February is the shortest month, and at this point I think we’re all thankful for that. Besides, height isn’t everything. A lot of people prefer the 355ml can because it doesn’t warm up on them as they’re drinking at a party. Of course, some people employ neoprene sleeve technology just so they can avoid that problem. And some people of rare discernment and noble bearing use a glass when they’re drinking beer, just like our contributors to this month’s What Are You Drinking column. This month, we have Nick Pashley, Iz Netto, and Rebecca Pellett.
Name: Nicholas Pashley
Occupation: I used to be a bookseller, when that was an actual occupation. I have written two books: Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and Why It’s Necessary and Cheers: An Intemperate History of Beer in Canada. I continue to do the research, just because.
Beer of the Moment: White Lies by Blood Brothers Brewing in Toronto.
I’m old enough to remember an era when a sour beer was the sign of a bad or unlucky brewer, or possibly a suicidally careless consumer who left a bottle out in the sun for a few days before drinking. It’s nearly twenty years since I made the mandatory beerlover’s pilgrimage to Belgium, and specifically the visit to the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, but I never lost my appreciation for the funky side of beer.
Ontario’s brewers are not exactly falling over themselves to replicate Cantillon conditions. No sane brewer would trust his, or increasingly her, fermentation process to any old wild yeast that manages to creep in unobserved. This caution—traditional among our people here in Ontario—has not prevented numerous local brewers from making sour beers in recent years, with (it must be said) mixed results. I’ve had some pretty namby-pamby sours and yes, that is a legitimate brewing term.
I have the good fortune to live about two kilometres from the Blood Brothers brewery, a fine Toronto outfit with a sense of adventure. Their White Lies is a wonderfully tart brew that provokes a satisfying pucker. It’s extremely refreshing on a summer day, as far as I recall, but I’m blessed with central heating so I can drink it year-round. It’s not always available, but worth seeking out when it is. I used to know a pub that offered it on tap, in 20-ounce pint glasses. That was a golden age.
Name: Iz Netto
Occupation: Food & Beverage industry consultant (operations & documentation), World Beer Awards judge; formerly R&D Lead at Escarpment Labs (known for Lacto 2.0).
Beer of the Moment: I love going in person to breweries as an excuse to get out of the house and go for long walks. Going to Avling takes me through a nice stroll through Leslieville, and my most recent favourite from them is the Orpheus Barrel Aged Blend.
Lately I’ve been more intentional with my beer choices and prioritizing quality over quantity. I’m seeking out products that have a positive impact on food systems, like using local ingredients and reducing waste. I also generally prefer beers that showcase yeast and malt characters, and use herbal, floral, and spice additions over hops.
This beer checks all the boxes — it’s super well-balanced, with a ton of complexity without being aggressive. It’s not often that I drink a barrel-aged beer and then I want another one right after. This one is part of Avling’s 99% Ontario ingredients lineup, and it’s aged on second-use orange wine skins and infused with marigold flowers from their own rooftop garden. The fermentation character is on point, and the tannin + floral combination adds a real wow factor.
Name: Rebecca Pellett
Occupation: I am the General Manager of Charles Faram Canada, a global hops supplier which started in the UK in 1865 and now has offices is the UK, the US and Canada. We’ve been in Canada, with our office and warehouse located in Toronto, Ontario since 2014. Prior to joining the Charles Faram team, I was the Raw Materials Procurement Manager at Muskoka Brewery located in Bracebridge, Ontario.
Beer of the Moment: Flapdoodle English Best Bitter from Sawdust City Brewing.
My current choice for ‘beer of the moment’ holds a special place in my heart as it’s brewed by my hometown brewery Sawdust City Brewing. Flapdoodle is Head Brewer Sam Corbeil’s updated take on an English Best Bitter and offers an easy drinking pint with a nod to the traditional. British Marris Otter was used as a base malt and dark roast crystal was added for flavour and colour. Traditional East Kent Goldings and a new UK variety, Most®, hops were used giving the beer subtle hints of strawberry and bubble gum which complement the rich malt body beautifully. Flapdoodle has quickly become a beer that now holds a permanent spot in my home beer fridge.