The Toronto Beer Blog has thousands of followers and has made the editor, Chris Schryer, a sought after beer curator. Yes, we’re talking about beer and Chris is our town’s beer whisperer. As micro-breweries become the most happening places in town, we asked Chris to show us how to appreciate our favourite malted drinks. We also took the opportunity to ask him how to navigate Toronto Beer Week and the upcoming Cask Days Festival in October.
When did Toronto become a beer destination?
Eight years ago, Toronto got serious about beer. Great Lakes Brewing Company started at that time with a host of new micro-breweries (see list below). Of course, there were pioneers like Brick Beer and Amsterdam Brewing Co. that started in the late eighties.
Can you give us a 101 course on beer tasting?
Similar to wine tasting, the first step is olfactory, through the nose. Test for hoppiness (his term). This is the bitter part of the beer. Is it herbaceous? Next, check out the sweeter notes like bread and coffee. Now, look at it. Is it appealing to the eye? Swirl it. Viscosity applies just like wine. Most beers do not need to be aerated, but bolder stouts and barley malts can be. Gurgling is allowed. You are looking for balance between hops (bitterness) and malt (sweetness). American pale ales are floral where eleven percent barley malts have more complexity. This is where I say, “rinse and repeat.” Since bitterness is detected at the back of the tongue, unlike wine tasting, beer needs to be swallowed to appreciate the tasting fully.
We’re getting thirsty already. Are there beer glasses that you would recommend for shape and appreciation of its contents?
I would recommend three. First, you need an everyday pint glass, well-made, daily drinker that can take a bottle of pale ale complete. Second, you need a stemmed tulip glass. With this you can taste more complex flavours. It should be 16oz and can take half a bottle of beer with head and room to swirl. Try out a Belgian Abbey style or Imperial Stout. With this glass you can focus on scent which is a big part of the experience. Two years ago, I would not have said this but a style specific beer glass (Pilsner, Lager, I.P.A.) or a pewter tankard would be the third. This is all about enjoying the experience and valuing the beer.
What are your best picks for Toronto Beer Week?
Amsterdam Brewing Co. and Indie Ale Houses collaborative dinner is a hot ticket on the 21st. Pearl Diver Tasting Room with Great Lakes Brewery will hit the spot on the 23rd and on the 25th try for The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies Bevvy 0020.
What is your plan of attack at the Cask Days Festival at The Evergreen Brick Works in October?
I have a chill attitude with these events; I go to the shortest lines. I go with an open mind and an empty cup! But, I will be watching out for the new and up and coming Left Field and Muddy York, they won’t disappoint.
Interview by Sujeet Sennik
Here are our favourite beer to glass pairings:
For your tasting pleasure, here is a list of local Toronto breweries:
Bellwoods Brewery – 124 Ossington Ave, Toronto
Great Lakes Brewery – 30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd, Etobicoke
Black Oak Brewing Co. – 1-75 Horner Ave, Etobicoke
Amsterdam Brewing Company – 45 Esander Dr, East York
Cameron’s Brewing Co. – 1165 Invicta Dr, Oakville
Mill Street Brew Pub – 21 Tank House Lane, Toronto
C’est What? – 67 Front St E, Toronto
Spearhead Brewing Company – 164 Evans Ave, Etobicoke
Steam Whistle Brewing – 255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto
Granite Brewery & Restaurant – 245 Eglington Ave E, Toronto
Kensington Brewing Company – 319 Augusta Ave, Toronto
Black Creek Historic Brewery – 1000 Murray Ross Pky, North York
Indie Ale House Brewing Company – 2876 Dundas St W, Toronto
Left Field Brewery – 36 Wagstaff Dr, Toronto
Junction Craft Brewing – 101-90 Cawthra Ave, Toronto
Old Credit Brewing Co. – 6 Queen St W, Mississauga
The 3 Brewers – 275 Yonge St, Toronto
Trafalgar Ales & Meads – 1156 Speers Rd, Oakville
barVolo – 587 Yonge St, Toronto
Cheshire Valley Brewing Company – 1-75 Horner Ave, Etobicoke
Cool Beer Brewing Co. – 164 Evans Ave, Etobicoke
Molson Coors Canada – 1 Carlingview Dr, Etobicoke
Ontario Beer Company – , Toronto
Saint André – 164 Evans Ave, Etobicoke
Rainhard Brewing Co.-100 Symes Rd, Toronto