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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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 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.
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.