Bartending Sober – Day 9

Back to work. Going through a beer cellar.

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You don’t have to read this blog in chronological order, but it helps to read my Sober October rules for context.

Right away I notice some differences in how I feel. Not from drinking, I stayed strong all night (even when the Karaoke broke out at 1am). Monday night I attended another long weekend celebration at Mark’s. I ate food that was packed with carbs I don’t normally eat, and some ginger ale. Two Thanksgiving dinners in a row, and a couple of Tim Horton’s Drive Thrus later I’ve consumed more sugar and bad carbs than I have in months. Those long weekends can kill you.

I woke up feeling bloated, tired, and even had a small acne break out on my face. On the other hand I do feel stronger overall, because of doing my 30 minutes of yoga pretty much every day. I’ve only skipped out on one day when I didn’t have access to a yoga mat. I haven’t weighed myself again, mostly because I like to do it right in the mornings before breakfast. These last few days I haven’t been at home where I have access to my digital scale. I also don’t feel good enough about myself to step onto a scale with the food I consumed.

Not long before attending my second turkey dinner on Monday I got a text from my friend Emily. The two of us met at the last Speed Rack competition in Toronto. Every once in a while we’ll meet up at industry events. Turns out she works at The Rhino now, and somehow she remembered my passion for craft beer. If you haven’t been to The Rhino, like ever, you have to go. The business itself has been around for almost 50 years. The bar is a mainstay in Parkdale, and was one of the first places in Toronto to get public WIFI.

Now Emily had asked me to help sort through their vintage beers in the cellar. Now if it were any other bar I probably would have said no. But this is the The Rhino we’re talking about. No place in the city has a beer selection like this place. I knew this before I had a look at their stock in the cellar. Let me tell you, it’s much more than I initially thought. The cellar, without getting into too much description, has shelves and shelves of imported and local product. The space also has a smaller room within the cellar that houses most of The Rhino’s more valuable vintages. If you’re into Fuller’s Vintage beers The Rhino has an impressive collection.

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A selection of vintage beers for tasting.

Emily put together a milk crate of product that mostly consisted of dark, higher ABV, Belgian-style ales. These styles can vary greatly from Trappist, to Dubbles, to Tripels, to barley wines, and a few others. Most of these were imports from Belgium, with one from Quebec, a stout from New York, and one lighter ale from France. Emily, myself, and two other staff from management sampled a total of nine different beers. None of these were lower than 6.9% ABV, with most sitting at the 8-9% range. None of these were sour beers, but all exhibited a low hop bitterness and often a malty profile.

My tolerance has definitely taken a serious nosedive since September. I definitely felt it, but it’s fair to say the high ABV didn’t help. The sudden jump in heat and humidity did not help with the unpleasant migraine that developed right after the tasting. Instead of being productive I pretty much went home, and crawled into bed.

Just a sidebar here: I do get headaches everyone once in a while that are rather debilitating. These are often due to sudden changes in weather, and sometimes typical over the counter medication doesn’t cure it. With this in mind, it’s highly unlikely the beer tasting induced my rather unpleasant headache.

Suffice it to say, I’ll hopefully be back at The Rhino in the future. There’s a lot more beer to sort through for a proper Vintage Beer list. The managers and myself didn’t even get to the Fuller’s Vintage series [hyperlink]. Pro Tip: if you ever see one of these beers in your local liquor store get one.

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