December 01, 2013

Muskoka Winter Beard 2012 Cellar Comparison

Storing a beer for aging is a test of will power and patience. Beer Advocate has a great page that covers the best practices for storing.

The keys are cool (not cold), dark and consistent.

We started our 'cellar' in 2011, with the Winter Beard. We had just tried an aged Winter Beard over chocolate ice cream at a beer pairing dinner. Quite impressed, we asked the rep more about aging and decided we'd try it out ourselves. Unfortunately, our 'cellar' isn't the ideal by any means. Since our basement is quite lit up with windows all around and does not keep a consistent temperature over the course of a year, we commandeered a shelf in our second refrigerator. Since then one shelf has become insufficient and now the good majority of the fridge is being used.

When we aged the 2011 Winter Beard it was unplanned. We just happened to have two bottles and decided we'd not drink them right away. It was a tough test and we learned for the next year to buy four bottles. 2 to try right away and 2 to store. In 2012 we started that strategy and we exchanged the 2011 for the 2012 in our cellar.

This allowed us to directly compare the two vintages. The 2012 was very fruit forward. It was quite tart and the cranberry overwhelmed the chocolate notes. The aged 2011 was smooth and intensely chocolate. We quite enjoyed being able to contrast them both and were looking forward to doing the same thing with the 2013 version. However, Muskoka decided not to have a 2013 Winter Beard vintage and instead released the 2012 aged in their cellar.

Knowing that the brewery would have much more ideal conditions to cellar than we did, it was expected that there would be differences in how the bottles turned out. We were excited to try the two together, again able to directly compare them.
Left: Aged by us. Right: Aged by Muskoka
Pouring them side by side there was no noticeable difference in colour or head. Though the nose was the first indication that these beers would be very different. From our beer the cranberry was still quite forward on the nose. On the Muskoka aged beer the chocolate was the most noticeable. On our beer the tartness followed through on the flavour, with a subtle roast and chocolate finish. Much more mellow, with the chocolate more obvious than before it was aged. However, the Muskoka aged beer was quite the opposite. With the chocolate being upfront and the tartness coming in gently on the finish. It was incredibly smooth where ours had significantly more fizz to it.

The verdict, for me, would be the Muskoka aged beer is better. I enjoyed the bigger chocolate flavours. It really shows the affects of ideal aging conditions vs. less than ideal. However, ours still aged well and held up when remembering the fresh version of the 2012. We do have one more bottle of each, which we plan to age for yet another year. It will be another interesting side by side.

November 15, 2013

Windsor Craft Beer Festival

Drive far enough South in Ontario and you will end up in the city of Windsor. It is known as the City of Roses. It is surrounded by lush farmlands and boasts some lovely wineries. It is a historic city that has come to be known for the auto industry though it is so much more than that.

It is also For Barely or For Wort's hometown.

In January, Windsor Eats with Motorburger/Motor Craft Ales announced they were hosting Windsor's first Craft Beer Festival. 

We love beer festivals and the chance to attend the first one in the city we were born and grew up in was very exciting.

The festival itself was set up in an outdoor space right across from the city's own craft brewery Walkerville Brewery.  Attendees were able to sample outside and then head into the brewery to warm up, see their set up and sample even more of their beer.

Inside Walkerville warming up and having a pint.

 Nice big set up for Walkerville Brewery

Organizers, Adriano and Pina Ciotoli did a great job of making the whole thing come together. Ten breweries attended with nine of them pouring samples for attendees.  Motor Craft Ales was not able to serve their brews off site as paperwork did not come through in time (We went to eat at Motorburger and tried their beers there.  Well worth a trip. Try the Dragula or the Big Block Brown!)

Barley and Wort with Adriano Ciotoli of Windsor Eats

Ottawa's own Broadhead Brewery as well as Van Kleek's Beau's Brewery made the drive down for the festival. They joined Lake of Bays Brewery, Bayside Brewery, Walkerville Brewery, McAuslan Brewery, Highlander Brewery, Mill St Brewery and Wellington Brewery.

Rocking the kilts, gentlemen of Highlander Brewery!
 Bayside Brewery
 Walkerville Brewery's table outside.
 Ottawa's Broadhead Brewery. Way to support new festivals guys!
We were told the Longshot White and Darkhorse Stout were the big hits at their booth.

Highlight beers included:

Lake of Bays-Top Shelf
St Ambroise-Apricot Wheat
Wellington-Shadow Play
Broadhead-Grindstone Amber
Highlander-Wallaceburg Ale



Windsor Eats' Adriano and Pina were gracious enough to sit down with us to discuss the festival.

What made you want to put on the Windsor Craft Beer Festival?

Adriano: Well we have been doing Windsor Eats, the food and drink guide for about ten years now so everything we do revolves around food and drink. We have had the plan for the craft beer festival for about two or three years now but there was no craft beers based in Windsor.  It was not the best time to launch. So while the rest of the province was booming, Windsor was a bit stagnant.  Within the last year Walkerville Brewery has popped up and Motor Burger launched Motor Craft Ales. Also there are two or three more in the planning stages so we figured this is the perfect time. People are getting excited about it, people are realizing the quality of Ontario craft beers.  We decided this was the year.

