FIELD TRIP | On Navigating Memory And Very Good Beer At Toronto’s Bellwood’s Brewery

May 30, 2017.

BWO-7637a-(1)

by Carlos Mendes | Whether it’s a function of the nature of memory and nostalgia, or just the brain’s inability to conceptualize broad expanses of time and space, it’s funny how common it is for migrants (both internal and external) to carry around a mental and emotional image of their abandoned home that’s frozen in time. So while the cities, towns and countries left behind continue to evolve following a migrant’s departure, in their heart and their mind, these spaces remain seemingly unchanged (often creating a stark emotive dichotomy between the unknowns of the adopted territory and – thanks to the numbing effects of nostalgia – the comforts and familiarities of their birthplace). I definitely encountered this phenomenon when I was growing up, but always thought it was a more of a reflection on my family, and a figment of the uniquely Portuguese propensity for melancholic longing and nostalgia (a.k.a. Saudades). It wasn’t until I learned from a colleague in grad school (who was writing her dissertation on this very subject) that I realized how common this experience really is. You see, she had interviewed a large number of migrants, from multiple different points of origin, and had found that this shared commonality of impression cuts across lines of age, ethnicity, and culture.

So, I know what you’re thinking right about now – what exactly does any of this have to do with beer? Well, I grew up in Toronto, but apart from a two-year stint in grad school 12 years ago, I haven’t lived there since 1999. And although I always understood on a rational level that Toronto, like any city, was in a constant state of flux, the mental and emotional impression I carried around were of the city that I’d left behind. For a beer industry type, this disconnect was especially evident in my preconceptions of Toronto’s craft beer scene. You see, as I watched the craft beer industry proliferate in our little corner of the world, transforming our neighbourhoods and our local cultures, I always kinda thought that things were a little different back in Ontario. These days I’m definitely aware that there are over 180 breweries in Ontario – but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, until around the time that Bellwood’s opened in 2012, I was blissfully unaware of how far Ontario’s craft beer industry had progressed since I came out west. So while I happily toasted the latest locally-made triple IPA, Flanders red or bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout, I always envisioned my friends back in Ontario drinking the same malt-forward ales and central European lagers that I’d left behind.

Enter Toronto’s Bellwood’s Brewery. Like Four Winds’ impact in our neck of the woods, Bellwood’s 2012 arrival was a bit of a ‘game changer’ in Toronto’s beer scene, elevating it to a completely different level (they also happen to produce the kinds of beer that you’re most likely to find in my fridge or my cellar on any given day – big IPAs, new world sours, and barrel-aged farmhouse ales and imperial stouts – so maybe I’m a bit biased here). However, before this past Christmas, I hadn’t been back to Toronto in eight years, so while I’d tried a few of their beers, I’d completely missed out on visiting Bellwood’s.

Fortunately, over an eight-day trip last December I had the opportunity to make multiple visits to their Ossington Village brewpub, sample a wide assortment of their offerings, and grab more than a few bottles to bring home.

The room itself has a clean, almost industrial aesthetic with ample whimsy, character and irreverence thrown in for good measure. Bellwood’s stellar branding also features prominently, with several brilliant label design posters on display – which they also sell in the bottle shop located next door (personally, I always appreciate when a brewery with as much of a focus on seasonality and creativity puts this much thought and care into their branding).

As for the beer, everything I tried was on-point, with notable mentions for Jelly King, a dry-hopped sour, the 2016 3 Minutes to Midnight, an imperial stout barrel aged with cherries, and Farmageddon, a barrel aged, bottle conditioned brett saison. Bellwood’s also has a full kitchen at the Ossington Village brewpub, offering an ever-changing assortment of solid charcuterie and cheese options as part of their focussed, seasonal menu (my cheese plate featured some beautiful brie paysan which paired effortlessly with both the tart earthiness of the Farmageddon and the warming, boozy richness of 3 Minutes to Midnight). But the absolute stand-out pairing for me was their whipped chicken liver mousse and sour cherry compote with the 2016 Montmorency Cherry Farmageddon.

