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Beer, Wine

The Evolution of Palate Practice

Palate Practice turns three years old this week! My little blog-baby has been out in the world for so long now, sharing all sorts of stories and hijinx and generally existing successfully. Blogs seem to age quicker than humans, it’s only been three years of my life that Palate Practice has existed but I feel like it’s already reached its adolescence in a way.

To be honest I really didn’t think I’d get here.

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Beer, Beer Advent Calendar

Beer Advent Calendar 2017

It’s that time of year again. Days are getting shorter and chillier, nights are getting darker, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is settling into our bones like Irish damp. Fortunately our ancestors were prepared for this time of year and made festivals of light, love and sharing – Christmas and advent among them. Which means it’s also time for something I get excited for every year – my annual beer advent calendar!


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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in True Irish Fashion

There’s still time to enter to win two passes to this year’s Cuvée en Route! Head over to my post previewing the event to enter, you have until midnight on March 16th to enter.


Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and while for some that might mean getting wasted on dubious green beer, for me it’s an opportunity to pay homage to one of the many cultures that make up my heritage. I mean, I’ll still wear green, but I won’t wear one of those head bands with the little clovers on springs. Moderation, people.

Here are some beverages on my weekend sample menu. If you’re feeling particularly celebratory or, like me, have some Irish blood in there somewhere, I encourage you to give these a go.


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Beer, Wine

6 Cozy Bevies to See You Through Winter

It’s mid-February and winter weather has finally arrived in my corner of the world. This means we’re all most likely feeling the drag of another cold winter. Since my birthday is during the cold months I feel a personal imperative to love the season but I have to say that even I need some encouragement to make it all the way to spring.

Whether you’re hibernating like whoa, taking outdoor winter activities by storm or, like me, hygge-ing it up huge, here are some beverage recommendations (wine and beer!) that should help see you through to the other side of winter.


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Beer, Beer Advent Calendar

The Return of the Beer Advent Calendar

I thought about it. I hemmed and hawed and wondered if it was worth going there again. And in the end I realized that, yes, I did want to go through it again. For all its ups and downs, it was a good time.


And so, I present to you –


Beer Advent Calendar 2016


That’s right, folks, we’re doing it again! Advent Calendar part two: electric boogaloo. Also known as ‘an excuse to enjoy new beers while also getting into the holiday spirit’.

This time around I put a bit more thought into building the list of beers to include. I’m a little IPA-ed out so I focused more on stouts and porters this year – more malt and less hops was the driving factor for this year’s group. As with last year (and my regular beer consumption) I focused mostly on Ontario craft beers, with some special guest stars from countries whose beers I quite enjoy (England, Belgium) and some beers I picked up on some recent travels to New York State.


So, without further ado, here is this year’s list.




Forked River, Riptide Rye Pale Ale

Great Lakes Brewery, Karma Citra IPA

Muskoka Brewery, Mad Tom IPA

Nickel Brook, Wet Hop Pale Ale

Brimstone Brewing, Enlightenment Blonde Ale*




Royal City, Autumn Ale*

Grand River Brewing, Highballer Pumpkin Ale




Great Lakes Brewery, Pompous Ass English Pale Ale

Nickel Brook, Equilibrium ESB*

Muskoka Brewery, Winterweiss

Side Launch, Dark Lager

Royal City Brewing, Smoked Honey Lager




Forked River, Full City Coffee Porter

Collective Arts, Stranger Than Fiction Porter*

Mayan Chocolate Chipotle*

Sawdust City, Skinny Dippin’ Stout*

Maclean’s Ales, Luck & Charm Stout




Wychwood Brewery, Hobgoblin Ale

Wychwood Brewery, Bah Humbug Christmas Cheer Ale

Brasserie Dupont, Bons Voeux Belgian Tripel Blonde*




Resurgence Brewing Co, Sponge Candy Stout*

Blue Moon Brewing Company, Harvest Pumpkin Ale

New Belgium, Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale

Southern Tier Brewing Company, Live Citrusy Session Pale Ale

Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Lager


Beer Notes and Stray Thoughts

  • The starred beers are ones I’ve never tried before.
  • The Mayan Chocolate Chipotle is another international inclusion (from England) but I didn’t realize that until after I’d taken photos, so it gets lumped in with the other stouts and porters.
  • Royal City Brewery is one of my favourite craft breweries, and is run by a guy I went to university with. If you see their stuff in the LCBO or find yourself in the Guelph area I highly recommend checking them out.
  • I anchored some specific beers on the more special days (Christmas Eve and Day, December 21st, weekend days) and then filled in the gaps, making sure not to have two similar beers on back to back days. The idea is to keep comparison low so I enjoy everything as much as possible.
  • Despite putting it together myself I don’t remember which beer is on which day, with a couple of notable exceptions.
  • Sadly, while writing this post I had a beer casualty. I was woken up by a loud bang one night to discover that the top of the can holding the Resurgence Sponge Candy Stout has blown clear off, leaving beer oozing over my floor. Sad, just judging by how it smelled as I cleaned it up (BAD) I think I dodged a bullet there.
  • So, instead of the Resurgence stout I added Unibroue’s Grande Reserve 17 from Quebec.
  • As with last year I’ll be posting what I get each day on Twitter, and invite you to follow along if you’re interested. I’ll also be checking in on Untappd.




