Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 Ontario Brewing Awards

Last week I had the chance to attend The 2015 Ontario Brewing Awards, an event that recognizes the excellent beers and brewers that come from Ontario.

In order for breweries to be qualified for judging they must comply with the Ontario Brewing Awards criteria. The beer must be brewed in Ontario, one rep should be on hand at the ceremony and most importantly lots of samples of the beer!

The judging took place on March 10th and 11th at the Three Brewers on Yonge and qualified judges that take part at the Canadian Brewing Awards were there to assess the fine brews in over 30 different beer styles.

Each beer will be assessed individually in its style-category based on BJCP judging standards. The standard ‘blind taste' technique ensures an unbiased opinion. The judges will score each beer independently and winners will be decided by consensus of the judging team. Brewers will receive judging sheets upon completion of the Awards Ceremony if requested.

Here were the winners of the night:

North American Light Lager
Gold: Cool Beer Brewing Co. – Stonewall Light
Silver: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Antigravity 
Bronze: Laker Brewing Company – Laker Light

North American Lager
Gold: Triple Bogey Brewing Co. – Premium Lager
Silver:  Laker Brewing Company – Laker Lager
Bronze: Sleeman Breweries – Original Draught

Gold: Steam Whistle – Pilsner
Silver: Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd – Lot 9
Bronze: Kichesippi Beer Co. – Donny’s Dort

Amber Lager
Gold: Old Flame Brewing Co.- Red
Silver: Hop City Brewing Co.- Barking Squirrel
Bronze: Cool Beer Brewing Co. – Millennium Buzz

Dark Lager
Gold: Silversmith Brewing Company – Black Lager
Silver: Hop City Brewing Co. – 8th Sin Black Lager   
Bronze: F&M Brewery- StoneHammer Dunkel 

Gold: Lake of Bays Brewing Company – Crazy Eyes Darcy Tucker
Silver: Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd – UrBock
Bronze: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Rye Pale Ale

Honey / Maple Beers
Gold: Haliburton Highlands Brewing – Honey Brown Ale
Silver: Railway City Brewing Co. – Shambock           
Bronze: The 3 Brewers – Maple Ale

Gold: Side Launch Brewing Company – Wheat
Silver: Smithworks Brewing Company – Hefeweizen
Bronze: Muskoka Brewery – Summer Weiss

Gold: Mill St. Brewery – Belgian Wit
Silver: Northwinds Brewhouse – Moonlit Wit
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Solstice Saison

Flavoured Beer
Gold: Wellington Brewery – 2014: A Spice Odyssey           
Silver: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Ginger Beer   
Bronze: Mill St. Brewery – Lemon Tea

Farmhouse Ales
Gold: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Le Paysan Saison 
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Into the Shade Saison        
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co. – Howl

Lagered Ales
Gold: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – Gateway Kolsch
Silver: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Cause and Effect            
Bronze: Sleeman Breweries – Cream Ale

British Pale / Bitter
Gold: Big Rig Brewery – ESB
Silver: Wellington Brewery – Arkell Best Bitter
No Bronze Awarded

American Pale Ale
Gold: Great Lakes Brewery – Canuck Pale Ale
Silver: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Naughty Neighbour
Bronze: Liberty Village Brewing Co. – 504 Pale Ale

British IPA
Gold: Longslice Brewery- Hopsta La Vista
Silver: Railway City Brewing Co. – Dead Elephant Ale
Bronze: Sleeman Breweries – India Pale Ale

West Coast IPA
Gold: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – Twin Pines IIPA
Silver: Stone City Ales – Green Goddess Imperial IPA
Bronze: Stone City Ales – Uncharted IPA

Dark IPA
Gold: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Malevolent Black Imperial Ale
Silver: Manantler Brewing Co. – Dark Prince
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Netherworld

Amber Ale
Gold: Kilannen Brewing Co. – New Zealand Red Ale
Silver: Orange Snail Brewers – Rattle N’ Nemo
Bronze: Old Tomorrow Brewing  – Canadian Pale Ale

Dark Ale
Gold: Wellington Brewery – County Dark Ale 
Silver: Clocktower Brew Pub – Bytown Brown
Bronze: Wellington Brewery – Iron Duke Strong Ale

