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Nat. Post: What beer to get Canada to World Cup?


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Well OK, so there's really only a passing reference to Canadian soccer - and I'll leave you all to debate who should be the Canadian male underwear model - but this article combines my love of craft beer and Canadian soccer, so I felt it worth a post.

Decent range of beers chosen, albeit mainly focussed on Ontario.


It's time for a knees-up

A. Brouwer & A. Wilson, Weekend Post

Published: Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Canada Day, one thing is clear: The beautiful game deserves a beautiful beer. As a tribute to Toronto FC's footie match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 1, Shelf Life thought we'd bring a quaffer's challenge to the pitch. Which craft beer is best for Ontario's top team? Somewhere out there is a beverage that has "Go, red jerseys!" written all over it. A drink that will help get Canada to the World Cup one day; a drink that strikes like a wolverine but relaxes like the Friendly Giant's rocking chair; a drink that if transformed into a living, breathing team member -- well then, even the toughest guy in the stands would have a man crush on him.

Shelf Life picked a side of Central Canadian ales for our craft-brew taste test -- some of them veterans, some of them juniors -- and threw in a couple of out-of-province players, just to make things interesting. Next, as we were getting in shape with some pre-game drinking, Shelf Life was pumped to discover that Canadian ale is internationally recognized, and has a distinct, identifiable profile. Unlike, say, American or British ale, our variety features lager-like qualities, notably a dry, crisp palate, understated (but noticeable) hop/floral aroma and lively body. Yes! Deft, subtle and tricky -- that's how we roll.

So let the contest begin. A final thought, however. When Shelf Life compares Canada's finest players to the talent in other countries, we find one glaring omission. Where, oh where, is the man for our own Armani underwear ad? C'mon, people. If David Beckham can bring his, er, midfield to a global campaign for designer skivvies (by the way, are we alone in thinking that this ad is so amazingly hot but ego-puffed that Beckham needs to get a room -- with himself?), then a Canadian soccer player can do the same. Then and only then will the nation conquer dirt the way we conquered ice. With a little help from a lot of beer.

Jumping into each others' arms as the crowd roars are this week's expert judges: Erin Dowse, owner/operator of Old York Bar and Grill; Brad Long, executive chef at Veritas restaurant; and Tawfik Shehata, executive chef at Vertical restaurant, all in Toronto. Space limitations prevent us from evaluating every product in a given category; entries reflect the luck of the draw. Items are blind taste tested and awarded between zero and five stars.


6 BOTTLES, $11.95

Available at select LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin The thing to remember is that pale ale is a process, not a colour. When I'm working at the bar I see people order a pale ale and then look surprised when a glass of dark lands in front of them. Brand 1 is deeply gorgeous -- it reminds me of those chocolate beers. Powerful caramel-toned smell, lovely hint of molasses -- I'm gonna love this taste test. Rating 3½

Brad Brand 1 has a grainy, nutty taste and a crazy-good aroma -- maybe some strawberries and a sprinkling of barnyard. This is a beer that you don't just guzzle. When you visit Europe and go to a bar, you realize that they order something with quality and then make it last -- if you behave like a hoser and knock them back then everybody is horrified. Rating 4

Tawfik I like the look of it, which is like cocoa, and the creamy taste. I'm picking up many of the same accents -- mainly molasses and the fruit/floral thing. For me, Brand 1 goes with heat and sun--it's a patio beer. You're lingering and savouring this beer. And you want chicken wings --but classy chicken wings. Rating 3

TOTAL: 10½ stars


6 BOTTLES, $10.60

Available at select LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin My first thought is: This might taste better from the tap. It's OK, but seems low on carbonation. My second thought is: This beer is more bitter than I am! It leaves a very strong aftertaste -- a real tongue-shriveller. Other than that, I didn't get much flavour. Rating 2½

Brad I like the fine, light bubbles and the amber colour. I know what you mean about the bitterness, but it's my kind of bitter. I'm enjoying the flavour, which, bizarrely enough, seems to have a touch of plastic in it. And the smell, too, which is like a mixture of fruit, grass, a bit of wet dog and Pez. Rating 4½

Tawfik For me, this one starts off sweet, finishes very rapidly and leaves a bitter taste. I want to make a relationship joke here, but I'm not drunk enough yet. Brand 2 is pretty good but not great. Rating 3½

TOTAL: 10½ stars


6 Bottles, $12.25

Available at select LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin Too bad about the colour -- it's the exact shade of the stuff that humans release after they leave establishments like mine. And also you think: "domestic," as in boring. But having said that, I like it. It's light and soft and simple and it won't offend anyone. Rating 3

Brad Brand 3 is clear, yellow and fairly mild, with low CO2 -- this is your average beverage. I can tell you about my favourite un-average beer. If I were on a desert island and had to choose one brand, I'd go for Fremlin's Bitter from the U. K. I'd ask for a whole case, and after I finished everything I would strap it all together and float away. I'd paddle toward the nearest Beer Store. Rating 2½

Tawfik Is anyone picking up an aftertaste of pencil shavings? Probably not. Maybe my mouth tastes like this all the time. Anyway, I agree with everyone else. Can't love it, can't hate it, someone else might like it. Rating 1½

