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So far bbadmin has created 14 blog entries.

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.

Bandit’s Beach Boy: Dundas West Coast IPA

Picture it. Early 2008. Seattle, Washington. A group of French travellers fight their jet-lag in order to make it in time to The Whiskey Bar. Their mission: to finally try a West Coast IPAs, a style of beer that hadn’t yet reached France, a country not known for its beer culture.

They dropped their luggage off and mission accomplished. After several pints of extremely bitter and citrusy IPAs, Stephane Dubois, owner and brewer of Bandit Brewery, began his love affair with West Coast style IPAs. “Those beers were so bitter that I could still taste the bitterness the next morning! I probably loved these beers as much as my friends hated them, and I have been the biggest fan of West Coast IPA’s since then,” he tells us.

It seems appropriate then that Stephane would be the mastermind behind our Dundas West Coast IPA. This west coast style IPA has a strong citrus aroma and flavours of lemon, grapefruit and peach. It is dry, crisp, and has a refreshing bitterness. As a side-kick to our English-style Cone Ranger IPA, a maltier beer brewed with Simcoe hops, Dundas West Coast IPA is an excellent showcase of the characteristics of Citra and Amarillo hops, especially since we use LOTS of hops in the process. As for the name, we couldn’t resist but pay tribute to our “neck of the woods”.

We asked Stephane how he plans to enjoy this beer in the coming months: “Probably lying on Ward Island beach, eating a hot dog with a stereo playing Surfin’ USA,” he tells us.

Dundas West Coast IPA is now available on tap and at the Bandit bottleshop. 

 

Here Comes the Sun: Introducing Aequinox IIPA

The arrival of spring brings with it tulips, easter eggs, and crisp beers that feel like a much-needed refreshment after endless months of snow and below-zero temperatures. The Vernal Equinox, or Spring Equinox, is a time when day and night find balance and become of equal lengths. Ancient cultures associated it with being a time of rebirth, so it’s quite fitting that we’re introducing a brand-new IIPA, a style we’ve perfected with our Tsarina Bomb, brewed exclusively with Equinox (Ekuanot) hops.

Helmed by our brewer, Ben, this new beer is a smooth Imperial IPA bursting with aromas of berries, citrus and melon. It’s our first time using these hops, which was one of our main reasons for creating the Aequinox. “The choice of equinox was to showcase a hop variety we haven’t used before and brew a big beer to see out the winter and welcome in the spring,” says Ben. “We hope that the fruit aromas will invoke the not too far off summer with the high alcohol keeping off the seemingly perpetual cold.”

With the introduction of Equinox, we asked Ben if we can look forward to more beers like this in the following months: “This will be our first spring release. We have a few more batches up our sleeves for when the weather breaks and the ground starts to get green once again. “

We look forward to warm days ahead and to the promise of new beers to come.

Our new Aequinox will be available on Monday, March 20th in both our bottleshop (11 am) and brewpub (5 pm).

On beer + food

When first developing the menu for our brewpub, we wanted to make sure that the food was made to compliment our beers, or that the beer itself was an ingredient in these dishes. As both our food offerings and our beer list has grown and evolved, we decided to chat with our chef, Charles, about what his ideal pairings are for a great Bandit experience.

We gave Charles the very difficult task to match a few of our staples with what he considers to be the ideal Bandit beer. Charles’ approach to pairing is much more about contrasting flavours, not so much complimenting ones. He believes in playing with the ying-yang of taste in order to create something new and compelling.

Beer Battered Cheese Curds 

“I recommend our new pilsner, Hoppelgänger, for the clean, crisp quality that will compliment the sweetness of the cheese curds”, he tells us. Then again, there’s no bad pairing for cheese curds. We’ll pair them with water if it comes down to it. 

Charcuterie Board

As our charcuterie selection can change on the daily, it’s hard to pinpoint a specific beer to accompany it. Still, if it was Charles’ choice, he recommends a sour, like our Wizard of Gose. ” It brings out the savoury qualities of all the flavours on the board.” 

Steak & Potatoes

Our steak is marinated in our Smoke On The Porter for two days before the sous-vide. ” Our Brine of the Ancient Mariner Oyster Stout is going to be a delicious pairing in this case, but any of our stouts & porters will match well with the flavours on this plate.” The chimichurri oil on the steak only adds to the intricate flavours that come as a result of the pairing. 

Country Fried Chicken

“Our fried chicken is already a wonderful mixture of tastes and texture. Tsarina Bomb IIPA has all of the same characteristics and should complement the dish in a number of ways”, Charles tells us. The maltiness of our IIPA contrasts quite nicely with this dish, especially when topped with our hot sauce made in house using peppers. 

Zucchini & Eggplant “Ravioli”

Vegetarian and gluten-free, this dish is a myriad of flavours working together. “7 Rings ESGinger has all the right notes to balance the acidity of the tomato sauce, while the “ravioli” (zucchini and eggplant) itself will bring out the earthiness in our English Ale.”

To top it off, we recommend you get our Sticky Toffee Pudding, made with a Porter-infused caramel, so no pairing necessary for this cherry-on-top.

The State Of The Union: The return of our American Pale Ale

Our Bandit’s APA is back at the brewery after a few weeks off and we know how happy this news will make some of our friends. Part of the OG crew of staple Bandit beers, alongside Farmed & Dangerous and Smoke On The Porter, this little brother of the IPA world has quickly become a favourite amongst regulars and staff.

APAs are a bit nebulous when it comes to a definition. By and large, they are moderately bitter pale beers hovering between 5% and 6% ABV, and while they have some pronounced bitterness, they are milder than IPAs and usually less assertive in all rounds of hopping.

