2017, A Year in Beer

It’s that time of the year when our social media starts to get inundated with the ubiquitous “Best of the Year” lists and “Top 10” articles, so we decided to do things a bit differently. With over 20 exciting and varied beer releases in the last 12 months, we found it appropriate to look back at all the exciting beer explorations we embarked on since January. Some of these beers came for a short period of time or a season and left, and yet some managed to stay and make it on to our list of Bandit staple beers, all while gaining a cult-like following (we’re looking at you, Mr. Pink).

A sizeable addition of barrels and extra brewing equipment brought forward many more brewing opportunities and expanded our possibilities early on, which you see reflected in the variety of barrel-aged and Brett releases that took place starting in late Spring.

JANUARY

We opened the year with the limited release of our Brine of the Ancient Mariner (Oyster Stout), which was brewed in December while hosting an Oyster feast with some of our friends and regular customers. With over 400 PEI oysters chucked into the mash, the beer turned out to be a delightful medium bodied stout with chocolate and coffee notes and a distinct marine brine.

FEBRUARY

February was a standout month for our brewery team, as we saw the introduction of two beers that immediately became favourites with our staff and guests: our Hoppelgänger (Dry-hopped Pilsner) and Citra, 8 Days a Week (single-hop Session IPA). Both beers gave us an opportunity to introduce lighter, yet complex, beer options to our menu. An additional shoutout goes to 7 Rings ESGinger, a classic English Ale spiced up with some fresh ginger. This was our first time brewing with ginger, but it wouldn’t be the last one, as you’ll see by the time you get to May.

MARCH

In March we brought the heat up with the release of a special IIPA, Aequinoctium, an Imperial IPA celebrating the Spring solstice. This beer and it’s 8.1% ABV managed to keep us warm and hopeful enough to withhold the last few weeks of frigid winter weather.

APRIL

As we prepared to celebrate #BanditTurnsOne, our front of house staff joined our brewery team for an inclusive and fun brewing day as a way to celebrate our first year in business. The results? Hazed and Infused, a juicy and tart Northeastern Style Pale Ale with a hefty peach infusion. A much better alternative to birthday cake! April also saw the release of our first Brett version of our Farmed & Dangerous Saison: Brett or Alive, a beer full of clove and leather aromas.

MAY

A definitive highlight of our year was the addition of Mr. Pink (Ginger and Hibiscus Pale Ale) to our beer family. Initially brewed as a seasonal beer to ease our way into patio season, Mr. Pink quickly gained quite the following. Soon after, it became one of our Summer 2017 staples and now it is part of our year-round beer offerings.

JUNE

As patio season arrived in Toronto we saw the return of our Hefeweizen, Hasselhef, a definitive standout when temperatures and humidity begin to rise. A second version of our 8 Days a Week (Session IPA) series, brewed this time exclusively with Amarillo hops, was introduced, bringing notes of key lime and kumquat to an already sessionable beer.

JULY

In mid-summer, our focus is mostly on keeping up with beer production in order to keep up with our patio season. Still, our team managed to make room for a special release made for guests who still go for richer beers even in balmy weather: Cherry Widow (Dark Wheat Sour), a barrel aged dark wheat sour aged on Niagara cherries and cranberries.

AUGUST

Continuing with our tinkering of the 8 Days a Week (Session Ale) series, this time around we highlighted the use of Ahtanum hops, which brought forward notes of lemongrass and lime; so pretty much exactly the kind of beer you want to drink mid-August.

SEPTEMBER

During this month everything revolved around #BanditOktoberfest, which in its second year delivered two exceptional beers inspired by our love of the Bavarian festival: Ludwig (Black Lager) and Therese (Kölsch). Ludwig, a classic Schwartzbier, was a nice alternative to a classic lager as it had soft roast malt and coffee aromas. Therese, inspired by beers from the Cologne region, made for the perfect beer to drink countless Steins of (and we did!).

OCTOBER

A new Brett version of our Farmed & Dangerous Saison, fermented with a special blend of Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces, was introduced. Crisp, with clove and white pepper notes, this version showcased the Lambicus strain while developing a wide range of Brett aromas, from leathery to fruity and funky.