Pina: Windsor is a beer drinking town. Windsor really loves their beer. Our whole thing was to get people to realize how much Windsor has to offer. We are very fortunate here, we have lots of agriculture and we are blessed in what we have here. When Walkerville Brewery opened it was very exciting. It is a great compliment to the wine industry as well. When we started in January and  then when tickets sales started we knew hit on something.

What were you expecting in terms of attendance?

Adriano: We were expecting, in our heads, a realistic of number of 500 Friday, 1000 to 1200 Saturday. As we started seeing advance tickets sales we had to start bumping that up. We hit over 1000 on Friday. Advance sales for Saturday were over 1400. There is a chance we will hit capacity late Saturday night and have to turn people away at the door.

How did you choose the breweries you approached for the festival?  Obviously Walkerville and Motor Craft were easy being the Windsor breweries but what about the rest?

Adriano: We were open to any Ontario craft brewery. We did not want exclude anyone. It was obviously for craft breweries only but that was the only limit.  We were very fortunate that we were able to get St. Ambroise on board. That was an added bonus to say we had a Quebec brewery.

Pina: Convincing brewers to take a chance on Windsor was a bit more difficult. It was also a first time event and we had no numbers to base it on. Distance was a big factor as well.

Did you run into a problem with it also being the same weekend as Cask Days, with breweries being over stretched as craftbreweries tend to be small?

Adriano: We definitely did hear that. Also distance.  Even though we had Beau's and Broadhead come down from Ottawa, we had a lot of breweries respond saying they did not have the staff to send down.

Some festivals allow breweries to send down kegs and have volunteers serve. Did you put that out as an option or did you want a representative from the brewery to attend?

Adriano: We wanted the representative. Especially because Windsor is sort of new to the craft beer scene. We wanted the reps here so that if people wanted to talk to them they were getting all the details about the beer from a professional that is involved in the beer and properly discussing it.

Why theme of 1885? 

Pina:  Adriano and I were born and raised in Old Walkerville.  We are history buffs. We love the history of Walkerville, we love the culture behind it. We love the story of Hiriam Walker. That is where the inspiration for the look and feel of the Windsor Craft Beer Festival came from.  We wanted to celebrate the fact that back in 1885 Hiriam Walker launched a state of the art brewery in Walkerville. Most people don't know that about him. They associate him with the whiskey but they don't know that he was brewing beer that was world renowned. We took our cue from that. The bowler hat, the moustache, that fact that we are in Old Walkerville. We are amongst the buildings that he built, distilled and stored his whiskey in. Everything centred around that. Windsor was a significant player in prohibition. We love the history here and we wanted to share that with everyone. We wanted everyone to know what happened here. This was a small neighbourhood that played a significant role in distilling and brewing and one man who spearheaded that.

Your ticket prices were very reasonable.  Both to get in and for samples. Was it hard to plan that for a first time festival? 

Pina: We weren't promoting it as drink your face off event.  It was about stepping out of your comfort zone.  We did not want to bust your bank account to try samples what the breweries have to offer. We tried to make it as affordable as possible so everyone could attend.

Do you guys have plans to do it again?

Pina:  They are in the works. We are already thinking about next year. It is a first for all of us.  We are very big on feedback.  We will sit down and talk about what worked and what didn't work. We want to make sure that next time is just a little bit better. We had a lot of fun doing it. A lot of fun to plan and put the pieces together.


For a first time festival they did everything right. Enough space to move, tables to sit, samples were plentiful but not overwhelming.  Tickets were reasonable in pricing, entertainment was good but not overbearing and there was plenty of bathroom facilities.  I am sure there were hiccups but it was never apparent to those attending.

Would we attend again? Yes.

Is it worth the 7-9 hour drive (depending on how one drives and Toronto traffic) Yes.  With ticket prices not breaking the bank and hotels being reasonable in pricing it is a cost friendly trip.

Would we recommend the festival to others? Yes.  Windsor is just beginning to see their craft beer market flourish.  This means good things for the city, for the future of the festival and for beer lover's in general.  They are the birthplace of some of Ontario's oldest brewing and distilling yet only now seeing the cycle come back around to them. As the industry changes in the city it can only mean good things for the craft beer festival and with passionate organizer's in the Windsor Eats crew it means that they are a place to keep an eye on.

A very big thank you to Adriano and Pina for agreeing to sit down with us.  The festival was a fun time which we hope to repeat next year.

November 08, 2013

A sense of community.

*A great big apology to WindsorEats as the post on the Windsor Craft Beer Fest is coming.  I ended up with a great interview with them and want to make sure it comes across doing the festival and the city justice.

  • people with common interests living in a particular area;
  • an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location      
We are big believers in the craft beer community.  We believe in people sharing something they love with each other.  

For a long time now Twitter and blogs have been a great way to interact with other beer lovers in the area but there is always that sense of "I know them, but I don't know them."  We often pass each other at festivals and never even realize till hours later when we comment on a photo saying "You were there? We need to meet one day!"

 Back in September after an event it was mentioned that we really should, as an Ottawa Twitter beer community, meet face to face.  We here at For Barley or For Wort thought that it was a great idea and took up the challenge of putting it together.