Gold: Clifford Brewing Co. – Porter
Silver: Innocente Brewing Company – Charcoal Porter
Bronze: Block Three Brewing Co. – Pushbroom Porter

Gold: Trafalgar Brewing Co.- Schwartzy 
Silver: Liberty Village Brewing Company – Black Blessing
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Cadillac Graveyard

Imperial Stout/ Baltic Porter
Gold: Wellington Brewery – Imperial Russian Stout
Silver: Big Rig Brewery – Cherry Bomb Imperial Chocolate Cherry Milk Stout
Bronze: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Midnight Paddler

Fruit Beer
Gold: Mill St. Brewery – Frambozen
Silver: Trafalgar Brewing Co.  – Raspberry Mint
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – KLB Raspberry Wheat

Vegetable Beer
Gold: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Pumpkin Ale
Silver: Wellington Brewery  – Farmers’ Market Rhubarb Saison
Bronze: Garden Brewers – Green Thumb IPA

Flavoured Porters / Stouts
Gold: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Schwartzy Xpresso
Silver: Barley Days Brewery – Scrimshaw Oyster Stout
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Full City Double Tempest

Strong Beer
Gold: Smithworks Brewing Company- Blonde
Silver: Side Launch Brewing Company – Belgian Hat Trick 
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Vicars Vice

Gluten Free
Gold: Snowman Brewing Co. – The Rambam
Silver: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Ginger Mead
No Bronze Awarded

Barrel Aged – Whisky
Gold: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Double Tempest
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Deviator Doppelbock
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Recidivist

Barrel Aged – Wine
Gold: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Winey Bastard 
Silver: Amsterdam Brewing Co. – Sour Cherry Imperial Stout
Bronze: Sawdust City Brewing Co.  – ODB

Smoked Beer
Gold: Black Oak Brewing Co.  – Nox Aeterna
Silver: Covered Bridge Brewing – La Cabane à Sucre 
Bronze: Mill St. Brewery – Rauchbier

Newcomer of the Year
Trafalgar Brewing Co.

Beer of the Year
Amsterdam Brewing Co. – Double Tempest

It was great to see some well-deserved wins such as Nickel Brook winning gold with their Winey Bastard (Pinot Noir Barrel Aged) in the barrel aged wine catergory. The dark IPA was awarded to Nickel Brook again but this time for their Malevolent which is a dark, thick and toasty beer with lots of hop flavour. The wheat beer by Side Launch won gold which seems to be a real fan favourite when it comes to finding a proper Ontario hefeweizen. The imperial stout went to Wellington Brewery for their brilliant Russian Imperial Stout. Best Porter went to Clifford Brewing Co which I tried for the first time that night and absolutely loved.  Such a solid, drinkable porter with tasty notes of cocoa and coffee.

The brewing awards was a great event and the continuous efforts to honor Ontario's best beers and breweries each year is an achievement in itself. Thank you to the team at Beerlicious who put on a great event and congrats to all of the 2015 winners!

Although I'm only a craft beer fanatic and blogger, the event inspired me to dabble into home brewing.  I'll be starting out with the everyday IPA kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop and will be documenting my experience on the blog within the next month or two!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

North American Craft Beer Experience

Spring is here and with warm weather comes increased beer consumption (as if we didn't already do a number on the belly this winter with toasty stouts). I usually try to attend almost every craft beer event in the city because of two main reasons.  The first is that I really enjoy drinking beer so an event dedicated to just that is right up my alley.  Secondly, beer events are an excellent way to discover new craft beers and learn more about the breweries that make them.

There are a ton of great beer events coming up this year and one that I am particularly looking forward to is the North American Craft Beer Experience.  NAC (North American Craft) is an agency that supports small craft breweries throughout Canada and some of the US. NAC’s goal is to represent and support distribution of the independent breweries and promote the many different beers they produce.

Canadian breweries represented in Ontario by NAC include Phillips, Tree, Dead Frog, Parallel 49, Paddock Wood, Wellington, Black Oak, Spearhead, Sawdust City, Highlander, Double Trouble, Kensington, Hogsback, Propeller, Radical Road, Dukes Cider and Denison’s. NAC also represents Elysian, Green Flash, and Bard’s from the United States, and Warsteiner from Germany.

