Chester's Beers Of The World - Hamilton, ON

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cratez
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Chester's Beers Of The World - Hamilton, ON

Postby cratez » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:23 pm

A- / 4.06 (RB = 82)
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$

Fifth stop on a recent trip to Cambridge, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls with mrmanning. This overlooked gem resembles a 1920s cigar bar with faded wooden tables and chairs dispersed throughout an enormous, narrow establishment. A display of dusty beer bottles greets you at the front entrance. We grabbed a booth in the back where we enjoyed a night of drinks and laughs with our new-found friends from Bar Towel.

The main attraction at Chester's is the extensive vintage bottle list, which includes hundreds of LCBO seasonals and private imports from various Belgian, English, German, and American breweries. All of the beers are listed in a book that invites patrons to "keep any can or bottle as a souvenir." Some brews are 10-20 years old and many of them cannot be found at other beer bars in Ontario, so this place gets high marks for its rare, gigantic, and "aged" selection.

Len and I both started with a Theakston Old Peculier, then split a 1996 Liefmans Goudenband, a 1998 Suffolk Strong Vintage Ale, and a 2009 Vapeur Cochonne. The Goudeband tasted excellent and the Cochonne was quite good; however, the Peculier and Suffolk were past their prime. We had a feeling that the low-mid gravity stuff would be less than stellar (since it's not meant for cellaring), but we took a gamble anyway and got burned. Hence, I would recommend sticking to the stronger (7% or higher) offerings on the menu.

Service was prompt and courteous, though our waitress didn't know much about the beers. They were also "out" of several bottles that we ordered. Michael, the eccentric owner, did not seem to recognize Len despite having shared numerous hard-to-find Belgians with him a few years ago. But all of the drinks arrived quickly and in their proper glassware, including a dubbel that came with a wooden coaster.

Overall, we had a great evening here helped along by locals who know the Hamilton beer scene. Chester's is a destination for any beer geek seeking high-end vintage bottles. The selection is extremely unique in this province as no one else has been (or is?) willing to cellar bottles for such a long period of time. A must visit.
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Postby El Pinguino » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:21 pm

Nice write-up.
Wondering what the prices were like on some of the rare, gigantic and "aged" selection beers?
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Postby cratez » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:18 am

El Pinguino wrote: Nice write-up.
Wondering what the prices were like on some of the rare, gigantic and "aged" selection beers?


Thanks for reading! Perhaps you're unfamiliar with BA (or not?), but the "$$$" in the review heading denotes a 'somewhat pricey' bar. 5 vintage bottles with tax and a $10 tip came to $75, or $15 per beer. So not cheap by any means. From my perspective it was well worth the money - I will just be sure to avoid the low-mid gravity stuff when I return for future visits.
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Postby notdan » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:05 pm

I went there once when my girlfriend was still at McMaster and was also very impressed by the bottle list, but the one beer I had (Rogue Shakespeare Stout) was definitely off, so I didn't really feel like making the gamble to go back. Like you said, probably should have had something stronger.
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Postby Streets » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:14 pm

Here's Chester's current bottle list. Apparently they're in the process of changing a few distributors, so there will be a new menu available once everything is confirmed.

Belgium:

Affligem Blond - $6.91
Apple Lindeman's - $8.65
Apricot Chapeau - $6.52
Augustijn - $8.65
Barbar - $8.65
Barbar Winter Bok - $11.09
Bormen Double - $8.65
Bormen Triple - $8.65
Bruegel Ale - $8.65
Cassis Lindeman's - $8.65
Chimay Blue Cap - $9.52
Chimay Red Cap - $15.61 (750ml)
Chimay White Cap - $9.52
Cochonnette - $8.65
De Koninck Amber Ale - $6.91
Deus Brut Des Flandres - $52.13 (750ml)
Duvel Ale - $8.65
Floris Honey - $8.65
Floris Ninkeberry Garden Beer - $7.61
Framboise Lindeman's - $8.65
Frambroise Mort Subite - $12.99
Frambozen Liefman's - $12.99
Gulden Draak - $8.65
Hoegaarden White - $6.04
Karmeliet Tripel - $9.52
Kriek Chapeau - $6.52
Kriek Liefman's - $12.99
Kriek Lindeman's - $8.65
Kriek Mort Subite - $12.99
Kwak - $9.52
Leffe Blond - $6.91
Leffe Brune - $6.91
Lemon Chapeau - $6.52
Leute Bokbier - $8.65
Maredsous 6 - $8.65
Maredsous 8 - $8.65
Maredsous 10 - $8.65
Margriet - $7.61
Orval - $8.65
Peaches Chapeau - $6.52
Peche Lindeman's - $8.65
Pineapple Chapeau - $6.52
Piraat Ale - $8.65
Plum Mirabelle Chapeau - $6.52
Raspberry Rose Wittekerke - $7.61
Rochefort 8 - $8.56
Rochefort 10 - $9.99
Scaldis - $8.65
St. Bernardus Abt 12 - $8.65
St. Bernardus Triple - $8.65
St. Paul Double - $15.22 (500ml)
St. Paul Triple - $15.22 (500ml)
Stella Artois - $5.17
Strawberry Chapeau - $6.52
Strawberry Fruli - $6.04
Tea Lindeman's - $8.65
Westmalle Dubble - $8.65
Westmalle Tripel - $8.65
Yersekes Mosselbier - $6.91
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Postby stuyoung » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:36 pm

