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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.

A Game Changer: from Citra to Amarillo

When we first released our 8 Days A Week Session Ale we decided it would be a beer that would feature a single hop in order to truly showcase the innate, natural aromas of each individual hop. Our initial release featured Citra hops and immediately gained popularity amongst our regulars because of its tropical notes of papaya, pineapple, and tangerine. This week we’re thrilled to introduce our second version of 8 Days A Week, this time featuring Amarillo hops.

We sat down with Julian, the mastermind behind this beer, to discuss the changes in this new version. When the first 8 Days A Week was released Julian told us all about his deep love for Citra hops, so we were curious about what drove him to switch hops for this new summer version. “The hops were changed from Citra to Amarillo because I wanted to highlight another very unique hop. Although still within the same citrus family, Amarillo leans closer to fruits such as peach, apricot, and mango,” he tells us.

JuIian’s experience with Citra is vast, as it’s been his go-to hop when home brewing and tinkering with recipes. His knowledge of Amarillo is also extensive: “I’ve brewed with Amarillo countless times before and in several Bandit beers, such as Cone Ranger. The results are never disappointing. It’s a great all-around hop, so picking it for a single hopped beer was a no-brainer!”

Single hopped beers are unique in the way they allow a real showcase of the hop being profiled. They’re also a great way for new beer drinkers starting to familiarize themselves with the craft beer world to taste all the qualities of the specific hop and understand how it impacts the flavour and aromatic qualities of the beer. One of the challenges in brewing this beer style is picking a malt base that will provide enough body but not interfere with the hops, while re-enforcing hop flavour and adding mouth feel.

So what does Julian and the rest of our brewing team have in mind for future versions of 8 Days A Week? “I’d like to brew this beer with Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Sorachi Ace and Challenger hops. You gotta switch it up and have fun with it along the way!” Julian adds.

This great patio beer is light enough that you can drink it completely by itself (rain or shine because WHAT A SUMMER) or paired with anything coming off your BBQ this Canada Day: hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, steak, grilled veggies, all of it!  Its smoothness and simplicity will help add flavour to the meal of your choice.

Amarillo, 8 Days A Week Session Ale is available as of Friday, June 30th on tap and in our bottleshop.

 

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