I live in South Etobicoke and I love it. I moved here 10 years ago this month and I’ll never forget our first night in the neighbourhood.
We decided to head out and find our new “local” and came across the Albatros Pub. From the outside it looks like a great little bar with a large wooden sign, plenty of character and a whole whack of beer signs — all of them European imports.
Walking into the Albatros is like being transported to your favourite bar in Poland complete with an eclectic European draught line up and the smell of pierogies wafting through the air. I knew that I just had stumbled on my first hidden gem of my new neighbourhood.
As you know, I like to drink local wherever I am and at the Albatros it seemed only appropriate to dive right into some Polish beers. I knew a lot of them by sight but hadn’t really ever tried any and certainly couldn’t pronounce them to save my life. The first beer up? Zywiec.
Zywiec is the flagship lager from its namesake brewery and has a picture of a traditionally dressed couple dancing on the label. The brewery was founded by the Habsburgs, the ruling family of the time, in 1852 but is now mostly owned by the Heineken Group. This Polish version of a pilsner is probably the biggest brand in Poland and packs a little more punch than its North American cousins at 5.6%ABV. For the beer nerds out there it poured with a bright white head and had a nice malt aroma with some grassy notes. It has a bready body with a slight sharpness from the hops and a very crisp finish. For those who aren’t beer nerds — it was plenty tasty and rivaled some of its Czech counterparts.
Like North America, Poland has a taste for lagers and the Zywiec group of breweries boasts a strong line-up of them including Tatra, and and I toured through them all that night at the Albatros. They range from 5.5% to 6% so they are slightly stronger than your average beer but nothing too crazy. My personal fav from the night was Zywiec but if you like lagers as much as I do it’s worth taking a stroll through the whole list and finding the one you like best. It was worth the trip to Poland, even if it was just down the street for me.
Don’t Forget Dad
That dusty old guy in the corner still has some anecdotes left in his repertoire that you’ve only heard 5 or 6 times. Head out for a beer brunch at the Mill St Beer Hall and kick off Ontario Craft Beer Week (www.ocbweek.ca) while you nosh on some great beer-themed breakfast favourites. Not only will you leave full of great beer and food, Dad also gets to keep his stein!