I've been there a couple times, and yes, my experience was equally as great.
Don't forget he's also got a few bottles of Utopias (at $250 a pop!)
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Postby Streets » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:09 am

England:

Abbot Ale - $7.61
Adnams Broadside Strong Original - $9.99
Adnams Suffolk Strong Bitter - $9.99
Badger Tangle Foot Ale - $11.09
Bass - $6.52
Bishops Finger Ale - $8.65
Black Sheep Ale - $8.65
Boddington's Pub Ale - $6.52
Bombardier Premium Ale - $8.65
Brakspear Bitter - $9.52
Bulmers Original Cider - $8.65
Craked Apple Cider - $8.65
Fiddler's Elbow - $8.65
Fuller's 1845 - $9.99
Fuller's ESB - $9.99
Fuller's Honey Dew Organic - $9.99
Fuller's London Pride - $7.61
Fuller's Vintage Ale 2006 - $21.47
Gaymers Cider - $6.52
Greene King IPA - $9.52
Harvey's Porter - $9.52
Hen's Tooth - $11.09
Hobgoblin Ale - $8.65
John Bull - $7.61
Lancaster Bomber Ale - $8.65
Marston's Burton Bitter - $8.65
Marston's Old Empire - $8.65
Marston's Oyster Stout - $8.65
Marston's Pedigree Bitter - $8.65
Marston's Strong Ale - $6.91
Old Engine Oil - $8.65
Old Growler Porter - $11.09
Old Peculiar - $7.61
Old Speckled Hen - $8.65
Prize Old Ale - $17.45 (275ml)
Riggwelter Yorkshire Ale - $9.52
Royal Oak Bitter - $9.52
Ruddles Country Ale - $6.52
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout - $9.99
Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale - $9.99
Samuel Smith's Pale Ale - $9.99
Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter - $7.61
Sir Perry Pear - $6.52
Spitfire Premium Ale - $8.65
Stowford Press Cider - $12.99 (660ml)
Strongbow Cider - $6.52
Suffolk Strong Vintage Ale 1998 - $17.35
Tetley's - $6.52
Thomas Hardy's Ale 1993 - $15.61
Wadworth 6X - $7.61
Wells IPA - $6.52
Whitebread Pale Ale - $6.04
Young's Double Chocolate Stout - $9.52
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Cale
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Postby Cale » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:28 am

Thanks for doing this, Streets! Great stuff. I remember seeing more than a few I wanted to look up later on, so this is pretty useful - even if half of them aren't in stock.

We should organize another meetup once they have their new menu in place - or sooner than that, depending how long it takes. Let's split a Utopias! Hah.
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Postby SteelbackGuy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:49 am

Cale wrote:Thanks for doing this, Streets! Great stuff. I remember seeing more than a few I wanted to look up later on, so this is pretty useful - even if half of them aren't in stock.

We should organize another meetup once they have their new menu in place - or sooner than that, depending how long it takes. Let's split a Utopias! Hah.


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Postby Streets » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:36 am

Happy to help! And from the Belgian list I know they're currently out of Rochefort 10, Kwak & Scaldis.

France:

Atlantic Pineau Des Charentes - $11.09
Desperados Tequila Flavoured Beer - $6.04
Fisher Traditional Ale - $12.99 (650ml)
Jenlain Biere De Garde - $7.61
Jenlain Blond Au Gingembre - $9.99
Jenlain No. 6 - $12.99
Kronenbourg - $6.52
Pietra - $7.61
X.O. Beer (blend of ale & XO Cognac) - $8.65
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Postby Streets » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:52 am

Germany:

