Thanks to the grand opening of London Brewing Co-op’s new space on Saturday, February 25th and a special Winter Pop Up Bar presented by Forest City Beer Fest over the weekend, it was a special weekend for craft beer fans in London.
To celebrate, we decided to make a day of it and the unofficial Forest City Craft Beer Day was born. We started the day in the newly trendy Old East Village and enjoyed a flight from London Brewing Co-op (including their robust Tolpuddle Porter, which I’ve always enjoyed) while marvelling at their expansive new space and equipment. They’ve come a long way since their pop-up shops!
Our next stop was literally right around the corner at Anderson Craft Ales. I’d tried their beers at various craft beer festivals but am embarrassed to say I hadn’t visited their brewery before. Both the space itself and the beer were better than I was expecting, so I’m glad to have taken that visit off my to-do list.
As luck would have it, Anderson had been releasing one Belgian-style beer each weekend in February, saving the strongest - a 10.6% ABV Dark Strong that was similar to a Belgian quadrupel - for last. It was an unexpected and special treat, boozy but balanced and enticing. Sadly, I couldn’t bring any of the limited-quantities Dark Strong home but happily brought home some IPA in a fancy new growler approved by the Clockwatching Tart.
After hitting up both London Brewing Co-op and Anderson, it felt right to pop over to Forked River Brewing to complete the trifecta. We were rewarded with the availability of two of my favourite Forked River brews: Reforest Kelly, a sour, barrel-aged imperial stout brewed with black cherries, and Hansel and Brett’el, a farmhouse blonde aged in chardonnay barrels. They are both tart and complex and will ensure that my unofficial Forest City Craft Beer Day is still appreciated in a few weeks when I crack them open.
We stopped in to Museum London to check out their amazing Brian Jones exhibit and lo and behold, the beer-related fun with “Canadian Eh? A History of the Nation’s Signs and Symbols”.
Even though it was unofficially Forest City Craft Beer Day, we are still just human, and besides, a friend from the best craft beer bar in the city, Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium, recommended Ritual Cafe, so who were we to argue? Both the dark roast coffee and Mexican mocha were excellent, so we repaid the favour by heading to have dinner and drinks at the aforementioned Milos’.
Presented by the Forest City Beer Fest, the Winter Pop Up Bar was held in a nice spot around the corner from Milos’ at the Hassan Law Gallery and featured a selection of carefully selected bottles and cans to sample from and a larger selection of 20 draft taps. As soon as we walked in, we were faced with bottles of Bellwoods Brewery’s 3 Minutes to Midnight, an imperial stout brewed with cherries, and Bounty Hunter, an imperial coconut porter, which is a wonderful way to start an evening.
On the draft side, we started off with a selection of Paradise Lost sour ales from Blood Brothers Brewing, sampled a new imperial stout from Cowbell Brewing, worked out way through a barrel-aged cherry sour and a sour brett porter from Indie Ale House, then finished the night with a sticky sweet, intense and unique “chewy imperial stout” brewed by Sweden’s Omnipollo while visiting Toronto’s Brunswick Bierworks. Any beer that is described as “deep-fried graham cracker chocolate chunk caramel bar” seems like a fitting end to a day of craft beer adventures. Cheers!
This post is my Matt, the Beer Baron. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @geekcanuck