The event takes place on Friday May 8th from 6 to 11 pm and will be held at one of my favourite venues in the city, Berkeley church. This is a pay as you go event and sample vouchers cost $1 for a 4 oz. sample. Tickets to the event are only $20 and you can buy them online at: . Be sure to buy your tickets in advance as the price will go up at the door.

Food will be available for purchase at the event provided by the wonderful culinary team at Berkeley Church.

This event is a great way to support North American craft beer and discover some new independent breweries you may have never heard of before.  To help you get into the spirit of spring, Drinks Inc. Events is giving away a pair of tickets to the event.  Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 6, 2015

Copa by Sea

Seafood lovers can rejoice thanks to the new rodizio-style restaurant that has opened up in the heart of Toronto. Copa by Sea is situated below the popular Copacabana at Adelaide and Duncan Street and is featuring a $30 (limited time price) all-you-can-eat seafood menu.

I had the chance to visit Copa by Sea a few weeks ago for a Zomato Meetup and ended up trying almost every item from the menu which left me in a satisfying yet lethargic state. #itwasworthit

The restaurant was very lively and the open-concept kitchen/grill allows you to view the bartenders shaking up various cocktails and the chefs preparing food over charcoal flames.

I started with a variety of items (crab legs, shrimp, smoked salmon) which were spread out along the counter near the kitchen for easy to grab appetizers before the table-side items were served.

The first a la carte items that came to our table were an assortment of sushi such as dynamite rolls, spicy tuna, spicy salmon, fresh P.E.I. Oysters and tuna ceviche. I really enjoyed the sushi and oysters but the ceviche was a little too sour/watery for my liking.

Next up were the grilled items that were brought to the table and served off of skewers.  The items came to our table sporadically so that you weren't overwhelmed with everything all at once. We were served with one or two pieces of the item to start with and was able to order more of the items that we really enjoyed throughout the night. The items were: Garlic Shrimp, Mahi Mahi Tandoori, Passion Fruit Salmon, Teriyaki Salmon, Black Cod, Bacon Wrapped Cod, Fillet of Branzino, Umadashi Scallops, Peanut Butter Chicken, Buttermilk Ribeye, Beef Ribs. The sides were: Fried Calamari, Lobster and Shrimp Mac n Cheese, Onion Rings, Fries.

The food taste and quality definitely exceeded my expectations.  I figured that an all-you-can-eat seafood place might have a variety of subpar food but DAMN I was wrong, everything was extremely tasty!  All of the food was cooked to perfection which is super important when it comes to seafood.  There is nothing worse than overcooked shrimp or salmon.  The seafood was also seasoned perfectly and none of the flavours were overpowering.  The highlights for me was the garlic shrimp, scallops, black cod and beef ribs.  The least favourite items were the peanut butter chicken which didn't really suit the menu in the first place and the passion fruit salmon.  The chunks of salmon were actually cooked perfectly but I didn't really care for the passion fruit sauce, however the teriyaki version was excellent.

For dessert we were served fried bananas drizzled in chocolate and dusted with cinnamon and gilled pineapple. The pineapples are usually a favourite of mine but I like them grilled a lot more so that the sugars start to caramelize, these one were a bit under-grilled.  The bananas were quite good but I will so full at this point that I only had a small bite. Both tasty though and I appreciate fruit for dessert.

Overall I was impressed by the food at Copa by Sea and I highly recommended you checking it out especially with the limited time pricing of 30 dollars per person.  This is such a great deal for the amount of delicious seafood you’ll be eating. Thank you to Zomato and Copa by Sea for a wonderful dining experience!

Copacabana By Sea on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 16, 2015

Alokozay Vanilla Tea Cupcakes

Although my first love is coffee, tea comes in as a close second as the many varieties and flavours out there are endless comfort in a cup.  I've recently discovered a new tea brand called Alokozay Tea that carries a variety of black teas, green teas, flavoured teas and herbal infusions.  Their teas are top-quality so that each cup you brew produces the utmost natural flavours of the leaves.  Alokozay also carries a special tea called Ceylon which is a prized form of black, green and white teas sourced from Sri Lanka.

