The Session #5: Atmosphere

Holy crap, is it already time for another Session? It seems like just three posts ago that I did a last one! Oh wait, it was just three posts ago, ’cause I’ve neglecting this poor li’l blog of mine more and more. If not for the monthly Sessions, it might just wither away to nothing. Sniff.

Anyhoo – for those just joining us, The Session is one of those things where a bunch of bloggers write about the same topic on the same day. In this case, it’s beer bloggers writing about a particular type of beer, with the style chosen each month by a different one of us. Then the person/people who chose the topic keep tabs on all of the posts and compile a round-up. Our themes for the last four months have been local beer, milds, dubbels and stouts.

(I get to choose the theme for August, so watch for that to be announced here soon.)

This month, our “hosts” are Al & Ron at Hop Talk, and to mix things up a little bit, we won’t be writing about what we drink this month, but rather where we drink it, as the theme is Atmosphere:

Beer is about more than flavor, IBUs, and the debate over what is a craft beer and what isn’t. It’s about Life. It’s the proverbial icing on the cake.So, we want to know about the “Atmosphere” in which you enjoy beer. Where is your favorite place to have a beer? When? With whom? Most importantly:


Because while life isn’t all about beer, beer is all about life.

Since I’m an indecisive git, I’m going to do as I did in the first Session and give multiple answers:

1) Down The Pub

Yes, I know, it’s the most obvious choice, and will probably be the most popular one today. But I think very few beer lovers would deny that some of their favourite beer imbibing moments have been sitting in a friendly pub – whether it’s your local spot, a place across town, or a bar you discover during your travels elsewhere – and hoisting a pint or three with friends old and new.

Here in Toronto, the bar I frequent the most is The Rhino. It’s been my neighbourhood bar & grill for the 13 years I’ve lived in Parkdale, and while they’ve had their ups and downs on the service and food quality fronts over that time, they’ve been pretty stable in the year and a half since I moved from a place 5 blocks away to a place even closer. Their dozen or so taps are dedicated primarily to good local craft beers, they added about 200 bottled beers to their selection around the time I moved closer last year, and they also started carrying cask ale a few months back. They may not match destination spots like Volo or beerbistro when to comes to truly eclectic beer selections, but the remarkably low prices for both beer and food combined with the ramshackle neighbourhood vibe of the place just can’t be beat.

(Addendum: A couple of hours after I originally posted this, my wife and I went to Rhino for dinner. I had mussels and fries, she had a veggie sandwich, and we each had two beers. Total with tax and tip was 40 bucks. That may seem a bit high to you Americans who are used to $2.50 pint specials and the like, but trust me when I say that for Toronto, that’s a fantastic deal.)

2) Tasting Sessions (aka Geekfests)

Being a beer rater, I’m always up for trying as many new beers as possible, and one of the most efficient and enjoyable ways of doing so has been via tasting nights with some of my fellow raters. Once a month or so, I get together with my regular crew (Jeff, Paul, Harry & Jer) and occasional guests to listen to some tunes, shoot the shit, and drink & rate a bunch of beers. Sometimes we have a theme – like last summer’s infamous “Beers from the RateBeer Top 100” tasting – but usually, it’s just a pot luck of beers that most of us haven’t tried before. Yeah, it can be a bit geeky at times, as we jot in our notebooks and debate whether the beer is true to style or try to figure out what hop varieties were used. But mostly, it’s just a bunch of guys (and sometimes one girl) with similar-but-not-identical interests and views sitting around and sharing something that we all love.

3) I Drink Alone…

Supposedly, it’s one of the warning signs of alcoholism, but I don’t really see anything wrong with enjoying a beer on my own at home. (And to be completely accurate, I’m rarely completely alone when I’m doing so, as my wife is usually around, and will even join me if I crack something she likes). Sometimes, it’s something new that I drink and contemplate and write about. More often, it’s an old favourite that I quaff while watching the tube or poking around on the computer. Either way, it’s an enjoyable and civilised way to unwind after a day at work. And it’s cheaper than going out, as well.

So there you go – a trio of places that I like to drink. Check out the round-up at Hop Talk to see what the others have to say, and check back here in a couple of days to find out what we’ll all be writing about a month from now.

5 Responses to The Session #5: Atmosphere

  1. The Beer Nut

    Drinking alone rules. Nothing worse than trying to socialise while attempting to form a bloggable/rateable opinion on your drink.

    It’s when you have a couple of Chimays and a bottle-opener stashed in the cistern that you have to worry…

  2. GenX at 40

    I like to drink alone when it is a matter of focus, when there is a sport to watch, a steak to grill, a moment to fill. In fact, I get along so well I can hardly believe it!


  3. Agreed with both of you, guys. Especially when I’m trying to wrap my head around a new, particularly complex beer, I like to do it in relative solitude.

    But it’s also nice to sit and watch a movie or read a book with a bottle or two of an old favourite. As long as you don’t pull and Homer and start asking “Does God count as a person?” when your wife asks if you drink alone, you’re doing OK.

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