Friday, 18 July 2014

Cheers to the weekend! Vol. 11


[ one of my favourite memories from our trip to Denver, sitting on the Prost Brewing patio watching the moon rise over the city, telling stories and laughing for hours with two of my favourite people]

I'm back to the grind after 10 awesome days in Colorado, which I will be sure to share about here soon.

This weekend, we're heading to J's family cottage in beautiful Bobcaygeon, Ontario. I'm looking forward to jetskiing, laughing 'round the fire and visiting my favourite vintage shop. Happy weekend to you, and here is this week's list of things from the Internet to explore:

What happened the first time we raced the sailboat without my Dad.

A rare double-whale jump in Newfoundland -- on the same tour I took last year, and with the same guide!

SO FREAKING EXCITED that one of my favourite bands to see live (Joel Plaskett Emergency) is headlining Beau's Oktoberfest this year. Beau's Oktoberfest is my favourite weekend of the year (see here)!

A brutally honest review of the six gluten-free beers available at the LCBO.

I knew there was something weird about the Denver airport.

This cake looks and sounds incredible.

Places in Canada you won't believe actually exist. I've only been to the Hopewell Rocks.

Collective Arts Brewing has launched its Series 3 labels.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and "Young" folking up Fancy.

My friend Jacquie's job search tips.

This basil-pineapple Cesear sounds delicious.

The Vintage Ramble is back!

Lego figures fit charging cords perfectly.

I'm assuming everyone has been enjoying the week of Weird Al releases, here's my favourite (obviously):



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Highlights from Durham's first-ever craft beer festival

So I may have been in Colorado when Durham's first-ever craft beer festival took place, but I had to post something about it here! After all, it really doesn't get more Burbs & Beers-y than a craft beer festival in the 'burbs, now does it?

So I enlisted a little help and asked my friend Kristina to snap some photos and write a guest blog for Burbs & Beers about the festival.

Kristina and I were introduced to each other through a mutual friend who kept saying to us both, "you have to meet! you have so much in common! you both love beer and cats!" When our paths finally did cross, it was a bit like an awkward first-date set up ("Hi, I'm Melissa, I've heard a lot about you... so what's your cat's name?") but we quickly got over it when we realized that we do, in fact, have too much in common not to be friends. I knew she'd be the perfect person to write about the festival for this blog, and was so happy that she agreed to do it!

Take it away, Kristina...

I was sad to hear Melissa was going to be out of town during the first craft beer festival in Durham Region. Mel and I met through our mutual love for craft beer and have gone on several beer adventures together. Doing this without her was going to be tough, but I had a job to do – drink beer and write about it!

Before I dive into some of the delicious brews that filled Ontario Street last Saturday, I should start with a hat’s off to Darryl Koster of Buster Rhino’s for organizing the very first, very successful craft beer festival in Durham!! What started as monthly Tap Takeovers (a Tap Takeover is a promotional event where breweries literally “take over” the taps at a bar or pub. Buster Rhino’s has been host to several of these including local brewery, 5 Paddles Brewing), quickly brewed into something more. Durham had a taste for craft beer and we wanted more!

Cue Beer Festival.

Much like other beer festivals, a ticket to the event got you a 5oz branded sampling glass and a handful of tokens, each giving you one free sample. If you were lucky enough to grab a VIP pass, you were let into the event an hour before general admission, lunch was provided and you got not 5 but 25 beer tokens – well worth the price!

12 craft breweries lined the street with tents and taps. You can check out the complete line up here

Great Lakes Brewery brought a few of their Tank Ten series beers. These are limited-edition beers brewed in their fermenting tank #10 where GLB brewers are “given the green light to brew whatever the heck they want.” I had sampled Audrey Hopburn (a Belgium style IPA) at last year’s Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival in Toronto and loved its citrusy piney goodness! When I heard she was in town, I got a little giddy.

After that, I went straight to our local brewers, 5 Paddles. I love grabbing beer from these guys. Not only do they always have a unique selection (hello, chocolate-covered strawberry!?), but they’re seriously the nicest people you’ll meet. I learn something new about beer every time I see them. I sampled both their Dominatrix IPA and Strawberry Wheat, of course.