NOVEMBER

November was certainly a busy month in our brewhouse! We’ve been really enjoying brewing with more “tropical” hops as of late, so this month saw the release of our New Zealand Farmed & Dangerous (Dry-hopped Saison), a new version of our staple Saison brewed exclusively with hops from New Zealand, such as Pacifica and Motueka. This extremely “crushable” beer was the perfect way to welcome the year’s first snowfall. During this month we also introduced a new version of our beloved Wizard of Gose, this time with punchy kumquats, signaling the beginning of exciting plans for a Gose series that we’ll be seeing more of in the next year. For drinkers who enjoy something darker and warmer, there was Metamorphoses (Barrel-aged Imperial Rye), brewed with beechwood and peat smoked malts and barrel aged in French oak.

DECEMBER

We closed the year in style with the release of our yearly limited barrel-aged beer, Hibernator. Hibernator 2017 was in the projects for over a year, with a lot more time to barrel-age than we had in our first year. This resulted in a rich beer with dark cocoa notes and a layer of orange on top of oak and smooth roast flavours. A definitive winner in our books and a beer that we’re super proud of, which only makes us more excited about what the 2018 edition has in store. To close the year on a “juicier” note we released Juicebox (Northeastern Pale Ale), a beer double dry-hopped with Motueka and Ekuanot hops exploding with notes of tropical fruit, because you have to be as festive as possible in order to finish the year with a bang.

The new year is already looking like a very active one for Bandit Brewery, as we continue to make the beers of our dreams while at the same time tinkering with old recipes and expanding our beer series. Stay tuned as we may have a sneak-peek of our future brewing plans in the first few weeks of 2018.

Lastly, Happy New Year, Bandits! We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and for another fabulous year of letting us do what we love best: making great beer for you.

As “Crushable” as a Juice Box: Introducing Bandit’s Juicebox Northeastern Pale Ale

As one of our opening day beers, Cone Ranger IPA became our initial staple of the ubiquitous style. As we continued to develop new recipes and introduce more variety to our menu we added another solid beer to our list of staples: Dundas West Coast IPA, a much drier, aromatic, and “bitter” alternative. Well, now it’s our time to turn our focus to the East Coast with a beer style that’s reminiscent of the autumnal Vermont fog. The newest member of the Bandit family, Juicebox (5.7%), is a soft and juicy Northeastern style Pale Ale exploding with tropical fruit aromas and flavours. All in all, a perfect alternative for those who love the “hoppiness” of a West Coast style IPA but who prefer to hold out on some of its bitter finish.

Northeastern Pale Ales, unlike their IPA counterparts, are known to be hazy, low in bitterness, and very “round” or “juicy”, like biting into an overripe fruit. Brewing this style requires a sizeable quantity of unmalted grains, as well as a variety of hops to bring forward notes of tropical fruit and citrus. In this case, we chose to work with Eukanot and Motueka. Ekuanot hops are known for their extremely aromatic qualities, which due to their high oil content tend to bring forward notes of papaya, melon, and citrus. Motueka hops have recently become one of our favourite hops to work with, as we did in the New Zealand version of our Farmed & Dangerous Saison (more on that here). This hop variety adds a lively punch of citrus to beer that lingers in the palate and gives it a bright, sweet finish.

For the most part, Northeastern style Pale Ales are commonly brewed using Mosaic hops, but in the case of our new Juicebox, we opted to switch the hops for something slightly different and more unique. As our brewer Stephane tells us: “I’ve always been a fan of beers that lean more towards tropical flavours like lychee, so we knew that Motueka and Ekuanot would be the ideal hops for brewing Juicebox.” This particular beer style has a lot of room for a juicy flavour palette, so going for bold flavours was a clear choice from the beginning.

It’s fair to say that after your very first sip of this Northeastern Pale Ale you will immediately be looking forward to the next; just like a child sipping out of their juice box during recess.

Bandit’s Juicebox Northeastern Pale Ale is not available on tap and in our Bottle Shop.

Introducing: Bandit’s Hibernator 2017

It was a few months after our grand opening in April 2016 that we purchased our first barrels. The idea to produce a really special and unique beer to release during the holiday season was one that we had from the beginning, as it gives us the opportunity to try new and exciting things. With very few barrels available and working against the time-crunch (barrel-aging takes its own sweet time and we only had 6 months), we were pretty happy to release our first version of Hibernator in December of 2016. Hibernator 2016 consisted of a blend of a barrel-aged orange stout and a Brett cherry Imperial Stout and although it had a very limited release, it set the tone for the kind of winter beers we’d like to make going forward.