Every year Bellwood’s releases limited quantities of this gorgeous farmhouse ale, produced by aging their flagship brett saison in Niagara Montmorency cherries. Balancing brett with fruit can be tricky, but Bellwood’s executed this dance perfectly in the nuanced 2016 iteration I tried. As with the standard version of this beer, the brett funk is evident, but isn’t overly prominent, creating a perfect harmony with subtle notes of oak and cinnamon, and the tartness of the Montmorency cherries. The bright effervescence and the dry, mild salinity present in the regular Farmageddon remains, and did a fantastic job of cutting through the richness of the chicken liver. The subtle peppery tartness of the Belgian yeast also contrasts pretty nicely with the creaminess and texture of the mousse, and works really well with the warm, slightly toasted sourdough that accompanied the dish.

With the weeks and months quickly passing since my December visit, my cellar cache of Bellwood’s is, quite tragically, starting to dwindle. Fortunately, after countless rumours that Bellwood’s would find distribution in BC, they’ve been picked up by UnTapped Craft Imports, with Jelly King recently hitting the shelves of select bottle shops around town (don’t hesitate to grab some if you see any). Either way, if you find yourself visiting my long abandoned home town and want to try some of the best beer that fair city has to offer, make visiting Bellwood’s a priority.

Pro tip: Next time you’re at Bellwood’s Ossington Village brewpub, be sure to make the short walk over to Burdock Brewery at 1184 Bloor West. Their phenomenal Peche Brett and Brett Farmhouse Saison were steady companions during my visit and are not to be missed (Burdock just happens to be located right around the corner from the place we stayed – a very welcome addition to the family holiday). The walk between Bellwood’s and Burdock winds past some lovely tree-lined streets, chock full of restored Victorian and Edwardian homes, and should only take you about 30 minutes.

—————————————————

Hat tip to Celine Kim for the awesome photos.

#ScoutThis

There are no comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Field Trips There’s more to life than Vancouver...

FIELD TRIP #630 | What To Do And Where To Eat, Drink And Stay In Portland This Summer

FIELD TRIP #630 | What To Do And Where To Eat, Drink And Stay In Portland This Summer

by Michelle Sproule and Thalia Stopa | Sure, there are two very good reasons not to visit the States right now (eg. summer's imminent arrival in Vancouver,… more 

FIELD TRIP #629 | Five Delicious Reasons To Take The Evergreen Line Out To Brewers Row

FIELD TRIP #629 | Five Delicious Reasons To Take The Evergreen Line Out To Brewers Row

by Thalia Stopa | Ever since a Vogue article singled out Vancouver as North America’s craft beer destination this past March it’s been hard not to be… more 

FIELD TRIP #628 | Getting Soaked In Olympic National Park, Camping Above Kalaloch Beach

FIELD TRIP #628 | Getting Soaked In Olympic National Park, Camping Above Kalaloch Beach

by Andrew Morrison with photos by Michelle Sproule | I'm not even close to being done with Olympic National Park just yet. It's one of the oldest parks in the… more 

COOL THING WE WANT #495 | To Sleep One Night At Kyoto’s Adorable ‘Book & Bed’ Hostel

COOL THING WE WANT #495 | To Sleep One Night At Kyoto’s Adorable ‘Book & Bed’ Hostel

(via) Kyoto's entry-level accommodations game could teach Vancouver a thing or two. Case in point: the newest location of Book & Bed. The hostel concept… more 

FIELD TRIP #627 | A Slow, Quiet Float On A Log Raft Down The Klarälven River In Sweden

FIELD TRIP #627 | A Slow, Quiet Float On A Log Raft Down The Klarälven River In Sweden

We're so used to travelling great distances on roads that it's very easy to forget about the much older, more traditional highways of the world: rivers. Before… more 

FIELD TRIP #626 | Orofino Winery Opens Pair Of Stunning Guest Suites In The Similkameen

FIELD TRIP #626 | Orofino Winery Opens Pair Of Stunning Guest Suites In The Similkameen

by Michelle Sproule | One of our favourite places on the planet is the beautiful Similkameen Valley. We cruise through it on our way to and from the South… more 

