Beer Icon/Chevron Created with Sketch. Ides Series

72. Ides of April 2022: Sam Sam

Cherry Hibiscus Blonde Ale 4%
Icon/Fridge Created with Sketch. NO LONGER AVAILABLE

When Toronto music icon Sam ’the Record Man’ Sniderman was looking to distinguish his business from the other record shops popping up around downtown Toronto, he had a big idea; A 4-storey idea, in fact. So began the project to create what became one of Toronto’s most famous icons throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s: the “spinning record” neon signs that lit up the night on the Yonge Street strip.

When Sam’s opened in 1959, the record business was starting to boom and business was good. It kept on growing, and so did Sam’s, eventually occupying 2 buildings with multiple floors each at Canada’s retail intersection at Yonge and Dundas. The original sign was designed by Toronto’s Jack and Sam Markle and installed in 1969, with the second sign going up in 1987.

Sam Sniderman, ever the clever businessman, passed the $16,000 cost of the sign on to the companies whose records he sold, making a small profit in the exchange.

Designer Jack Markle once said “It’s history. You wouldn’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, you wouldn’t go to New York without seeing Times Square. . . . It’s the same thing. You can’t go to Toronto without seeing Sam the Record Man.”

When Sam The Record man closed it doors in 2007, Ryerson University bought the property and agreed to restore and reinstall the signs to make them a permanent part of Toronto’s downtown. A few years later, citing dubious reasons, Ryerson tried to back out of their commitment. The sign did go up nearly a decade later and can now be seen spinning above Yonge-Dundas square.

To Sam Sniderman and the Markle brothers who provided Toronto with an iconic sign that has lit up the city for over 50 years, we raise a glass of this Cherry Hibiscus Blonde Ale, pouring deep red with a thin white head, with aromas of toasty malt, tart cherries with a notes of herbs and flowers. Tart cherries, toasty malt and a lingering acidity characterize this bright and lively brew with fruity notes and a floral backbone.

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Tasting Notes

  • OG: 11 P
  • IBU: 20
  • SRM: 15
  • Carbonation: 2.40 Volumes (Medium)
  • Malts: Pale 2 Row, Pilsner, Wheat
  • Hops: Magnum, Hallertau Mittelfruh
  • Yeast: English Ale
  • Other: Cherry Juice, Hibiscus Flowers
  • Appearance: Hazy, deep red colour and a thin white head
  • Aroma: Toasty malt, tart cherry, floral, herbal, fruity notes of field berries and pomegranate, mild mineral aroma
  • Taste: Tart cherry, sweet toasty malt, floral, lingering acidity
  • Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with a bright acidity and a creamy carbonation
  • Overall: A tart, bright ale with lively fruity notes and a floral backbone
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