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Bandit’s Father’s Day Gift Guide

Every June, after scratching our heads for two weeks we finally ask: “Hey Dad, what gift would make you really happy for father’s day?” I bet you already know the answer to this: ” I don’t need anything, don’t spend your money on me,” and just like that you’re back to square one. We’ve decided to save you some trouble and make Bandit your one-stop shopping destination with gifts that are sure to put on a smile on your old man.

Bandit T-Shirt
Made with the softest cotton blend, our brand new Bandit tees are sure to steal dad’s heart. Available in sizes S-XL.

Bottle Opener
What’s the point of getting dad a four-pack if he can’t get to the beer. Sure, our bottles are nice, but the beer is even better!

Glassware
Our glassware got a whole new look a few months back and these newly designed Bandit glasses are now available for purchase in our bottle shop. Our three sizes (full pint, half pint and Imperial) will elevate the beer-drinking experience and can also double as great glasses for cognac, sangria or wine. Options are important!

The Ontario Craft Beer Guide
The freshly updated 2017 edition is an insightful, thoughtful compilation of all the incredible work Ontario breweries are doing. Penned by the knowledgeable and renowned duo of  Robin LeBlanc & Jordan St. John, this book will make you appreciate the great talent in our province and will come in handy on those provincial road-trips.

Bandit Art Prints
You can now take home large prints of our beloved Bandit label art designed by our artist-in-residence, Aurélien Vervaeken. We have a feeling that dad will enjoy our beer puns, mischievous raccoons, and Toronto references.

Beer
You just can’t go wrong with a four-pack! Our bottle shop fridge is nicely stocked in anticipation of Father’s Day. As of Friday afternoon our bottled beers for the weekend include:

Mr. Pink – Light, floral and pink – because we can’t all be Mr. Black. Brewed with hibiscus and ginger giving a light sour strawberry/kiwi character, this lower ABV pale ale will keep you going during the summer months.

8 Days a Week – An American session ale brewed exclusively with Citra hops. This light, crisp, refreshing ale finishes super clean and tropical with all around notes of papaya, pineapple, and tangerine.

Hoppelgänger – Delicate, floral Noble hops blend together into a smooth and flavourful pilsner. Geranium and Citrus hang over a light biscuit character creating the perfect balance between flavour and drinkability.

Dundas West Coast IPA 
– This west coast style IPA has a strong citrus aroma and flavours of lemon, grapefruit, and peach. This IPA is dry, crisp with a refreshing bitterness.

Smoke On The Porter – An American style porter packed with smoked malts and peppercorns. Aromas of wood smoke, birchsap, and molasses with a warm pepper finish.

Wizard of Gose – Sweet. Sour. Wonderfully fragrant. This gose (gose-uh) is refreshingly tart with strong aromas of fresh apricot and coriander and flavored with sea salt.

Bandit’s APA – The crowd-pleasing little brother of the IPA world complete with aromas of honey, orange, and pine. A perfect fit for any night.

Cone Ranger – Pine aromas and toasty malts with an assertive but not overpowering hop bitterness. This is the Brewers’ go to when they long for the embrace of the forest.

Farmed & Dangerous – A crisp and refreshing Belgian farmhouse ale with notes of clove, coriander and orange peel with a lingering aftertaste of white pepper.

You can also check our bottle shop stock on the Beer section of our site as it’s updated daily.

So there you have it. This year you’re sure to make out like a bandit and make dad really happy with any of these gifts.

Their First Time – A Discovery of Craft Beer

The Bandit beer team is (not surprisingly) extremely passionate and well-versed about beer and beer culture. They each have a favourite style, another one they despise, and lots of opinions in between. Weekly brewing meetings turn into long sessions of debates and obviously, beer drinking. As with any passion, there’s always a great story about how the love affair started. These coming-of-age stories are relevant because they ultimately reveal where certain tastes or affinities come from and give us a fuller understanding of the type of work these talented brewers are doing.

We sat down (actually, fully interrupted) one of these private brewing meetings to get to talk to each of our team members about their first experience with craft beer and how it might have influenced their drinking and brewing habits.

Julian:

“My first craft beer experience was actually a homebrew I joined in on with a friend of mine. We were making an Imperial Stout and he had a bunch of craft brews from Quebec. We sat down for an afternoon just trying all these styles of beer and before that, I wasn’t aware of the world of tasteful beer. It was a true eye opening experience. After that day I put down my 6 packs of PBR and ventured over to the craft isle! Upon completion of the imperial stout, I was not only impressed by the brewing process but how flavourful beer could get. There was no going back!”

