By Jamie Drummond

The Grilled Cheese Menu at Leslieville Cheese Market

Last week, whilst cycling down Queen West, Toronto on a stinking hot Summer’s day, I suddenly found myself feeling rather damn peckish and at the same time utterly parched. Cycling in the city in the Summer does that to a boy you know…

As my nasal passages were subjected to the olfactory assault of KFC’s top secret 11 herbs and spices, for one dangerous moment I found myself considering a near-fatal relapse into one of the Colonel’s Big Crap Sandwiches. They put drugs in the aromatic compounds they pump out into the streets at that place, I am sure of it…

Thankfully my hungry eyes were drawn to a sandwich board just on the edge of my peripheral vision, across the street from the Colonel‘s den of gastronomic disasters.

The board in question was advertising The Leslieville Cheese Market’s Grilled Cheese and Beck’s Beer combo for a mere $9.99! Just what the Doctor ordered!

Of course it wasn’t actually a REAL Beck’s, but one of their non-alcoholic chaps… which is not as bad a proposition as one may first think.

My very first encounter with Beck’s non-alcoholic beer was in my first weeks in Toronto, after moving to this great city from Edinburgh, Scotland. I had purchased a 6 pack of the fellows at Loblaws without ever realising that they were in-fact alcohol free (I really didn’t understand the draconian laws governing the sale of alcohol, in fact I still don’t). If I recall correctly, I made it to my fifth bottle before wondering why I wasn’t experiencing any kind of buzz. I’ll admit that I felt like a bit of a chump for not picking up on the lack of alcohol, but then perhaps that is testament to the decency of the (non) beer itself.

Unlike most non-alcoholic beers, that are produced using the standard beermaking process followed by the removal of (almost) all the alcohol, Becks non-alcoholic beer never  gets the opportunity to become alcoholic as brewer’s yeast is never added, and hence the beer never actually ferments. This does mean that the Beck’s non-beer does have a slightly sweet composition, but there is enough hoppiness to counter that. It’s actually rather good.

However, I digress…

On offer are a variety of variations upon the classic Grilled Cheese, ranging from the “Classic” with Meunster, Aged Cheddar, and Dijon Mustard, through to the Creamy Blue Cheese with Grilled Pear (see above for the full menu).

Being the traditionalist that I am* I plumped for the “Classic” and when offered a selection of dipping sauces as a little unadvertised bonus, opted for the Green Tomato Chutney.

Walking my bike along Queen West, supping from my ice-cold Beck’s, I once again questioned the many antiquated liquor laws that we have in this wonderful province. The fact that one cannot purchase beer, wine, or spirits from a supermarket or convenience store/dépanneur, or that it is illegal for one to enjoy a bottle of wine with a lover over a picnic in the park. It is quite frankly ridiculous, and I do wish that a review of these laws were more of an election issue.

My frustrations were compounded and qualified by the helpful slurs of a “Gentleman of The Street”, who upon (incorrectly) identifying me as a fellow boozer warned me “Watchhh out Maaaan, there are Po-leeeese jus’ arounnn the corna”. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that he was a fellow Scot.

Sitting down upon the grass in Trinity Bellwoods Park to enjoy my delicious Grilled Cheese with dipping sauce (a good combination BTW), and looking at pretty girls on bicycles, I was fantasising about being approached by Toronto’s Finest and being able to proclaim “Well Officer, as a matter of fact this just happens to be a tasty non-alcoholic beer…”, but it never happpened.

*denotes joke.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Board at Leslieville Cheese
The Leslieville Cheese Market’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich Menu

A choice of Dipping Sauces... they had Green Tomato Chutney too!

The Beck's Non Beer... which is a damn sight better than one would first imagine.

In a rather out-of-character fit of conservatism I choose the "Classic"

You can eat your Grilled Cheese on the street...

Although I feel it is best enjoyed in the park.

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he was rather surprised just how inoffensive and refreshing Beck’s non-alcoholic beer actually is.