Monday, November 12, 2018

Where In Ottawa LXXIII

This may be a really quick Where In Ottawa. But this month, that's the point.

I'm hoping that somebody solves my photo challenge by Wednesday, at the latest, because for the next couple of days after then, I may not be able to check on how my contest is going.

In three days, I'll be undergoing my long-awaited reconstructive surgery on my left foot, which has been giving me more than its fair share of trouble for the past two-and-a-half years. With any luck, by the end of Thursday, I'll either be on the road to recovery or one foot short.

But enough about that. Let's get back to my photo challenge.

For those of you who haven't played Where In Ottawa before, here's how it works: below, you'll see a photo that has been shot somewhere in Ottawa. Your job is to identify the spot and let me know by leaving your answer in the Comments section to this post. The first person to correctly identify the location of the photo wins (bragging rights only).

Please do not send me your answer through any other means: no Twitter, no Facebook, no e-mail, no smoke signals. You can guess as many times as you like.

For every day in which no correct answer is provided, I will leave a clue in the right-hand margin of this blog, below my goofy face. If the challenge isn't won by noon on Friday, November 16, the contest ends and I'll reveal the location on Monday, November 19.

Now, I'm not likely to be in any shape nor have the means to leave a clue on Friday, so in addition to the photo itself, I'm going to provide one clue right now.

Because yesterday marked 100 years since the end of World War One and was the day on which we all take a moment to honour those brave men and woman who have served and sacrificed for our great country, November's photo challenge is a salute to those who lost their lives so far from home.

That's the clue.

Ready for this month's challenge?

Think you know Ottawa? Prove it!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Beer O'Clock: Half Remembered Dream

You would think that with my reluctance to sour beer, I would shy away from a brewery that is all about the pucker.

Not so with one of Kanata's newish breweries, which will celebrate it's first anniversary next month.

Small Pony Barrel Works (101 Schneider Road, near Carling) ages all of their brews in oak barrels, and when you visit the brewery, barrels are inescapable: small tables let you sit and sample a pint or two (and, hey, the edges of the barrels will contain your drink, should you have the misfortune of spilling it); rows of stacked barrels run the length of the back of the brewery; and the aroma of oak, hops, and malt fill the air.

I briefly visited SPBW on Sunday afternoon and the place was empty, save the young woman who was busy affixing labels to the latest batch. While there is a tasting room, I was interested only in snapping some photos, grabbing a sample of ales, and heading out. Perhaps, if there were others milling about and I had more time, I might have stayed for a pint to get the true feel of the brewery.

I'll have to come back.

If you want to take beer with you, they have a decent selection but they are available in 750 ml bottles only. That's a pint and a half, so it's no large feat to finish a bottle in one sitting. But I was taken aback by the cost of a bottle, where prices ranged from $15 to $18.

I get it: you'd pay that much for a good bottle of wine. But we're talking beer, where the average cost of that much beer is about six or seven dollars. If I go to a pub for a pint, I'm going to pay about seven or eight bucks.

When a can of beer from a brewery is $5, I expect that the contents are going to be good. SPBW is charging at least double that price.

It had better knock my socks off.

Fortunately, of the three bottles I've tried so far, I can't complain about the quality. Ci-Tron (4.3% ABV) is a Berliner Weiss-inspired ale with loads of tart lemon flavour that can cut through a good curry and actually paired incredibly well with lemon-meringue pie. Respect Your Elders (6.4% ABV), also German-influenced, has lovely tart and floral notes, the floral being elderflower (with coriander and sea salt). While the sourness was there, it was a complement to the flavours rather than the centre of the show.

When I picked my bottles, I asked for their flagship brew, and I was pointed to Half Remembered Dream (5% ABV), a blend of sours with rose hips and hibiscus. Let's take a closer look at it.

Appearance: unfiltered, glowing orange with a hint of pink. I was reminded of the soda, Orange Crush. The foamy-white head also had a tinge of pink and poured thick, but quickly settled to a small, thin lace that was composed of an intense effervescence of minuscule bubbles, and then disappeared altogether.

Nose: sour grapefruit and floral notes, with a candied overtone. The back label describes Swedish berries and I thought, ah-ha, that's it! As with its appearance, Half Remembered Dream smelled more like a soda than a beer. (That's not a criticism.)

Palate: initially, the mouth feel brought memories of Orange Crush, but sour. In the finish, however, a touch of sweetness came through to the centre of my tongue. The rose hips and hibiscus are there but subtly play with your taste buds. It's tart, then sweet, then fruity and floral. As with the appearance and aroma, it tastes more like pop than a wobbly pop: it's light, refreshing, and seems more suited to summer patios than autumn leaves.

Overall impression: though SPBW doesn't make me a total convert to sour beer, its selection does strengthen my growing appreciation and respect for this style of ale. Half Remembered Dream is solidly planted in my brain and I would happily drink it again. I also liked the other two brews I tried, particularly Ci-Tron, and I'm looking forward to my fourth and final selection, Wild Blue Yonder (6.4% ABV), which I will likely have before this week is out.

If I can find any fault with Small Pony Barrel Works, I would ask the owners to reconsider their pricing strategy. Yes, your beer is great, but I've had equally great beer that cost a fraction of what you charge. Given a choice on a store shelf, I'd have to pick up the lower-priced beer. It's simple economics: I can buy more with my bucks.

SPBW is a luxury—the question is, can you afford it? I spent $63 on four bottles. For that price, I could buy a lot more beer and be just as happy, but for a lot longer.

Beer O'Clock rating: 🍺🍺🍺 Luckily, I don't take price into consideration when I rate beer. Half Remembered Dream is perfectly balanced, perfectly flavoured, and is a beer that I recommend based on quality alone. Break the bank and treat yourself at least once.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Then and Now: Alexandra Bridge

The first night that I had my first SLR camera, I went downtown. I photographed the Chateau Laurier, the ByWard Market, and the Alexandra bridge.

I wanted to practice capturing light trails, so I set up my tripod on the median, facing toward Gatineau, just before the bridge. The image wasn't very sharp and the lighting cast a dominantly green hue, but I did manage to capture the taillights of cars heading to Hull and headlights of cars arriving in Ottawa.

That was in 1986.

Over the decades, I'd find myself returning to this bridge countless times, at all hours of the day. I would turn my lens toward Parliament Hill. I would walk to the top of Nepean Point and shoot the bridge from above. I would capture fireworks streaming, like a bright, colourful waterfall, down the side of the bridge, into the Ottawa River.

It's one of my favourite bridges in the city.

The last time I photographed the Alexandra Bridge was during my last photo walk. I stood at the bottom of the Rideau Canal locks, between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier, with the National Gallery up on the ridge that lead to the bridge. Between sunset and blue hour: one of the best times of the day.

I'll always remember my first photo. I'm far from taking my last.

What's your favourite bridge in Ottawa? Leave a comment.