It went surprisingly easily. The first challenge was a venue that would open its doors to us. They had to have craft beer, good food and willing to put up with a bunch of chatty beer fans.  A mention was put out on Twitter and Stoneface Dolly's answered immediately.

Invitations to breweries went out and the link to reserve spaces was launched to the masses.  Within the first half hour 24 spaces were gone.

Breweries jumped on board for a chance to mingle with Ottawa beer fans. Not from behind a table as they poured them beer but in the crowd and on a more personal level.

We were honoured to have the place full of other beer lovers who just wanted the chance to shake hands with the other people they spent so much time chatting to on the net.

Check out this crowd!

On hand in the crowd we had a number of brewery people including Tyler from Flying Monkeys, Grant from Spearhead, Scott from Muskoka, JP and Trish from Turtle Island and Kichesippi's Paul Meek. 

The night was full of handshakes, stories and laughter.  We ate amazing food and drank some really good beer.  We raffled off some wonderful prizes given to us from Spearhead, Muskoka and Kichesippi.

We are a silly bunch.

 Some of our raffle prizes.

Overall the event was a huge success.  There are already thoughts of doing it again in the Spring, a sort of seasonal meet up to talk about all things beer.

The whole thing would not have been possible if it were not for Stoneface Dolly's and the amazing staff.

It also would not have happened if it wasn't for Ottawa's great beer community.  Everyone who attended proved once again that this city has a strong, vibrant and friendly group of craft beer lovers, bloggers, twitter posters and homebrewers.  

I am happy to call them all apart of my community.

 Thank you to Stoneface Dolly. To Jeff Russell and all the staff that took care of us on Monday night.

 Thank you to Scott, Tyler, J.P., Trish, Grant and Paul.

A big thank you and raising a pint to all of you who came out. You made our night.

October 28, 2013

Connections-Update on the Meet Up on November 4th

I had planned for the next post to be about the Windsor Craft Beer Festival.  It is almost done and ready but something showed up in my email today that I needed to share.

On November the 4th we, For Barley or For Wort along with Stoneface Dolly's are hosting a meet up.  Why a meet up?  Well we attend a lot of events and tweet about it, blog about and so do many other people. We talked to these people and breweries via social media but it is not often we get to see each other, to meet and shake hands in person.  We decided it was time to change that.  Craft beer is about the community as much as it is about the beer, at least in my opinion. 

We have been planning the event for a couple of weeks now. I have watched the reservation numbers on the eventbrite page go up with great excitement. 

Today Jeff Russell, chef at Stoneface Dolly's sent me the menu for the night. If you aren't sure about coming perhaps the menu will sway you. 

For the night they will be offering:

Lamb burger                
Topped with goat cheese, caramelized red onion and peppers.
Almond Encrusted Chicken                
Supreme style Mariposa breast topped with a brie cream sauce and poached pear. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Sun-dried tomato Goat cheese
Goat cheese covered with marinated sundried tomato, basil and green onion and served with homemade crostini.

Homemade foccaccia bread
With your choice of toppings: Choice of basil pesto and bruschetta or eggplant and goat cheese spread topped with caramelized peppers and onions   

Black Bean

Penne tossed in a Black bean cream sauce served with portobello mushrooms and roasted red peppers
Chicken or Tofu Bobotie
A traditional South African dish. Baked ground chicken with light curry spices, almonds and raisons served with coconut basmati rice, fruit chutney, yogurt raita, and vegetables. Or for the vegetarians, choose baked tofu instead of chicken.

 Want to join in the fun?  Want a chance to win a few brewery related prizes? Than come on out and join us.

Reserve your spot for free. You pay for your food and beer. It is that easy. 

See you in a week!

October 19, 2013

Fall is here.

Fall has firmly set in and a variety of events have come up occupying our time and leaving us with little chance to sit down to write it all up.

At this moment we are in Windsor, Ontario about to attend their first craft beer festival.  This is a big deal for us here at Barley and Wort as it is our hometown and we love to support new festivals.

Over the last month we have hit a wide range of events from awards to Oktoberfest, beer launches and lots of planning for events to come.

September found us at the Golden Tap Awards in Toronto, Ontario.  The beer and food pairing before hand had some great combos. Try Muskoka's Mad Tom and curry. Or Amsterdam's Autumn Hop and ice cream.

While there I managed to pop into Bellwoods Brewery, Amsterdam's new Brewhouse and the Beer Academy. A whirlwind trip that ended with a stop at 5 Paddles Brewery.  I managed to get my hands on Midnight Paddler, Home Sweet Home and Keep It Simple Smash.

We attended the launch of ClockTower's Pumpkin beer.  They had some great food combos incliding sweeten popcorn, an autumn soup and cheesecake.  They had pumpkin beer and some served right from pumpkins.  The beer itself was quite flavourful with just the right mix of sweetness and spice notes.

Next event on the list was a great tap takeover at The Branch restaurant in Kemptville, Ontario. The featured brewery was Church Key Brewery from Campbellford, Ontario. On hand was John Graham, head brewer.  We got to spend some time with him chatting beer.  Featured beers were Holy Smoke, Northumberland Ale, West Coast, Honey Oat Stout and It's the Great Pumpkin Ale.  The food was fantastic including their sloppy joe, soup and curry.

