I’ve actually rather enjoyed taking the opportunity to write some more reviews of beers. It gives me a good opportunity to read through style-guidelines and gets me excited about new beers to try in the future. With that, there is another beer that has recently arrived on shelves here in Manitoba and it comes from my hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick. That beer is Timberhog Stout from and the brewery is Picaroons.
Growing up in the Maritimes was pretty great. I visited the ocean pretty much every summer, enjoyed mild wet winters with close to 6 feet of accumulated snow, easy access to Montreal or Boston. What I enjoyed the most about growing up in New Brunswick was the people. We also had great beer. Some of my first beers came from Garrison and Moosehead. As I grew up, so did the beer tastes of the community in Fredericton.
While I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite brewery, these guys have a really firm place in my heart. It’s likely because I’ve grown up with them and the fact they come from my hometown. They originally brewed their first beer in 1995. They pushed too hard too fast and eventually went out of business in 1999. This was a pretty big blow to the craft beer scene in NB.
Picaroons didn’t stay down. In 2001 they got back up on their feet and started brewing again. This time taking it slowly, using bigger bottles (500ml bottles) and keeping distribution close to home. Eventually they started making their way into pubs around the city, expanding distribution and growing their selection of beers.
My brother over at Beer Toronto interviewed the owner and brewmaster Sean Dunbar back in 2013. Rather than reiterate all of the good information he got, take a look at his write-up.
In 2014 Picaroons proudly became a certified Benefit Corporation. B-Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. In a nutshell, B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee.
We’ve had a few beers from Picaroons show up on our shelves here in Manitoba. We’ve got their Irish Red and their Yipee IPA and now we’ve got their Timberhog Stout. I really hope we might see more come our way, including my favorite Feels Good Imperial Pilsner.
Stouts are a dark beer made using roasted malts or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Traditionally the term stout was used to describe the strongest (most alcoholic) porters, typically around 7-8%, produced by a brewery. The reason for the name ‘stout’ was because these strong porters were often sold in stouter bottles than the standard porters. This gave them the nickname ‘stout’ which eventually became the term used to describe the style of beer.
There are numerous styles of stouts ranging from Dry Stouts, to Porters, and Oyster stouts and my favorite Imperial Stouts. While they had lost popularity in the early 20th century after the First World War, they have started to have a bit of an upswing due to the growing popularity in craft beer and breweries. Stouts are very versatile allowing for a lot of creativity in adjuncts and flavouring and you can see a number of craft breweries doing stouts quite regularly. Higher alcohol stouts also often age well making them a wonderful cellaring beer.
ABV – 5.0% IBU – 29
Appearance – Black as ink with a good 1 finger of persistent tan head.
Smell – Roasted malt, caramel and toffee and sweet bread
Taste – Nice flavours of molasses, toffee, coffee and cocoa that come through especially as the beer warms up. The combination of these flavours really blends well with the dry finish and the slight bitterness. If anything, it’s a little bit sweet.
Mouth Feel – Oily mouthfeel with good carbonation and a medium body. Finish is dry with a bit of bitterness. The finish is nice to contrast the sweet notes in the taste.
Overall Thoughts – Good combination of flavours and finish. Molasses, toffee, coffee and cocoa bring a really nice flavor profile along with the dry bitter finish. The balance is certainly there as are the dark malts and other expected flavours. As I said, if anything, it is a little sweet.
Do I like it? – I do enjoy this beer. While I think it’s better when I can get it from the source, I’m excited to see Picaroons making its way out here. It’s a taste of the Maritimes and of my hometown and each time I drink one of these I get a twinge of nostalgia.