Angel Brew - $17.35 (750ml)
Aventinus - $7.61
Aventinus Eisbock Weizen - $11.09
Beck's - $5.17
Bitburger Pilsner - $6.52
Celebrator Doppelbock - $8.65
DAB Original Special Reserve - $6.52
Erdinger Weissbier - $7.61
Furstenberg - $6.52
Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse - $7.61
Hirsch Doppelbock - $9.99
Hosten Fest Bock - $6.52
Holsten Maibock - $6.52
Holsten Premium - $6.52
Krombacher - $5.17
Konig Pilsner - $6.52
Kostritzer Black Lager - $6.52
Lowenbrau - $5.17
Paulaner Hefe-Weiss - $5.17
Raderberger Pilsner - $6.52
Salvator - $6.04
Schlenkerla Rauchbier - $8.65
Schneider Hefe Weisse - $7.61
Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen - $6.91
Warsteiner - $6.52
Warsteiner Dunkel - $6.52
Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock - $8.65
Wernesgruner Pilsner - $6.52

Scotland:

Alba Scots Pine Ale - $8.65
Belhaven Twisted Thistle - $8.65
Belhaven Wee Heavy - $8.65
Caledonion 80/- - $6.52
Deuchar's IPA - $7.61
Ebulum Elberberry Black Ale - $8.65
Fraoch Heather Ale - $8.65
Grozet Gooseberry And Wheat Ale - $8.65
Innis & Gunn Limited Edition Rum Cask Aged - $12.99 (330ml)
Innis & Gunn Oak Aged - $8.65
Jacobite Ale - $9.99
McEwans Scotch Ale - $6.04
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Jonah Hex
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Postby Jonah Hex » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:50 pm

I just heard about Chesters. Has anyone been there in the last few weeks? Is a new beer list available anywhere?

I'm thinking of checking it out, but I need to know there's at least a beer or 2 that'll make it worth the trip ...
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Re: Chester's Beers Of The World - Hamilton, ON

Postby Ukie » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:10 am

Looks like a revamping of Chester's, not sure if this is a good thing or not although the sale sounds interesting:

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/57833 ... ng-owners/
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Re: Chester's Beers Of The World - Hamilton, ON

Postby Provost Drunk » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:55 am

I, for one, am a little sad to hear that Chester's is changing ownership. It was certainly an oddball when compared to most beer specialty bars in Southern Ontario, but it is precisely for this reason that Chester's is unique. Yes, the décor is horribly outdated but for me, that's just part of the charm (so too is the fact that the menu continues to refer to beers originating from "Czechoslovakia")!

The biggest difference between Chester's and most contemporary craft beer bars is its expansive bottle collection. It is true that focusing on bottles instead of tap lines limited Chester's ability to constantly bring in new and different beers. But - although I like experimenting and trying something new as much as anyone - there is something to be said for maintaining the classics. Chester's is where I had my first introduction to many of the classic Belgian ales. And there are certain bottles on the menu at Chester's that I haven't seen anywhere else outside of Europe (such as the Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock which is, in a word, awesome).

Beyond what's listed on the menu, there are untold treasures that are buried away in the cellar. Ever heard of Bokrijks Kruikenbier? Neither had I until some friends and I were at Chester's asking Michael Robis about what else he had buried away and he returned from the cellar with a peculiar ceramic-coated bottle in hand! Michael was certainly a bit eccentric, but that too added to the charm of the bar. On another occasion he returned from the cellar with a large bottle with a heavily faded label. I think the beer was called "Domus", but since my friends and I couldn't determine what type of beer it was or if it was any good (and Michael himself has no idea), we balked at purchasing it. A few minutes later, he returned with the bottle opened because he was curious himself to see what it was (the beer itself was pretty forgettable and I think it was long past optimal cellaring time, but it makes for a good story).

There is certainly room for improvement. For starters, it is a bit baffling that in a place called "Beers of the World" the only tap pours Molson Canadian. I am encouraged that the new owners claims that they want to maintain the "beers of the world" motif, but I am just not sure if they'll be able to execute. As the article suggests, there is a huge push towards the "drink local" mantra. I don't have a problem with supporting local brewers - but there's already The Ship, The Winking Judge, Brux House etc. in Hamilton to ensure that the local craft scene is represented.
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Re: Chester's Beers Of The World - Hamilton, ON

Postby Provost Drunk » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:59 am

Made it out to Chester's this weekend for one final trip before they change ownership. They are indeed offering a 2 for 1 deal on bottles (with the caveat that you must purchase two of the same bottle to get the discount - it works well if you go with a group and can each grab a couple of bottles to share). It's well worth a visit if you're in the Hamilton area.

Out of curiosity, has anyone tried a beer called Sylter Hopfen? It's a German beer that undergoes the champagne process as part of a secondary fermentation. There was only bottle left and the asking price was $125, though I am sure we could have negotiated the price down. The overall score on ratebeer wasn't great (though it is classified as a golden ale and scores well with that category) and so we balked. Wondering know if we should have taken a chance for the novelty.

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