Even after talking to about a dozen of the founders of Toronto’s new craft breweries I’m still surprised how they each took a slightly different path into the industry. Some were homebrewers, or worked at big breweries, and others start with just a business and marketing plan. The unique aspect of Kensington Brewery Company’s history is that they built their base in the back of The Burger Bar, a successful restaurant in Kensington Market.
Kensington Brewing Company’s second beer, Baldwin FishEYE-PA, needs a bit of explaining. The name refers to the densely packed row of fishmongers on Baldwin Street, around the corner from the brewery’s current home at 156 Augusta. The brewery’s Michael Gurr says: “For us, it’s about finding a connection to the neighbourhood around us through the names of our beers.”
Craft-brewed IPAs depend on hops for their bright aromas and bracing bitterness. Each variety of hops contributes a different group of aromas and varying levels of bitterness.
As they developed this recipe, the brewers at Kensington concentrated on dry hopping, using four American varieties of hops: Citra, Cascade, Chinook and Amarillo. Given that the brewery once experimented with growing its own hops (on a very small scale), it makes sense that both of its beers are hop-focused ales (a new offering, to be released in April, will be a watermelon wheat beer).
By toning down the Citra in favour of Amarillo, FishEYE’s final version strikes a complex balance between sweet and bitter. The orange caramel colour (darker than many other IPAs) is a good foreshadowing for the first taste of sweet malt, which is quickly followed by a citrusy bitterness that lingers pleasantly. The closest flavour association I can draw is homemade marmalade with thick-cut pieces of Seville orange peel.
If 6.5 per cent alcohol (not to mention a bracing 65 IBUs) seems like a bit much for a breakfast beer — no matter how well it would go with a toasted and buttered English muffin — save this for a lunch of Indian food. A well-balanced IPA pairs much better with spicy lamb rogan josh or vegetable biryani than the pale, fizzy lagers that are brewed in India and exported globally.
FishEYE will join Augusta Ale as a full-time listing at the LCBO in May. Until then, it can be found at a long list of Toronto bars that includes Bar Hop, Thirsty & Miserable, and Bryden’s.
Kensington Brewing Company’s Baldwin FishEYE-PA, on tap and in cans at various bars around the city