Thirsty & Miserable

Thirsty & Miserable hopes to be your new beer forward destination in Kensington Market . The bar, formerly Planet Kensington, Freshwood Grill and Havana Cuba - is a tiny little nook with a quality tap list and a carefully curated collection of Belgian trappists, American craft beers and locally sourced micro brews.

Thirsty & Miserable is a bar named after a Black Flag song and owned by one Katie G. Warror, guitarist for the beloved hard-core band, Brutal Knights . And since I'm pretty sure punk rock landed in Kensington Market with the pilgrims, this should probably have a pre-emptive heritage plaque slapped on it as reparations for all the places we've already lost.

When I walked through the door, the first thing I noticed was--well, the first thing I noticed was that the place was a bit of a shit hole; which is to say, perfect.

Thirsty & Miserable is exactly the way I remember Kensington Market to be when we used to get bussed in from the suburbs on school trips, before clean lines and quirky consumables started creeping in from the edges. It's a reminder to never do the whole book judging thing because when you walk into Thirsty & Miserable (ok, from now on T&M) you're going to feel an initial pang of discomfort.

These people are, in fact, cooler than you. They're actually the most dangerous and intimidating kind of cool--the effortless kind. It's ok though, just repeat the mantra, "They're nice people," over and over in you head until you get to your seat and you'll be fine. You'll be glad you did too because they actually are really nice people and, as mentioned earlier, there is some great beer to be had.

And yes, for those interested, you can get wine and liquor too, but don't. If you want those things just go somewhere else. There are a million bars in this city where you can find excellent wine and exquisite cocktails , way better than you'll find here; so why buy it at a divvy, punk rock beer bar?

Besides, if you're willing to open your mind a little, even if you're not a beer drinker, I'm willing to bet you'll find something that suits your tastes. Beer has much more breadth than Molson would have you believe.

Anyway, if you want to have the exact experience I did (and you probably do) you'll mosey up to the bar, look up at the drink menu scrawled on a flattened cardboard box and consider buying the $26 bottle of Collabrrrewator Coffee Doppelbock on loan from Beau's Brewery.

Here's the thing, there are only 12 of them and they won't be getting any more, which almost makes it seem like a good idea. But it's also 600ml and will probably be warm swill by the time you get to the end of it. Plus, the reality is you can try three different beers for the price of one Collabrrrewator so ultimately, it's best to start the evening off with an Orval ($8.50) and save the Collabrrrewator for a day when you're not drinking alone.

Orval is the beer that introduced me to the world of beer and for a long time, my absolute gold standard from which to compare all other tastes and flavours. I loved it like the older brother I never had, the one who would come home from university twice a year to visit, but I never got to spend enough time with.

It's a Belgian trappist of the highest quality with a beautiful cloudy orange colour and a stiff creamy head. It's delicate and robust and damn near perfect; and I'm just really, really happy they carry it. At this point, if I wasn't already, I'm sold.

Next on the list, another Belgian, the Mort Subite Gueuze ($8.75). Now, gueuze is a type of beer made by bottling a very young lambic with more matured beer of the same variety. Because the young stuff hasn't finished fermenting yet, the two hug it out in the bottle with the finish product having a distinct sour flavour. It's good stuff and mark my words, the age of the IPA is coming to an end and gueuze is going to be the new prom queen.

It continues from there, but this is a bar review, not a beer review. The thing is, you could throw a dart at the wall (don't) and you'd never hit a bad choice. I could have spent the whole evening working my way through the list and to be honest, fully expect to sometime in the near future. Rumour has it that the flattened cardboard sign is going to turn into a chalkboard sometime soon. I hope the renovations end there. I don't want to wait in line.

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