Raspberries at Leaside’s brew house
A fruity beer gets new life in sangria
BEFORE IT WAS COOL
Before craft beer was a ubiquitous quip rolling off the tongue of every hopeful cool kid, Amsterdam Brewery was making, well, craft beer. Born in 1986 and older than most millennials, the craft brewery is responsible for so many of those beers populating Toronto’s bars. Ask anyone about Boneshaker, 3Speed or Big Wheel, and chances are they’ll be able to name-drop Amsterdam sans problem. Although their brewery has called Leaside home since 2012 (and Bathurst prior), it wasn’t possible to sit down in the ’hood and have a night out with food and drink. Enter: the Barrel House.
The Barrel House came to be because the team, led by brewmaster Iain McOustra, wanted a Leaside home. A tiny brewery marked by a garage door at the back of the building affords the brewers a play space that caters to any whims and notions. Small batches of their beer creations, known as Adventure Brews, will end up on tap for the inquisitive to try. They’ve conquered everything from sours to stouts, lagers and barrel-aged brews, and those brews that find an audience may even make an encore appearance.
But for those who shy away from consuming beer (for shame!) the team has come up with a sly way to bridge the gap: sangria. “The Raspberry Wheat Beer is a go-to,” says bartender Marlee Biggers. “It’s not too sweet!” The traditional-style wheat beer — brewed with toasted wheat malts and nugget hops — gets a dash of raspberry and is an oh-sosmooth option for the beer-timid. When paired with pomegranate liqueur, mixed berries and your choice of red or white wine, the result is a summery tipple that is fruity without being saccharine. Now all you have to do is wait a few months to enjoy it on the giant, wraparound patio.
Marlee Biggers whipping up the beery sangria