Summer is nearly upon us; when the Great White North becomes a land of beer. I look at my schedule for the next few months and I wonder if my liver will survive. Almost every night there is something going and sometimes there are 2 or 3 events in an evening. Here’s a look at what we’ll be doing for the next month or so:
- May 26th – Great Lakes 25th Anniversary BBQ - An annual charity event that is even more special as it’s the brewery’s 25th year!
- June 6-10th - Mondial de la Bière – One of the largest beer festivals in North America, held in Montréal. Take a look at the beer list. This year Cask Days is featuring a Night of IPAs after-party hosted by Benelux.
- June 17-23rd – Ontario Craft Beer Week – An entire week of drinking amazing beer. We’ll be doing mostly West-end events, but will be out and about most evenings. The week is capped off with Session 99.
Hopefully, if you’re in the area, you’ll take advantage of all the great events going on during the ‘patio’ season. I’ve only listed a few above. There are tons more out there, so take advantage of the lovely weather and support craft beer!
A beer named after the hop plant would, one assumes, be a hop-forward ale. This gem from Short’s Brewing Company doesn’t disappoint. If you’re not familiar with Short’s, you aren’t alone. They’re located in a small town in Northern Michigan and distribute to Michigan only. We picked up a six-pack of the Huma Lupa Licious from a Meijer outside Detroit. No date on the bottles, but the pack tastes fresh.
The first thing you notice on opening the bottle is the aroma. It smacks you in the face with floral and citrus hops. This is not a balanced beer and it doesn’t pretend to be. It pours out a warm golden color with a quickly diminishing light, fluffy head. The taste follows through on the name and aroma with hops, hops, hops. I got more of the citrus hop character in the taste, but there was a slight undertone of the more herbal flavor. Mouthfeel is sticky and resinous, but the strong bitterness of the beer allows it to be more refreshing than you might think. There’s no significant malt presence in the beer. This is a slam-dunk bitter IPA and not for the faint of heart.
I truly enjoyed (and enjoy!) this beer and wish it were easier to get. Luckily, it is brewed year-round and the distribution to Michigan is fairly widespread. I recommend trying this if you’re in Michigan and love hoppy IPAs. I’d rank it up there with some of the greats of the style. I’d really like to try some of their other beers, especially the key lime!
Huma Lupa Licious gets 5 steins! (yes, I really do love this beer)
One of the true joys of being a craftbeer fan is the ability to taste beers from all over world. Even in Ontario, which has some ridiculous rules regarding booze, we are able to sample some excellent beers from across Canada, the UK, Belgium and beyond. Because beer is usually priced reasonably, it’s possible to make an evening of trying several of a specific style or from a specific country or region. Like a lot of beer lovers, I went through a phase where I wanted to taste beers from around the world. I remember buying Unibroue beers in Florida, at an insane premium, just because they were from the exotic land of Quebec. Nevermind that there were dozens of tasty beers from the Southeast US sitting right next to them.
Recently, though, I’ve chosen to do more of my drinking locally and from local brewers. Fresh beer just tastes better and I like knowing that my dollar is going a local small business. Breweries in Ontario are not fancy affairs. They are hard-working businesses often getting by with a limited staff of dedicated souls. They’re also good people who do a lot in the community and to promote the craft. I want to encourage our local breweries to keep brewing tasty beers and experimenting with new styles.
I’m not a part of the 100-mile diet, or anything similar, but I do try to drink local and I encourage you – wherever you are – to do the same.
A few new gems from Ontario:
- Bellwoods Lost River Porter – straight from the brewpub on Ossington. Bellwoods opened recently to line-ups and an immediate fanbase. Well deserved, as they are producing amazing beer right out of the gate. This baltic porter was nice and roasty and low enough ABV (7%) to not knock me down like so many of the style. When their bottle store opens, I’m going to be visiting often.
- Cameron’s Rye PA – This has been a favorite the past 2 years at the IPA challenge and now it’s being bottled. We picked up 12 from the brewery (in Oakville) last weekend and they’re going quick. A spicy pale ale that goes really well with hearty dishes or ethnic food.
- Black Oak’s 10 Bitter Years – Black Oak’s ode to Ken’s bitterness. I believe this is actually year 11, but who’s keeping track (besides Ken)? The bottles sold out from the brewery in 48 hours. No, we didn’t get any, so don’t ask. Find it on tap if you still can. A scarily drinkable DIPA that hides it’s 8% ABV really well. This year’s incarnation seemed to be more balanced to my tastebuds. Which is good or bad, depending on your hophead level. If you missed it, fear not. The Black Oak Saison comes out this month and it is a favorite. Try to find the marmalade cask version. Like heaven in a glass on a hot day!