A Midsummer Night’s Beer- The Cherry Widow

In the late summer of 2016, as the days started to get shorter and our tap list started to turn darker, we began our venture into barrel aging beers in oak barrels that had previously been used for wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir). Our initial barrel-aged release, Hibernator 2016, a blend of Brett, cherry and orange Imperial Stouts was something that we were tremendously happy and proud about. Since then, we’ve been tinkering and developing new recipes and ideas for other great beers, such as our Brett Bretterson, a wild Brett barrel Saison.

As our barrel aging capacity grew, from 4 initial barrels to 12, we started preparing for a mid-summer limited release and for our annual Hibernator’s 2017 version. Well, it’s now midsummer and we’re pleased to announce the release of our newest beer: The Cherry Widow. The process began last fall as the brewers brewed a dark wheat sour using exclusively wheat and dark wheat malts with a big addition of cranberry for one of our winter ales. We put some of that beer into oak barrels inoculated with Brett (for more info on Brettanomyces see http://bit.ly/2qoe8Ft) on top of Niagara cherries. Over the course of the last 7 months, the Brett has been slowly eating away at the acidity of the beer and helping to ferment out the cherries. Barrels tend to work on their own timeline, so we were faced with either bottling it and cellaring it, or, putting it out now that it’s ready. As our brewer, Ben tells us, “The summer isn’t typically a time for dark releases, but we said why not, and decided to have some fun. Also, it’s very, very good!”

The Cherry Widow is fairly dry, with a sherry and brandy character and a rich cherry, cranberry and dark fruit flavour and aroma. Its sourness is complex, assertive and it strengthens the fruit character.

Cherry Widow will be available this Friday at 5 pm exclusively in our bottle shop. Only 500 bottles will be available for release.

Meet Aurelien Vervaeke: The Man Behind the Raccoons

As we approach our one-year anniversary, many of you have asked us about our raccoon iconography, the inspiration behind our labels, and the mere raison d’être for our branding. Well, then what better than to introduce you to the man behind the curtain: Bandit Brewery’s very own artist-in-residence Aurelien Vervaeke.

Aurelien’s story is quite interesting; he quit his job as an art director for a well-known advertising agency in France and moved to Toronto without any contacts, job, or apartment in order to improve his English and to experience life in Canada. “I needed a fresh start, and Toronto is not a bad place to do that,” he tells us.

He ended up staying in Toronto for two full years. Since leaving, he still returns to our city every year; he calls Toronto his “second home”. His love of our city as an outsider, combined with his incredible talents, made Aurelien the ideal artist to work with when creating the Bandit brand. “As time goes by, I  miss the lake, the islands… it makes a difference to have a waterfront, especially in a big city,” he adds.

 The inspiration for his work and his style comes from many distinct and varied sources: “I was influenced from a young age by North-American design, comic strips and cartoons such as The Simpsons and Futurama. As I grew older French and Belgian artists began to create an impression on me as well.” Another important influence on his style was Toronto itself. “I found people in Toronto open to many forms of arts. The city is enthusiastic about creativity, new concepts, and raccoons” he tells us.

So what comes first, the design or the beer name? When asked about his process creating the beer labels for Bandit, he tells us: “The first step is to sketch a lot of different ideas inspired by the name or a general concept, like the Dundas West Coast IPA. After that, I try to figure out how to bring the raccoon into the label as to continue the Bandit story.”

Another big inspiration for his work with us is his true love of beer. Having studied in Belgium for a few years made an impact on him. He’s a big fan of traditional breweries with a long history. He enjoys highly-fermented and strong beers and counts Duvel as his favourite brand of European beers. As for his favourite Bandit beers: “I had a chance to try them all last summer and I loved Smoke On The Porter and Wizard of Gose for their distinct flavours.”

Lastly, we had to ask him what his favourite work for Bandit has been:” I can’t choose one in particular, but I was thrilled to hear so much good feedback on the logo, it looks fantastic on the beer glasses!”

Expect more exceptional work from Aurelien in the next little while. We can’t wait to see what he makes our raccoon pals do next time!

18 x 24 prints of Aurelien’s Bandit art are now on sale at our bottle shop.

Where Do Brewers Drink After Work? – Part 1

After a long day of brewing, tinkering with recipes, and looking at yeast cells through a microscope (it’s not all fun and games) our dedicated brewers often find it essential to cap off the day with a beer or even, believe it or not, a cocktail! After their 5 pm Bandit pint, “quality control” we call it, they’re often on the hunt for new, local or international beers and/or cocktails to try. More often than not, our front of house and kitchen staff go to them for recommendations on their favourite watering holes around town. After all, they have some level of authority on drinks, right?

