Walking in the Toronto Botanical Garden

I turn into the garden freshened by morning rain

Inhale a damp, earthy smell.
Photographer with tripod blocks the path to the right.
I go left
Discover old chap rooting out last year’s rot and freshly sprouted weeds.
Usual suspects
Dandelions. Burdock. Stink grass.
His brow beads heavily with sweat.

He grunts as he flicks a dog turd at an unsuspecting pooch.

Casts an admonishing glance at the owner. I move on.

Bees are buzzing
Hovering over intoxicating purple spring wonders
Crocuses, flowering plants of the iris family
I take the mandatory picture
Of all things purple.
For a friend, Mary(notcontrary)
Noting to send later.

I shuffle to where a crowd has gathered
Watching a painter
Capture with deft brush strokes
What they too will grab with the swift
Push of a cell phone button.

Tai Chi is in full swing too.
Quiet movements of fluidity…

A child points in the direction of the garden cafe
Screams bloody blue murder
I want ice cream. Chocolate.

Not Neopolitan! Puts his foot down hard, grinding it in the gravel.

Kicks a stone into touch but is
Ignored by his parents who
Search for a particular shade of red rose not yet bloomed.
Or perhaps a way out?

I find a quiet place to meditate
Let the next lot of garden lovers
Have the path to themselves.
Free to observe
What I may have missed.

Hughey poet

Congratulations on the poem. Words as painting. A lovely evocation of pictures in a garden.

Julian Mulock, artist and illustrator, reacts to the poem.

St. George’s Day Festivities for Charity

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Please join us on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 6:30 PM for St. George’s Day festivities at the Granite Brewery Restaurant!

 

Join us for St. George’s Day festivities in support of charity on Saturday, April 22rd at 6:30 PM at the Granite Brewery and Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto.  Celebrate all things English with co-hosts Maz Brereton and Robert Hughey and guest speaker Nick Pashley. Door prizes, silent auction, plus a live auction with auctioneer Julian Mulock.

In honour of the 150th Birthday of Canada join Nick at the podium and bring your ‘England to Canada’ story, in words, song, pictures or mementos. The event features a delicious four course gourmet dinner with four matching fresh Ontario cask ales.

Please show your support for England and Canada and raise funds for Prostate Cancer Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Tickets are now on sale and you can buy them by calling 416 462 3788 or emailing robert.hughey@sympatico.ca

$70 per person (taxes and with partial tax receipt included)

This event organized by CASK! Toronto, which has helped raise over $20,000 for charity over the last few years! Sign up and buy your tickets now.

Hope to see you there!

heartpcc

Star Bright: Big Hop Delivery

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Once in a while a bright star of a beer flashes over my desk and lands in a tulip glass ready for tasting. Such a beer is Life Sentence IIIPA Southern Hemisphere, 10 percent abv, brewed in collaboration with the Great Lakes Brewery and the Amsterdam Brewery, both of Toronto.

 It has a purported 100+ IBUs from a hand selected 150 kilogram bale of Pacifica hops grown in Nelson, New Zealand, specifically bale # 47-4214.

 

This wondrous beer pours a soft veiled amber colour, while releasing intoxicating aromas of fresh green hops and alcohol on the nose. On the palate, juicy malt is relieved of its quantum load of hop bearing inner goodness as the mouth happily succumbs to a defining hop bitterness.

 

Still, while the hops are big and brassy and very much in charge, unrelenting in nature even, this wonderful and playful ale has enough malt backbone to keep it all in check. It’s a revelation in big beer delivery without killing the happy recipient’s joy of beer drinking!

Hughey’s Gold: A Developing Story

For years I have been brewing beer and, in particular, a version of this beer as a cask ale. It has always been a passion that I have pursued without restraint and now I have moved one of my beers into the marketplace thanks to the fine brewers at Junction Craft Brewing in Toronto.

Reminiscent of the luscious coloured stone of the Cotswolds, Hughey’s Gold is an English style golden ale that showcases pungent English Fuggles and Goldings hops in the gentle embrace of Maris Otter 2-row malt. Aromas of fresh floral hops permeate its soul, alongside a zesty fruitiness from the yeast. The finish is boldly bitter and refreshingly crisp in its timeless structure. Brewed by Junction Craft Brewing, Toronto, it tops out at 4.6 percent abv and a tantalizing 42 IBUs.

hugheys gold logo % abv - Copy

The Left Field Brewery, Toronto: Hits it Big time

DSC00158The Left Field Brewery of Toronto has come out swinging for the fences with beers such as Resin Bag, 6.9 percent abv and 50 IBUs, an American style IPA. Dressed with stylized home plate-shaped neck labels with illustrative art on the flip side, there is nothing but big league here on deck.

