This holiday season, we made the rather last-minute weather-based decision to drive to Montreal. Usually, I take the train or fly when I’m heading “home”, so I forgot just how long and boring the drive can be once the 401 passes Coburg. We decided to break up the drive with a stop at a brewery for a flight and some lunch – but first, we had to find one not too far from the highway that wasn’t a full-fledged brewpub, since we had our doggo with us. We popped into Skeleton Park Brewery in Kingston, ON along the way and pulled out some much-needed sustenance – and to pick up some material for the #8BeersOfChanukah on this homestretch of Chanukah.

The doggo was happy to make friends with everyone at the brewery and stretch his giant legs, and we were pleased to enjoy a flight of their brews before heading back on the road to Montreal. We picked up six cans of their Best Bitter to enjoy when we arrived, which retails for $2.95 at the brewery or $3.10 at your favoured LCBO location. Weighing in at a mild 4.5% ABV, this ESB has a lot of flavour without knocking your socks off. Not a bad way to finish the holiday season after a week or more of excessive eating and drinking, if you ask me, when you cannot handle any more latkes or Sufganiyot. Based on a 150-year old beer English beer recipe using locally grown ingredients, Best Bitter is one of two options available in the LCBO from this brewery. The can features the skeleton of a greyhound and pays hommage to Kingston’s burial ground for immigrant labourers.

Appearance: Golden amber colour with a lasting but rather thin off-white head.

Aroma: Graham crackers and hazelnuts.

Taste: Pie crust, graham crackers, hazelnuts, honey, sourdough, pizza dough.

Aftertaste: Lingering orange juice, biscotti and more graham on the palate and aftertaste.

Food pairing: Pair with French toast and proper Quebecois maple syrup, leftover turkey and pretzels.

Overall: Nothing overly complex, but it’s nice to have a lighter ABV beer that still has a rich flavour.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around. A dedicated Booze Hound, Shawna completed the Wine Specialist Certificate at George Brown College in 2018.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com

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