This year we’ve almost tripled our number of barrels, which has allowed us to become much more ambitious in our barrel-aging endeavors, not only for our Hibernator release but also for other seasonal beers such as new sours and Brett beers. With equipment upgrades and some MacGyvering, we were able to more effectively transfer and carbonate what would otherwise be too small of a batch. All of this, combined with having a lot more time to allow for the aging process, has resulted in a pretty spectacular, full-bodied, full-flavoured new beer that we’re thrilled to introduce just in time for the holiday festivities: Hibernator 2017 (8.2%).

Our goal for this year’s Hibernator release was to make something that while aging and drying out would bring forward the Brett fruitiness, orange and chocolate aromas of the beer. This year’s version, while only slightly higher in package ABV, accomplished exactly what we had hoped for. By blending an Imperial Brett orange Stout with an American Stout, we managed to round out some of the roast characters with the fruitiness of the barrel beer. The Imperial Stout was brewed back in July of 2016 and has been allowed to age for just over 15 months in a barrel with orange peel and Brett, which resulted in a distinctive chocolate/orange profile. The blending itself always turns out to be one of the most interesting parts of the process when creating Hibernator, as it’s equal parts messy and fun. Bandit brewer Ben went into more detail when talking about the process: “We start with a round-table free for all of blending samples from our stable Stouts and Porters with a wide selection of barrel beer until we get to something we like and then put it to a vote with the team.” Considering that each member of our brewery team has a very specific and different taste in beers, this can sometimes be a lengthy decision. “The final blending, once we’ve decided on a recipe, is thankfully a bit easier and all individual barrels and other beer are blended directly in the bright tank,” he adds.

When asked what plans the team has for next year’s version of Hibernator, Ben simply tells us: “ Something beefy, since we have some unrelated barrels coming out that clock in around 11% and I think next year will feature some strong Stouts mixed in with a special sour cherry Stout.”

A very limited number (300) of 750 ml bottles will be released on Friday, December 15th in our Bottle Shop. There will be a limit of 4 bottles per person on the day of the release.

* Fun tip (if you can fight the temptation to open and drink immediately): The beer is going to change a bit. Our brewers recommend letting it sit cool (8-15° C) for a few weeks to allow the Brett and wild yeast to continue to chew up some sugars and give off more flavours before cracking it. If 2016 is any indication, the final aged version pours like black Champagne.

Take Bandit Home for the Holidays: The 2017 Bandit Brewery Gift Guide

The lights on the tree are sparkling, the holiday music plays on loop everywhere, and yet, you haven’t even started your holiday shopping, have you? Trust us, we know and understand the struggle. Every year we say we’ll do better, we’ll do our shopping early to avoid the rat race that December shopping turns into, we’ll take advantage of those end of summer sales and find some real treasures that will surely impress all our loved ones (“Oh, she’s SO thoughtful and generous, that one,” they’ll say). And yet, here we find ourselves once again, trying to figure out if Amazon will be able to deliver all these last-minute gifts in time for the holidays. Make Bandit’s Bottle Shop your one-stop shopping destination this holiday season and avoid the crowds and all the noise of the mall, all while scoring some extra points for getting some unique gifts for your beer-loving mom or your Toronto-proud, raccoon-obsessed best friend.

This holiday season, we are delighted to introduce the arrival of new and unique pieces, all exclusive to the Bandit bottle-shop. With gift ideas that range from the much-coveted Bandit logo glassware to prints of your favourite Bandit label art, produced by our artist-in-residence Aurelien Vervaoke (more on him here), you’re sure to make someone extra jolly during this festive season of giving. Inspired by our love of the city of Toronto, our raccoon-themed merch is sure to stand out and bring extra holiday cheer to your festivities!

All of these items are available now in the Bandit Brewery Bottle Shop, open daily 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

For daily updates on Bottle Shop beer selection please visit:

www.banditbrewery.ca/#beer

Bandit Brewery Four-Pack (500 ml bottles): $20

Bandit Logo Tee- available in Women’s and Unisex sizes: $28.00

Bandit Brewery Bottle Opener: $4.00

Bandit Logo Stemmed Taster Glass (215 ml)- $6.00 each

Bandit Logo Flight Glass: $6.00 each

Bandit Logo (16 oz) Pint Glass: $8.00 each

Bandit Label print: $30.00

Bandit Canvas Beer Tote Bag: $25.00

Bandit Brewery Gift Card 

Smoke on the Porter cotton hoodie: $55.00