All posts by beerwinnipeg

Watching and blogging about the growing craft beer landscape in Manitoba

Torque – One Year In


When I first started writing this blog we had three breweries in Manitoba. Today, we have nine with more on the way. What’s even more, we are hitting the anniversaries of some of these breweries and I, for one, am interested in looking back.

I sat with John Heim, president of Torque Beer Co. and the new president of the Manitoba Brewers Association to talk about their first year. I wanted to take a minute to look back at their first year and ask him about what they’ve learned, what they would do differently, and where are they going form here.

When they first opened Torque came out of the gate with a large capacity, immediate packaging and selling directly from Liquor Marts and beer vendors. They didn’t focus on getting their taproom open first but getting their beer out the door. This helped them enter the market with a wide reach and bring their beer to a larger group of people.

The Torque Founders 2016/2017

While starting off strong, Torque had early on made the decision to have a Helles, a lager requiring 8 weeks from brewing to packaging, which meant that it took longer to cycle that beer out into cans reducing the capacity for other beers that require less conditioning. This decision along with the admirable community mindset of Torque meant that they were using their brewery to produce other beers besides their own.

While these decisions ended up both producing a delicious beer and cementing Torque as a stellar community member, it also delayed them finding their stride. With all that said, I think everyone would agree that Torque has managed to produce some tasty, interesting and numerous beers.

As well, John explained that if he could do it again, he’d like to have more man power at the start. They’ve recently added a third brewer to their team, Tyler Sattler (formerly of Fort Garry Brewing) and a full-time tap-room manager named Hannah. While, according to John, they are just now starting to hit their stride, if what they accomplished over the past year was them “finding their stride” I can’t wait for this next year.


In this upcoming year Torque is hoping to expand their space by another 6000 sq/ft to accommodate the multiple dry-good needs they have. They’ve started using superbags of malt which will help them keep up with demand and have a variety of can variations that take up a lot of space.

As they’ve continue with their focus on helping the craft beer community, helping with distribution for PEI brewing company, Dark Horse Wine and Spirits, Craft Beer Imports, and 49th Parallel, they could also use some more cold storage and tanks which means they need more room to store the dry-goods as well. Another 6000 sq/ft would go along way. John also thinks a silo for malt might be in the future.

With the recent hiring’s, it lets John focus on the higher-level thinking and his new role as MBBA president. He is looking at working with other MBBA members to change the occupancy rules for taprooms so that events are easier to hold. With a 50-person max, despite space, it makes it hard to throw a birthday bash. John is also looking at finalizing Torques website, working with their sales manager Raj to get them out to more restaurants and venues, and talking to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority about expanding to SK with their variety packs.

The first year has flown by and John and the team at Torque are trying to focus on looking forward. They are working on getting their website up and running that will provide details on beers, location, merch and where you can find them on tap. They are also hoping to hold more events and connect with other local vendors to bring beer and cuisine together.

Overall, John feels that they’ve really honed in on their production. They’ve implemented efficiencies in their canning line to allow for one person to operate it reducing waste and beer loss. They’ve hired new brewers to help fill the gaps and relieve the pressure that was once there and they’ve really focused on ensuring that the product they sell is something they would be proud of.


I’m excited for this next year and excited to share with you some of the bigger batches of beers we will be seeing from Torque over the next 12 months. Just know that alongside this they’ll have their small batches available at the brewery only. In fact, they are adding more small batch fermenters so that they can do more small batch brews.

Torque release schedule (unless otherwise noted – 473ml cans):

September/October 2017 – Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin Ale
November 2017 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2017 – Winter Survival Pack (6x355ml – Smoked Coffee Porter, Dunkleweizen, Wee Heavy, Wheat Wine, Diesel Fitter and a Double IPA.)
January 2018 – Bumper Shine Winter Ale
February 2018 – A Gruit using local botanicals – 500ml Bottle.
March 2018 – Konstantine Russian Imperial Stout – 500ml Bottle.
April 2018 –  Dopplebock – 500ml bottles
May 2018 – Czech Pilsner
June 2018 – Magnetic North Hefeweizen
July/August 2018 – Summer Pack (possible variation on beers)
September 2018 – Witching Hour
October 2018 – Fest beer (Marzen or Oktoberfest) – 500ml bottle
November 2018 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2018 – Winter Survival Pack

I’m pretty excited for a lot of the beers on this list. I encourage everyone to continue to support local beer and to get out and try these beers. Some of them will be quite interesting.