For our initial post on the subject, we sat down with Ben and Julian and asked them to give us all their tips on where to get the best vibes and superb spirits.

BEN

Grey Tiger
http://www.greytiger.ca/
Pretty much my extended living room at this point. Ryan and Becky run a casual atmosphere with an immense selection of spirits and an especially wide selection of whiskeys. Ryan is a master bartender and the house cocktails and specials are made impeccably. Bonus, Becky does great coffee and snacks/treats, so there’s really no need to ever leave.

 

The 47

http://the47to.com/

Dimitri stocks the bar with an eclectic selection of Ontario and international craft beers. It verges on the impossible to find something plain to drink. The house food selection of small plates, all Mediterranean, are fantastic. House cocktails are also quite good.

 

Pour Boy

http://www.pourboy.ca/

Casual, inexpensive and the food is pretty good. The current beer menu has a good mix of local and provincial craft beers either on draft or cans. It’s the meeting spot for when I feel the need to leave my neighbourhood.

 

 

JULIAN (who apparently just LOVES live jazz)

 

 

The Emmet Ray

http://www.theemmetray.com/

Not a large array of beers, but great food & service. The live jazz makes it a comfortable spot to wind down after a long day!

 

 

Get Well

http://www.getwellbar.com/

When I’m feeling a bit more ambitious and want to try my luck at some classic arcade games, Get Well is my spot. They’ve got a good selection of craft beers, and their taps are always changing. Always a good time!

 

Reposado

http://www.reposadobar.com/

When I’m looking to dress up nicely and drink well, this tequila and mezcal watering hole on Ossington is my go to. It’s a small joint but their margaritas are delicious and pack a punch. They’ve got live jazz on the weekends and a hip and comfortable back patio. It’s especially great on Saturday nights.

 

Our brewers’ diverse, eclectic and often contradictory drinking preferences guide our brewing philosophy, but apparently also serve as a pretty great guide on where to get great cocktails in the city, so stay tuned for to part-two of these series to come before the end of summer.

 

Cheers!

 

 

Some Like It Hot. Some Like It Dark.

When Brett Bretterson was released a few months back, we got a lot of love for the name, but we gotta give credit where credit’s due, to the original Bandit goofy name – Stouty McStoutface.

Stouty is not new to Bandit Brewery, it was first introduced a few months after our opening in 2016. This weekend it’s making a midsummer comeback for all those who crave something a bit darker, yet light, for patio season.

This delightful American-style Stout is brewed with a bit of English influence in terms of malts and hops. It’s a blend of good roast malt and cocoa aromas with a light enough body to make drinking it a pleasure.

So, what’s in a name, you may ask.  When asked about it, our brewer Ben genuinely shares with us the details on how he came up with the name: “Honestly, desperation. When the first batch came out we only had the working name of “Dry Stout” on the menu. We decided to get a real name for it and despite picking our brains for two hours we couldn’t come up with anything, so I quipped “Stouty McStoutface” and it won by default.”

Ben is our go-to guy when it comes to dark beers. He takes great pride in his knowledge of the style and even looks like the exact type of guy who enjoys nothing more than a great Porter or Stout, in summer or winter. “Part of it was the west coast hop wars where everyone was trying to outdo each other in bitterness and I wanted something with a little less lupulin glands and a little more malt,” Ben tells us.

Although we started out with two excellent dark beers, Smoke On The Porter and Night Mist, Ben felt that a more traditional Stout would fit in quite nicely in our beer lineup. Smoke has a very distinct taste that’s a bit more intense, and Night Mist is a high ABV Imperial Stout, so a lighter Stout was a perfect addition to our beer list. Ben adds,”Stouty can be thought of either as Smoke without the smoke, or a regular strength Night Mist. There are some variations in the number of dark malts used in Stouty, since there are less of the other characters to balance it, such as the smoke malts and higher alcohol of Night Mist. The goal was to have something dark and a little more immediately approachable for customers who would shy away from a pint of Smoke On The Porter.”

Stouty stays lower in alcohol, coming in right at 5%. The body is lighter in comparison to Smoke, and while the dark malt aromas come through quite a lot, overall, the stout is fairly easy to drink, making the ideal summer Stout.

“I know some people will shy away from a dark beer in 30-degreee weather, but for the Irish Stout fans, and those interested in trying a wider range of styles, I’m certain they’ll enjoy the heck out of it,” adds Ben.

Stouty McStoutface is available on tap and in our bottle shop as of this Friday afternoon.