Container Review – Modern Times Lomaland

The container for today is Modern Times Beer – Lomaland.

Modern Times – Lomaland – front
Name: Well thought out, unique, and explained in the text. Kudos.
Art work: What art work? This is what a friend of mine would call crisp and clean, and what I would call boring.

Modern Times – Lomaland – back
Beer description: They provide a great description that lets me really understand the flavors I’m about to experience.
Just the facts: SRM, IBU, and even the final gravity. Tally ho!
Pop top: Nothing interesting going on here.
Label quality: A few dents in the can. But they are likely my fault.

The long awaited Mill Street Brewery visit

As I’ve mentioned beforeMill Street Brewery in Toronto is where I first started getting serious about collecting beer bottles way back in 2005.  I don’t remember how I found out about them, but I remember getting very excited about the concept of a “coffee porter” at a place that actually brewed their own beer.  It was all so new to me.  I hijacked a friend and dragged him over to the Distillery District where we walked nearly empty streets and found a small Mill Street Brewery sign.  What we found inside was what you currently see all the time in tap rooms across the world.  There were a few tables, a bar with a few stools, one person behind the bar, and a bunch of brewing equipment in a restricted area behind the bar. I walked away with a t-shirt, 3 bottles, and the start of a collection.

Mill Street Coffee Porter and Tankhouse Ale
Mill Street Barley Wine

You can probably imagine that I was pretty damn excited about going back to Toronto this year.  My plane was going to land at 2pm on a Sunday and I would have plenty of time to get to my hotel, unpack, and head on over to Mill Street for a reunion before starting work the next day.  In my mind, I pictured Mill Street as I remembered it.  Maybe just bigger.  Wasn’t I in for a big surprise.  I started to realize just how big they had become when I got onto the plane wearing my 2005 Mill Street Brewing t-shirt and the flight attendant pointed at my shirt and declared “we have that beer on the plane”.  I knew I was going to the brewery and the beer would probably be cheaper there.  But, I had to get one on the plane just for the experience.

Mill Street Organic Lager on the plane

I continued to be surprised at the size of Mill Street when I took the train from the airport to Union Station and saw a permanent-ish Mill Street beer tent right out on the street.

Mill Street beer tent outside Union Station

Then I went to the Distillery District and the new size fully hit home.  The once nearly empty district itself was now crawling with businesses and people.  Where there once was a small shop with a few employees, there was a Beer Hall packed to the rafters with customers and employees.  On a Sunday night, there must have been at least 20 employees on site (I have no facts to back this up.  Just the impression I got).  This place had become huge.

Approaching Mill Street Beer Hall
Mill Street Beer Hall packed with people

I started my trip there in the best way I know how.  I got a flight and stuffed a few coasters into my pocket.

Mill Street flight of beers

I talked with the bar tender for a while and discovered that the little place I had been to in 2005 was still around.  It had just expanded enormously (even within the old building).  I went over to the old building and found at least some remnants of the old place I knew, surrounded by a massive brewpub and a gift shop.

Old distillery equipment still hanging around Mill Street
A small portion of the Mill Street gift shop
Maybe half of the Mill Street giant brew pub area

They even have biershnaps now.  However, at $40 a bottle I wasn’t going to get any this time around.  Keep an eye out for it later in this post.

Mill Street bierschnaps

I waffled a bit on whether or not to take the $10 tour of the brewery (when you’ve seen enough breweries, you already have a pretty good idea what you’re going to see).  But, I decided to go ahead with it, just because the place means so much to me.  Spoiler alert!… if you find yourself in the area, take the tour!

Mill Street brewing equipment

As it turned out, I was the only person that wanted a tour at 7pm on a Sunday night.  Go figure.  What that got me was 1 on 1 time with the tour guide (who happened to be the same guy I had been talking to in the gift shop for the last half hour).  Because he knew I already have a good working knowledge of how brewing works, he was able to skip all of the stuff for standard tours and really get into the history of the Distillery District and Mill Street Brewing.  A good tour guide can make all the difference.  And my guide (David) was incredible.  I learned many things, oh my brothers.  I found out that Canada also had a prohibition.  I found out that the founders of the Gooderham and Worts distillery (for which the district is named) had unimaginable numbers of children.  I discovered that the brewing equipment we were looking at was now used for small batches and the majority of the brewing was conducted at a facility in Scarborough.