I hope to continue to follow-up with the breweries as they hit milestones. Peg Beer Co. and Barn Hammer Brewing have both also hit their one year anniversaries. I hope to check in with them soon. I’m also going to be checking in with Stone Angel this week as they approach opening and talking to the founder of North City Growlers. So follow me on WordPress and twitter to keep up with the latest.

– Beer Winnipeg

Surly Three-Fer

I’m super psyched to be back at writing and getting back into the brewing community. Sadly, I’m still working the nights of the Winnipeg Brew Bomber meetings so I don’t get to attend those, but if you have any interest in learning about home brewing or connecting with a group of incredibly knowledgeable and talented individuals, I’d recommend considering this group.

For those of you not familiar with Surly, I did an in-depth write-up of them <here> when they first announced their coming to Manitoba. This is big. They have a waiting list for expansion and have chosen to come to Manitoba. What’s more, we are going to be seeing some of their seasonal offerings, including Furious Black IPA, Damien, and both the 2016 and 2017 vintages of their Russian imperial stout Darkness.

Today I’m going to write about three beers from Surly that have arrived in Manitoba and are currently available. Two which will be consistently available along with Todd the Axeman, Xtra-Citra, a Citra centric American pale ale, Furious IPA and a seasonal release Surlyfest. These are all available at Liquor Marts and many beer vendors including Quality Craft Beer Store, Econolodge and St. Norbert Hotel.

Surly - Xtra-Citra.png

Xtra-Citra Pale Ale

Xtra-Citra is an American style pale ale that uses warrior hops for bittering and then a load of citra to bring big tropical citrusy notes to this highly drinkable beer.

American Pale Ales (APA) are, obviously, pale, refreshing and well hopped but with the right amount of malt backbone to balance the beer. The opportunity to select from hops can give this beer a range and either reflect classic hops or new world hops. Generally, an APA is more accessible than an IPA while still providing a hop forward flavour.

The APA is a modern American craft beer adaptation of the English pale ale. These beers tend to reflect ingredients that can be sourced by the brewery locally. While these beers are an American craft beer invention, the desire to source locally means that this Italian version will hopefully have a little bit of that old world flare.

Prior to the explosion of popularity of the IPA, the American Pale Ale was the most well-known and popular of the American craft beer styles. Without further ado, time to taste the beer.

ABV – 4.5%
Appearance – Pours a slightly haze pale golden yellow with a nice white head.
Smell – Citra hops notes are the most prominent on the nose. Lots of grapefruit and orange notes, passion fruit, some funky wet-hop notes and some cattiness on nose as well.
Taste – You get notes of orange-peel and lemon, faint resinous grapefruit a bit of malt sweetness. The taste on this is dialed back a bit leaving a softer hop bitterness and Citra-centric flavour.
Mouth Feel – Light body with a nice carbonation and a soft bitter finish.
Overall Thoughts – Despite being a bit of a softer hop centric pale ale, the flavours that it brings are nice and, if you like Citra, this beer brings those notes. Overall an enjoyable and easy drinking pale ale.
Do I like it? – Xtra-Citra a nice quaffable beer that still brings nice hop notes. I do like this beer and it’s a good balance to the higher more hop forward offerings from Surly.

Surly - Furious - IPA

Furious IPA

IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.  At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”.  These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed at this time. Hops are used as a preservative of sorts, to help keep the beer fresh. If you were preparing a beer for a long trip from England to India, you’d need to add a lot of hops. So, while the IPA if consumed in England before shipping would be quite hoppy, at the other end it likely would not. Today, the tradition of hopping beers continues, but we don’t have as far to send them, and the goal is to make a hoppy beer. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipediathe BJCP Guidelines (Page 37) or IPA Beer.

While IPAs are part of the pale ale family, they are strongly hopped and often highlight the variety of flavours and complexities that can come from the simple ingredients used to brew beer.  Many will say the IPAs are an acquired taste, and they are rather unique, the bitterness brought using a large quantity of hops is not for everyone. On most IPAs you’ll see an IBU (international bitterness units) number that gives you an idea of how bitter it might be. For comparison, Torque’s American Pale Ale (Foundation) comes in at 30 IBUs, Half-Pints little Scrapper comes in at 50, and Barn Hammer’s Saturday Night Lumberjack at 75 IBUs.

