Archives: beer

bikes + beer

Bike rides and beers. Two of my favourite summer time things.

At the start of July I headed down to Because Beer (at Pier 4) with a bike gang of awesome women. We were a brigade of five with our rides.

SoBi & Because Beer

I love the lay of the land of downtown Hamilton; few to no hills, and anywhere across town in no more than 20 minutes max. It’s seriously such a bikeable city (if you don’t count the one-way thoroughfares). We biked through the North End and those we passed on fellow SoBi‘s gave friendly nods or bell rings as we went by or as we convened at the mouth of Bayfront Park to the corral of bikes just outside the venue.


We did a buffet sampler of all the food trucks. My fav is Meat Ventures (droooool…). Food featured below: taco from Taco Queso, Meat Ventures Bacon Fatty, Bomberos Nachos (I’m pretty sure these had mac’n cheese in it), Meat Ventures Parm Fries, and The Salted Pig Poutine.

Because Beer2

Our go-to beer for the day was from Longslice Brewery. We just kept going back for more of their Loose Lips Lager. Other favourites were Garden Brewer’s Piperales Black Pepper (unfiltered smoked amber ale brewed with crushed pepper corns), and secret orders of Viva Puff (hibiscus/raspberry lager mixed with a raspberry stout) which is not on their beer menu but you can request it with a wink wink from Flying Monkeys Brewery.
Because Beer3 Because Beer Because Beer1The sun hit this magic spot and everything went golden. When the last light dipped behind the horizon we sipped our last beers to the sounds of Yukon Blonde before hopping back on our rides to cruise back uptown.

Seriously just the most perfect summer day.

*SoBi Hamilton’s Bike Share, $4/hour or $85/year


because beer

I know that summer is only half over but I can safely say that one of my favourite days of the summer so far was spent at Hamilton’s first outdoor craft beer festival Because Beer. It was put on by the kind folks from Sonic Unyon, who know how to throw some solid large scale events. They’ve had lots of experience, especially since they’re the ones who started my other favourite yearly MASSIVE Hamilton event; Supercrawl, as well as Seven Sundays; Gage Park’s weekly summer concert series. So it was really no surprise that the event was well thought out and executed to meet the needs of all those craft beer drinking enthusiasts.

On this July day the sun was hot, the air was dry and there was the most perfect summer breeze coming off the lake. Beers were flowing from over 25 craft beer micro-brewers and food trucks were serving up some mouth watering grub.

Twenty-five dollars got you into the event. The fee provided you with your own beer sampling mug and four beer tokens to get you going on your beer tasting. One token would get you half a glass of beer from any of the craft brewers (two for a full 1/2 pint). You could restock your token supply by purchasing additional tokens at a dollar a pop.

We set off to sample our first beer of the day from Waterloo brewery. I got the Grapefruit Radler which was so good it ended up also being my second beer of the day too. I’m not one to like beers that are too sweet and fruity but on this hot day the hints of grapefruit were so light and refreshing it totally hit the spot!

Because Beer sampling mug Because Beer Waterloo

I was happy to see The Salted Pig food truck – a truck I’d never sampled before. I got a little snack of Pigs in a Blanket; two deep-fried tortilla shells stuffed with pulled pork creamy horseradish sauce, bbq sauce and green onions. Perrrfect with a bitter beer!

Because Beer Salted Pig truck Because Beer Salted Pig

We found a piece of shade by the water and used our Beer Passports to plot out our route for future beer sampling. My one regret is that I didn’t get to the Wellington’s Farmer’s Market Rhubarb Saison before their tap ran dry. Clearly I didn’t plot my beer drinking route as well as I’d thought. As the day progressed you would hear a buzz about certain beers and breweries and we’d make our way over to try them out ourselves.Because Beer beer tents

Because Beer bar boys

Next up to sample was Flying Monkey’s Shoulders of Giants.

As evening was starting to fall we’d visited what felt like over a dozen craft breweries often returning to specific brews that tickled our tastebuds. I loved the Margaret Atwood from Beau’s Brewery, and I feel like there was a chocolate stout that I enjoyed somewhere along the way too, was it the Tom Green?

I wanted to sample Garden Brewer’s (rooted in Hamilton) Black Pepper Ale but it was sold out.

Because Beer Piperales

Because Beer Southern Smoke Poutine

Refuelling with a massive pulled pork poutine from Southern Smoke Truck.

Because Beer summer sky

Because Beer Descendants

My last beer sample of the day was from Descendants -Reynard the Fox and it just may have been my favourite of the day.

The Dinner Belles hit the stage and the beer festival was starting to come to a close. The sun was starting to set on a perfect blue summer sky, and the beer taps were starting to run dry.

Because Beer The Dinner Belles
Because Beer bayfront

The Because Beer festival in my mind was a huge success. People were civilized, the beer and musical acts were great, there were numerous options for seating and various lookouts to perch at to sip your beers AND the weather was just absolutely perfect.

At 8pm we were gently and promptly herded out of the beer grounds and people dispersed. By 8:20 everyone was gone. The grounds weren’t littered with plastic beer cups and garbage, there weren’t any fights or brawls, mostly just a lot of merry making craft beer lovers making their way home.

Because Beer is an annual two day event and I can’t wait to go again next year!

BUT if you missed out on this year’s festival and have a hankering for another this Friday and Saturday is another first for Hamilton’s Craft Beer Festival, which will be held at Gage Park. Tickets are $30, which includes five 5oz beer tickets and access to sample. Not to mention that all proceeds of the festival will go to seven Children’s Hospital Charities. There’ll be live Jazz music at the bandshell and of course food trucks.