The end of September and beginning of October kicks off Oktoberfest all over.  We made the trip out to Beau's Oktoberfest in Van Kleek Hill, Ontario.  So many wonderful food vendors and great beer selection.  The cask area was a hands down favourite by the crowd.

Highlight cask beers for us were: Pissed Off Pete's Pumpkin Porter, Damf Punk, Hellwoods, Country Bumpkin and Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. 

Next on the list was some down time with a vacation into Prince Edward County. Wineries as far as the eye can see but we did manage to stop at the local brewery-Barley Days.  Some of their Lager, IPA and Oyster Stout came home with us.

The trip home was completed with a stop at Kingston Brewing Company.  They are one of the oldest brewpubs and the entire place is covered with beer posters, tap hands and signs.

Next up for us?

Well as I said we are here in Windsor for the craft beer festival.  With ten breweries in the line up, including two from the Ottawa area it promises to be a fun time. 

After that we are hosting the first Ottawa Bottle Share.  Ottawa Beer Events is putting it on and we are opening our home to some craft beer fans to share rare bottle.

Finally Monday, November 4th together with Stoneface Dolly's we are happy to be hosting a meet up for Ottawa craft beer bloggers and beer lovers in general.  Chef Jeff is putting together a special food menu for us. 

Want to join us?  Reserve your space here:

That is September, October and the beginning of November in a nutshell for us here at For Barley or For Wort.  Lots to do, lots of great beer and many wonderful people.

September 25, 2013


I am pleased to announce that Stoneface Dolly's is going to play host to the Ottawa Craft Beer Twitter Meet Up!

Here are the initial details

Monday, November the 4th, 2013
Stoneface Dolly's
416 Preston St

6:30 pm

There will be more information to come including details about the menu as we work with the restaurant to plan the event.

Once again, want to be kept informed on this follow us @ForBarleyorForW on twitter or email: 

September 20, 2013

Meeting up with the faces behind the tweets.

On Wednesday The Beer Gypsy, Marissa Begin, and I had the privilege of attending the Golden Tap Awards in Toronto. One of the things that struck us was how often we 'know' of someone from Twitter, perhaps had conversations with them but never met in person. We know their twitter handle but not what they look like.

Let's face it a lot of us don't have our pictures up on twitter so to find us in a large crowd would be difficult.

To hit home the idea that we are all connected, yet not, Barley and Wort attended the Clocktower launch of their pumpkin beer.  Again there were tweets but missed real life greetings. A call went out on Twitter for a meet up.

We here at For Barley and For Wort have decided to take up that challenge.  We like talking to other beer lovers.  It is always nice to put a face with a Twitter handle.  There is a really strong chance that we have passed by you at an event, maybe even said hello without ever knowing it was you.

So Ottawa Area beer lovers, Ottawa Area beer bloggers and Ottawa Area brewers it is time for us to meet up.

Given the number of you (there are a lot of beer lovers on Twitter here in the Ottawa area!) the biggest challenge will be finding a place to hold us all over the course of the evening.

We have a lot of work to do to plan this so we are looking at a date in November.  Given the possible numbers an invitation will be sent out and RSVP's needed. 

So that brings us to your job-

If you are a beer blogger, a craft beer lover or a brewer here in Ottawa or the surrounding area and want an invitation email us here at with your name (both real and Twitter) and follow @ForBarleyorForW on Twitter for updates.  (You can like us on Facebook too)

Have questions or suggestions please email us as well!

September 10, 2013

Playing catch up never works out.

So if this were a month ago I'd be on a motorcycle driving up the Bruce Peninsula.  If this were a month ago the blog would only be behind a week.  If this were a month ago I wouldn't be looking at a calendar wondering how five plus weeks have passed and I still haven't finished up any of the drafts I had going.

It isn't a month ago.  We are firmly embarking on the month of September and I am a bit tired of lamenting the lost time.  I could write up a post about how wonderful my beer vacations were (they were really awesome) trying to recreate the excitement and fun but we all know it just isn't the same.

Instead I will give you a run down of the highlights of the summer away.  I cannot simply skip over them because there were some really amazing places we visited, great beers we tried and fun people we met.  To glance over the summer adventures would not do justice to the people and places that treated Barley and Wort so fantastic.

So without further babbling here is our rundown of the summer beer highlights:

Shipyard Brewing- A special place as it was the first place we visited upon arriving in Portland, Maine.  Top that off with a guide named Bear plus a huge list of beers to try and this brewery is definite pit stop for all beer travellers in the area.  Shipyard has a special relationship with Ringwood Brewery in England.  They share barley and yeast.  They brew the Double Old Thumper together as well.  We tried an impressive twelve beers from them at the brewery.

This is Bear.  Knows his beer.

Top beers:
Bourbon Aged Monkey Fist- Mellow citrus nose, bourbon brings out some lemon on this beer.
Smash Blueberry- A Scotch Ale/Porter hybrid with a great blueberry nose and overall fantastic balance.
Apricot- Sweet but dry beer with light lingering apricot flavour.

