Home brewing, holiday plans, and hot toddies

This weekend was a lazy one. Short walks in the snow, Christmas records blasting, the smell of fresh loaves in the bread maker, and hot toddies galore. I met and interviewed two locals who have created a nano-brewery in their basement. They brew unique blends like Maple Coffee Porter, Honey Basil Ale, Rosemary IPA, Cranberry Porter, and even a Crabapple Honey Mead. They use wild hops and gather as many ingredients from the forest and their own gardens as possible. 

Their passion for brewing was infectious. Without too much hint-dropping, they have agreed to take Charlie and me on as apprentices. Our first two batches--a far less exciting IPA and Red Ale--turned out well, but there is still much to be learned. Gotta master the basics before you throw orange or thyme into the beer...so many ideas!

Yesterday we finished our final issue of The Northern Sun News for 2014. I've been with the paper for almost six months now and every week it's different. I've always worked for small companies, so having just two of us write the entire paper each week has always felt right. We've gotten into a good groove, the two of us, and are starting to branch out from the standard newsy pieces and focus on highlighting the unique individuals in this community. Like the basement brewers and bird photographer I interviewed for this issue. It's taken some digging, but I'm slowly discovering snippets of the West Coast culture that I miss so dearly. 

Thankfully we will be back in civilization very, very soon. Charlie and I are starting to get giddy over our holiday plans. He is heading home to Reno and I am hopping three planes to get to Kansas City. We will meet up in Lake Tahoe for our New Year's tradition for the last four years, SnowGlobe Music Festival. Three days of dancing in the new year out in the snowy forest with our best friends after some much needed family time. Doesn't get much better than that.

In closing, here's my easy hot toddy recipe that, let's be honest, usually has more than one shot of whiskey in it. It's the perfect complement to a day of sledding or snowshoeing in -20 degree weather in northwestern Ontario.  

Add a shot (or two) of whiskey to a mug or cup with a handle. Add a dollop of honey, roughly one to two tablespoons depending on how sweet you like your drink. Squeeze in three lemon wedges, dropping the final one into the jar. Toss in a cinnamon stick and pour in one cup of boiling water. Stir and enjoy!