We asked Ben, our brewer, what his personal history with this style of beer is and why it was one of the first beers we brewed at Bandit:

“My personal history with them is pretty new. I spent the first good portion of my beer drinking life sticking to stouts and porters before switching to the hop forward styles. At that time BC seemed to have been going through a bitterness arms race with each brewery trying to make the bitterest IPA possible. Some were good, others were somewhat drinkable, but it pushed me towards the lower end of the bitterness spectrum and into APAs which weren’t quite as popular yet.”

Pale ales are fairly straightforward compared to many other styles. They generally have a fairly simple grain bill and use clean fermenting yeasts, although the variation we see in the style now allows for a lot of flexibility in terms of ingredients. Ultimately the style highlights the qualities of the hops used. The grains and yeast should play a supporting role in showing off the flavours and aromas derived from hop varieties and hopping techniques.

Our APA uses a combination of Ontario and US hops as well as a few different malts to give some honey and fruit aromas to add another dimension to the beer.

APAs have a general appeal. They are normally lower alcohol, have a lighter body, with enough bitterness to balance the beer and a lot of flavour and aroma. When they first hit the market they were entirely new and a vast change from the traditional North American Lager which dominated the markets. With the flourishing of beer styles in the last 20-30 years or so, the APA has remained a favourite as breweries have experimented with weirder and more niche styles such as Imperials, super bitter IPAs, sours and fruit beers. To the casual drinker, the APA is not only an easy stepping stone into the wild world of beer styles, but a great balance between flavour, drinkability and enjoyment.

Bandit’s APA is a beer for everyone.

 

 

Introducing: The Hoppelgänger

It may only be February, but we’re already getting in that hopeful spring mood. Perhaps as a result of this unexpected mid-winter heatwave (we haven’t worn a parka in weeks) or simply because we’re counting the days to patio season, but this influx of good vibes has made it the perfect time to release Hoppelgänger.

Hoppelgänger takes the idea of a traditional Pilsner and turns the volume up on all fronts. We wanted to create something crushable that really showcases the subtle qualities of German Noble hops, which were dry-hopped to balance the beer’s original maltiness without overpowering it.

This new Hopper Pilsner has delicate, floral Noble hops, which 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. Sitting at 5% ABV, this is the ideal beer for a Sunday brunch with friends while dreaming of hot days ahead. 

With such a crisp finish, this beer really pairs well with most foods, but as our brewer Horacio tells us, “you can’t get any better than pairing it with German foods such as currywurst or other sausages.” If you’re drinking a Hoppelgänger while visiting our brewpub, our chef Charles recommends pairing it with our fried chicken or with our cheese board, as we’ve updated it with a fresh paneer cheese, which would complement the beer quite nicely.

Our new Hoppelgänger is available now at the brewpub and our bottleshop.

Citra, Eight Days A Week Session IPA

If you were to visit Bandit during brewing hours, you would be impressed by the variety of music our team plays. Everyone from Julio Iglesias to Chance The Rapper serve as constant inspiration, and long workdays turn into full-out jam sessions. The driving force behind this is Julian, the youngest Bandit in our brewing staff. Julian takes great pride in his passion for beer and music, so we weren’t surprised to find where his inspiration for our new beer came from.

“Some years ago when brewing was first introduced to me, I became fascinated with the world of hops,” Julian tells us.  “In the coming years I brewed with many different types of hops from around the globe in countless styles of beer, but I’ll never forget the first bag of Citra I opened. The tropical explosion was sensational and I had found my favourite hop… ever! While writing the recipe for Citra, Eight Days A Week Session IPA I wanted to encapsulate as much as that personal nostalgia as possible.  I was also listening to a lot of The Beatles at the time…”

His concept behind this Session IPA was to make a beer that really showcases Citra’s qualities, giving the hop the full spotlight. He kept the malt bill somewhat neutral with the use of melanoidin malt in order to give the beer a slight biscuit flavour. He smoothed out any bitterness and brought the aromatic hop forward.

“Dry hopped with Citra, this Session is as aromatic as can be,” he tells us. Indeed, the notes of papaya, pineapple and tangerine really shine through after a clean finish.

How does Julian picture people trying out this beer?

“This beer is best enjoyed with friends alongside your favourite record on a sunny day. If pairing beer with munchies is your thing look to salty/ fried foods like french fries and assorted nuts, curry dishes, and of course grilled meats… Steaks and hamburgers for the win!”

Our Citra, Eight Days Of The Week Session IPA is now available at our brewpub and bottleshop.

From Brazil With Love: 7 Rings ESGinger

As Bandit Brewery evolved over the past few months, we’ve been able to grow our brewery team considerably, bringing incredibly talented and inspired brewers into our Bandit family.

Horacio Jose started working with us soon after his arrival from Brazil, where he started out as an award- winning home brewer and ran his own micro-brewery, Beers Of War. His dedication and love of beer is contagious and he always manages to bring exciting new ideas to our table. During his time as a brewer in his native Brazil, he focused on English style beers with a twist; his Ginger IPA went on to win the country’s most important home-brewing award.

Our 7 Rings ESGinger is an updated version of his recipe, as ESB yeast is much more accessible in Canada. “The whole idea was to make a classic English style with something that reminded me of home”, he tells us. “I used crisp pale ale malt as a base, with crystal malts, English hops and an English strain yeast. I chose ginger to match the earthy character of the English hops.” A staple of the English pub, this Extra Special “Bitter” (British for draught beer) is a rich amber ale with a smooth malt character, classic English hops and sliced ginger to impart a bit of liveliness.

Horacio would pair our 7 Rings ESGinger with Thai food or an excellent aged cheddar.

Our new 7 Rings ESGinger is now available at our brewpub and bottleshop.