Sebago- This brewpub has a four locations and at first I admit to being a little wary of a 'chain' type experience.  I was happily wrong.  The beer list was long and of good quality.  The food as well was fresh, tasty and filling.

Top Beers:
Heffeweisen- Crisp, clean with a bit of tang up front.  Great on hot day.
Frye's Leap IPA- Lemongrass on the nose.  Lingering grassy notes on the finish.
Lake Trout Stout- Good but mild stout.  For those that prefer chocolate to coffee in their stouts.

Allagash Brewery- I cannot say enough about this place.  Their beers are of a very high quality and their facility is clean, bright and has an industrial touch that is not as cold as one would think.  We had their beers before but it was nice to finally go in and see where it all happens.  They are New England's first Belgian style brewery.

Top Beers:
Coolship Cerise- This beer is one of my top beers, ever.  Normally sours hit my palate in all the wrong ways.  This beer doesn't.  Sour up front but the finish on it is what makes the beer.  The end of this beer tastes like roasted cherries in cinnamon.
Curieux- A light bourbon flavour with lots of caramel notes.
Golden Brett- Made with yeast that is typically used in sours this beer carries a hint of strawberries on the finish.

Novare Res Bier Cafe- This place came recommended by everyone in the area.  It was one of the places on the list to visit when planning out the itinerary.  They boast 25 rotating taps, 500+ bottles and two hand pumps.  A beer lover's dream? Yes, yes it was.  Is it easy to get overwhelmed by the selection. Yes, yes it was.  Does it help to have a couple of friends with you so everyone gets something different?  Yes, most definitely.

Top Beers:
Kissemeyer's Saison du Poivre- Amazing pepper notes on the nose and after taste but not overpowering.  Fan of pepper? This beer is for you.
In'finiti's Mar gose Rita- Tart, salty with a floral citrus from the kefir limes.
Rising Tide's Entrepot Figue Cask- Easy drinking as most casks are but also had delightful hints of sweetness.

In'finiti Fermentation and Distillation- The atmosphere in this brewpub/distillery is cozy without being oppressive.  The lights are dim but not dark.  Their food was high quality and extremely tasty.

Top Beers:
Sorachi Rice- Rice and lemongrass are the standout flavours.  Subtle herb on the end.
Sour Trouble- A sour brown ale.  All the malt of a brown but the punch of a sour. Also definitely trouble at 7.4% since it went down rather easily.
Infinitly- This DIPA was all hops up front and unlike other beers the hops stayed strong on the finish.

Beer list.

Nickel Brook Brewery- One of our favourite breweries but sadly we had never had the chance to visit.  A big thank you to head brewer Ryan Morrow for showing us around this unique space.  We stood and sampled quite a few beers, including their ginger beer and root beer.

Top Beers:
Bolshevik Bastard- Nice, strong Russian Imperial stout. Sneaks up on you.
Naughty Nick's Ginger Beer- Okay so not a beer but definitely gingery and definitely great tasting.  (Note this helped us tremendously when we were battling food poisoning.)
Babbling Brooke's Root Beer- Again not a beer per say but you won't find a better root beer.  Real ingredients make this root beer very tasty.

Tully's Beer and Wine- Nestled in a strip mall in Wells, Maine this place is a beer lovers dream.  They carry hundreds of varieties of beers.  T-shirts and glasses line shelves.  Their owner is a knowledgable woman who has helped at numerous festivals.  The selection is amazing and it was hard to decide on what to buy.  We didn't buy a lot given that we had to watch our limit for crossing back at the border but we did purchase Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana.  The verdict?  Yuck.  Fake banana flavour up from, no peanut butter and bad quality chocolate flavouring.  Maybe there are some out there who enjoy it but the three of us who shared the bottle reached the same conclusion-never again.

Maine Brew Bus- Portland, Maine is a hub of brewery activity.  There are lots in a very short distance of downtown.  For those of you who have toured breweries you know that a lot of the fun is in the sampling.  Sampling and driving from place to place not the best of ideas.  Solution?  Maine Brew Bus!  Now it didn't fit into our schedule to take one of their many tours but we did spend a great deal of time talking to Zach and Don as they waited by "Lenny" their bus for a tour to get started.  They hold 14 passengers and they do all the work.  Your job is to show up, enjoy the ride, maybe answer a trivia question or two, tour a brewery or three, sample and purchase some beer to take home. They have six tours and they run private tours as well.  They even provide you with water. They are top of our list for the next trip to Portland.

Zach and Don with 'Lenny'

Kit for the tour.

Southern New Hampshire Brewer's Festival- This is not an ordinary beer festival, at least in my books.  Head brewer and owner of White Birch Brewery, Bill Herlicka is pretty picky about his beer festivals.  When he decided to start hosting one at White Birch he had a list of things he wanted and didn't want.  They stock bins of water bottles. The portable toilet facilities are clean. Chairs are allowed outside the tent. The main tent has fans blowing to help keep things cool should it heat up and the food is great and plentiful.  Pork tacos and sweet potato ones too.  Beer floss, bacon floss and beer cupcakes for dessert.  Breweries also had to send one of their own people.It had to be someone who knew the beer.  All these things culminated in what turned out to be my best beer festival experience ever.