I ended up trying two types of Alokozay Tea, the Vanilla and Lemon Green Tea.  I ordered the two boxes online at and was very impressed to see the variety of teas that Alokozay has to offer.  The tea is sold in boxes of 25 and 100 sachets, as well as loose tea in tins. The website is very easy to navigate and all of the tea categories are laid out in a user-friendly manner.  The teas are also very affordable, a box of 25 vanilla tea bags were only $2.99. The check-out was simple and the boxes arrived in the mail 3 to 5 days after I placed the order. You can also purchase the tea in Ontario stores at Metro, Food Basics, Adonis and Bulk Barn across Canada

While most people think of only drinking tea, you can actually bake with tea or incorporate it in many different recipes for subtle and unique flavours. I decided to use the Alokozay Vanilla Tea to spruce up ordinary cupcakes into delicious vanilla tea cupcakes! Anyone can make these cupcakes and it’ll cost you less than $12 to make !  

Alokozay Vanilla Tea Cupcakes

-          1 box of Betty Crocker white cake mix
-          3 large egg whites
-          2 tbsp. vegetable oil
-          3 sachets of Alokozay Vanilla Tea steeped in 2 cups of boiling water
-          2 cups powdered sugar
-          2 tbsp. soft butter
-          2 tbsp. milk
-          ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Steep 3 Alokozay Vanilla Tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water for about 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and let the water cool to room temperature.  To speed up the process you can put the water in the fridge.

Once the water has cooled down, follow the instructions on the back of the cake box.  Most cake box recipes call for 1 to 1 1/3 cups of water added to the cake mix.  Use the steeped tea to fulfil the water amount that the box calls for. Beat all of the ingredients (cake mix, steeped tea, eggs, oil) in a mixing bowl for 2 minutes on medium speed.

Line a cupcake tray with liners and fill each liner with ¼ cup of batter

Bake the cupcakes according to the time on the box (350 degrees for about 20 to 23 minutes).

Remove cupcakes from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

For the icing, combine all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.

If you're interested in making these cupcakes yourself or just want to discover some of the many teas Alokozay has to offer, you can print off this coupon for $1 off of any box of Alokozay Tea. After you've tried out some of the teas make sure to Tweet #TEAdays or Facebook Alokozay to let them know which flavours were your favourite!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Drinking Guide to Toronto

Almost everyone that likes to go out and party appreciates a good, quality drink. For a long while, USA and Canada have been infamous for their poor beer and wine offer. For example, if you go to South Europe, it is almost impossible for you to drink a bad wine. It’s the same story with the beer in Central Europe. No wonder that Europeans frowned, for such a long time, at the offer that North America has. In a situation where an individual likes to go to the bar or to the club primarily to drink, and when that same bar has bad choice of alcohol, it is obvious that he will find some other place to visit. Luckily for Toronto, it changed its ways in the recent decades. Like many other cities in Canada and America nowadays, it is much easier to get any type of high quality beverage in this beautiful city.

Toronto is known for its industry and commerce. It was like this since the first settlements were created on this territory. Same with the industry, a large number of local bars started appearing. They were mostly situated around the industrial complexes and warehouses, in order for the workers to have an easy access to them.

One thing that Toronto is good at is its cocktail offer. It has been like this for quite a long time. Again, similarly to their southern neighbors, this is an aspect of the night life in which they excel. Even if we exclude all your standard cocktails, which you can find in every bigger city in the world, there are numerous local types and mixtures that are characteristic only in this city. The place which will sweep you off your feet is one of the best lounges in Toronto named D.W. Alexander. Some of the best cocktails that you can try in Toronto are made in this lounge. The interior and the atmosphere can only improve the overall drinking experience and make you an instant fan of this establishment. This is a great example of a bar that gives you an authentic taste of good, local drinks.

Big impact of the globalization on Canada can be viewed through their alcohol offer. As previously mentioned, until recently, North America didn't have good exposure to foreign brands. Lately, there are more and more foreign beers (by that I mean quality beers) as well as wine. This small revolution led to a big number of local bars that serve only one of these alcohols, in some cases together with a good menu. It is a commonplace to see mini breweries all over the city. We can recommend Toronto to all the people who like to have a cold one during a warm summer day.

Currently, one of the best places to visit in Canada is definitely Toronto. Great night life, lots of different social and cultural events, as well as good alcohol offer, makes it a great destination for all of you that like to have a good weekend.