Remember those groups in high school you’d do anything to be part of? Those super-stylish cool kids who knew pop culture and technology and were totally up-to-date on everything trendy? Thanks to our latest brewtrip, we spent a lovely evening in Hamilton with the coolest of the cool, a group of artsy-media-tech-Twitter people who welcomed us with open arms, cold beer, and hot tacos.
James Street South, the part of James that’s south of Main Street, is quickly becoming just as trendy as its art-crawl brother to the north. Adjacent to pub-central Augusta Street (which we’ll visit a few times before the year is up) and with a slew of small eateries opening in the past couple years, James St. S. is an after-work destination for the younger worker crowd, especially those who live and work near the downtown core. And it’s not hard to see why: James is crowded with coffee shops, cafés, cupcake stores, snackeries, and my favourite place to have pants hemmed.
The architecture in this area is gorgeous and representative of Hamilton’s roots and its renaissance. Some of the churches, old houses, storefronts and railway bridge date back to the mid-19th century, and renovations and trendsters have brought them back to life. St. Joseph’s Hospital is also up this way – and what better way to celebrate a successful surgery than stopping into a pub for a drink or two?
Anyway, for this mini brewtrip we headed to Mezcal Tacos & Tequila (or Mezcal TNT, or just Mezcal), one of the city’s most popular joints that opened earlier this year. Even before it opened, Mezcal was the talk of the town. Foodies, hipsters, and non-weirdos alike were all anxiously awaiting the opening of the restaurant, and for the weeks and days leading up to its opening, Mezcal’s presence on social media had intrigued even the population outside the trendy elite. I had even tried to get tickets for their VIP launch party, but alas, it was not meant to be. Since their doors officially opened back in March, however, I have managed to eat at Mezcal once and was thrilled to be making a return visit for our local brewtrip.
Sometimes we need an excuse to get out and do things in our own backyard. Mezcal is only a five-minute drive from home, but the curse of local residence (“We can go there anytime“) and old-person worknights (“Out for dinner on a Tuesday?”) were quick and dirty reasons to stay home. So when we were invited to this thrilling Twitter meetup (“Tweetup”) we hitched up our belts, had an extra cup of coffee, and headed down to Mezcal for a great night out.
Mezcal is on James at the very end of Augusta, so Mezcal’s bright sign is what you see as you’re heading west down the road. It’s truly impossible to miss, and even if there weren’t a crowd of cool people standing outside, there’s no way you can ignore it. After a hug-filled greeting (“I know you from Twitter!”) and a bit of a wait, we were into Mezcal for from-scratch gourmet tacos, burritos, and, of course, beer.
Mezcal’s craft beer option is limited to Toronto’s Mill Street Brewery, but what they lack in variety they make up for in deals. A great menu addition, and something I wish more restaurants had, is their $8 Tasting Flight of samples from Mill Street, which includes their Organic Lager, 100th Meridian American Amber Lager, and Tankhouse Ale. We each ordered a tasting flight and enjoyed every last drop, though looking back, I might have drunk them in a different order. Organic was a refreshing and light start to the meal, perfect for summer and the warmth of the restaurant. 100th Meridian, my personal favourite of the three, is a well-balanced and slightly bitter lager with a great Amber colour. And Tankhouse is a classic ale: Nothing particularly noteworthy about it, but completely enjoyable and easy to drink.
In all, an excellent brewtrip. Great beer, a cool and trendy area of Hamilton, and in the end, six sweaty friends having fun. This experience just shows that exploring your city and enjoying beer are sure fire ways to becoming one of the cool kids; once you’re an adult, anyway.
Sean’s edit: The cool crowd we met up with are a who’s who of the #HamOnt Twitter community, and I’ve been lucky to know most of them for a few years. You should definitely find them online and become online besties. Their handles are: @autoblot, @SarahAJanes, @cczerneda & @NahrenShamoka.
Also! Although Mezcal has limited craft options on tap day-to-day, they do serve The Hamilton Brewery’s Blue Collar Ale in cans on special during their Sunday Social. So a local brew can be had if you time it right!