 I spy Bill Herlicka in the background. Also way to represent Ontario!
 Great food!

We bought a pass for both days.  There were breweries who were only attending certain days and in order to maximize our tastings but not the results we felt attending both days were a good fit.  For those of you who know Barley and Wort you know we like to do beer festivals in a group of three. Doing this means we were able to taste 42+ beers each day and were still able to walk and talk at the end of the night.

Ottawa's own Turtle Island Brewing making an appearance in NH.

Needless to say we had a lot of really, really good beer. Unsurprisingly we also met some great people.  Andy, a brewer with White Birch spent a great deal of time talking brewing, beers and breweries with us.

Jeff Nelson from Stone Brewing was kind enough to save us the last of the keg from Cluster's Last Stand, the collaboration brew with Smuttynose Brewery.  A highlight for us came when Jeff produced a bottle of Stone's Wootstout.  For those that don't know it is a collab beer with Wil Wheaton.  We were very grateful that he opened it to give us a taste and I won't lie, I fangirl squealed a little. (Note-not a top beer of the festival since it wasn't for the festival but it was a great tasting stout) 

 Woot Stout!!
Another friendly face that we were overjoyed to see was Bill Harris from Smuttynose.  If you read our post on Portsmouth Craft Beer week you know that Bill was great to us.  We had been hoping he would be there and we were told on Friday that he was at another event.  There was talk that he would be there Saturday.  When we got to the booth, not only was he there but there were loads of smiles, hugs all around and pictures taken.  Not only does Bill work for a company that makes tasty beer but he is just good people.

Our little trio closed out the festival both days.

Everett, Bill, Wort (aka Chuck) and Barley (aka April)

Top Beers of the Festival:
Flying Goose Brew Pub's Ed's Honey Basil Ale- A very interesting beer with the sweetness of the honey and great basil notes.

Throwback Brewery's Spicy Bohemian- This pilsner has a kick of local jalapenos.
White Birch Brewery's Cask of Berliner Weisse- The dry, tart berliner had an addition of blueberries.

Earth Eagle Brewery's Gruit- Called the Sage Goose, this gruit featured a strong sage nose and oat taste.
Newburyport Brewing Co.'s Plum Islan Belgian White- Very refreshing. Lovely white beer with citrus and coriander.
Stone Brewery/Smuttynose Brewery's Clusters Last Stand- A historic IPA that comes in at a whopping 8.3% abv.  Very tasty, nice hoppy balance.
White Birch Brewery's Crown of Gold- Like rye beers?  I highly recommend this smooth and well balanced rye beer.

Other things that I won't go into detail on:

Gritty's- A staple of Portland. Great standard brewpub
Session Muskoka- A good time with lots of Ontario craft beers.
 We beat the crowds!  Got there 15 minutes after they opened. 

Flying Monkey's Brewery- As fun as their beers.

Neustadt Brewery- Quaint building and tasty beers.

Trafalgar Brewery and Mead Works- Love their mead and English style beers. Don't forget to pop into the Bouncing Bomb next door.
Rising Tide Brewery- Right next door to Maine Craft Distilling.  Great friendly brewery.

Bunker Brewery- Love these guys even if the place is a bit hard to find. Tucked behind another building their small set up produces great beer.
Maine Craft Distilling- Gin, rum and vodka? You bet!  Small batch, craft spirits

Maine Meadworks- Like mead?  Check this place out.  They do spiced, lavender, strawberry and their own cider.

Portsmouth Brewery- One of our favourite brewpubs.  Both the food and beer are fantastic.

Church Key Brewery- Brewery in an old church. Very quaint.

Bellwoods Brewery- Go early as they fill up quickly.  Plan to eat there as you don't want to miss their food.

August 14, 2013


This is the story of what happens when beer bloggers go away on an amazing trip to try beer and visit a brew festival, come home briefly and set out on another vacation.  They return home and find themselves struck with food poisoning. They do their damnedest to recover so they can attend another festival and also volunteer.

This is the story of the bloggers here at Barley and Wort.  We are finally home and find ourselves feeling not up to doing a whole lot at the moment.

We are both volunteering at National Capital Beer Festival this coming weekend so we are focusing on feeling more like ourselves in time to make our shifts.

Posts will be coming as promised since we have a lot to tell you about Maine and New Hampshire as well as our time at Session Muskoka and the brewery visits we got in on our 2400 km motorcycle trip.  We will also have lots to share about volunteering for Ottawa's beer festival.

So please stay tuned and we apologize for the silence. 

July 29, 2013

So much beer, so little wifi.

People travel for a lot of different reasons.  Sometimes for work, sometimes out of obligation but usually for fun.  In our case we love to travel and even more when it involves beer.  In fact we plan whole vacations around a festival we want to attend.  This past weekend we attended the Southern New Hampshire Brewer's Festival.

We decided to make a lengthy trip out of it and hit Portland, Maine as well.

There were many breweries to see and many beers to try.  Stay tuned in the coming week for a break down of our trip, write ups on the breweries you should visit if you head out that way and a review of the festival.

