Monday, October 28, 2013


I love to share.

Be it a good meal, a great bottle of wine, or excellent beer, I find the experience of it is heightened when you have someone sharing it with you.

Or a group of folks sharing it.

Yesterday, I had the honour of sharing 13 different bottles of wine at Ottawa Bottle Share, an event that was organized by the folks of Ottawa Beer Events, my friends Katy Watts and Sasha Dunfield. Drawing on a similar event that is held in Toronto (and most likely other cities around the globe), Bottle share gets beer enthusiasts to gather in a casual setting and offer a beer that is not commonly available.

Each person arrives with a bottle that is big enough to share with everyone at the table (if the bottles are small, say 341 ml, two bottles are brought). The ideal amount is 600 to 750 ml. The beer must be uncommon, rare, or not easily obtainable in the region from which the event is held. For us in Ottawa, it can't be from the LCBO or from any of the Gatineau beer stores.

We had beer from all over the United States and a couple from Nova Scotia. We did have one beer from an Ottawa brewery, but it was one that was a limited edition and was no longer available.

I don't want to write about each of these beers and I won't provide a review. When I brought Beer O'Clock back from the dead, I promised myself that I wouldn't write about beers that the bulk of my readers wouldn't have access to. For me, it's like I'd be rubbing your noses into the fact that I had something and you didn't.

But the purpose of this post is to notify you, my wonderful readers, that you should keep your eyes out for future Bottle Share events, be it in Ottawa or in whatever city you live in. Because you can enjoy some pretty special beer.

Ottawa Bottle Share will be coming back in November, and there is limited seating. To learn about the next event, follow the Ottawa Beer Events blog. On Twitter, follow Katy and Sasha, and follow the #OTTBottleShare hashtag. And I hope to share with you next time.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Bringing a Favourite Home

There are some flavours, some foods, that once you've tasted, you never forget.

At the very first Brewmaster's Dinner that I attended, in the spring of 2012, at Mill Street Brew Pub, I had the pleasure of eating a lobster bisque that made me remember what true love is. It was rich, flavourful, and silky smooth. One of the ingredients that made this lobster bisque stand out from any other that I've had was a touch of vanilla.

The beer that was paired with this culinary masterpiece was the brewery's Vanilla Porter.

This seasonal had only been available on tap at the brew pub and select drinking establishments. But this weekend, it became available in nitrogen-charged cans at the LCBO.

Vanilla Porter (5% ABV)
Mill Street Brewery
Toronto, ON
Beer O'Clock rating: 5

Appearance: a clear, dark brown with red highlights, almost like root beer, with a dense, creamy taupe head that sticks around with a thick cap.

Nose: vanilla, faint licorice.

Palate: vanilla, maple syrup, light chocolate, and a light espresso finish.

Overall impression: this is a well-balanced ale with imposing vanilla, warm malts, and a slightly hopped finish. It tastes sweet without cloying, but finishes dry. It is a true treat.

I have missed that lobster bisque ever since I had it, more than a year and a half ago. And I miss the vanilla porter when it leaves the taps at Mill Street. But at least now I won't have to miss one of them anymore. (You're making the cans available year-round, aren't you, Mill Street?)

Best to play it safe and stock up.