AND that’s not even the last beer festival of the summer! On August 22nd and 23rd is Hamilton Beer Festival! Another two day beer festival on the roof top of Jackson Square. Oh my goodness! I love you Hamilton!!

*Because Beer, July 11-12, Pier 4, $25 +4 beer tokens & beer sampling mug, @BecauseBeerCA

*Hamilton Craft Beer Festival, August 1-2, Gage Park, $30 +5 beer tickets, all proceeds going to charity, @HamOntBeerFest

*Hamilton Beer Festival, August 22-23, Jackson Square Rooftop, $32.50 +3 beer tokens & beer sampling glass, @HamBeerFestival


craft beer 101

The other day I was invited to a Tap to Table beer sampling event put on by Muskoka Brewery.

It was hosted at The Ship, which is one of my favourite Hamilton watering holes.

The Ship

Since The Ship’s opening I have seen their selection of beers on tap grow to a beautiful and extensive list of Ontario’s finest micro-brewerys.

Between The Ship and its neighbouring pub The Winking Judge there are well over 40 craft beers tapped on any given night. So much great beer on such a short strip of street!

The Ship also has my favourite burger in the city as well as an assortment of mouth watering gourmet pub fair from fish’n chips to fish tacos and crab cakes. They’ve also recently started doing weekend brunches too!

The Ship burger

 photo taken from

But I digress.

Hamilton does have its own craft beer scene that kinda exploded this year with its first ever (of three summer) beer festivals! So it wasn’t a surprise that Muskoka Brewery’s co-founder Gary McMullen chose Hamilton as its first location to try out a special Tap to Table beer sampling event that paired five of Muskoka Brewery’s craft beers with a delicious sampling of food (courtesy of The Ship).

Gary McMullen is so passionate about beer. He was at The Ship in-person for the exclusive beer sampling event.

In between our sipping, sampling and our running commentary on the different flavours and fragrant smells of the hops and malt, Gary shared with us the story and true craft roots of how he and co-founder Kirk Evans built Muskoka Brewery from the ground up.

muskoka summer weiss

Muskoka Brewery has been around since ’96 when they came out with their tried and true Cream Ale. They have since added to their roster of brews a Summer Weiss, Detour IPA, Mad Tom IPA, Twice as Mad Tom IPA, Dark Chocolate Cranberry Stout, and the Vintage Legendary Oddity, which boasts unique ingredients such as heather tips, juniper berries and sweet orange peel shavings.

As Gary mentioned during our sampling, one of the great and fun things about brewing beer is the variety of ingredients (that they aren’t afraid to use) in creating new flavours and brews.

Like wine certain beers go well with specific flavours and food. Each beer we sampled was paired with a specific dish that would deliberately bring out the various tannins of the beer.

Muskoka Brewery Summer Weiss

Summer Weiss paired above with mini grilled perch sandwich with lemon aioli. Summer Weiss pairs well with bacon & eggs, French toast with berries, guacamole & nachos and lobster. Who says you can’t start your day with brunch and beer!?


Muskoka Brewery Detour & shrimp pogo

Detour IPA paired above with corn breaded shrimp pogos and honey hop mustard. Detour pairs well with something like peach or mango garden salad, Thai mango chicken, or a sesame chicken salad.


Muskoka Brewery Twice as Mad IPA

Twice as Mad IPA paired above with braised bbq ribs in Twice as Mad bbq sauce. Twice as Mad pairs well with sharp cheddar, pulled pork and grilled meats, or hot and spicy chicken curry.


Muskoka Mad Tom IPA

Mad Tom IPA paired above with smores topped with a Mad Tom chocolate ganache. Pairs well with gourmet chicken wings, or smoked salmon or trout.


My hats off to Muskoka Brewery for arranging this sampling and for bringing to my attention that beer can go with more than just burgers, meat and fries.

In my summer Ontario travels I might just have to make a stop at Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge for a beer tour and some sampling of their limited edition Rum Tum Tom (Mad Tom IPA aged in Jamaican rum barrels)!

*The Ship, 23 Augusta Street, 905.526.0792, @ShipTwits

*Muskoka Brewery, 1964 Muskoka Beach Rd. Bracebridge, ON, 705.646.1266, @MuskokaBrewery


in the streets of philadephia

Since Philly is so close to NYC it was worth a little jaunt over to visit some friends and check out the city.

When we got off the bus at around lunch time our number one priority was to get a Philly cheesesteak sandwich stat.  We were strictly advised not to get one from any of the touristy locations, as we’d be surely disappointed AND we wanted nothing but the real deal.  Directions were given to go directly to Paesano’s in the Italian market. So that’s what we did, and this is what was ordered; The Paesano -beef brisket, roasted tomato, sharp provolone, horseradish mayo, the signature fried egg all stuffed into a hot and fresh hoagie bun.  A delivery of hot buns arrived as our order was being taken, so you knew everything was going to be fresh and melty good.  Steve took one bite of his sandwich and nearly died right then and there -it was so damn good!

Besides the awesome sandwich, and fantastic Italian market, Philly is rampant with about a million murals that spread throughout the city.  It’s actually really gorgeous, and a lot of them depict specific historical figures and events that occurred in that particular area.  One of my favourites was this pixelated mural of trees in blossom coinciding perfectly with Philly’s early spring tree blossoms.  You can see some of the fabulous murals of Philadelphia here -you gotta love cities that invest in community and art projects like this one: The Mural Arts Program.

We ended our afternoon in the city of brotherly love in a gorgeous 1800 Victorian themed brew house called the Farmer’s Cabinet, where deliciously unique and exquisite beers were sampled.

I definitely want to come back again to Philadelphia to spend a little more time checking out all of its history and secret dug-out spaces.


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