As a university student in London, Ontario, one very quickly becomes familiar with the venerable Joe Kool’s restaurant and bar and its neighbour Jim Bob Ray’s on Richmond Row. Kool’s, for one, has been whetting local whistles for decades, and serving up heaping portions of their signature kitchen sink pizza. The man behind this and a slew of other fun, creative establishments is Mike Smith and when he announced the closure of Jim Bob’s in favour of a new craft brewery, well, we knew good things were coming along very soon.
I finally got a chance to stop by Toboggan during a short visit back to the Forest City, and not only is it a brewery, it’s also a fine brew pub with a gigantic deck on the second floor that has covered and uncovered sections. The only caveat is the rather treacherous metal staircase leading from the sidewalk to the upstairs deck.
Toboggan offers eight selections: blonde, amber, stout, IPA, double IPA, vanilla stout and two ciders on their regular menu. Flights were order, $7.50, and I sampled the blonde, amber IPA and an APA, presented up in the best little metal toboggan serving trays.
One can generally tell a lot about the quality of a brewery by tasting the standard: a blonde. It’s like that cooking movie where a potential chef is asked to prepare scrambled eggs as a test instead of something fancy. And, no surprise here, Toboggan passes the test with flying colours. I’m not a fan of a basic blonde beer, but this ale was fresh and crisp with a fine dusting of citrus. As a summer beer on the patio, one couldn’t go wrong with one of these.
The amber was decent enough, although it was the beer I liked the least of the four. I found the caramel a bit too much. But, it was certainly passable. The IPA and APA were both well done, wonderfully hoppy, nice finish with some rumbling flavour hanging on at the end to make sure I come back for more, which of course I did.
I took the opportunity to sample some of the fare, ordering up a few tacos, which hit the spot. Taco recommendations: the brisket or the perch. Delish.
The brewery serves up its local beers in growlers or stubbies from a small retail store inside the brewery. The food is locally sourced. And they’ve also added live music to the mix. This is a great addition to the city, so be sure to stop by the next time you’re in town.