Other beers that deserve a mention are:
  • Flying Monkeys Orange Mungus – I heard a lady passing by say “GET THAT ONE! That beer tastes like orange juice!” SOLD! 
  • Barnstormer Brewing Parachute Porter. I’m already planning a trip up to Barrie for more of this one!
  • And Spearhead’s Sam Roberts Band Session Ale, which left a lovely malty, caramel taste (and also won best collaboration at this year’s Session Toronto Festival). I went back for seconds (ok thirds).

The event concluded with People’s Choice Awards: 5 PaddlesBrewing won GOLD, Spearhead won SILVER and King Brewery took home BRONZE. All very well deserved!

The festival went off without a hitch! The street was filled with laughter, clinking glasses and satisfied beer lovers. I couldn’t be happier to see this kind of excitement for craft beer right in my own backyard. I didn’t have to take the train or book a hotel. That’s a really big deal!

Next year’s event is already in the works! Follow @DurhamCraftBeer on Twitter or visit to find out more!


- Kristina

Thanks again Kristina! Follow Kristina on Twitter at @KristinaSvana.

If you're local to Oshawa/Durham Region, you should know that in addition to being a beer lover, cat lady and talented graphic designer, Kristina is also the organizer of Durham Region Start-Up Drinks (#DSUD), a monthly networking event where entrepreneurs and those interested in start-ups can get together over a pint. It takes place on the last Thursday of every month, usually at the Thirsty Monk Gastropub in downtown Oshawa. For more information, 'like' Durham Start-Up Drinks on Facebook or follow Kristina on Twitter.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Cheers to the weekend, plus a week in Denver, CO!


[ image via here ]

We've got our bags packed up and are heading out for a week-long vacation in Denver, Colorado! We'll be staying with a good friend who moved there for work last year.

I've been doing lots of research on places to go and see and things to eat and drink. I also plan to do lots of hiking and check a major item off my life list: seeing a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. I'm excited to sample the local beer and regional food (such as, apparently, green chili, Rainbow trout, buffalo meat and honey-crust pizza). Will I be ballsy enough (pun intended) to try Rocky Mountain Oysters (deep-fried bull testicles)? We'll see.

I won't be posting here for a little while, but will certainly be documenting my Denver adventure on Twitter and Instagram! Here's the ol' weekly list of random Internet things, in the meantime:

New Durham brewery-in-planning alert: Brock Street Brewing Company is looking to set up in the old Whitby fire hall.

And, Underdogs Brewhouse is officially open in Oshawa, as of yesterday (only contract brewing for now, though they are hoping to open a large-scale brewhouse in the next year or two).

(Yes, the directory is updated!)

What do you think of this Keurig-style craft beer dispenser?

I need to own this book.

This made me LOL.

This came up in my Facebook feed and the crazy cat lady in me teared up a little. (Please Tweet me suggestions of places to go!)

Here's a video of The Avett Brothers playing at Red Rocks a few years ago. I can't wait!!!:



Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Infuse your booze

Who says tea time and happy hour have to be two separate affairs?

I've been doing some guest blogging for a local company, Seven Sisters Tea, in which I did a little experimenting with their loose-leaf teas.

First up was green tea vodka, in which I cold-brewed green tea in vodka and mixed it up with some fresh lime juice and soda water. Here's the thing: I was expecting it to be fine, but it actually turned out SO GOOD! The green tea flavour really comes through and it is such an enjoyable cocktail without any added sugar. Next time I'll infuse rum and use it in mojitos (my mint planters are currently out of control!).

Of course I couldn't not try infusing beer... after all, this is exactly what Mill Street Brewery's Joel Manning does to make the popular Lemon Tea Beer. It was fun to pair up different beer styles with different varieties of green, black and herbal teas, and again--I was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavours came through.

Would you try infusing booze with loose-leaf tea?


Friday, 27 June 2014

Cheers to the weekend! Vol. 9


I'm up in Port Elgin, Ont. this weekend for a relaxing little mini-vacation visiting my friend Lisa (she's the one I went to Newfoundland with!). If you don't have to work on Monday, happy loooong weekend! And, happy Canada Day. Here are some random things from around the Internet for you to explore:

Best news of the week: Oshawhat is coming back!!!!

And so is Oshawa Space Invaders!

Green tea-infused vodka. The best part about this experiment is that I expected it to be OK-to-good, but it turned out SO GOOD.

Squeaky baby sloths!

Chuck Palahnuik has announced he is writing a sequel to Fight Club... in graphic novel form.

