Every time I sit down to write one of these posts I take an opportunity to reflect on where we are. When I first started this blog, the beer community was in its infancy. Half Pints was the predominate craft brewery, and remain to this day the original. We now have more breweries than I know what to do with. And I love it.
Today I write about an fun partnership with Brandon University. Nonsuch brewmaster, and Brandon University Alumnus, Mark Borowski has brewed a special beer for Brandon University’s 50th anniversary. This “Marzen Style” beer is, like most Nonsuch Beers, a cranked up version of the Marzen style.
For those of you who don’t recall, Nonsuch is a local brewery that is made up of some pretty talented people. Take a read through my write-up on them here. They’ve run into some bad luck along the way and have had a difficult time finding a space of their own. Thanks to the amazing camaraderie of the local beer community, most especially Barn Hammer who has provided Nonsuch with space to brew, they’ve still managed to get beer out the doors. This bottle release represents the first beer they’ve packaged and sold at such a large volume.
It is somewhat auspicious that I am posting this write-up today. NONSUCH HAS A SPACE. They announced it this morning. They will be moving into the old Peg Beer Company site at 125 Pacific Avenue. This is a happy and a sad day. I am happy for Nonsuch to finally have a place to call there own. At the same time, this means there won’t be a return of Peg.
This “Golden Ale” brewed for the “Golden Anniversary” of Brandon University is crafted from a recipe inspired by a Marzen, a German festival beer that is traditionally served at Oktoberfest. Before refrigeration, it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer due to the hot weather and bacterial infections. Brewing ended with the coming of spring, and began again in the fall. Most were brewed in March (Märzen). These brews were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months, or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’d keep. Märzenbier is full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content.
According to the description, the unique BU50 Anniversary Ale uses a hybrid yeast to brings out more crispness, and further enhanced by the use of Saaz hops. The result is a refreshing and well-balanced strong beer that comes in at 6.8% ABV — intentionally chosen as a nod to 1968, the year the first graduates of Brandon University received their degrees. Previously, graduates from Brandon College received degrees from other institutions.
ABV – 6.8%
Appearance – Pours a clear golden/honey colour with a foamy head.
Smell – There is a biscuit malt character to the nose along with some hints of caramel and a bit of grassy hops.
Taste – This was a rather sweet beer. The sweetness from the malt came through strong and was only slightly cut by some crisp bitterness on the finish.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with good carbonation and a nice dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – Nonsuch is known for making ramped up beers. This was no different. The malt character really shone in this beer and, while I found it to be on the sweet side, it did have a crisp finish. I think that it hit on the characteristics one would expect to find in a Märzen while still maintaining something special that is worthy of the celebration.
Do I like it? – I did like this beer. I found that it brought a nice malt character. I found it to be a bit sweet for me, but I was able to move past that and enjoy it. I think this type of collaboration is really fun and I hope we see some more of it. The price tag on this beer, $19.68, is rather high. But, we know that Nonsuch’s overhead for there beers is already pretty high and if we consider they are donating a portion of this to the Brandon University’s BU Foundation, it makes a bit more sense.
The beer is already sold out in most of Brandon. Luckily, Nonsuch is currently brewing their second batch of the beer which should be ready in about a month. There are hopes it will be sold at rural Liquor Marts in Western Manitoba and eventually Winnipeg Liquor Marts as well.