Vintage Beer Tasting for Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief

In association with Drinkers for Ukraine, I am very pleased to present this exclusive tasting of rare and vintage beers, to take place in Fine Wine Reserve’s gorgeous tasting room in downtown Toronto, Ontario, on April 7, 2022.

There are only FIVE seats available for the tasting and they will be sold by auction, beginning at 9:00 am EDT today, March 22. The auction will close at midnight EDT on March 31. All bids should be made in the comments section below, in Canadian dollars, and at the end of the auction the top FIVE bids will secure their seats by providing receipts for donations to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal.

The tasting line-up

The beer list for this once-in-a-lifetime tasting is as follows:

Samuel Adams Utopias 2005 (Boston Beer Company, USA) – The world’s strongest fully fermented beer at 27% alcohol by volume. This year’s vintage, a blend of beers some of which have been aged up to 18 years prior to bottling, is only the third ever released and the first to incorporate bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace, which resulted in a significant improvement in character and complexity.

Vintage #1 2008 (Jacobsen/Carlsberg, Denmark) – The world’s most expensive beer when it was released, this 10.5% alcohol by volume, barrel-aged barley wine originally retailed for US$400 per bottle. The label is an original hand stilled lithographic print made by the Danish artist, Frans Kannik.

Fuller’s Vintage Ale 2006 (Fuller’s, UK) – Among the world’s most highly rated and sought-after vintage beers, this is the tenth anniversary brew of the annual release. Every Vintage Ale is brewed to be slightly different from the others, and this version at 8.5% alcohol by volume features English Fuggles and Slovenian Super Styrian hops.

Kriek 2016 (3 Fontenein, Belgium) – While the spontaneously-fermented beers known as lambic are today revered by aficionados, it was not always so, and in the 1990s lambic’s future was in grave peril. One of its saviors was Armand Debelder, whose 3 Fonteinen brewery helped safeguard its survival. This cherry beer was bottled on the year of the great man’s retirement, and is shared with a note of sadness after Armand’s untimely death earlier this month.   

Double Tempest 2018 (Amsterdam Brewing, Toronto) – Tempest is an Imperial stout brewed by Toronto’s oldest surviving brewery, Amsterdam Brewing. Double Tempest is its older, slightly stronger sibling that undergoes additional barrel aging prior to its much-anticipated annual release. This edition, bottled at 11.9% alcohol by volume, is the first to be aged in barrels previously used for Woodford Reserve’s much-lauded Double Oaked Bourbon.

Where the Buffalo Roam Barley Wine 2018 (Cameron’s Brewing, Oakville) – A multi-award winning barley wine that was named World Best Pale Beer in the 2017 World Beer Awards and Canada’s Best Pale Barley Wine in the 2018 edition. Packaged at 13% alcohol by volume after several months of bourbon barrel aging, this puts paid to the antiquated notion that cans are unsuitable for cellaring.

Berliner Weisse 2018 (Indie Ale House, Toronto) – In its relatively short existence – the brewery celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – Indie has developed a sterling reputation for its barrel-aged and mixed-fermentation beers. Unusually for a cellar worthy beer, this is a light, refreshing, 4% alcohol by volume beer that has spent two years in Chardonnay barrels prior to bottling, and is today known as Slings & Arrows, with the 2019-2020 vintage currently available in the brewery’s store.   

Barley Wine 2010 (Mill Street Brewing, Toronto, not pictured) — Long before it was bought by AB InBev, Mill Street was one of the only breweries in Ontario, and one of the very few in Canada, to release annual editions of a barley wine from its home in the city’s historic Distillery District. This edition was the sixth in the series, and was described by its late creator, Joel Manning, as a prime candidate for cellaring.

(Other beers may be added, and will be announced here, if and when they become available.)

BONUS: Marc Russell, owner of Fine Wine Reserve, has very generously offered to award the top bidder a free one year rental of an 8-case wine (or beer) locker, an $800 value (excluding the $95 set-up fee)! If the winning bidder is an existing FWR client, he will credit their account with $800.

As an FWR client for many years, I can assure you that this is an incredible value!

RULES FOR BIDDING: Bids must be made in the comments below and should include the bidder’s real name. At the close of bidding, the five highest bidders will be notified and be given five days in which to provide proof of donation. (If any bidder fails to provide such proof during the given time period, the opportunity will fall to the next highest bidder.) If there is a tie for the fifth highest bid, each of the tied bidders will be given one opportunity to increase their bid, with the highest bid securing the seat at the tasting.

BIDDING STARTS AT $150.

TASTING DETAILS: The tasting will take place at Fine Wine Reserve on King Street West at Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto on Thursday, April 7, with the reception beginning at 6:00 pm. The exact address and additional details will be provided to the winning bidders upon proof of donation.

Food will be provided by Cheese Boutique and each taster will also receive a swag bag that includes a signed copy of my book, Will Travel for Beer: 101 Remarkable Journeys Every Beer Lover Should Experience.

I would like to express my profound appreciation for the support of the following: Fine Wine Reserve, Amsterdam Brewing, Indie Ale House, Cameron’s Brewing, beerbistro, Wvrst, Steve Abrams, and Cheese Boutique.

Love this idea but live in London, England, rather than Toronto? Well, the good news is that respected beer writer and author Pete Brown is hosting a parallel event! Learn more and bid on Pete’s tasting here.

15 Replies to “”

  1. Although I’ll not be there for this amassing tasting I bid 300 Canadian dollars and if I win a seat I will gift it to a friend.

  2. I bid $250.00 each for 2 seats – $500 total. My wife and I will not be in Canada at the time of the tasting but have recruited my son (Adrian) and his partner (Martha) to attend on our behalf.

  3. I’ll match Ryan Hanley’s bid of $800 for two seats. As I mentioned earlier, my son (Adrian) and his partner (Martha) will stand in for my wide an I.

  4. And the auction is over! The winners are:

    Weiguo Jao
    Gordon Richens for two seats
    and
    Ryan Hanley x2
    Yarema Bezchlibnyk

    Ryan and Yarema will be offered the opportunity to up their bids for the last two places tomorrow, but that’s all for tonight. Thanks very much to all the bidders!!!

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