Great Lakes Brewery's Crazy Canuck pale ale is no longer crazy, and a whole lot prettier.

Just when you thought Buzzfeed couldn't get any more ridiculous...

And this song always makes me feel so grateful at this time of year:

Cheers to the weekend! :)


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ontario Cider Week: Flight Night at Wvrst

This is Amanda. We call her Mander. You've likely seen her many times on the pages of this blog. She's been my best friend since we were 14 years old, and she's the best there is.

My best friend is allergic to beer. 

I know. I knoooow. And it's not the gluten... it's the hops. We discovered this fact many moons ago in which an unfortunate keg-changing incident at her bartender job ended with a night in the hospital and a lifetime of carrying around an epi-pen.

Yet she's such a sport every weekend. Beer tasting events, brewery tours, beer, festivals, listening to her boyfriend and I discuss different beers over dinner...

And here's the thing us beer-drinkers take for granted. Beer is easy. Yes, beer is fun and delicious, but I think we often overlook how easy beer is. Going to a backyard BBQ? Pick up a convenient-to-carry six-pack. At any festival or special event? Hit the beer tent. Going to a kegger in high school? You get the idea.

You can say, but wine! But mixed drinks! But coolers! I say: but worrying about a wine glass. But worrying about mix and ice. But sugary disgustingness

Enter cider. We always try to keep a couple of ciders in the beer fridge for when Mander comes over. She loves the stuff. Yet, she still doesn't get to try many different varieties the way we do with beer, simply because there is not avery good selection in the LCBO.

So when she heard about Ontario Cider Week events taking place in Toronto, an email popped up in my inbox: "You owe me this! I've been to enough beer events with you!" I was happy to accommodate. 

We went to Flight Night at Wvrst beer hall in Toronto. And we weren't the only ones--we waited in line outside for an hour before getting in. Wvrst staff were kind enough to bring (delicious!) fries to those of us in line.

Once inside, there were three cider flights to choose from: sweet, tart or dry. My other cider-loving friend Katie was with us so we ordered one of each to share.

And sausages, obviously.

Look at Mander in all her glory!:

Oh man, what a tastebud adventure. There were winey ciders, there were fruity ciders, there were spicy ciders, there were ciders that straight up tasted like apple juice (danger!) and there was even a "black & tan" (half cider and half stout).

So what were the favourites? Mander kept tabs (although she did pass the few hopped ciders my way):

Favourite from the tart flight: The County Cider Company's Blood Orange Cider
Favourite from the sweet flight: Spirit Tree Estate Cidery's "Mergers & Acquisitions"
Favourite from the dry flight: Southern Cliff Pommies Dry

But the favourite overall, in all three of our opinions, was West Avenue Cider's cask-conditioned rhubarb, ginger and star ainse cider.

So much fun. I'd love to see these smaller cideries available more often in our local LCBO and restaurants. (I'm betting so would the folks in the long-ass lineup at Wvrst that night and all the other well-attended Ontario Cider Week events!)

And, a Public Service Announcement for organizers of beer events and festivals: a non-beer option is so key. Not just for the rare hop allergy, but folks with gluten intolerance, too, who want the ease and cold refreshment of a beer. (Kudos to Beau's for offering Waupoos Cider at Oktoberfest!).


Friday, 20 June 2014

Cheers to the weekend! Vol. 8


[ Watercolour by my good friend Alex Barlow. He surprised James and I with this gift to hang in our new home and I love it SO MUCH! Check him out at Way Cool Tattoos in Stouffville, Ont. ]

We're spending this weekend in Cobourg, seeing a friend play a show tonight and seeing J's dad perform in the Cobourg highland games tomorrow (he's a drummer!). (And I'm hoping to check out The William Street Beer Co while we're there.)

Hope you have a great weekend; here's your weekly list of random things:

The Patio Above opened in downtown Oshawa and it is magical. Twinkly lights, familiar faces at every table and a wicked mural by the lovely and talented Dani Crosby. <3

10 vintage versions of modern technology.

The most hilarious sailing term, and my first spinnaker sail.

The science of hangovers.

If you're local, here's a handy list of Durham's farmers markets.

Beer mojitos.

30 commonly mispronounced food words. No matter how many times I correct myself I will never pronounce charcuterie correctly the first time. (I should just stick with "give me this plate of delicious meat and other assorted wonderfulness please")

Cheers to the weekend!



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