bottles per person. Hot damn!  He also found a bottle of their saison, which looks like it will taste and smell delicious.

Mikkeler and Jolly Pumpkin

Mikkeller Monk’s Elixir is a dark Belgian strong ale. I’m going to save this for the winter, since the 10% ABV might be too punchy for a hot summer day.

Leelanau Good Harbour Golden Ale

Leelanau is a Michigan brewery that ages their beer in – you guessed it – oak barrels. The Good Harbor Golden Ale is supposed to be deliciously sour, which makes sense, since oak barrels are a great source for souring yeast. The Whaleback White is supposed to be less tart, but funky nonetheless.  Man, these are sexy looking bottles.

My beer cellar’s full yet again and the pack rat in me has to try to not squirrel all of these delicious beer away.  While sour beer are almost impossible to find in Ontario (you can get Cantillon at Beer Bistro, but be warned about the price), they are part of the new wave of US beer. Sours and funky beer will eventually be brewed in Ontario. Until then, if you find yourself in Michigan, find yourself some Jolly Pumpkin. Chill the hell out of it before opening (or else you’ll need a mop for your floor), poor the beer into a wide-mouthed chalice, let it breathe and warm up and enjoy.


Photos and text by Richard


Market Finds: 09.03.2011

3 Sep


Produce and more from the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer's Market in Toronto

I was shooting a wedding last weekend, so I missed the market last week. This week we bought lots of tomatoes and some really amazing camembert from Monforte Dairy, which has already found itself inside some sweet & savoury crepes along with some apples and the tofu bacon.

Market Finds: 08.21.2011

21 Aug

Market Finds: August 21 2011

We’re crazy. We biked from Food Truck Eats to Evergreen Brickworks this afternoon so that we could do our weekly shopping there. I was pretty tired this afternoon, but I’m glad that we went because we just made some amazing bruschetta with the heirloom tomatoes that we bought.

Market Finds: Niagara Roadside Stand Edition.

16 Aug

Market Finds 08.16.2011

We got all of this (except the corn) from a self-serve stand just down the street from The Good Earth. Everything is so reasonably priced, and the zucchinis were massive! I’ve never seen them this big before. Here’s one with Richard for size comparison:

Richard's huge zucchini

Market Finds: 08.13.2011

13 Aug

Market Finds 08.13.2011

baby heirloom tomatoes

I love those baby heirloom tomatoes so much! Lately Richard and I have been living off of “FLTs”: Facon (aka: The tofu bacon above), lettuce & tomato sandwiches. Yum.

Market Finds: August 6 2011.

8 Aug

Market Finds - 08.06.2011

I am absolutely loving those colourful little baby tomatoes! I got them from Cookstown Greens. They’re so sweet and delicious that my two nieces (who were also at the market with me this weekend) ate a whole pint to themselves as they walked around. It’s great to see kids enjoying vegetables.

By the way, all of the cheese that I post is from Monforte Dairy. They make the best cheese at the market (in my humble opinion).

Market Finds: July 30 2011.

30 Jul

Market Finds: July 30 2011

Yay, it’s zucchini season! Those yellow zukes were only $2.00 for all 4, and the same guy also sold me that gigantic bunch of beautiful kale for $2.50. Also, aren’t those heirloom zucchinis adorable? I have no idea what I’ll do with them. I think that I bought them solely because they were cute and photogenic.

Market Finds: July 23 2011

30 Jul

Market Finds: July 23 2011

This one’s a week late because the weather has been so nice that I’ve been spending all of my spare time outside and I’ve been thoroughly neglecting this poor blog. The tofu jerkey is from the same guy who I get those smokey tofu deli strips from. He’s great and I hope that he sticks around for the winter. An in case you’re wondering, I’m not vegetarian. I just eat vegetarian at home 90% of the time.

Market Finds: July 19 2011.

21 Jul

This edition of “Market Finds” is brought to you by Richard, who went to the Riverdale Farm farmer’s market on Tuesday while I was working. The vanilla powder smells heavenly, by the way.

Market Finds 07/19/2011 from the Riverdale Farm farmers' market in Toronto

Market Finds – July 9 2011

9 Jul


Market Finds at Evergreen Brickworks Farmer's Market: 07.09.2011