By Rick VanSickle
If you are a golfer in Canada there is no doubt you have heard and likely sipped the beer that inspired this moniker: “Better hit another.”
Note: Also in this report, new wines from 2027 Cellars, a terrific Gamay from 13th Street and two new releases from Flat Rock Cellars.
It’s Triple Bogey, of course, and since its inception in 2013, the innovative, niche-marketed beer brand brewed in Toronto, has been filling beer carts across the country as a go-to lager for thirsty golfers.
The idea to brew a delicious everyday beer that targeted golfers is the brainchild of Geoff Tait, above, a Toronto entrepreneur whose previous project was the multi-million-dollar golf wear company Quagmire Golf, noted for its cool and trendy golf attire.
Tait and his wife Megan (very top photo left, with David Stasiuk on the left), who quit her job to join the company when Triple Bogey began taking off, have added two more beers to the portfolio, Triple Bogey Light (3.9% abv) and Triple Bogey Amber (4% abv). Both follow a similar recipe to the Original Lager (5% abv) with an uncomplicated clean and crisp taste with low (under 20) IBUs.
“All our beers are drinkable for the average guy,” Tait tells Wines In Niagara during a tasting and interview at Rockway Vineyards and Golf Club in Niagara recently. “The whole point is to keep these beers crushable.”
Tait’s recipe for his lagers was targeted at golfers enjoying a round at courses around the country who want a clean, crisp and refreshing beer without all the fuss. His beers are tasty, but not hoppy and have always been targeted as a step up for the Coors Light and Bud Light crowd rather than crafted for serious craft beer aficionados.
Stocking beers at over 400 golf courses in Ontario and now in four other provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick — with a network of sales associates and staff, Tait and his wife began looking at what they could do next.
“Megan suggested wine, it was her idea and credit where credit is due,” said Tait, laughing. “She’s also the official taster.”
They turned to Rockway Vineyards winemaker David Stasiuk (who just happened to be working on a canned wine for Rockway) to develop the same kind of “crushable” single-serving wine as the Triple Bogey beer lineup.
Thus was born Triple Bogey Vidal Blanc 2018 (VQA), a fun white wine loaded with ripe orchard fruits, a touch of sweetness and a subtle effervescence on the palate. It comes in a 250 mL single serving can that ranges in price from $7-$9 at golf courses.
Tait says the Vidal has been embraced on golf courses, especially on Ladies Nights where the majority of female golfers prefer wine to beer on the golf course, patio or dock.
It’s a brilliant idea and on trend with the growing legion of canned wines starting to hit the marketplace. It’s something I will definitely be enjoying on the golf course.
Stasiuk makes the Triple Bogey Vidal at the Rockway winery along with his own Rockway 9 Pink 2018 (VQA), also made from mostly Vidal and a blend of red grapes, and gets it canned at Niagara’s Between The Lines Winery, home to Ontario’s first canned sparkling wine, Outset.
I tasted Tait’s Triple Bogey Vidal, his three beers and Rockway’s 9 Pink over a light lunch at Rockway.
Here’s what I liked:
Triple Bogey Vidal Blanc 2018 ($7-$9 at golf courses for a 250 mL can, 9% abv) — It’s quite fruity and fresh with a range of peach, apple and orchard fruits with just a touch of citrus and effervescence to keep it lively through the finish. Crush it ice cold right from the can.
Rockway Vineyards 9 Pink 2018 ($5.35 per 250 mL can or $20 for 4 at Rockway, 9.5% abv) — The blend is 95% Vidal with 5% a mix of red grapes. It shows pretty red fruits dominated by raspberries with peach, citrus and watermelon accents. It’s fresh and clean on the palate with a soft effervescence on the finish.
Triple Bogey Original ($2.75 at the LCBO for a 473 mL can, 5% abv, 20 IBUs) — It’s a blond lager made in a crisp and refreshing style that brings taste to a segment of beers (like the mass produced Coors and Bud Light) that sorely needed an infusion of happiness. Nothing fancy here, just a tasty lager with moderate alcohol and a clean finish.
