Actual alcohol history: Sapporo-sponsored study suggests beer cures colds

(Originally written December 12, 2012)

Call me crazy, but I’ve always found the best way to cure a cough was to take some Cold FX in the morning and go out drinking at night.  As it turns out, my method has just been scientifically proven—well, sort of.  Agence France Presse is reporting that “Consuming large quantities of a key ingredient in beer can protect against winter sniffles and even some serious illnesses in small children,” according to a study by Sapporo Medical University.

And when it comes to cold prevention, the hoppier the beer, the better.  The research study, funded by Sapporo Breweries, discovered that humulone, a chemical compound in hops, “was found to be effective in curbing the respiratory syncytial (RS) virus.”  However, Sapporo researcher Jun Fuchimoto told AFP that “such small quantities of humulone were present in beer that someone would have to drink around 30 cans, each of 350 millilitres (12 oz), for it to have any virus-fighting effect.”  Or, as Keith Richards would call it, breakfast.

Alas, Sapporo is looking for ways to add humulone to other foods and beverages, but there are a few obstacles to overcome.  “The challenge really is that the bitter taste is going to be difficult for children,” Fuchimoto says.  Don’t worry kids, you’ll get used to it!😉

Actual alcohol history: NHL lockout causes Canadian drinking record

(Originally written December 7, 2012)

Canadians may be none the richer, but we’ve been 500-million dollars drunker this year, according to a new report by the Bank of Montreal.  As per the CBC, “Bank of Montreal said Friday that booze sales rose by $500 million, or more than 3.6 per cent, in the first nine months of the year.”  And it doesn’t stop there—BMO predicts that we’re headed for a record year of drunkenness!

“If this healthy growth holds up through the holiday season, that would set the stage for record retail sales of more than $19 billion in 2012,” CMO (LOL @ CBC typo!) Capital Markets economist Aaron Goertzen said.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report notes that “Quebecers spend the most, with their monthly budget for alcohol increasing 65 per cent in December,” which happens to be around the time the Habs tend to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Speaking of which, is it any coincidence that this record year for Canadian alcoholic consumption comes in the midst of another NHL lockout?  I think not…

TORONTO BEER WEEK: Heeeere, piggy piggy!

Now, it’s been a little while since I’ve had some real-deal BBQ, so when I heard that Great Lakes Brewery was serving up some pulled pork and beef brisket, along with five-dollar craft beers, I took the subway almost all the way out to the end of the line, then got on a bus, son!

great_lakes_brewery-1

The brewery is just north of the Gardiner, on the way out to the airport. And today they’ve got some BBQ, craft beers on tap, and a roots-rock cover band, to boot! Not that I needed an excuse to get afternoon drunk, or anything…

great_lakes_brewery-2

I think I had at least one of all of these. Nice pumpkiny flavour on the Saison, the Chill was pretty chill, and the Canuck IPA was famously bitter. I will say that the Karma Citra tasted very similar to the Canuck, cept with a bit more citrus and a lot more alcohol. But of course, I’m mostly here for the food…

glb_bbq-1

Now, the pulled pork was pretty legit. Nice chewy tang, cooled off by the coleslaw, and the BBQ sauce was on point. But the hush puppies were definitely the star of the show. You take some deep-fried falafel balls and throw some tartar sauce on top, and that’s more country than Aaron Lewis, bro! Pretty sure I could eat eight or 10 of these, and hey, they’re serving ’em up till 6, so I just might go back for seconds…

TORONTO BEER WEEK: Sam Adams in da house!!!

So last night, I was hanging out at For the Love of Beer, this Sam Adams event at 99 Sudbury. Hey, I usually drink Sam Adams when the Jays are beating the Red Sox or the Seahawks are beating the Patriots, and I saw somewhere that they had an open bar, so let’s just say I got my 15-dollar cover charge’s worth within 15 minutes.😉

Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without the hors d’oeuvres, so I certainly stocked up on snacks, son!

bruschetta_crostini

I’m all about the bruschetta crostini with olive tapenade, bro!

chili_shrimp

This chili-glazed shrimp with mango salsa was off the hook!

chicken_drum

They glazed this chicken in Sam Adams Boston Lager, then put a buncha pretzels and sour cream dip on top. What could possibly be wrong with that!?

chicken_n_shrimp

Why choose between chicken and shrimp when you can have both? Or be like me and have seven of each, son!

img_0613

Now, here in Toronto, the only Sam Adams you’ll find at The Beer Store is the Boston Lager, so I was pretty stoked to try a buncha different kinds. The Octoberfest was pretty solid, but this next beer blew my nose and then it blew my mind:

cinder_blonde-1

They call it the Cinder Blonde Gratzer, and it’s pretty great-zer. It’s got a light, crisp taste, with all sorts of smokiness. I have never had a beer this smoky before–it’s like drinking firewood in liquid form, but with even more alcohol, bro!