Then… at last… I found out how and why Mill Street Brewing had such an impressive distribution as to be found in every bar across Canada and even on Air Canada flights.  My heart broke just a little bit when I found out that Mill Street was purchased by Labatt in 2015.  Labatt, in turn, is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.  So, Budweiser now owns my memories.  But, I have been assured (David, I’m holding you to this come hell or high water) that most of their growth happened before the Labatt purchase and that, so far, Labatt was being extremely hands off.  The owner and brewmaster (since 2005) are still quite active and running the show.  I must say, after 11 years, I still have enormous respect for this brewery. I’m just going to go ahead and think of them as the Boston Beer Company of Canada.  Huge, but still doing it right.

Before you know it the tour ended and David brought me to yet a third dining/drinking area where I could see the distillery used to make the bierschnaps.  He also provided me with a flight of beer and a sample of the bierschnaps.

Mill Street distillery
Third Mill Street bar on site (that I saw, there could be more)
Third Mill Street dining/drinking area

As a final thought, I want to present some quick math for those who might be considering the tour.  I paid $13 for a flight of beer when I first arrived at the Beer Hall.  When I walked into the gift shop to book my $10 tour, I was handed a sample of beer.  Then, when the tour started, I was handed a larger sample of beer.  At the end of the tour, I was provided with a flight of beer and a shot of the bierschnaps (the second shot in the picture I ordered on my own).  So, I was provided with far, far more than $10 worth of beer on the tour.  Seriously… take the tour.

Flight and bierschnaps at end of tour

And, finally, the way I end most of my brewery visit posts.  I walked away from Mill Street having purchased 10 beers (the Organic Lager in the picture is the one from the plane), a new t-shirt (the 2005 version can now be stashed away for safe keeping), and a few pieces of hops that they let me rub together in my hands to experience the odor.

Mill Street Brewing items for the collection


Container Review – Yards Brawler

Today, I’m taking a look at Yards Brewing Co. – Brawler.

Yards Brawler – front

Name: Excellent.  Most of Yards beers (at least the ones that I have seen) are named after US Founding Fathers.  Good to see them venture out into other areas. I’m not sure that a “Pugilist Style Ale” is an actual thing, but what do I know about beer.

Art work: Quite nice.  Ties the theme together.  I’m sure there’s a story about why the Brawler is boxing the Devil.  Wish I know what that story was.

Yards Brawler description
Yards Brawler neck label
Yards Brawler additional description
Yards Brawler even yet more description
Beer description: The big description on the main label covers the brewery and the additional description on the neck label covers the beer.  Pretty thorough.
Just the facts: Just ABV.  Wish there was more considering all of the descriptions going on.
Bottle neck label: It’s there and it has lots of info.  Go team.
Label quality: This is an example of why I evaluate label quality.  This neck label is peeling back.  Sometimes this can be caused by condensation, but I looked through every bottle available and this was the best hey had to offer.  Too many breweries just don’t put forth a lot of effort on this front.  Time to step up your game Yards.

Yards Brawler cap

Bottle cap:  Nice artwork on the cap.

Container Review – Parish Brewing Canebrake

Today’s review is for Parish Brewing Company – Canebrake.  Enjoy.

Parish Brewing – Canbrake – front
Name: Creative name.  No idea what it means, but it’s creative.
Art work: I like the use of a single color.  It’s simple, but still creative.

Parish Brewing – Canbrake – description

Beer description:  They say it’s a Louisiana style wheat, but don’t provide any description of what that means.  Just a stock statement about all their beers.
Just the facts: All about the ABV.  But, nothing else.
Parish Brewing – Canbrake – cap


Bottle cap: Nice Parish Brewing artwork on the top.  Still rocking the single color scheme.
Label quality: Good quality.  Nothing peeling away.
Bottle neck label: None

Container Review – New Belgium Hoppy Blonde

Let’s take a trip to New Belgium (or just about any grocery story) and check out New Belgium – Hoppy Blonde.

Name:  Just the type of beer.  This is a bit out of character for New Belgium.  They are usually pretty good about coming up with descent names.
Art work:  Parachutes.  Hmmmm.  OK?

Beer description:  Ahhh.  Now we get it.  There is a flavor “free-fall” to be had.  Parachutes making at least some sort of sense now.
Just the facts: Just ABV.  Par for the course for New Belgium.