Triple Bogey Light (473 mL can, 3.9% abv, 15 IBUs, 130 calories) — What I love about the Light version of Triple Bogey is that taste isn’t sacrificed at all here. A lighter version of the Original with less alcohol and 25% less IBUs.
Triple Bogey Amber (473 mL can, 5% abv, 20 IBUs, not at the LCBO yet) — Like all TB beers, it’s made in a lager style, but this shows more malty/barley flavours and a toasty accent with a nice amber colour. So, it’s richer, fuller, deeper but still maintains the classic freshness on the palate with that crisp finish without being heavier.
Two new wines from Niagara’s 2027 Cellars
2027 Cellars Edgerock Vineyard Brut Rosé 2016 ($29 licensee price, coming to Vintages eventually, 92 points) — Winemaker/2027 owner Kevin Panagapka sources the 100% Pinot Noir fruit from the Edgerock Vineyard, which is planted to 26 acres of reclaimed vineyards from a quarry developed near the brow of the Niagara Escarpment, south of Vineland. The Twenty Mile Bench vineyard is starting to make a name for itself because of Panagapka and other winemakers who source the expressive fruit from the property. This sparkler, like all 2027 bubbles, is made in a perfectly bone-dry (zero dosage) style and spent 30 months on the lees. “The vineyard is the key,” says Panagapka. “The winemaking is simple with no tricks and made the same way as all the wines I have made to date. It’s really about the viticulture, not the winemaking,” he adds, rather modestly. It shows a pale salmon colour in the glass with a persistent and tiny bead. The first impression is a beautiful stony minerality followed by fresh raspberry, cran-cherry, biscuit and lime zest. The elegant and delicate bubbles on the palate highlight a range of fresh red berries, beautiful texture, a toasty/biscuity note and wonderful verve and finesse on the finish. A knockout bubble from the solid 2027 Cellars portfolio.
2027 Cellars Wismer-Foxcroft Block Gamay Rosé 2018 ($16 licensee, Vintages eventually, 90 points) — This single-vineyard Twenty Mile Bench 100% Gamay rosé shows a brilliant pink to ruby hue in the glass (and bottle) and has a rollicking nose of ripe cherries, brambly raspberries and red plums with underlying savoury notes. It’s bone-dry on the palate with crushed red berries, plums, touch of earth and cassis with a vibrant finish. A bolder style rosé with finesse and style.
A super crushable Gamay from 13th Street
13th Street Gamay 2017 ($20, LCBO and winery, 90 points) — 13th Street takes its Gamay seriously, with no less than three single-varietal (two single-vineyard) wines made with this versatile grape in the portfolio. Gamay is enjoying a surge in popularity in Niagara and 13th Street has always been at the leading edge of the Gamay Renaissance and this every day version of the grape is one of the reasons why. It is quintessential Niagara Gamay with a savoury and bold nose of red plums, bright cherries, brambly raspberries, smoke and a dab of cassis. It’s vibrant and punchy on the palate with ripe plums, anise, red berries and cassis to go with soft tannins and finesse on the finish. Highly gulpable red that will keep your guests happy and satiated all day long.
A pair of new wines from Flat Rock Cellars
Flat Rock Cellars Twisted White 2017 ($18, Vintages Essential, 88 points) — This proprietary white blend from Twenty Mile producer Flat Rock is a mix of 64% Riesling, 32% Gewurztraminer and the rest Chardonnay. It’s highly aromatic on the nose with lychee, grapefruit, peach, ginger and a floral accent. It’s off-dry on the palate and displays a range of stone fruits, lychee, Asian spices, honey and marmalade with decent balancing acidity.
Flat Rock Cellars Unplugged Chardonnay 2018 ($18, released at the winery June 8, 88 points) — This unoaked version of Flat Rock Chardonnay lets the fruit do all the talking. Such a fresh nose of peach, pear, apple and a lovely vein of minerality with just a touch of citrus. It’s fresh and crisp on the palate with a range of stone fruits, minerals and citrus with a clean, vibrant finish.