fish_tacos-1

But the highlight of the night had to be the fish taco stand. Food Dudes was on the scene, serving up beer-battered pescado with guac, pickled cabbage, a little pico and sour cream. I musta slammed six of these, son!

mac_n_cheese-1

They also had a mac ‘n cheese stand, which was solid, but not mac-tacular. I only had three of these. Now, if they had brought some mac ‘n cheese balls instead, that woulda bin a whole ‘nother ball game…

sam_adams_founder-1

Yo, Mr. Sam Adams himself was in the building! This dude is so baller, he keeps one beer in his hand, and another one in his hip pocket. Homeboy was America’s first craft brewer back when Diamond Dave was still Hot for Teacher, and he’s still rockin’ the house, son!

Let’s just say, unlike most U.S. brews, Sam Adams is nowhere near water…

TORONTO BEER WEEK: Spaghetti & Meatballs & Beer

So, Monday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and it’s too bad I missed it, cuz this local craft brew woulda been aarr-fect. We’re hanging out at Lisa Marie, this funky Queen West joint run by the guy who does the Fidel Gastro food truck. And for Toronto Beer Week, they’re serving up five-dollar pints of Polly Want a Pilsner, this righteous microbrew from Hop City:

polly_want_pilsner-3

Now, I’m a pretty big fan of pilsner beers, and this one is light, crisp and refreshing. And while it’s only five bucks on its own, they had a deal on tonight where it comes with a great big bowl of spaghetti for just 20 bucks combined:

spaghetti_meatballs-3

Now those are some massive meatballs, bro! I think these are even bigger than the steak I had last night. The meat-to-pasta ratio of this dish is about three-to-one, just the way I like it. And the balls are cooked perfectly, super rich and delicious. There almost aren’t enough noodles to go with ‘em. But dude, you almost don’t need spaghetti when the meatballs are so outta-bounds. I could eat about eight of these off a flip-flop…and still have room for dessert!

TORONTO BEER WEEK: Steak + Beer = 25 bucks, bro!

OK, so here’s the deal. Back in the day, like, 10 years ago, I used to live at Pape and Gerrard, and I had a shitty job on Queen Street bout a couple blocks west of Pape. Now, in those days, I used to walk past five or six dive bars on the way to work—and while the Tasty Chicken Shack is still there, all the other ones have been replaced with some classy local pubs, like this cozy neighbourhood joint called the Brooklyn Tavern.

Now, they don’t call it that cuz they’re big Beastie Boys fans or something, but because the bar is at the bottom of Brooklyn Street. And it ain’t crawling with hipsters, either—it’s kinda like having dinner at your classy aunt’s, if your aunt owned a craft beer bar. Cuz this place is serving up all kinds of local brews, and tonight they’ve got pints of Wellington for just five bucks, bro!

wellington_dark-1

Not only that, but Tuesday is Steak Night, which means they’ve got a 10 oz strip steak, crispy slaw and fries or greens for just 20 bucks, bro. But hey, as I always say, why have greens when you can have fries?

steak_n_beer-3

OK, let’s break it down. The steak is super tender, with great grill marks and a nice seasoning. You’ve got a nice, tangy crispness from the slaw, and the fries are super-salty, Mickey D’s style. But what makes it is their house-made Brooklyn mayo. It really adds a nice kick! And then you’ve got the Wellington Dark Ale, with a nice crisp flavour… Pretty sweet deal for 25 bucks, eh?

TORONTO BEER WEEK: This beer is brought to you by Tom Green

So, we’re hanging out at The Only Café, this funky neighbourhood joint on the Danforth, just an Auston Matthews slap shot away from Donlands Station. This place is one of the original craft beer bars in Toronto, and they’ve been serving it up for more than 30 years, to boot! They’ve got 24 taps of fine local goodness—but tonight, they’re all about the Beau’s.

The local craft brewery just turned 10 years old, and to celebrate, they’re taking over 10 of the taps at The Only for one night only. You’ve got all kindsa funky local brews, from their most popular Lug Tread to a 10.5 percenter called Two Tonnes of Fun. More like two tonnes of wastey-faced, bro! So instead, I went with The Tom Green Beer, which is actually made in the image and likeness of Tom Green:

tom_green_beer-1

Much to my dismay, this beer isn’t actually green—but rather, it’s blacker than a banker’s heart. A milk stout that looks like Guinness, but it’s a bit more creamy, and less coffee. Now, I really woulda loved to scarf down some sausages with this brew, but The Only has a very limited menu (except when it’s brunch time), so I had to settle for back bacon instead.

back_bacon_sandwich-1

There’s certainly nothing fancy about this sammy, son. You’ve got back bacon, cheese and some pickles on the side. They make it all in a sandwich press behind the bar, so it’s very DIY. But they did say you can bring in food from outside, so maybe next time I’ll try that funky fried-chicken joint just a couple doors down…