Bottle cap:  Yup.  That’s a New Belgium cap alright.
Label quality: This label has a lot of visible ridges where condensation and glue didn’t feel like playing well together.  Every bottle I grabbed looked the same.  This one wasn’t my fault.
Bottle neck label: None.

Container Review – Ayinger Celebrator

We’re heading across the great water today to review the bottle for Ayinger – Celebrator.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock front
Name: The name makes me feel happy (which I’m sure is much the point)
Art work: Hard to go wrong with goats and beer.  Good art work.
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock neck bling

Bottle neck label: Not only do they have a neck label, they have neck bling!  I had to get an extra bottle of it just so I could give Mrs. UsedHair a goat decoration in hopes that she wouldn’t steal mine.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock description

Beer description:  Short and sweet.  But it does give me an idea of what I’ll be drinking.  Mission accomplished.

Just the facts: Just ABV.

Bottle cap: Plain white.  Must have blown the budget on the neck bling.
Label quality: It’s on straight and not peeling anywhere.  Far better than I can say for most others.

Container Review – Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout

Let’s take a look at the bottle for Lazy Magnolia – Jefferson Stout.

Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout front
Name: Not sure who Jeff is, but it’s at least more than just the style of beer.
Art work: Not a whole lot going on in the art department here.  More design work than art work.
Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout description
Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout additional description
Beer description: Very nice description of the beer and what I can expect to taste when I dip into it.  Also, it’s apparently “The Ideal Sweet Southern Stout” in case you were wondering.
Just the facts: No IBU or SRM.  But they do give you some food pairing suggestions.
IMG_5350 (1)
Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout cap

Bottle cap: Nice image on the cap.  And I’m even less likely at this point to forget that they are from Mississippi

Label quality: Good, water resistant paper.  All of the labels are on straight and nothing is peeling away.
Bottle neck label: No neck label.

Container Review – Benchmark Table Beer

Time for another container review.  Today’s lucky winner is Benchmark Brewing CompanyTable Beer.

Benchmark Table Beer front
Name: Description of the beer.  Dullsville.
Art work: Crisp, Clean, and simple.  Not bad, but not my style.  I like complicated artwork with lots of detail.  I do like the highly reflective can surface being used (even though it makes pictures hard to capture).
Benchmark Table Beer back

Beer description: Lots of description of where/when to drink the beer.  But, not much in the way of describing the actual beer.  Leaves me with a lot of questions such as: What is a table beer?  Is there some history to the name/style?  Is this a light beer, a hoppy beer, a yeasty beer?

Just the facts: ABV only.  Still not answering any of my questions about color, bitterness, types of malts or yeasts used, etc.  But I have plenty of information on their social media outlets.
Pop top:  Nothing new here.  Standard pop top.
Label quality: The can has a few crinkles.  Only defects are my own fault. Benchmark is blame free on this one.

Toronto haul

Here is the final haul from Toronto. 49 full cans and bottles in the checked bags.

Full cans and bottles from Toronto

And 14 empty bottles.

Empty bottles from Toronto

That was a lot of beer to drag back.  Thinking I need to scale these hauls back a bit.

Or are you just happy to see me?

So, I’m in Toronto at a restaurant, with a group of 11 people, and I have a few beers in bottles that will make it into my collection. Nothing new there. I’m a good 15 minute walk from my hotel and I stick one bottle in each pocket, because it looks the tiniest bit less stupid than walking down the street with a pair of empty bottles in my hand.

Bottle in my pocket

Again, nothing new here.  Except that the group that I’ve agreed to hang out with tonight (6 of us) decides that we are going to check out Toronto’s primary tourist trap, the CN Tower.

CN Tower

We walk to the tower and, before I can even buy a ticket, I have to go through a security screening.  So, now I’m explaining to these guys why I have two empty beer bottles and why I’m NOT going to throw them away. They think I’m weird (and they are correct), but they let me through.  Now I just have to wait on line for well over an hour to go up an elevator.  At the top, there are some glass floors where you can look straight down.  Here’s a picture looking down from the top of the CN Tower in which you can clearly see one of the bottles still in my pocket.

Bottle still in my pocket

Crazy.  All told, I spent about 3-4 hours with a bottle in each pocket.  That’s uncomfortable on both a physical and emotional level (because I know I look like an idiot when I do it).  Sometimes you have to pay for your passion with more than just money.