TOTAL: 7 stars


6 BOTTLES, $11.95

Available at select LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin I'm getting a perfumey hit right under my nose. I like the pale gold colour. Wow -- this is a definite beer! It's got a wallop of flavour, a strong finish and an interesting texture. It doesn't taste as good as it smells, but it has character. I would keep Brand 4 on hand at home. Rating 4

Brad The bubbles are really coarse -- I don't know what that means, but I'm interested. To me, Brand 4 tastes sweet, and has tones that make me think of wine. I like it because it's beyond normal but I don't love it. Rating 3½

Tawfik I'm good with this one. I think Brand 4 might convert someone who prefers the fullness of a dark ale. It's got all the richness but it's still light, and it's not acrid or cloying. Creamy texture, floral aroma, amazing deep gold colour -- this beer really adds up. Rating 4

TOTAL: 11½ stars


6 BOTTLES, $12.35

Available at select LCBOs: lcbo.com

Erin It smells strong and fresh, but the undertone is a killer. To me Brand 5 is all about the aroma. Underneath everything I'm getting a weird whiff of disinfectant. I might not drink it, but I would pour it on an open wound. The odour carries over into the taste, which is fruity but ends bitter and hoppy. Rating 2l½

Brad Good clarity, attractive amber colour, and ... whew! What is that? Brand 5 tastes and smells like durian -- you know, that really stinky fruit that it's against the law to stock in some places because it's so strange. I'm not saying I love it, but ... wait a minute, maybe I do love it. Rating 4

Tawfik Did you know that Juicy Fruit gum was originally made to replicate the flavour of durian fruit? Also, durian ice cream is fantastic. Anyway, I'm getting a combination of soap and flowers and cedar with Brand 5. Too bad I'm not in a soap and flowers and cedar-type mood. Rating 2½

TOTAL: 9 stars



Available at select

LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin You know when you do your laundry and you don't open the machine for a week -- you get a kind of dank smell? That's Brand 6. The smell and taste of this beer are completely different, which I love. It smells mank-skankcrank but it tastes smooth and clean. Rating 4

Brad Is my head hitting the table yet? No? OK. Brand 6 has a high CO2 content, a clean, crisp fruit taste with no lingering finish, and one hell of a smell. It's sweet and funky -- I call it schtank. That's definitely a technical term. Rating 3

Tawfik I think the taste is approachable, kind of wholesome and clean, like oatmeal with a sprinkling of blueberries. The taste is clean but the smell is dirty. And I mean low. Like saltpetre or seagull sh--. I don't know if I can go all the way with Brand 6. Rating 2½

TOTAL: 9½ stars


473ML CAN, $2.55

Available at select

LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin Brand 7 has a very sexy dark-wood colour, like mahogany. It starts with a nutty taste, but it finishes with something like fruit. This beer is a really big deal -- it's a lot to take on board -- it's complex and I think serious beer drinkers would really love it. Rating 4½

Brad Soft texture, medium CO2, dark hues. It smells metallic, and tastes sweet and musty and malty. I want to describe Brand 7 more accurately, but it's late and verbal stuff is getting beyond me. Words. Not coming out easily now. How do you guys make that whole words thing work? Rating 3½

Tawfik Hey! More beer! By now I could take a swing at someone, or start sobbing, if anyone criticizes this beer. Brand 7 tastes smooth and light, a bit like a lager, with a great touch of molasses and some rounded mealiness. And a shadow of damp birdseed. Rating 4

TOTAL: 12 stars


6 BOTTLES, $12.25

Available at select LCBOs; lcbo.com

Erin I've got nothing. Brand 7 tastes like pop, it's very carbonated, with a citrus lemon-lime scent. It's pale and super-watery. By now I've tasted so many of these things that all this stuff is starting to look good to me -- except this beer. Rating 0

Brad If I didn't know this was ale, I'd say it was Coors Lite. Brand 7 smells like flat fruit, and it starts off very salty. Overall, it's sugary and bland and kind of bad. Rating 2

Tawfik Check out that hint of cidery sourness. This is almost like bland cider. It's very light and the texture is almost flat. You know what Brand 7 is? It's what I call Get The F--k Outta Here beer. As in, it's late and you're trying to sleep and your friends won't leave, so you give them this to drink, and then they leave. Rating ½

TOTAL: 2½ stars

The Results: Pandemonium reigned in the stands as Ontario's own Hockley Dark won the tournament. The crowd drank it all in as Black Oak Pale Ale also finished strongly, and Neustadt 10W30 and Durham County showed good form. The remainder slouched off the field, with someone tossing a rubber chicken at Alexander Keith's I. P. A. Off the Menu: OK, it's corny, and it's probably the beer talking -- call us sentimental Canadians -- but on this weekend everyone wins: Happy Birthday, Canada!

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quote:Originally posted by sstackho

Well OK, so there's really only a passing reference to Canadian soccer - and I'll leave you all to debate who should be the Canadian male underwear model - but this article combines my love of craft beer and Canadian soccer, so I felt it worth a post.

<junk deleted>

Eat poo and die, beersnobdude-

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