FIELD TRIP #625 | Camping The Road South From The Redwoods And San Francisco To LA

FIELD TRIP #625 | Camping The Road South From The Redwoods And San Francisco To LA

by Andrew Morrison, with photos by Michelle Sproule | Growing up in Vancouver there was always something especially romantic about the idea of going to… more 

FIELD TRIP #624 | On Dropping Everything To Ferry Your Way To Bowen Island This Weekend

FIELD TRIP #624 | On Dropping Everything To Ferry Your Way To Bowen Island This Weekend

by Michelle Sproule | Looking for a break from the city but not sitting on enough cash or time to hop on a plane for a stint in Sayulita or a tour around… more 

The scout Community

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts Acorn Agrius Ai & Om Alibi Room Ancora Waterfront Dining & Patio Anh and Chi AnnaLena Araxi Arbor Ask For Luigi Au Comptoir Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Bar Oso Bauhaus Beach Bay Café & Patio Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Bel Café Bestie Bishop’s Bistro Wagon Rouge Bittered Sling Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar Botanist Bottleneck Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Bufala Burdock & Co. Cabrito Cacao Cadeaux Bakery Café Medina Caffè Artigiano Camp Lifestyle + Coffee Co. Campagnolo Campagnolo ROMA Cartems Donuterie Chambar Chefs’ Table Society of BC Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie  Chicha Chill Winston ChocolaTas Chocolate Arts Cibo Trattoria Cinara CinCin Ristorante + Bar Cioffi’s Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill Cocktails & Canapes Catering + Events Cook Culture Culinary Capers Catering & Special Events Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen District Brasserie Dixie’s Authentic Texas BBQ Earnest Ice Cream East Van Roasters Cafe Edible Canada El Santo Elementa Espana Fable Fanny Bay Farmer’s Apprentice Fat Mao Fayuca Fernwood Coffee Company Field & Social Forage Giovane Cafe + Eatery Gotham Steakhouse & Bar Grain Granville Island Grapes & Soda Greenhorn Espresso Bar Gyoza Bar Hart House Restaurant Harvest Community Foods Hawksworth Restaurant Heirloom Heritage Asian Eatery Homer Street Cafe & Bar Hy’s Steakhouse Irish Heather Jamjar JJ Bean Joe Pizza Joy Road Catering Juice Truck Juke Fried Chicken Juniper Kafka’s Coffee & Tea Keefer Bar Kin Kao Kissa Tanto Knifewear Kozakura Kuma Tofino L’Abattoir La Buca La Mezcaleria La Pentola La Quercia La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop Les Amis du Fromage Lions Pub, The Liquidity Bistro Lobby Lounge + RawBar Longtail Kitchen Lucha Verde Made By Pacific Maenam Mak N Ming Mamie Taylor’s MARKET by Jean-Georges Matchstick Coffee Roasters Meinhardt Fine Foods Miku Restaurant Milano Coffee Minami Miradoro Mission Mister Mogiana Coffee Mosquito Nero Belgian Waffle Bar Nicli Antica Pizzeria Nightingale Nomad Nook Nuba Oakwood Canadian Bistro OLO OPUS Bar Osteria Savio Volpe Oyama Sausage Co. Pallet Coffee Roasters Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse Pidgin Pizzeria Farina Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, The Pourhouse Railtown Cafe Railtown Catering Rain Or Shine Ice Cream Red Wagon, The Revolver Coffee Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Royal Dinette Salt Tasting Room Savoury Chef Shaughnessy Restaurant Shebeen Whisk(e)y House Shelter Six Acres Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe Sorella Stable House, The Tableau Bar Bistro Tacofino Tavola Terra Breads Thierry Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie Timber Timbertrain Coffee Roasters Torafuku Tractor Foods Truffles Fine Foods Two Rivers Specialty Meats UBC Farm Uncommon Cafe, The Urban Digs Farm Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise™ Program Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana Vij’s Restaurant Virtuous Pie West Restaurant Wildebeest Wolf In The Fog YEW seafood

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .