Cask Days 2013: gummy bear beer, plus five more weird and wonderful brews coming to this year’s festival
Cask Days, North America’s largest celebration of cask-conditioned ales, is a chance for brewers to get experimental with their craft. (Brief science lesson: cask ales are unfiltered, naturally carbonated beers packed with live yeast, which keeps the fermentation process going right up until the beer is poured). A handful of tickets remain for this year’s event, which takes place at the Evergreen Brick Works on October 19 and 20. It promises to be a doozy: 230 casks from 124 breweries, including 30 from the U.K.—i.e. the motherland of cask ale—plus food from Bar Isabel, Parts and Labour and a raft of other top Toronto restaurants. Back to what’s important, though: the beer. The lineup, released earlier this week, ranges from the utterly enticing to the downright weird. Here, six of the brews we’re most excited to try.
Amsterdam Brewing Co. Full City Double Tempest Imperial Stout with Ethiopian Coffee
The original version of this beer is one of our favourite pours in the city. This edition doubles down on the roasted malts and adds a jolt of rich Ethiopian coffee, which should make for a perfect mid-session pick-me-up.
Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom Brett Barrel-Aged Sour Baltic Porter
The Ossington brewery spikes its big-bodied Lost River Baltic Porter with Brettanomyces, a strain of wild yeast known for mouth-puckering tartness. We’re intrigued to see how the funky add-in works with the beer’s strong chocolately notes.
Great Lakes Brewery Harry Porter Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter with Vanilla
Possibly the closest thing to actual Butterbeer in the city. The full-bodied porter, which is occasionally available on draught, balances sweet vanilla with dark chocolate, coffee and hints of smoky bourbon. We’re curious to try it on cask.
Half Pints Brewing Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Amber Ale
A home-style dessert in a glass. The bitter backbone of the ale’s Golding hops will likely complement the fruit’s sweet, tart flavours. The nutty Crystal malts should sub in nicely for the buttery crust.
Howe Sound Brewing Rumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale with Spiced Rum
Pumpkin beers are everywhere this fall, but few incorporate an extra-boozy shot of spiced rum. The season’s two coziest alcoholic beverages come together in Howe Sound’s ode to autumn, brewed with fresh roasted pumpkin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise. An ideal pint to pair with your snuggliest fall sweater.
Liberty Village Brewing Co. Gummi Bear Pale Ale
We’re not quite sure what to expect from this attention-grabbing brew, but we have to give the brand-new brewery props for originality. Brewed with actual gummy bears, the beer also showcases a citrusy blend of Ahtanum, Centennial and Cascade hops, which could add just the right note of bitterness to balance all that sugar.