A week or two before society collapsed into pandemic-created anarchy, Kole actually went on a company ski trip to Blue Mountains in early March, and I, of course, requested a care package of beer from Northwinds Brewery, their go-to après ski haunt. We had a dinner party that weekend, which now feels like a lavish memory in exposing ourselves to cooties. We had fondu, for crying out loud. A communal melting pot of cheese to share just before the world retreated into their living rooms. Kole’s friends drank most of my care package, so this is the only beer I got to try from Northwinds Brewery, located in Collingwood, ON.

I’m a big fan of Irish stouts. Devoid of adjuncts and gimmicks to add flavour, a solid Irish stout brings forth a toasted malt flavour profile and is a relaxing pint to nurse over a few rounds of quarantine purchased board games.

Northwinds Brewery rarely pops up in the Toronto market. I don’t remember seeing them at any beer festivals in previous years, and they are not listed with the LCBO or The Beer Store. They have a strong local following in the year-round communities in Blue Mountains and Collingwood, and a nostalgic reminder of better, more social times for city-dwellers that make the periodic trek to cottage country and the Georgian Bay area to frolic outdoors. During the pandemic, they are offering contactless food take-out and local delivery over $40 CAD for people based in Blue Mountains and Collingwood, and we salute them. Monkey Suit weighs in at 5.2% ABV and will only set you back $3.25 for a 473 mL can, a worthwhile treat at the end of the world and a nice #quarantini for those of you in isolation in this corner of Ontario.

Appearance: Deep mahogany colour with very fine bubbles, mildly carbonated. Long-lasting frothy tan head that reminded me of a healthy, well-fed wholewheat sourdough starter.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, and freshly ground coffee on the nose.

Taste: Burnt toast, caramel, and more dark chocolate.

Aftertaste: Black coffee aftertaste.

Food pairing: Lamb stew and soda bread, something that sticks to your ribs after a hard day of skiing or lounging on the sofa.

Overall: Probably one of the last stouts I will get to enjoy for some time, I’m glad this one found its way into my fridge.

Shawna O'Flaherty

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