If you follow us on Untappd you have seen just a small sample of what we tried (very little wifi in Maine) and if you don't but want to you can find us at AThibert and varxint. We will be Untapping the remaining beers in the coming days.


July 20, 2013

Beer Tasting at Watson's Mill

A two story stone building complete with working mill, stone floors, wood staircase and its very own ghost.  You would not immediately think beer tasting venue but Watson's Mill has hosted quite a few.

For this year's event the organizers decided to focus on craft beer only.  The roster included Ottawa's own Kichesippi, Broadhead, Mill St, Hogsback, Beau's and newcomer Turtle Island.  Other breweries featured included Cassel, Barley Days and Burlington's Nickel Brook Brewing.

We arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of doors open and took the time to enjoy the aesthetics of the building before doors opened promptly at 7:00.  The venue was stocked with volunteers helping to get people in the door and to the beer as quickly as they could.

Our first stop was to see Ben at Cassel Brewery.  First beer of the entire night was Golden Rail Honey Brown Ale with its nice sweet nose and taste. Good malt with a hint a honey.  White Fog followed it up with its light wheat flavour.

Barley Days Brewery sent up some of their beers and volunteers served them up to the guests.  I tried the Three Horse Hitch. A smoked beer I was initially concerned as this style tends to be overpowering.  The nose was very smokey but not a turn off.  It was a pleasant smoke rather than an acidic harshness.  The taste was a great balance of the smoke and the malts. Even the lingering taste was pleasant.
Mill St also sent some brews from the Ottawa brewpub.  I had a pint of both the Big Red Cherry (cask) and the Paradise IPA.  The cherry was not quite what I expected as it had a more candy taste than a pure cherry.  The cherry was subtle and the beer overall quite sweet.

The Paradise is a really intense but balanced IPA.  There is no doubt that this is an IPA from the first sip. Citrus, grapefruit balanced with the malts to give it a clean taste.

After a pit stop for some of the cheese and charcuterie provided by the talented Indulge Kitchen, the upstairs beckoned.

Turtle Island Brewing Co. was our first stop.  This event was their official launch and a stop to congratulate them was in order.  Samples were needed.  The SMASH Cherry is an easy drinking fruit beer.  The cherry flavour builds with each sip and is reminiscent of early season cherries rather than the sweet late season ones.  The finish is clean and overall the beer isn't as sweet as other fruit beers, suiting my palate quite nicely.

Their Dark Honey Brown was a hands down favourite. Made with five malts, three hops and local honey it comes in at 7.5% abv.  Don't be fooled though.  The nose and initial flavour are all honey.  The malts and maple syrup add a great sweetness to the end.

Next was Nickel Brook Brewing.  Justin brought a selection of their beers and just standing there it was easy to see that the Berliner Weisse was a crowd pleaser.  This beer at only 3.8% has a nice sour dryness.

Straying to a favourite of mine I had the Bolshevik Bastard. This big imperial stout has a big roast, big chocolate notes and huge coffee flavour. It is rich but not overly sweet or heavy.

After more food including duck perogie, a scallop taco and compressed melon I had a sample of their Headstock IPA to help refresh my palate.  This is a great example of a quality IPA.  Well balanced and easy drinking so be careful of its 7% abv.

Our next stop was at Broadhead Brewing Co.  The Backbone Standard had a bright nose with a sweet taste.  The Dark Horse Stout had a chocolately nose and great roast.  Finally from them, we tried the Wildcard Ale.  This batch was full of citrus flavour.  Lemon nose and great citrus taste and finish.  It was refreshing and perfect for the warm summer night.

With a sidestep to the left we stopped at Beau's Brewery and enjoyed a Festivale Plus Sticke Alt.  Nice malts, great finish without an overlingering bitter.  This beer is a gem in my book.

Heading down the wooden stairs we made our way to visit the Kichesippi table where Meg was handing out samples of their 1855.  Another great example of a nicely malted beer with a balanced finish.  After some wonderful conversation with Meg we headed back up once again to sample our last beer.

Hogsback Vintage Lager was cold and very refreshing. At 5.2% abv and easy on the taste buds there is nothing quite as good on a humid night.

As the evening wound down I was on hand to see Turtle Island Brewing win the People's Choice award. It was a well deserved win and a great way to end their official launch day.

The entire night was a great success for the breweries and especially for Watson's Mill.

Thank you to the organizers for a night of craft beer!

July 12, 2013

Capital Mash-up:Ottawa's Brewery Market

In true Barley and Wort fashion we arrived just before they opened the gates for Ottawa's first brewery market of the year.  Held last Sunday (July 7) in Parkdale Park, the "Capital Mash-up" featured three Ottawa breweries and their collaboration beers with three Toronto breweries.

The breweries were paired up by the organizers and worked together to create three special beers that would be featured in both the Toronto and Ottawa brewery markets.

Cassel Brewery was paired with Great Lakes brewery.  Their beer, a Cranberry Saison had a slight cranberry nose and a pleasing tartness. I would have liked a bit more punch from the craberries but overall it was easy to drink. Personally, I wouldn't consider this a saison though I understand the shift from the traditional spicy to the tart by using cranberries.  I like my saisons to have the overall refreshing quality and I found this beer almost too weak to be truly refreshing.  It was a more typical fruit beer than a saison, in my opinion.

