It was a darling friend`s birthday last night. There were about 40 people for dinner and then drinks on the Danforth (Lolita`s Lust – who were great hosts).
After completing dinner we migrated upstairs to an intimate private lounge. I pulled up to the bar and noticed a beer I hadn`t tried before which is always an exciting view for me. A new unopened beer is kind of like seeing all those gifts at Christmas when you were a kid. You knew some would be the coolest things in the world and others would be socks but the prospect of what they could be made them all equally exciting.
To continue the analogy of Christmas gifts; 9 beer is one of the cool gifts and something worth getting excited for.
I was pleasantly surprised to find my mouth explode with flavor as I took my first sip of beer. It was super hoppy and a strong ale that we so often lack in Canada. So many of our beers, including many of our Ontario Craft beer, seem to take the middle ground on taste. like Goldilocks, they aren`t too bitter and aren`t too weak, they are their own version of what`s `just right.` This isn`t necesarilly a bad thing – it`s just that there`s a lot in the middle. U.S. craft beer has such a size (around 3,000 craft breweries) that their options are vast and it`s great to see our options expanding north of the border.
9 is an India Pale Ale. For the uninitiated, this means it is very full of flavor and most consider it bitter. Some consider it an acquired taste though converts would argue that they are not full of flavor – it`s that others are boring and weak.
I tried an experiment – I shared tastes of the beer with friends. Some are craft beer junkies, many are not even beer fans. I thought the results would be easy – that the `veterans` would like it and others would find 9 to be overpowering. I was wrong. Of the 8 or 9 friends who tried it, they all found it to be interesting or great. I`m not convinced this is an ale for all people but I do find it a wonderful beer for my tastes.
A quick bit of research on Michael Duggan shed some light on this great beer that appeared to come from nowhere. His fingerprints are all over Toronto`s beer history. He was the original brewmaster at Mill Street Brewery and worked at Cèst What, Robert Simpson and ran operations at Cool Brewery in the west end of the city.
Mr. Duggan has taken the leap of faith into his own brand which includes the brewery and an attached restaurant and pub (on Victoria Street near Queen and Yonge in the heart of the city). The location opened in late October last year and provides a testing ground for established product as well as new experiments.
Our list of places to visit in Toronto just grew by one!