Resin Bag pours a rustic burnished chestnut colour, and it is way better than a resin bag on the mound, as it is a hop bag full of fresh green aromatic hops. It leads off with a starburst of hop bitterness down the line, sliding safely in to second with a well-played hop dynamic. The sprint to third is as easy as another sip of this hoppy brew. The finish is sharp and decisively bitter, with an un-tagged run over the plate. This is a fine and well executed beer of the style, that is, without malt overstepping its role as a sturdy backbone for the plentiful hops.
Well, I have to say I wasn’t that fond of this beer in its original incarnation brewed at an away-facility, but now with home field advantage, they’ve nailed it to the fence! Leftfieldbrewery.ca
DSC00157Another beer in the hearty Left Field Brewery lineup is Maris Pale Ale, striding in at 4.5 percent abv, and yes, obviously brewed with Maris Otter malt. It’s brewed in honour of Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking the record of legendary NYY Babe Ruth. Maris, while not revered by some Yankee fans, did get the job done. Maris PA delivers, much like its namesake, an early hit of malt that is capably backed up by a smack of hop bitterness in a sustained attack that is both balanced and forthright. Free of constraints, Maris clears the bases and trots home to a warm reception early in his career.

Originally appeared as part of my column in the Great Lakes Brewing News, June, July 2015.

Beer Writing Flashback

A few years ago I was sitting at the bar of the Brass Taps in Toronto, Ontario, when a chap picks up the Great Lakes Brewing News and starts reading from my column to his mate. He finishes reading what follows and then says to his friend, ‘now that is pure poetry’.

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From the Great Lakes Brewery of Toronto slides in the Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout with a whacking good read of 11 percent abv. Aged for three months in Kentucky bourbon barrels, this beer, as part of the brewery’s 25th anniversary celebration, pours a polished ebony colour with a creamy, dense chocolate coloured head. While the nose is rather subdued in nature, gently revealing bourbon scents, with wisps of roast and chocolate. On the palate, it comes forward with smooth booze with a roasted malt edge. There is a long boozy led finish with a kiss of roast and chocolate flavourings. This beer has a disturbingly smooth delivery of alcohol. But it is gentle sipper that is ‘black gold’ of a beer kind! There is some cellaring potential if you can dare to wait that long for another tussle with your taste buds!

Originally published in the Great Lakes Brewing News in 2013.

My First Driving Lesson—When Seat Belts Were Not Mandatory!

I remember the family visiting the Yorkdale shopping mall in Toronto shortly after it opened in 1964 and then detouring by accident to Downsview Airforce Base, then an operational airport, on the way home. Actually, we were completely lost and managed to drive out on to a runway and stopped the car while my father, the driver, got his bearings.
“Were on the fecking runway, dad”, I shouted, or would have if my schoolyard education had been more advanced than it was. I had not yet learned the word and its various and sundry derivatives.
“Look down the runway and you will see an idling airplane,” my brother, Dave, and I said loudly in unison from the backseat.
“What do you mean, airplane?” said our father, who had been in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII, and should have known a thing or two about airplanes, and was forever in denial.
“There. Straight ahead.”
“Where?” said he, apparently with no eyes and minimal awareness of his surroundings.
“We’re on the bloody runway!”
We were sharply silenced by our father but our family of four did somehow manage to escape without incident or questioning but security in those days was not something that anyone was remotely aware of or interested in in any way.

Overheard in Pub…Where Else?

(Obviously, no pub is to blame for people’s comments, so no image this time out!)

 

“My eldest son is a year away from completing his degree. My other son is a drug dealer, probably go to jail. But that’s okay with me.” Said by a man to a barmaid.

 
“I don’t know what he knows. But I do know he makes $5,000 an hour.” Said a publican to a punter.

 
“I think in the end I didn’t leave with him.” One woman confiding in another woman.

 
“Is it really you?” Pause. “I’ve never seen you with your pants on before.” One man to another man.

 
“Praise the Lord for lack of evidence.” Said a mother to a vicar about her son who looked very much a criminal.

 
“I have a lot respect for her. But I still think she is an a..hole.” One woman speaking of another woman.

 
“This was a letter that was actually mailed?” One woman said to another woman.

 
“You only die once?” One woman said incredulously to another woman.