Pensées. Vol. 6

Creemore Urbock

An early entrant in the Ontario craft beer ranks, it was withdrawn for some years, then brought back a few years ago, under aegis of Molson-Coors which bought Creemore Springs Brewery in 2005.

Last year it appeared again in the fall in cans. I don’t know if the draft shown has been aging in tanks since then, if so it perhaps improved the beer.

The distinctive yeast smack most Creemore lagers have – regular lager, Keller, pilsener, etc. – is muted, to the benefit of the beer, imo. The sweet malts come through more. A nice spring reviver, a traditional time for bock.



The Firkin Chain in Toronto

I tasted the Urbock at The Quail on Yonge Street, Rosedale, Toronto, one of the Firkin chain of pubs here. Originally the pubs had a strong English cast but the emphasis today is less so, or so it seems given how craft consciousness has grown.

Firkin Pubs started decades ago, before craft achieved the traction it now has. The current bars have a certainly adequate beer list, something for everyone really.

I always liked the pubs and visit occasionally, today since a couple of craft bars on Yonge Street were closed – many now do not open on Monday.

Coffee, Tea

I’ve experimented but not rigorously with these drinks for a long time, with tea a more recent interest. I remain convinced that Costco coffee, its Kirkwood, all-Columbian brand, is the best overall coffee for me. It has a good deep taste, is always very fresh, and very consistent.

It is one of those products Costco does very well. We are late converts to Costco in this household, and certain things draw us back continually there (I suppose every member has their favourites). For us, it’s some of the cheeses, Jarlsberg, say, some brands of crackers, the chicken, milk in bulk, eggs, bag salads, household products, and so on.

A great merchandising idea, it is not as unique as people often think, but has taken the big box concept further than anyone I know in retail food sales.

Aldi in Europe, and the U.S. where it operates, is not dissimilar. I’d like to see it here, in fact, but Costco is pre-eminent in the field, so far.



In the tea area, the best so far imo is Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Orange Pekoe, a loose tea I put in those filters to make a home-made tea bag. It has a fine fruity-flowery taste, the closest I have found to the orange pekoe I recall from 40 years ago.

Downtown Toronto

The subway is a reliable indicator – today I couldn’t get a seat coming home from downtown at rush hour. Things are returning to normal, but are not quite there yet. I can tell by the food courts at lunch-time, which are never crowded in the way of pre-Covid, although much better than four and six months ago.

We are getting there. Hopefully a recession will not clang down but who knows, the shocks absorbed by the economy have been enormous.

Music Man

I’ve been reading Randy Bachman’s 2011 book, Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories, based on his long-running radio show with CBC. A great book! His voice lurks behind the printed words, you can hear the excited kid he still is, e.g. when meeting his idols, even after all these years.

He tells many funny or instructive stories about the music business and the many artists he has met, everyone from Chuck Berry to George Michael. His stories of how the songs were written are interesting too.

The words “she’s come undun” are from a Bob Dylan song. No Sugar Tonight is a line he heard a distraught wife tell her husband in an argument on the street, in California.

The story how he met Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin – in their chiropractor’s office – is a classic. After which Giles invites him to Abbey Road Studio where he plays him rare tapes, including the instruments that make up the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night”.

Question Period

A new feature, I don’t know if it will take off: ask me a question, of course in an area I can speak reasonably to, beer, food, rock and roll, etc., and I’ll try to answer. Any responsibly phrased query will be answered.



4 thoughts on “Pensées. Vol. 6”

  1. The Zavida organic coffee at Costco is the winner in our household, especially if you like black coffee as I do. Another very good item are the San Marzano canned whole tomatoes. Of course my wife likes the giant blocks of cheese that take two people to carry. 😉
    If you never shopped there before COVID, you missed the worst part. The aisles were always crammed with random displays and people handing out junk food samples. Social distancing made them space things out much better and really improved the experience for people who don’t want to spend the better part of their day in a store.

    • Thanks for these tips as well, will follow up on some especially the coffee.

      I didn’t mind the pre-Covid hubbub of the place but I agree things seem better arranged now.

      If they could put signs where things are that would help though!


  2. I don’t have a question at present. You have a pretty expansive set of subjects that usually provide something new to me.

    Costco US is similar to, but also different from Canada. For example, no specialty tea here! However they do offer prescription drugs that are generally priced much better than competitors in instances not covered by insurance. They offer hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses (both often not covered by insurance) at competitive prices.


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