Back and better than not being here at all, I happily present the SYC x Apollo Donut & Beer Pairing. It’s not the first donut and beer pairing I’ve been to (Sea Change x Farrow), and it most certainly won’t be the last.
I was appalled that I had missed the inaugural pairing, but thankfully they followed up with another round the Wednesday after, and I managed to snag tickets for it. A couple weeks ago, D and I were at another event hosted by SYC where we got to plant cacti in our own hand painted pots!
As artistic as I’m not, we both still managed to have a blast, and it was definitely aided by the beers. As most of the beers from this and last event overlapped, I’ll be mentioning all of the ones I’ve tried from SYC in this post. SYC is actually pronounced “sick” (/sik/) and stands for Show Your Colours. It’s a cool joint, with a downstairs tap room and mezzanine upstairs. As they don’t have a full kitchen, you can actually order in to enjoy your beers with something a little more filling than their small (albeit delicious) snacks from Zwicks and Range Road Meats, which I thought was a neat concept.
I’ve actually done a review on Apollo Donuts before. While they don’t have their own storefront, you can preorder, but they’re also available at Transcend Garneau/Ritchie, as well as The Colombian. Josh was here from Apollo, and I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to him on a couple of occasions before. We also had Richard representing SYC, and both of them being owners of their respective companies means they really knew their stuff.
3 donuts. 4 beers. Bonus beer? SYC. (Get it?)
First we tackled SYC’s Dulce Stout (ABV 5.0%) and Apollo’s Valrhona Chocolate Glaze. The Dulce Stout was described on the spectrum as somewhere between a regular stout and a milk stout. While I typically prefer milk stouts myself, I’m a huge fan of what this stud of a stout has to offer. The Dulce is smooth as warm caramel on the tongue, and as sexy as the name implies. 10/10 would tap again. The Valrhona is actually a surprising donut for me, as I don’t typically like chocolate flavouring, but because this is isn’t overly sweetened, it retains a true chocolate flavour that I really enjoy. Josh informed us that when Apollo was developing their donuts, they intended for them to be paired with coffee. This approach in unsurprising but intriguing – I feel that many donut creators do not create recipes with this in mind, despite it being the norm that donuts are often enjoyed with coffee. Coffee is actually used in the glaze of the Valrhona in order to bring out strong chocolate notes, and this, paired with the chocolatey, coffee Dulce was flawless. It’s amazing what two strong (flavour) bodies can do when they come together.
Next on the list was SYC’s White (ABV 5.0%) with Apollo’s Uncommon Cider Apple Fritter. The White has strong hints of coriander, and I find this flavour profile to be right on the tipping point for my own personal enjoyment. I do still enjoy this beer, but if the coriander flavour was any stronger, I don’t think I’d be able to drink too much of it. That said, it is very refreshing and would be perfect on a hot summer’s day. The flavour of the fritter is great, but I don’t think the texture of the donut is…frittery enough. I’m definitely not the kind of person who needs an extra crisp fritter, though I think there’s something to be said about the ideal Goldilocks fritter texture that is hard to find really anywhere. Separately, neither the beer nor the donut were my favourite, but then something truly magical happened as the two came together. The spiced notes of the beer and donut interacted in a way that brought out the sweetness of the apple pieces in the donut. The flavours enveloped one another, brought the experience to new heights, and left me feeling, well, extremely satisfied.
Richard mentioned that both beers, the Lunar Phase (ABV 5.0%) and the Fjord Neipa (ABV 6.0%) have tropical flavours, and Josh then mentioned that both would really pair well with the Passionfruit, and left it to us as to which beer to pair it with. Always one to keep my options open, I played the field by going half and half. In terms of flavour, they definitely have comparable notes, but the Lunar Phase is more piney. In reality, I think I liked the Neipa more as a standalone, but preferred the Lunar Phase’s passionfruit notes for the pairing. The passionfruit donut is easily my favourite from Apollo, and is always my first choice. I truly cannot get enough of this donut.
My only caveat of the evening was the manner of the presentation. They do have a taproom that is better set up for this type of presentation, but at Sea Change, each donut was presented individually with it’s beer pairing. There was a short presentation, and then we were able to dig in. Plates cleared, next pairing brought out, and so on, so forth. I appreciated hearing a little about each pairing right before tucking into it – my goldfish brain only remembers so much, and I sort of felt like I was forgetting a few things when we were getting around to the later pairings at SYC.
That said, there are a few things about this event that really made it special. The main one for me is that none of these flavours were forced. This event was basically a wedding, with the marriage of these companies and flavours. Each beer and donut pairing was undoubtedly perfect, but the coolest thing is that none of it was created for the purpose of the event. SYC and Apollo synced perfectly with one another from the get go, and I’m impressed by how well it all worked out. Additionally, the event was a little more intimate, and I think this has to do in part with the seating arrangement. At Sea Change, there’s some individual seating but also picnic benches. At SYC, it’s mostly separate tables with standalone chairs making it easier to sit any strangely sized groups. I was able to have a more private conversation with my company than if I had been on a picnic table, and trust me when I say you typically don’t want to eavesdrop on my conversations.
The other SYC beer that D and I had tried was the First Timer IPA (ABV 6.0%). It was quite hoppy, but overall a solid beer. In reality, I was too focused on trying to paint my damn pots than I was on the beer (even poor quality art requires a lot of concentration on my end).
My final thought about Apollo is that I’ve had their donuts more than a handful of times now, and I truly just like the way they operate. What’s noteworthy is they’ve done a fantastic job of taking customer feedback and applying it to their donuts. When I first had Apollo at the Colombian, our donut consistency was slightly off, and while I was floored by the Mango Lime, I was a little disappointed in the Blackberry Yuzu. Later down the road, I found their consistency had improved, but their flavours still weren’t all at the same level; the Mango Lime and Passionfruit were simply a cut above. This isn’t to say anything was ever bad – it simply needed tweaking as it was easy to see in their perfected flavours that they really knew what they were doing. Fast forward to this pairing, and I’m blown away. The donut consistency is even better than before, I’m excited about all of the flavours (although Passionfruit is still my favourite) and I’m just staggered to have been able to watch this progression. It’s akin to watching a flower bloom.
All in all, SYC and Apollo are a match made in heaven. Nothing like a good wobbly pop and donut to really go about consummating hump day with a bang.
Portion size: 2
Drunk n disorderly: 0