Pensées. Vol. 4.

The Countess Brewer

Today is International Women’s Day. Last year I had a series of blogposts on women in brewing. This was capped by a presentation I made to the Rural Women’s Studies Association Triennial Conference, held at Guelph University in Ontario. Subject: Margaret Simpson, an early publican-brewer in Belleville, Ontario.

A post in the series dealt with a Polish countess brewer of c. 1900. An expanded version was published as a guest contribution to the blog of the RWSA, which you may read here.

Beer Notes

In a recent post I explained my interest in the beers of Niagara Brewing Company of Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario. I ordered two of their beers, an Irish Red Ale and Beerdevil IPA. Both were excellent.

The red ale was fairly light-bodied but well-flavoured, with signature caramelized and grilled notes. It had good hopping to sustain the malts, as ditto the amber-hued IPA.



The hops of Beerdevil IPA were certainly New World-type, with some background citric notes, but no “citrus” taste as such – more the pith than the juice, in a word. I’d term it West Coast-style, or West Coast-meets-English pale ale.

See details of these and other beers in the website.

I was pleasantly surprised recently by Dragon Stout, a Jamaican product from a brewery now owned by the world-roving Heineken (its stablemate Red Stripe is better-known).

Dragon is a malt + sugar brew, as much stout has been in the British world for over a century – the British brought the taste for stout to the Caribbean.

It has a good beery taste still – better than I remembered – which meant the sugar is not overdone in the grist. The roast was mild but pleasant, ditto the hopping. Very good and the small, slim bottle just right for the strength.

Food Notes

The food courts of our divers malls and underground shopping complexes offer good variety for one who spends time looking. In such concrete canyons food from well-known chain operations is legion, but many food counters are independently run.

Shown is a sweet-and-sour fish with noodles I often order from a vendor at Union Station, Toronto. It is not far under $10.00 and excellent value.



A Greek food counter at First Canadian Place to the north offers the best moussaka I’ve had anywhere, maybe a couple of dollars more served with salad.

A food court has its own satisfactions, modest as they may be: one can think, observe and use the (usually available) Wifi. And eat pretty well too, with a little care taken.

While such dining is anonymized, one is still in company, albeit less so than the standard restaurant. The food court started as a pure convenience, or makeshift, but has assumed its own character in the modern dining scene.

Music Notes

Having spoken in a recent post of artists such as Celine Dion and the 60s-70s hitmeisters The Grassroots, I wouldn’t want people to think I’ve forsaken my hard rock roots.

This song, a radio edit of a live track (1971) by Humble Pie, should disabuse any of such notion. Peter Frampton, later to find mega-fame with his own band, played lead guitar. The vocalist, Steve Marriott, sadly passed many years ago.

This tune was an R&B standard of the 1960s, recorded by many artists including Ray Charles. The British rockers gave such material a unique stamp, not better, but different.

Wine of the English Apple

My last post dealt with a well-known name in British cider, Bulmer, at a pivotal point in its history, the late 1960s. In a future post I will cast back much further, to explore the long reputation cider had in Herefordshire, the home county of Bulmer.

Well before cider manufacture was commercialized, the product had an enviable reputation, as an artisan production. To be sure the county was one of a select group known for cider. Somersetshire and Devon must be counted, among other places – but many voices held Herefordshire’s version supreme.

Indeed cider of such ultra quality was viewed as a kind of symbol of hearty, prosperous, bucolic English living.

The gentry stood at the centre of this inevitably idealized vision, and appreciated cider in due proportion. As Beeretseq is always interested in taste, we shall look at opinions, mid-1800s, of what exactly constituted good cider in Herefordshire.

I’ve had my share of sourish modern English “farmhouse” cider, but old authority held that dryness, a desirable quality in cider, should not be confounded with acidity.

Think of good red Bordeaux: “vinous” it necessarily is, a word much applied today to beer and cider, but it is not sour. Good cider was like that “back when”, and no doubt some still is, for Albion and beyond.



2 thoughts on “Pensées. Vol. 4.”

  1. I agree that some food court counters can have very good food. It’s too bad that the architects who design modern ones seem determined to turn out the dreariest possible designs that seem driven to repel people.

    It’s not impossible to create inviting layouts. I’ve been in markets in places like Florence and Istanbul which practically compel you to linger and try a few more things. But North American ones seem focused on nothing more than human throughput with sickly fluorescent lighting that makes food look like plastic.

    • Interesting thoughts. I agree a satisfactory design ethic has never really emerged for the food court. It is an odd amalgam in many ways, still taking form. Its day may still be in prospect, especially as conventional restaurants are in a bit of a slump currently.


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