Thus, come mid-August, we did take up our steins and raise a toast to the cloudless skies, the noble brew masters, the Mayor and all things beer. And it was good.
Even better than the last time, actually. Seventeen breweries from across Ontario and western Quebec poured some 60 different beers over the Friday and Saturday, making for a lively weekend.
Kichesippi Uncle Mark's Hopfen Weisse (Campbell Avenue, Ottawa) - Light orange flavour, mild hops and bitterness, not as sweet as other white beers, refreshing.
Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. Festivale (Vankleek Hill) - Slightly bitter, quite "woodsy" with a crisp finish. Beau's Weisse-o-Lantern was a sweet, thick and mealy pumpkin brew with a smooth texture (Despite the bits floating around its unfiltered depths, you don't feel like you're chewing on a squash as you drink.)
Ashton Brewing Company Cream Ale (Ashton) - Smooth and creamy (well, duh!) with hints of caramel. Think a lighter version of the Harvest Brown
HogsBack Sunofabeach ("virtual" brewery) - Filtered weisse with nutty, buttery caramel notes that one fellow described as 'Gerber bananas & pears'. Not sure about that, but this beer definitely came out on top as a favourite. I was quite intrigued by the enticing hints being dropped about the Oktoberfest celebrations they're sponsoring in Wunder-Barrhaven (September 28-30), as well as the mystery fall brews they're presently concocting.
(Here's where the dilemma comes in: Beau's Oktoberfest runs the same weekend. I haven't been to it, but judging by the glowing reports that come out every year, it's not to be missed. Oh, what to do, what to do.)
Mill Street Brew Pub Ottawa Frambozen (Lebreton Flats, Ottawa) - They already have a pretty stellar lineup of brews (many of which I have sampled) so this fruit-flavoured number is the icing on the cake. The raspberry is not syrupy nor is it sweet, but it's quite full-flavoured with a medium body.
Muskoka Brewery Spring Oddity (Bracebridge) - Sweet tropical fruit with a tangy finish.
Also tried a few sips Ottawa's Big Rig Brewery, which will require a follow-up visit to its west-end facilities; Cassel Brewery, all the way from Casselman; and Nickelbrook Brewery, based out of Burlington.
And with such marvellous beer, there simply must be good food.
But oh, the poutine. This was an experience far beyond any inebriated 3 a.m. run to the nearest diner for the usual fries/curds/gravy. Spud's Poutinery and Potato Bar rolled out perfectly crisp, skin-on potato strings, Gatineau-style rubbery nubs of cheese, and Broadhead Dark Horse Stout gravy (which naturally required a sampling of the same to quaff with this dish.) As if that wasn't cause enough for total cardiac arrest, they topped it with sausage, strips of bacon and ... wait for it ... MAPLE SYRUP. Yup, that's right. Maple syrup.
And so, with vessel drained and belly full, we did take our leave of this merry gathering, carrying in our hearts the hope that Our Good Mayor's proclamation would endure for the foreseeable future. Till we gather again anon, my friends ...