Broadhead Brewery were paired up with Amsterdam Brewery to produce a Lemon Wheat beer. Despite The colour was typical of a nice wheat beer and while I hoped for a stronger wheat taste, this beer had just enough of a balance to be truly refreshing.  

The last pairing was Beyond the Pale and Toronto newcomers, Indie Alehouse.  Their brew was the Golden Devil.  A golden ale ale it hosted a light malt profile and light citrus notes from the hops. Easy drinking and very flavourful beer.  

The brewery market was a success though there were a few hiccups.  First anyone who didn't know to come early found themselves missing out on the collaboration beers.  Tickets were a bit confusing with one colour and price for the collabs and one for the other beers that were on tap. Both patrons and staff in the booths had a frustrating time with them.  Many of the patrons did not realize that there would be more than one market in Ottawa.  There was some confusion about where the other Ottawa breweries were.  I overheard comments from a few people who were under the impression that the Toronto breweries were making an appearance.

On the positive side the food from Hintonburger was very good.  The beer overall was very good. Each brewery brought a few of their varieties for people to try.   Beyond the Pale even had a special beer and ice cream float.

The weather held out for the majority of the event and even when the rain did come down people shared umbrellas and space under the tents. Community spirit at its best.

The event was free to attend and the only cost was if you wanted to eat or drink.  For people on a budget it meant that they could plan to try the beer and still not break the bank.  The biggest plus though was that the event was family friendly.  There were swings and a playground for the children with tables nearby for the adults.

The market was definitely a success. The next one occurs August 25th. Organizers have said that there will be a theme but as of right now that and the breweries attending have not been announced. I like the idea of focusing on a few breweries at a time. However, using advertisements or other announcements would help reduce confusion and increase excitement for future markets. 

I am, of course looking forward to the next one as anything that puts Ottawa craft breweries and their beer in the spotlight is a winner for me.

July 04, 2013

Hops, hops and more hops!

Hops.  Originating in China, they are used around the world for medicine and of course, beer.  They are used for aroma. flavour and for natural preservation.  These cones help balance the malt and bitterness while imparting aroma to the beer and adding their own flavours.

This past Wednesday the Barley's Angels learned all about these wonderful plants at the "Hop into Summer" event.  Our host, Kichesippi Brewery opened their doors and event space to 40 women so they could listen to Nickel Brook's/Clocktower's Justin Da Silva talk about hops.

Justin brought a few varieties in pellet form for the women to smell. He explained the difference between aroma hops-those that have low bittering but high aroma and bittering hops-those with high bittering and low aroma. Hops take on the characteristics of the terroir they grow in.  Each variety, each cultivar brings something different to the table.  A brewer decides what hops they will use based on the profile they want the beer to have.

The ladies passed around glasses filled with pellets, sniffing and discussing what they could smell.  Justin explained the common terms such as citrus, spicy, grassy and many others.

Smelling wasn't the only thing on the agenda though.  One can talk about hops and aroma but the best way to experience them is of course by trying some beer.

First up was Nickel Brook's Naughty Neighbour APA.  Notes of citrus and pine on the nose and the beer left a light bitter taste on the palate.  A great starter beer to introduce how hops are used in beer.

Next up was Nickel Brook's Headstock IPA.  This beer was a bit more hop forward than the Naughty.  The malts brought out a nice balance. 

Going up in terms of hoppiness our next beer was Muskoka's Mad Tom.  This beer is dry hopped with Chinook and Centennial making it a a bit more bitter to the palate but still well balanced so as not to turn a beer lover off.

Moving up the I.B.U. scale we moved onto Twice as Mad Tom, also from Muskoka. This beer is dry hopped twice, packing it with a lot of flavour and aroma.  Immediately the smell of lemon and a hint of floral was apparent.  After being told how much hop was in the beer many were pleased to find the bitterness to be well balanced and not overwhelming.  It was an example how you should be able to taste all the sublties hops brings to a beer. 

Our next beer was Beyond the Pale's Hop on Your Face.  This beer is packed with Centennial (given to them by Muskoka) Simcoe and Amarillo hops.  This beer poured a lovely rich amberish colour and carried lemon and a hint of pine on the nose.  The flavours were cirtus and pine. 

Our last hop forward beer was Nickel Brook's Immodest IPA. There was no mistaking the Simcoe and Citra hops in this beer.  This beer packs a big aroma, a great taste and a big 9.5% ABV. The malt blended with the citrus and pine on the palate leaving it sweet but not cloying. The hops left a nice lingering bitterness on the palate.

To end the night off Justin served up some Kichesippi Blonde from our hosts. In the blonde, the hops lend it a very mild bitterness but a hint of citrus on the nose. Its flavours were far more subtle than those of an IPA but that is what you want from a good blonde beer.

The event was a huge success.  There was lots of sniffing, discussing and tasting, the way a beer event should be.

Special thanks to Beyond the Pale, Muskoka, Kichesippi and Nickel Brook for all the beer we were able to taste.  A big thank you to Justin Da Silva for giving such an informative talk.