Surly Furious is an amber hued IPA using a variety of hops working in tandem with a sweet malt backbone to balance against the pretty intense 99 IBUs of hop bitterness.

ABV – 6.6%
Appearance – Pours a slightly hazy amber with a nice foamy head that leaves lacing on glass.
Smell – Definite citrus notes as well as some more prominent piney notes and caramel malt.
Taste – Bitterness from the hops brings a nice citrus note on front that is quickly blended with the sweetness from the malt. The finish brings nice pine and resinous notes that leave a lingering bitterness on tongue.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with good carbonation and a lingering bitterness.
Overall Thoughts – Well balanced IPA bringing good aromas and flavours from the hops. The pine notes combined with the citrus bring a nice hop bitterness that makes this beer a nice IPA that is still drinkable.
Do I like it? – Yes. I think this is a nice IPA that brings a different take on the style from Todd the Axeman. This one brings a bit more variety in hop notes and will certainly be on my IPA list.

Surly - Surlyfest

Surlyfest – Dry-Hopped Rye Lager

Proving that they like to do things differently, Surlyfest is Surly offering for the Oktoberfest season. This is a beer that is now in its 10th anniversary and is a really unique offering for the fall beer season.

Surlyfest is a lager that has been brewed using three types of rye malt and then dry-hopped with a single variety of American hop (Sterling in this case) to bring some really nice spice flavours along with the floral hop notes of sterling.

This beer falls under the category of a Märzen. 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.

While certainly not a traditional Märzen, Surlyfest brings an interesting interpretation on the style and provides something different.

ABV – 6%
Appearance – Pours a clear deep copper colour with a tan head.
Smell – Interesting aroma. You get some dark bread and caramel along with some subtly spicy and peppery notes a floral note from the hops.
Taste – Nice notes of bready malt, caramel and that subtle spice and pepper coming through from the rye. The hops bring a touch of citrus and bitterness that doesn’t really overtake anything but provides another layer.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with good carbonation and a nice dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – While not the traditional Märzen that we see around Oktoberfest, we knew that going in. This beer is a delicious take on the traditional and the use of three different rye malts really brings an interesting character.
Do I like it? – Absolutely. This beer really makes use of the rye malt and sterling hop to bring an interesting and tasty take on the traditional. Not your dad’s Märzen, but it should be.

Thanks for reading as usual folks. I’ve got plans to get back into Get to know a brewer soon. I’m also looking to sit down with those breweries open for one year to get their insights starting with Torque. Also hoping to sit down and get some follow-ups done with breweries yet to open their doors.

Keep following along, it should be a fun year.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Beau’s – Fall Mix Pack

beaus-logo-colour

There are a lot of really good beers for me to write about these days. That along with the fun beer related events, breweries in the city, and being back at work, it’s gonna be an interesting year all around. Today I’ve had the good fortune of being able to sample Beau’s Fall Pack which should be coming to Liquor Marts before too long. It’s a pack of four beer, Lug Tread and three others, and I’m looking forward to giving them a try.

I did a pretty in-depth write up about Beau’s when I met with co-founder Steve Beauchesne, but I do want to reiterate a bit about the brewery. Founded in 2006 in Vanleek Hill, Ontario by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s is an employee-owned and completely independent Canadian craft brewery. Led by head brewer Matt O’Hara, the focus at Beau’s is to brew interesting and tasty beers using only quality, certified-organic ingredients and local spring water.

This “Best of Beau’s” pack contains four beers. Lug Tread – Beau’s core beer which is a their take on a Kölsch, Sargeant Stripes -A Jamaican Export Stout, Cranberry Derby – a pale ale infused with cranberry and using oat as part of the malt profile, and the Spice Principal – a take on the German weissbier using 12 organic spices from coriander to ginger to cayenne.

*Writer’s Note: I did receive this pack to review for free. *

Beaus Lug Tread

Lug Tread – Kölsch

Lug Tread is a hybrid style beer. It is top fermented like an ale but cold-aged like a lager to create this crisp and refreshing take on a German Kölsch. This is Beau’s flagship beer and it has won over 20 awards for brewing excellence since 2006.

A typical Köslch is crisp and refreshing with subdued hop and a subdued maltiness throughout. This brings a nice refreshing beer with a crisp finish that is enjoyable during the summer months. Beau’s take on this style is a bit more malt forward and brings a bit of warmth so that it can even be enjoyed during the winter months when it’s cold outside and one is seeking that warming.

