Sunday, 27 December 2015

Storming the Barnstormer Brewing Company

Six family members in this house and three of them have December birthdays! Why couldn't they have waited until January, as I did, for a more convenient time to be born? Some people, eh?  It isn't always easy to fit a few more special days into the mix of holiday madness, but we manage it somehow. Five days before Christmas, we took the last of the December babies, my husband Ron, to the Barnstormer Brewing Company for dinner.

Barnstormer is a neat concept. They are part brewery and part eatery. Started a few years a ago in a storage unit, these self described like-minded, beer-loving, big-dreaming wing nuts began experimenting with making true natural and sustainable craft beers. No filtering, pasteurizing or preservatives. Everything on their restaurant menu is either made using beer or created with pairing it with beer in mind. Even the grains used in the brewing process are turned into things like pizza crusts and flat-breads - genius!

Ron and I, three of our kids and 1 girlfriend easily fit into one of Barnstormer's unusually large booths. I'm  pretty sure we could have added 2 more. A quick look around from our table vantage point revealed a casual and fun looking place, almost Irish pub meets industrial. The airplane theme is everywhere but I also got the feeling that this place could definitely be somebody's local. Signs of fun times ahead - trivia night, live music, high-stakes rock/paper/scissors tournaments were everywhere. Sounds like a riot. You can see the brewers behind a glass wall sampling, testing and laughing as they go about the work that they obviously enjoy.

We have a favourite server and her name is Della, which is sort of odd considering we have never been in before! Della is a long time family friend and an employee at Barnstormer. For quite some time, she has been encouraging us to try it out and so finally here we are. We missed Della's shift that day sadly, but she made us a reservation and we were greeted by another fine server instead.

There are several ways to try out Barnstormer's beers. You could order a a tray of sample sized beers if you aren't too sure what you want, or dive right into a full size glass of something that sounds appealing. The beer drinkers at my table all chose the very popular 400 Blonde Ale which is named in honour of all the road warriors who brave our local highway on their daily commute and most certainly deserve a cold brew on a Friday evening. Not being overly adventurous on their first flight into Barnstormer, they wanted something familiar tasting and had heard reports that 400 was reminiscence of Molson Canadian, which they found to be more or less true. They looked at me funny when I ordered the Polar Pumpkin Ale. C'mon guys - live a little!

Barnstormer is well known for their excellent pizzas so Ron ordered one customized in a meat lovers' style with pepperoni, bacon and sausage. He got the 11 inch pie, (there is a 15 inch as well) and fretted aloud that he could never eat all that pizza himself, but eat it he did. Hmmmm it must have been good!

The six of us took a good run at the menu with no two ordering the same thing. Aside from the tasty pizza, there were also honey garlic wings, a beef burger, a Pin Up Girl chicken wrap, a quinoa salad and my veggie burger with a side of poutine on the table. At least the reserved beer drinkers branched out a bit when it came time to eat! By the way, my Polar Pumpkin Ale was really nice. It contrasted greatly to the tall pale blonde glasses on the server's tray when it arrived and I had a brief what-have-I-done? moment. Was this short, darker glass of beer going to be bitter? I am kind of an anti-hop person, if such a term exists. First, I took a sniff. Wow - I completely got that pumpkin pie aroma! I passed it around for others to smell. They agreed that the fragrance was nice but I was still nuts for drinking a pumpkin anything beer. Their loss, I say.

Food was good. We would definitely come back again I would say. In fact, Ron was back again six days later for wings to watch the World Junior hockey game with my brother-in-law.

Being a bit of a spelling and grammar tyrant, (although I mess up plenty myself), I was amused by the large sign above the bar. In raised letters, it reads WHAT'S ON TAP, although the apostrophe seems to have been added in later with either white paint or chalk. I'm betting that there is an interesting story behind that! So if you want to check out something a little different in place where they take the important stuff seriously, but don't get too serious themselves and yet treat you to seriously good eats and drinks, book a flight and take off to the Barnstormer Brewing Company at 384 Yonge St. at Little. Oh yes - they do take out food  and sell beer to take home too!

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