How are you getting into the holiday spirit?



Beer, Spirits, Wine

One-Year Blogaversary



January 24th was the first anniversary of the first post here on Palate Practice. That feels like a big accomplishment! I decided to celebrate it in a truly fitting way (parade, day of honour – the usual), but as I got out my bunting materials and bucket of ticker tape I thought, “you know, this doesn’t feel right”.


So instead of having yet another public festival celebrating my accomplishments, I started thinking of all the things I learned and experienced over the course of this first year of blogging.


A short-list of lessons learned

  • I don’t know nearly as much about wine and beer as I thought I did
  • I’m ok with that
  • I’m excited to learn more
  • I have so many more ideas than I thought I would
  • I can do it! I can keep this up for an entire year!


And that last lessons brings me to the second part of this post – help me learn more about you! Below is a link to a short survey (shouldn’t take you longer than 5 minutes) where I hope you’ll share with me your thoughts on the blog, what you like or (gasp!) don’t like, and what you want to read about in the future. Because one thing is certain: I’m not leaving this blog any time soon.

Take my survey!


And, in case I forget to say it later, THANK YOU. Thank you (yes, you) for your support, for your comments, and for reading anything I’ve written here! I can’t wait to keep writing, and I hope you’ll keep reading.

finding nemo stay


4 Beers to Keep You Warm This Winter

Living in Toronto, I have the pleasure of experiencing all four seasons and, being January, we’re properly into winter now.


Lots of people complain about winter and I wonder if they’re just looking at it wrong. Yes, it’s cold and slushy and sometimes gross outside. Some days the wind is so cold and biting I can barely take a breath! But wearing layer upon layer and braving the cold just makes coming in to a warm home all the sweeter. Sure, winter makes you work for it, but it’s worth it in the end.


And there are lots of great things about braving the season too. The cold, grey days and even colder nights offer a great opportunity to cozy up on the couch with a soft throw and a hearty beer. Unlike summer, when crisp lagers and wheat beers hit the spot, in winter I look forward to heavier fare – browns, darks, stouts and porters.


Here are some beers I look forward to having this winter. Why don’t we try them together?


Highlander Scottish Ale



This beer is technically available year-round, but despite being a Scotch Ale (a beer not necessarily associated with colder weather) the talk of toastiness and caramel in the description make me think winter is it’s ideally-paired season. Interestingly, reviews of it on Untappd vary wildly, so I think I’ll reserve final judgement until after I have the chance to taste it. I’m still looking forward to giving it a go though.


Have you had this one before? I’d love to know your thoughts!


Side Launch Dark Lager



Keen home viewers might recognize this as the first beer from my advent calendar. December 1st was the first time I had the pleasure of enjoying this beer (a Munich-style Dunkel, to be specific), and enjoyed it so much that I’ve made a point to keep an eye out for it on tap over the last month. Surprisingly, I found I prefer it from a can as opposed to draft, which I almost always prefer. Maybe the place I where I had it on tap were pouring from an older (and flatter) keg though, so who knows? I’ll certainly give it another go on tap if and when I see it. And in the mean time I’ll enjoy it from a can at home.


Nickel Brook Old Kentucky Bastard Imperial Stout



Ok, seriously. The name alone! I’ve seen this guy in stores for at least a year and keep passing it by because of it’s price and volume – it’s not cheap, and apparently buying beer in large formats is the worst deal out there. But I’m still intrigued by this beer! So winter 2016 will be the time I finally pony up and try it.


Like the other beers in this post, I’m looking forward to trying this one for its described toastiness and its caramel, vanilla, spice, coffee/mocha, leather and earthy flavours. Sounds a bit like a wine, now doesn’t it? Time will tell whether I actually get all those flavours when I finally try it, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.


Black Oak Nutcracker Porter



This beer has been on my list since I saw it while buying beers for my beer advent calendar. I didn’t put it in the calendar because it’s 650mls and that felt a bit too indulgent for a daily advent beer. So instead I filed it away into that little part of my brain marked ‘beers to try later’. Well, it’s later! The rest of this week is forecasted to be quite chilly so I think I’ll pick up a bottle and see how I like it.


This beer is super dark and inky – it’s almost black, really. It’s also brewed with cinnamon, which explains why it’s name points toward the Christmas season. I’m really looking forward to trying it, and expect it to have a lovely full body along with a roasted and slightly spicy flavour. Let’s hope it delivers!


I can’t wait! Which one will you try first?