Stephane:

“My first experience with craft beer was during my first trip overseas to the US (from France) in 2007 when I went to Chicago. While on the famous architectural boat tour on the Chicago river, I ordered a random beer on tap. It was a sort of black/brown IPA, very bitter with strong, exotic fruit notes, leaning towards lychee and grapefruit. It was so delicious and refreshing, I instantly knew I wanted to become a brewer! Just kidding, I hated the first sip, but got addicted by the end of the first pint. One of my next brews at Bandit will be an attempt to recreate this beer and the unique feeling of my first IPA.”

Ben:

“I can’t quite remember exactly what my first craft beer was. I tripped across it in an LCBO in Kingston and didn’t know a lot about the craft scene. That store didn’t have a great selection when I was younger so it caught my eye. I did not enjoy it. I thought it was super bitter and had a very strong malt character. Shortly thereafter I was in Vancouver for school and the local pub had a good selection of Russell and Phillip’s beers on tap so I got right into it. This was around when BC seemed to be going through a hop war with everyone trying to make the most bitter beer. I think Phillip’s Hop Circle was likely my initiation into IPAs and pushed me away from overly hopped IPAs. Around that same time, I ended up in a brewing club and made it my goal to try every type of beer the campus BCL had in stock, which took me 4 months before moving on to a specialty store nearby but couldn’t do it: they boasted 1500 beers.”

Mike:

“My first experience with craft beer was probably discovering Unibroue upon moving to Québec in 2001. It was so unlike anything I had tasted up to that point, and it made me realize that there could be a lot more to beer than the world of commercial pilsners ever hinted at. The ones I remember liking the most were Trois Pistoles, Maudite, and Fin du Monde, although at the time I was probably more drawn to them by the relatively low cost/high ABV ratio than anything else. My affair with these beers was passionate but short-lived, as I quickly burned out on the identical yeast-forward characteristics present and prevalent in almost all of their beers, and sadly for years I swore off “Belgian beer” entirely (unfortunately having visited Belgium twice during this period, ugh). It’s only somewhat recently that I have a newfound appreciation for beers in this style after I literally forced myself to try as many true Trappist/Abbaye style beers as I could while living in Europe, and finally realized that I actually really liked most of them. A lot.”

We want to give kudos to all these excellent beers, even the ones which names we couldn’t remember, as they all initiated our team on a life long love affair with beer. We’ll drink to those first times!

On Baewatch patrol: The return of The HasselHef

It’s no secret that our love of German culture was one of the biggest inspirations for the conception of Bandit Brewery, so we always jump at the opportunity of crafting experiences that celebrate the Germanic spirit. You may recall many a time drinking a Gose, an Altbier or a Roggen in our beer garden. ALL GERMAN!

Germans are known for their love of beer gardens, soccer, great and David Hasselhoff.  The Hoff was introduced to them just like he was with us, with Baywatch and Knight Rider, but The Hoff ended up having an incredibly successful singing (!) career there and becoming one of their bonafide superstars.

When developing plans for our first Hefeweizen, another staple of German culture, we couldn’t help but think about ways of bringing The Hoff into the mix. Ben, the brewer behind this recipe (and our pun-master extraordinaire) tells us more about how he came up with the name: “As plans for our summer Hefeweizen came to fruition, my memory jogged and remembered the old saying “don’t hassle the Hoff” and I decided to run with Hasselhef. The association is loose, but with the Hefeweizen and Hasselhoff’s German connection I couldn’t help but make the pun!”

Ben’s experience with Hefeweizens came mostly from brewing the style with friends that are avid fans of it, as he’s much more of an APA/IPA kind of guy. During Bandit’s first months of operations, he made a promise to these friends that Bandit would include a stellar wheat beer in our rotation, and boy did he deliver! “I wanted a Hefeweizen to branch out some more summer styles without having 8 IPAs on tap. Between the Hef, Wizard of Gose and Hoppelgänger, I felt like we could round out our offerings nicely,” Ben adds.

The Hasselhef proved to be a great success and a true favourite with our regulars during our first summer, so it was a no-brainer to bring it back for our second patio season. Horacio, one of Bandit’s brewers and a big fan of wheat beers, revised the recipe by using Weihenstephan yeast as well as a slightly modified malt base to produce this German Weissbier.

Bandit’s Hasselhef is best enjoyed out in the sun, with lovely company, accompanied by a delicious meal of scallops, lobster and apple desserts.
Treat yo’self, won’t you?

You’ve got a friend in Brett Bretterson

In our short, yet action-packed first year we’ve been able to craft one barrel aged brett beer (it takes time y’all!), our Hibernator 2016. In our quest to continue to experiment with this type of beer we’ve embraced the different and unexpected routes that working with Brettanomyces can bring.

Brettanomyces is a wild type of yeast that produces “funky” and complex flavours in beer. It is considered a spoilage in winemaking as it brings forward an undesirable character that makes its way into the barrels. When working with beer, it’s a completely different story. Brett can bring forward exciting notes of leather, barnyard, and fruitiness, depending on how long it sits in a brett-infused barrel.

Our new beer release, Brett Bretterson originated as a clean Saison that we put in wine barrels that contained a small amount of a wild strain of Brettanomyces. Brett can survive in wood for a very long time and once in the barrel, nothing short of burning it will get it out completely. After fermenting in the barrels for over six months, the strain revealed stronger notes in the Saison while making the beer drier and bringing up the alcohol content.

Our last Brett release, Brett or Alive, used a similar base Saison with a Brett. A strain of Brett was added in the fermenter, not in barrels, which we let go for a few weeks and kegged when it had developed to a certain point. Brett or Alive is a slightly lighter, fruitier beer with subtle earthy flavours, while Brett Bretterson is a drier, more mellow beer with a clean finish.

Brett Bretterson (7.6% ABV, 25 IBU) is now available in our bottleshop and on tap.

Pretty (and powerful) in Pink

Pink has been one of the most misunderstood colours through history. To some, it portrays a sense of daintiness, charm, tenderness, sweetness and innocence. The colour has been associated with femininity and misgendered as a female colour. It is refreshing to see new generations embracing it as a colour that demonstrates boldness, joy, and positivity. The arrival and aesthetic takeover of the trendy “millennial pink” has landed in the least expected of places, from men’s suitwear to the ever-changing sneaker culture, which demonstrates a step in the right direction. Long gone is its association with the stereotypical female icons of yore, such as Barbie. Pink is cool. Pink is strength.

A perfect example of the “cool pink” revolution is Mr. Pink, the (in)famous diamond robber and terrible tipper in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Mr. Pink has a strong opinion on himself and isn’t scared to go against society’s norms, which brings us to Bandit Brewery’s brand new Summer ’17 release: Mr. Pink, a ginger and hibiscus pale ale. This is the last beer brewed by our brewer Horacio, before his return to his native Brazil last week. By combining two of his favourite flavours with his Tarantino obsession, he was able to craft a beautiful and refreshing beer that we’re excited to introduce as our initial release of the season.

Horacio loves brewing with ginger; you might remember his excellent 7 Rings ESGinger from back in February. He loves the kick and bite that it gives to a lot of styles. Before he left he also wanted to brew with hibiscus, something he hadn’t done during his time with us.

During the brewing process, hibiscus was added at all points- in the mash tun, kettle and fermenter to impart a beautiful pink character and add a telltale slightly tart strawberry/kiwi character to the beer. Ginger was added in the kettle and gives a light brightness to the taste.
Mr. Pink is best enjoyed with…actually, we won’t tell you how to enjoy it. Be bold and choose your own adventure.
Mr. Pink is now available on tap and in our bottleshop.

A Very Bandit Year

It’s only been a few days since our official #BanditTurnsOne celebration and we’ve been feeling the love more than ever. We had an incredible weekend filled with great music (courtesy of Little Lotus), laughter and lots (and lots) of beer. Seeing the brewery packed with familiar faces and regulars brought us so much joy and made us look forward to many anniversaries ahead. We’ve decided to take down a stroll down the memory lane of our first of operations with the Bandit owners – Shehzad Hamza and Stephane Dubois.
Stephane and Shehzad’s friendship began through their mutual love of beer. After years of homebrewing, beer tourism and countless pints in our city’s wonderful craft breweries, they set off to create their own space and to make the kind of beers that they like to drink.
“Our initial idea for Bandit was to create a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere, similar to the German beer gardens,” Shehzad tells us. After years of living in Germany, Stephane was very aware and intrigued by the idea that beer can create and enhance a sense of community. It was their combined desire to bring that “feeling” to Toronto, in their own terms, that pushed them to create their dream brewery, Bandit.
A year later, and with a clear perspective, we ask them to look back at their most cherished moments in our very eventful first year. When asked about it, Shehzad tells us, “I think our opening day was the most memorable moment for me. After about a year of working on the construction of the brewery, it was amazing to finally see the space full of happy and smiling people. We were blown away by the reception from the Roncy community and are so thankful for all the love and support we’ve got over the last year.”
As for Stephane, he remembers some of our rowdier events with fondness: “Seeing all of our friends standing on top of the benches singing and dancing to Oom-pah music during our Oktoberfest party was definitively a highlight of our first year.”
Sure, it’s been a year of hard work, great successes and accomplishments, but none of it would be possible without the help and support of our incredible team. It really does take a village, y’all!
“We are super thankful to the staff at bandit who have made this place into what we dreamed it would be. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do all this without the support of my wonderful (and very patient) wife. I also wouldn’t be here without the support of all my friends who helped with the actual building of the brewery and who continue to support us every day,” Shehzad shares with us.
“I would like to thank our incredible brewery team. Every day I feel more proud of all the excellent beers we’ve created together and I can’t wait to see what we’ll come up with next,” says Stephane.
As we bring our anniversary festivities to an end, we want to take the time to thank you (yes, YOU!) for your continued love and support of Bandit Brewery. It is your loyalty and passion for our beers that keep us inspired and excited to create, improve and evolve.
Finally, you might be wondering what big plans we have for this second year of our Bandit adventure. Although not one to share too many details about his upcoming plans, Stephane kindly shares with us: “The big focus is of course on our beers – we are pretty excited with some of our new ideas and experiments. A lot more barrel aged stuff and more experimental stuff.”
Lots to look forward to. We hope you’ll join us for another year of great fun.

Bandit’s B-Day Beer Reveal: Introducing Hazed and Infused

You’ve read about it. You’ve heard about it. You’ve booked the date and made plans with pals. Yup, we’re (obviously) talking about our upcoming #BanditTurnsOne celebration on Saturday, May 6th !

We’ve lined up a lot of fun stuff – live performances by Toronto-native, Bandit-loving Little Lotus. Our kitchen will be setting up BBQ on our patio. Still, what would #BanditTurnsOne be without beer?

For our one-year anniversary, we decided to do things a bit differently. Since our opening in 2016, we’ve been fortunate to have a brewery and kitchen staff that is mainly composed of home-brewers and verified beer-heads. They keep track of every step the brewery team takes and can list you the majority of ingredients in each of our beers. This time around we wanted to have them be a part of the process, especially considering this is our one-year anniversary beer and they’ve been an integral part of our development and growth. Under the lead of brewer Julian, they’ve created Hazed and Infused, a peach-infused North East Pale Ale.

“The staff’s initial goal was to make a fruity, light summer beer designed to be enjoyed during our anniversary party on our patio. Our brewpub manager, Dwayne, had been tinkering with this recipe at home with great results, so we decided to go for it and share the deliciousness with our Bandit friends,” Julian tells us.

The brew day was a really rewarding experience for all. Those staff members not familiar with home brewing wanted to learn, and the one’s familiar with the process wanted to learn even more about brewing a much bigger batch in a more complex system. Under the supervision of our brewery team, the staff was involved in everything, from the mashing of the grains to sparging, boiling, transferring, and pitching of the yeast. It was a truly collaborative effort by all and it made us real proud of our Bandit family.

Hazed and Infused sits pretty close to our other Pale Ales on the citrus front but the introduction of peach in the second fermentation elevate it to another level and make it a really special beer, exactly what we wanted for #BanditTurnsOne. After all, this beer is symbolically pretty much our birthday cake. The “Hazed” element comes from the use of malted wheat and oat flakes on the malt bill, which makes it a cloudy beer. The beer’s light malt base is nicely complimented by a tart peach flavour and aroma. A smooth citrus bitterness lingers.

Hazed and Infused will be released at 5 pm on Saturday, May 6th during #BanditTurnsOne.

Super chill vibes guaranteed.

Hazed and Infused: peach-infused North East Pale Ale. 6.1% ABV. 78 IBU

 

Introducing: Brett or Alive (Brett Saison)

Our Farmed & Dangerous Saison has been a Bandit staple since opening day. Its crisp and refreshing taste make it an everyday beer and one of our most beloved brews. It only made sense then to tinker with our recipe and create a new Brett version of it just in time for the kick-off of patio season.

