Let me be straight up to begin with: this will be the third and final installment of my beer-related endeavours. There are several reasons for this. Number one being that all my friends are winos God love ’em, so finding people to beer taste with has proved problematic (and I can’t go it alone. Because I am not in a Sheryl Crow song.). Number two being sometimes the only thing that’ll fit the bill at the end of a long hard day is a nice cold glass of very expensive champagne. And number three? Beer and I just don’t have a lot in common. We’re like two people who really like the idea of each other, who try to date and make it work for the sake of “being open” only to realize that they just don’t have a whole helluva lot to talk about. In truth, the only time I can finish an entire beer is at the end of the night after I’ve eaten/drank wine and I’m already feeling pretty pickled. Beer, it seems, has become a better bootie call than a boyfriend.
But I’m a closer. And I like to really give something a fair shot before I shut it down completely. And there have been a few beers I haven’t hated, and beer does have its place (at BBQ’s when you’ve run out of Viognier, for instance, or on the beach where they don’t have corkscrews). And lucky for me, one of the few friends I have who actually likes beer was in town: the notorious and hilarious Canadian Goldie Hawn, Cindy “Buzz” Busby.
We headed just down the street from my Toronto hotel (yep, still here) to a place called Bier Markt, which I have actually in fact not spelled wrong. It’s a lively place with literally a booklet of a beer list, and super sweet bartenders who are more than willing to accommodate you on finding a beer that’s just for you. Or at least willing to accommodate two chicks. Especially when one of them’s Cindy.
Bier Markt’s got this nifty thing on the menu called the “Taster Caddy”, which is six sample glasses of beer from the flight of your choosing, all lined up in an adorable little row. I decided to go with the “Vive La Belgique” in the hopes that it came with frites, and Cindy chose the “Europe Bound”, because she’s never been there.
And man oh man, was that an intimidating amount of beer. After ignoring the suspicious/dirty/”will you marry me?” looks from the fellas in our immediate vicinity, we dove in to the Belgique taste #1: the Hoegaarden White Ale. Clear, crisp, refreshing, and even a tad (don’t hate me) ladylike, this was one of the top three beers I’d tasted on this little beer venture. It was pure summer camp in a bottle. And besides that, as Buzz so eloquently put it, “Who doesn’t love a good Ho?”
Belgique’s #2 taster was the Palm Amber Ale, which was too bitter for me, and had a rather strange aftertaste that reminded me of something I couldn’t place. Buzz knocked it back and pronounced it “Thanksgiving in a bottle!”, which made me realize that bitter aftertaste was a lot like the one I get after family functions. Just kidding, Mom! Haha! Taste #3 was the Leffe Brune Abbey Ale, a thick and pungent beer that punched me in the jowls and had a funky “banana smell” according to Buzz. Decipher what you will from that one.
Taste #4 was a Stella Artois Lager. I figure this one was pretty common place, since it was a name I’d actually heard of. It reminded me of #1 in that clean, crisp way, but it was missing a bit of the sweetness. Or as lovely Cindy decided to loudly claim, “You can’t beat a good Ho!” Our 5th was the Leffe Blond Abbey Ale, which was similar to the other Leffe we had but maybe with a little more apricot? (Is that right? I guessed.) But #6 was the beer I had been waiting for: The Fruli Strawberry Wheat Ale, sweet, juicy, summery, and delicious, like a strawberry rhubarb pie. That someone poured beer all over. I was finally one hundred percent in love with a beer, and this was one I could bring home to meet the parents.
On to Cindy’s Europe Bound Taster Caddy. Our first was the Stiegl Lager, which, compared to the sweet little love affair we’d just had, was a downright divorce. After one sip I was out, while Buzz went on a full-fledged half-drunk rant. (ie. “Putrid as hell, like a waterslide’s vagina! No, like a waterslide’s vagina’s afterbirth!”, which garnered more perplexed/suspicious/dirty/”PLEASE marry me!” looks from our fellow patrons) Good thing taste #2 was another pleasant surprise: the Erdinger Weissbier from Germany. Tropical, citrusy, and beautifully bright like a sunset, this was another I could fathom going on a second date with.
#3 was a Kronenbourg 1664 Lager, which was a bitter, wheaty “NOPE!” for me. (Cindy was still talking about waterslides.) #4 was a repeat of the Leffe Blond Abbey Ale, and #4 (oops I mean #5) was the Pilsner Urquell Lager from the Czech Republic. Once again, it was too bitter and hoppy for me, but Buzz pronounced it a “Maritimes Beer!” before launching into a song about a drunken Irish person falling out of his boat. Our 6th and final taste of the day was a total whammy called the Koningshoeven Quadrupel Ale, one of those thick and funky beers that may or may not have caused actual hairs to immediately sprout on my chest. After a few karate-like noises and a hacking cough or two, we determined it a strangely addictive beer, something that takes a few sips to get past before you realize its charm. Like me!
All in all, my favorite beers in this little drunken tutorial I’ve been on have not surprisingly and somewhat sadly been the girliest beers. I wish I could say I could get down on a Guinness with the best of them, but I just can’t trick my taste buds or my stomach into appreciating those beers for what they are. I need sweetness in my beer, something to cut all that hoppiness and pungentness my lady palate can’t take. Give me something fruity, or something fresh and clean that I can drink without making a sour face. Unlike precious, precious wine, I don’t think I’ll ever be truly a beer lover… just more of a beer liker. I’m still into having a Granville Island Rasberry Ale at a beach party, or a Blanche de Chambly Wheat Ale on a sunny day on the boat, or even a Fruli Strawberry Wheat Ale on the wrong side of midnight when I feel like getting a little crazy. What can I tell you? I’m a little predictable. So you’ll know what I’m about to say next:
Beer? Don’t lose my phone number.