This style of beer originated in Cologne, Germany. There had been a tradition of top-fermenting beers in Cologne since the Middle-Ages. The “Köslch” that we drink today wasn’t produced until the 1800s and was developed in large part to combat the bottom-fermenting pale lagers which were being produced in other regions of Germany and Europe.

The name Kölsch is an appellation protected by the Kölsch Konvention (1986) and is restricted in use to the 20 or so breweries around in and around Köln. The Konvention simply defines the beer as a “light, highly attenuated, hop-accentuated, clear, top-fermenting Vollbier.” So, while you may have had a beer that is brewed in this style, you’ll only have had a true Kölsch if it’s from one of the breweries permitted to use the name.

ABV – 5.2%
Appearance – Pours a clear pale straw in colour with a nice white head that quickly dissipates.
Smell – Smell is clean with a biscuity note to it, dried apple and hay
Taste – Nice light malt notes bring that bready feel to the beer. Light fruit notes follow along with some light hop herbal spiciness finishing with both refreshing and crisp.
Mouth Feel – Good level of carbonation with a malty herbal hop dry finish.
Overall Thoughts –While not a Kolsch, this beer does well in representing the style by bringing great flavour without overwhelming the beer. It remains highly drinkable and refreshing.
Do I like it? – This is a nice easy drinking beer that is great on a warm day or sitting inside in the cold. I do like this beer and think it is a good representation of what Beau’s can do.

Beaus - Sargeant Stripes - Beercrank
Credit: beercrank.ca

Sargeant Stripes – Export Stout

Sergeant Stripes is Beau’s take on an export stout. There are numerous styles of stouts ranging from Dry Stouts, to Porters, and Oyster stouts and my favorite Imperial Stouts.  The specific stout style, Foreign Extra Stout, were stronger stouts than those typically brewed for today’s market. Not quite getting to the Imperial Stout ABV but ranging in the 6.3-8% range. Those brewed before WW1 had the same Original Gravity (starting sugar content) as Extra Stouts but because it had a long secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces it ended up with a higher alcohol content.  They have a history stretching back to the 18th century when they were more heavily hopped versions of stronger export stouts.

Hops, of course, act as an excellent preservative and allow the beer to keep as it travels. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (originally, West India Porter, later Foreign Extra Double Stout) was first brewed in 1801 per Guinness. It was brewed with extra hops to give it a distinctive taste and a longer shelf life.

Export Stouts were brewed to be able to keep and be enjoyable after taking a long journey to hotter climates. Most of the export stouts today are found in these hotter climates including Africa, Asia and the Caribbean and the Guinness version makes up ~40% of the Guinness brewed today.

ABV – 7.9%
Appearance –  Pours dark as the night sky with a nice tan head.
Smell – Roasted malt, some chocolate and a strong aroma of sweet molasses come through on this beer.
Taste – The first word that comes to mind is sweet. This beer brings some nice roasted malt with a huge burst of molasses sweetness, subtle mocha and coffee notes and a nice alcohol warming.
Mouth Feel –  Solid silky body with a warming sweet finish.
Overall Thoughts – Nice roasted malt, good sweetness, nice alcohol warming and overall solid export stout.
Do I like it? – I did like this beer though I found it more of a sipping beer. The sweetness went better when I was eating food then on its own where I found it to be a bit on the sweet side for me. Still, overall, I enjoyed it.

Beaus - Cranberry Derby - Beercrank
Credit: beercrank.ca

Cranberry Derby – Cranberry Oat Ale

With the wild oat series, Beau’s reimagines recipes and brews something interesting and creative. This beer falls in that category. Using a combination of German hops, Canadian cranberries, cranberry juice and oats along side Vienna, caramunich, carared and acidulated malts to bring a light ale base complimented with tart cranberry.

While this doesn’t really fit into any specific style, it would fall under the generic category of Fruit/Vegetable beer. These are beers that are brewed using a base style with the addition of fruit.

ABV – 6.3%
Appearance –  Pours with a pale reddish tinge and a nice white foamy head.
Smell – Biscuity malt notes come through with nose of cranberry tartness.
Taste – Interesting taste here. It starts of with a light refreshing crispness and then flows into that sublte cranberry tartness and leaves an almost cookie like taste. Nice tartness that doesn’t dominate this beer but works in tandem with the malt and oat cereal backbone of this beer.
Mouth Feel –  Light carbonation with a subtle tart semi-sweet finish.
Overall Thoughts – This beer brings a nice pale body with a well-balanced malt/oat profile complimented with the use of cranberries and cranberry juice. The mild tartness and semi-sweet beer is a nice beer for a crisp autumn day.
Do I like it? – I did enjoy this one as well. This is not a sour beer, but it does have a nice tartness to it that works well with the sweet malt profile. It isn’t overwhelming or overt in either of these areas but subtle like the crispness of a fall day. It’s refreshing.

Beaus - The Spice Principle - Beercrank
Credit: beercrank.ca

The Spice Principle – 12 Spice Weissbier

The Spice Principle is a German-style Weissbier that has been brewed using twelve organic spices. The spices include: coriander, tumeric, cumin, fenugreek, cayenne, black pepper, yellow mustard, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.

German Weissbiers are typically a pale refreshing wheat beer with high carbonation, dry finish and a light airy mouthfeel. Typically, due to the yeast esters, they also have a banana-clove yeast character to them. This style of beer has an interesting history. While it does date back hundreds of years to Bavaria, it was originally exclusively brewed by the Bavarian royalty. Modern versions of this beer date back to 1872 when Schneider began production.

While the typical Weissbier has that almost expected banana-clove yeast character, The Spice Principle takes this up a notch and will certainly have a far more unique and interesting flavour profile. The spices listed above bring a huge range of notes that are quite exciting. This certainly is a unique beer and I’d expect nothing less from Beau’s.

ABV – 5.6%
Appearance –  Pours a hazy golden straw colour with a good white head.
Smell – There is a lot going on in this beer. There are aromas of pepper, banana, and cumin. There is a bit of a twinge in the nose from subtle cayenne and some pumpkin spice notes coming from the use of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Taste – Quite a lot going on here as well. The spices themselves aren’t easily identified at the start. What you do get is some nice banana and cumin notes that are followed by a very subtle spice from the cayenne and a blend of the other spices working together in tandem to give a really rich experience. If you focus you can pick out individual spices but they seem to work really well together.
Mouth Feel –  High carbonation with a really light mouth feel and a nice spiced finish.
Overall Thoughts –Really interesting take on the style. You do actually get some of those esters you’d expect in a weissbier, though they are quickly overtaken by the multitude of other spice profiles working together to bring you a really rich overall beer.
Do I like it? – This is one of those “you have to try it” beers. I don’t think I’m doing justice to the taste profile. If you’ve hate Dieu de ciel’s Route d’epices then you have a decent idea what this is like. It is not as hot as that beer, but it’s got the same amount of interesting and unique flavour profile going on. I did like this beer.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the beers in the Fall mix pack. I can see why they chose each of these beers. They provide a wide range of styles with some great flavours. Definitely get out and try these beers. Beau’s does some fun stuff and these beers give you a bit of a look at some of that.

I want to finish by thanking my friend Cody over at beercrank.ca for letting me use his sweet pictures in this review. Be sure to check his blog out as well. You’ll get another take on some of the same stuff.

As always, I encourage you to get out and try as many new beers as you can. Broaden your horizons and your palate.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Surly – Todd the Axeman

It’s been an amazing summer. I’ve gotten to spend every day with my daughter and, while it has been incredibly busy and exhausting, it’s been incredibly rewarding and fun. As my holidays end, I am looking forward to the routine of work and getting back to writing, but I am not very excited about my girl going to daycare and not getting to spend every day with her.

This summer has also been a great one for beer. Starting with Flatlanders, movements towards opening by Stone Angel, Trans Canada, and Oxus, Barn Hammer’s and Torque’s first Anniversaries, Half-Pints 11th anniversary, the first ever Winnipeg Beer Festival, and the arrival of Surly on a go forward basis.

For those of you not familiar with Surly, I did an in-depth write-up of them <here> when they first announced their coming to Manitoba. This is big. They have a waiting list for expansion and have chosen to come to Manitoba. What’s more, we are going to be seeing some of their seasonal offerings, including Furious Black IPA, Damien, and both the 2016 and 2017 vintages of their Russian imperial stout Darkness.

Surly - Embrace the Darkness

They’ve begun by sending us X-Citra, a pale ale loaded with citra hops, Furious Red IPA and the focus of this write-up, Todd the Axeman, a west-coast style IPA.

IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.  At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”.  These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed now. Hops are used as a preservative of sorts, to help keep the beer fresh. If you were preparing a beer for a long trip from England to India, you’d need to add a lot of hops. So, while the IPA if consumed in England before shipping would be quite hoppy, at the other end it likely would not. Today, the tradition of hopping beers continues, but we don’t have as far to send them, and the goal is to make a hoppy beer. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia, the BJCP Guidelines (Page 37) or IPA Beer.

Todd the Axeman is a West-Coast IPA that comes in at 65 IBU. The west-coast variation on the IPA is typically higher on the alcohol range usually coming in between 6.8% and 8%. The reason it is called “west-coast” is largely due to the use of hops available on the west-coast. In the case of Todd, it uses exclusively Citra and Mosaic hops. These hops are balanced on the back of a 100% Golden Promise grain bill. This beer is being sold for $6.99 in Liquor Marts and, while this is on the expensive side, Golden Promise, Citra and Mosaic are probably the most expensive ingredients you can find for a beer.

Golden Promise is an early-maturing spring barley, is the Scottish equivalent of Maris Otter. Though brewers north of the English border claim that its sweet, clean flavor is superior to Maris Otter. Golden Promise malt has a depth of flavor that makes it the ideal base malt for both UK and USA-style IPAs. Golden Promise is also used extensively by premium whisky distilleries such as The Macallan. Golden Promise is floor malted which means that it malted by creating a thin lair of malt on a heated tile floor and constantly moving it around. You can read more about the traditional process here. Onto the beer.

Before we get to the beer, it’s important to note that this beer was created in collaboration with Danish brewery Amager Bryghus and is named for Surly’s original brewmaster, Todd Haug.

ABV – 7.2%
Appearance – Pours a hazy orange colour with a nice beige head. The first can I had was reasonably clear while the second had some sediment (No effect on beer review, just a note)
Smell – Citra and Mosaic hops bring fantastic tropical notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, piney notes, cattiness and some nice dank hopness.
Taste – This is a juicy beer. Solid malt sweetness followed by nice big notes of pineapple, grapefruit and passion fruit and a lingering hop bitterness. The hops bring a nice resinous finish that balances well with the almost honey-sweetness of the malt.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with good carbonation and a lingering bitterness.
Overall Thoughts – Well balanced IPA bringing good aromas and flavours from the hops. The hops bring fantastic tropical notes and a beautifully balanced honey-sweet malt backbone.
Do I like it? – Yes. I like this a lot.  This is a very good IPA and I enjoy it immensely. The balance between the hops and malt is beautifully done. This is a beer that I’m going to be happy to drink regularly. Even with the price point, this beer will be stocking my fridge.

I plan to review all of the beers we will be getting from Surly so be sure to follow along. There is a lot of stuff I am looking forward to doing this year and a lot of new breweries on the verge of opening. Keep following along for all your beer needs.

-Beer Winnipeg

Winnipeg Beer Festival

Winnipeg Craft Beer Festival

The first annual Winnipeg Beer Festival was held at Fort Gibraltor this past weekend. A combination of beer, food, and spirits together on the grounds of the beautiful Fort. The evening was beautiful and the company was fantastic. Overall, the event was well attended and a heck of a lot of fun.

I wrote about the event leading up to it and I wanted to write a follow-up for those who couldn’t make it.

The Winnipeg Beer Festival is an event that was put on in support of the KIDS initiative. Supporting youth in Kenya and providing a fun opportunity for folks to enjoy local beer, food, and some games and prizes. As I said, this is the first year for this event and I must say that it was overall a successful endeavor.

Many local brewers were in attendance. I’m disappointed that more couldn’t make it, but those who did attend were well received. The beers presented were standard fare for the breweries which was a bit disappointing. Often festivals like this are a chance to present new beers or offer up something unique. Being the first festival, breweries brought what they had available. I think in the future should this event continue, and I hope it does, breweries will see it as an opportunity to present fall/winter offerings and build some hype for beers to come.

The event was also a bit of a competition between the breweries. Patrons could vote, using bottle caps, for a beer that they felt was the best. While this provided an opportunity to narrow it down to a specific beer, it also disadvantaged breweries with fewer beers. While not commenting on what is better/worse, the styles were so varied it was apples to oranges to pears, having less beer available meant the vote for you wasn’t split quite as much. In the future voting on the beers at a brewery might be a better way to go rather then a specific beer.

Taking home the first every Gold for this event was PEG with their GT Gose. Little Brown Jug took silver for 1919 and Torque took bronze for Witty Belgian.

As this was the first year for this event, tickets were handed to limit beer consumed by patrons. Each patron was given 20 tickets for beer and 4 for liquor. While at first this might feel like it’s not enough, for many it proved to be too many. I think that given the event is four hours, 6-10pm, having it be in the same vein as Flatlanders would provide people an opportunity to enjoy beverages without feeling as if they must use all 20. Even though I don’t go to these events trying to drink as much as possible, I left feeling like I had wasted some tickets. I do think if this route is taken, limiting hard liquor would still be valuable.

WPG Beer Fest 10.JPG

Overall the evening was incredibly enjoyable. The community of beer drinkers is easy to chat with and while waiting in the lengthy lines it was nice to chat to pass the time. As more breweries open up locally, this event will grow and bring more options and more competition. I for one am excited about a completely local beer event and I really can’t wait to see what it’s like next year.

Thanks for following this blog and please subscribe and follow me on twitter. I am going to keep working at following the craft beer scene here in Manitoba and I might even expand it a bit to cover what’s happening with local spirits as well. With some of the new breweries on the cusp of opening, Surly bringing more beer to Manitoba, and lots of brewers to interview, it’s gonna be a good year.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

GIB – BC Bitter

Before I get started on the focus of today’s write-up, I wanted to highlight a few things that will be coming up. First, I’ve heard word that more Surly is going to be coming to Manitoba near the end of August and beginning of September. There are also rumours that we might see their highly sought after Russian imperial stout, Darkness, come to Manitoba. For more on Surly, check out my write-up here.

I also want to mention that Half Pints recently celebrated their 11th anniversary. I want to give a shout out and huge congrats to all the folks there past and present. You’re all amazing people and you make amazing beer. Another anniversary is coming up soon as well. On August 26th torque will be releasing their anniversary beer “Inception” a Belgian saison aged in French oak barrels. So, add that to the calendar.

Finally, both TransCanada and Stone Angel are ramping up and getting ready to go. I expect we will hear more from them soon with Oxus not far behind (making their debut at Brew at the Zoo). Exciting times folks, exciting times.

I’m excited about today’s write-up because it involves not only reviewing a beer but also a “Get to know a brewer”.  I received another beer from Granville Island, their BC Bitter, and had the opportunity to ask their brewmaster, Kevin Emms, about himself and about the beer.

*Note – I did receive this beer for free*

I wrote about Granville Island in more detail when I first reviewed their Gose. You can read about them more here. To begin I’d like to focus on Kevin Emms a bit. Kevin came to Granville Island in 2015 following the departure of founding brewmaster Vern Lambourne. Kevin had always had these dreams of becoming a famous musician and using his millions to start a brewery. When the millions didn’t come, he decided that he would make the other half come true and pursue professional brewing.

““kevin_emms_granville_island_no_credit””I’m always interested in what it is that gets people into brewing beer. For me it is about the creativity and being able to try things that someone else might think is weird. For Kevin, it was the intersection between art and science. Being able to use science in the brewing process to create liquid works of art. This is something that I’ve heard from a lot of brewers.

Kevin has a MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland and has worked as brewmaster at Coal Harbour Brewing Company and Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers. He’s a big music fan and is still a dedicated musician. He plays drums in an indie band and in a couple of metal bands. He makes records, plays in shows and brews beer. Sounds sweet. Kevin’s favorite style of beer to brew and drink is a German Pilsner. The first beer he had a chance to drink when he was younger was Bitburger Pils and he’s been hooked ever since.

Kevin also has pretty free reign over his brewery and has been given the opportunity to brew styles he is interested in making. They brew 20 unique brews a year and at this point he says he’s crossed off most of the beers on his bucket list.

Onto the beer. For this small-batch series, Kevin has brewed a traditional English bitter using local ingredients to put a BC spin on it. He was inspired to brew this beer from his personal experience. When he was 15 his family moved to London and some of his first experiences drinking in pubs was in England and often drinking bitters.

The BC Bitter is essentially an English style bitter characterized by being flavourful and refreshing and bringing some moderate hop bitterness with a light body and lower carbonation. This is a BC take on a traditional style of beer from England and uses pacific northwest hops to give a bit of that BC influence to the beer. It is slightly stronger alcohol content than an English bitter and uses barley malted in BC as well as organic hops grown in Lillooet.

Kevin describes this beer as being characterized by a delicious, top quality malt flavour that compliments the bitterness and aroma of the hops. Balance and sessionability are crucial in this style and Kevin sees that as being a critical piece. Kevin aimed to give the malt as much respect as the hops. He was looking for a clean estery ferment that was hopped appropriately.

ABV – 5.5%
Appearance – Pours a slightly hazy, medium copper colour with a puffy foamy off-white head.
Smell – Definite hop notes, some piney and resinous, good doughy malt notes as well.
Taste – Nice doughy caramel malt notes and an earthy characteristic. There are some subtle citrus notes and a resinous hoppiness.
Mouth Feel – Carbonation is higher than expected, medium bodied,  with a bit of a piney bitterness note to it. Finishes semi-dry with good notes of bitterness and grainy malt.
Overall Thoughts – Hard for me to place this one exactly but I felt that it brought both a hop character and a doughy caramel character. There was good balance between the two which was nice. Overall I think the use of BC ingredients brought a challenge in placing this beer to style. 
Do I like it? – I did like it.  The hop character was quite nice for only 32 IBU and brought some good aroma. For me, it is a beer that I could have a couple of with food but not something I’d be clamouring over.

Thanks for following along. I hope you enjoyed this write-up. As always I encourage you to get out and try new beers. This one is currently on the shelves at the Liquor marts

Hopefully I’ll run into some folks at the Winnipeg Craft Beer Festival this weekend (August 19th) I’ll be tweeting and instagraming @beerwinnipeg so follow along. If you are coming, be sure to look for me and say “Hi”.

-Beer Winnipeg

Winnipeg Craft Beer Festival

Winnipeg Craft Beer Festival

This will be a bit of a short one as I am prepping to head out of town for a little while. I just wanted to ensure that I got this up so that if folks were interested, they’d be able to read about this event.

The Winnipeg Craft Beer Festival is being held on August 19th, 2017 at Fort Gibraltor in St. Boniface part of Winnipeg. It will feature 8-9 local craft beer/spirit vendors and 8-9 local food vendors for a combination of sweet beer and sweet eats for everyone to enjoy. The event is to promote local Manitoba craft beer makers along with Capital K Distillery while raising money for KIDS initiative. A charity that raises funds for families in Kenya.

Currently on the list for beer are:

  • Fort Garry brewing
  • Torque brewing
  • OGC brewing
  • Peg Beer Co
  • Stone Angel
  • LBJ brewing
  • Brazen Hall
  • Barnhammer brewing
  • Capital K Distillery

And on the list for food (so far):

  • Hot Rods Filipino grill
  • Aschenti Cocoa
  • Lord of the pies
  • Frescolio fine oils and vinegars
  • Millers Meat Market

Doors for the event open at 6:00pm and the event ends at 10:00pm.  Voting for the beer competition ends at 8:30pm so if you want to help choose the winner you need to try the beers before then.

So, what do you get for your ticket to this event? Here is what’s included:

  • Twenty 2oz Craft brew samples from Winnipeg’s top brewers
  • Unlimited Poutine as well as vegetables, hummus and breads to round out your meal
  • Food samples from local Manitoba producers
  • Liquor samples from Capital K Distillery
  • Live DJ spinning some tunes
  • Vote for your favorite craft brewer

The event is being held at Fort Gibraltar which is the same venue Festival du Voyageur and the Poutine Cup. There will be a deluxe poutine for all attendees of the event plus people can enter a raffle to win a custom Torque Brewing mini fridge filled with Torque variety pack beer and a mini Keg fridge with a Keg filled with their favourite Torque beer. There will also be a 50/50 draw. All funds from the raffles and 50/50 draw will be raising funds for charity

There will also be an event host talking and guiding everyone through the night and interviewing the brewers for all to hear plus a DJ will be spinning all night.

Finally, a rooftop patio series event at the Met starts at 10pm and the beer festival ends at 10pm so if people are in the mood to extend their night the first 50 people from the beer festival get into the rooftop party free and the rest get in for $5.

I’ll be there and I’m looking forward to the event. Hopefully it’ll be successful and we will see it happen again with more breweries and food vendors next year.

Sadly, I was too slow in getting this up and the event is sold out. Keep your eye on social media just in case. Also watch for this event next year. I’ll be doing a write-up after the event as well, so if you are curious check in for that.

-Beer Winnipeg