Our Farmed & Dangerous is developed using Saccharomyces yeast, the kind used in most beers. In our new Brett or Alive, the use of a Brett (Brettanomyces) strain, a wild yeast, for the secondary fermentation, creates new “funky” flavours that add some complexity to the recipe. Brett or Alive is a slightly lighter, drier, fruitier beer with subtle earthy flavours. In general, depending on the strain, the type of use, and the duration of the process, Brett can create intense flavours and aromas described as leather, barnyard, earthy, and even leaning towards mushroom!

Brett has gained much popularity in the last decade because of the craft beer movement. Brewers are excited to experiment and play with yeast just as much as they do with hops.

We spoke to Stephane, our brewer at the helm of this new beer, about his experience with Brett yeast and what pushed him to keep exploring this style of beers (our first Brett beer was our limited-release Hibernator 2016, a barrel aged Brett blend). “Growing up in France, the first Brett beer I tried is Orval, a quite unique Belgian Trappist beer,” he tells us. “It’s an acquired taste for some, but I was hooked from the first sip!”

The brewing process for this type of beer is also quite unique and sometimes complicated since Brett can be very invasive if not handled properly, although the payback is usually very rewarding. “With this version of Brett or Alive, we are adding Brett in secondary fermentation, but it is also possible to do a 100% Brett fermentation,” Stephane tells us. “Brett also benefits from being added in ageing barrels since it gives the beer more time to develop unique flavours.”

We plan to slowly release other versions of our Brett or Alive in the coming months using different Brett strains to highlight other specific types of funkiness.

Our Brett or Alive pairs perfectly with cheese and is a perfect beer to be enjoyed on our patio this season. As for the best music to enjoy while drinking it, Stephane recommends the quietness of a Belgian monastery, or better yet (and much more accessible to us Torontonians), cottage country.

Brett or Alive (Brett Saison, 5.9%) is now available on tap and will soon be available in our bottle shop.

Why So Sour: Bandit’s Wizard of Gose

Until the 80s, Gose was a style of beer that was pretty much a thing of mythology. From its humble beginnings, early in the 1600s, in the small town of Goslar (hence the name), it’s a style of beer that relied on spontaneous fermentation to achieve its sourness. As the beer became more popular in the 1800s, brewers realised that they could get the same results using lactic acid bacteria and yeast. This discovery allowed brewers to experiment with the style while being able to have more control over the fermentation process. Still, Gose remained a staple style of the region and didn’t have the reach or popularity of other styles.

After World War II, the beer disappeared for decades, only to make a return in the 1980s. After that, it went unnoticed for a while as brewers considered it to be too much of an experimental style. The modern craft beer movement finally brought Gose out of obscurity. As a lot of homebrewers became leaders in the craft industry the trend carried over. Our appetite for novelty and “funky” beers have made this style popular with both brewers and beer lovers alike. Sours provided an interesting avenue of experimentation. The blend of spice, salt, sourness and sweetness is a pretty wide canvas to play with. Many Goses are flavoured with various fruits and spices that can open up interesting new avenues for beer drinkers. The sourness has also helped tap into a niche group of drinkers and can act, in some ways, as a malt-based lemonade type drink.

Our brewers decided early on that a Gose had to be in our beer line. What started off as simple experimentation with kettle souring has now become one of our most beloved beer: The Wizard of Gose. “I wanted to do some work with lactic acid bacteria and decided a milder sour, such as a Gose, would be more appealing than a traditionally more sour beer such as Berliner Weisse,” brewer Ben Morris tells me. ” I chose apricot to get a bit more of a complicated aroma and flavour. I always found apricots had a pleasant level of tartness with enough acidity in the background to make them enjoyable even in oppressive heat. Blending that tartness with sea salt and coriander fills out the flavour and taste and seemed like the perfect combination,” he adds. 

Our Gose would be slightly more sour than a traditional German Gose, but it sits middle of the road compared to others. “I tend to keep a bit more body in our version to help push the beer more towards tart than straight sour, and use a strain of lactic acid that is known to produce some light berry flavours to fill out the flavour a bit,” says Ben.

Goses tend to be soured in the kettle using lactic acid bacteria. We usually need about 18 hours to sour a batch before boiling and fermenting as usual. Near the end of fermentation, we add apricots and let the yeast work on the fruit sugars before adding some sea salt.

The Wizard of Gose is best enjoyed cold, fresh, and on the patio. Ben finishes up our chat with: “I think nothing will help more on a hot summer day than a cold pint of apricot-ade.”

The Wizard of Gose is now available on tap and in our bottle shop.

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.