Category Archives: Beer Review

Nonsuch – Saison

Nonsuch-Logo-on-Water

Local beer business is booming. We are seeing more in the way of beers being brewed, distributed and consumed. So, I’m pretty excited that Nonsuch has gotten their first beer into their beautiful bottles.

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.

Saison’s are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer. Originally brewed in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was a beer brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common.  It had to be sturdy enough to be able to last but also not too strong so it would quench your thirst in the summer months.

This style of beer is very complex with a lot fruit notes, spices, and earthy yeast notes to the beer. They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness. Usually lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness. At one point in time Saison’s were an almost extinct beer style but they have seen a great resurgence and are commonly brewed by a number of craft breweries across Canada.

Nonsuch has brewed what could easily be called an “Imperial” or “Double” saison in that it comes in at a whopping 8.5%. While the style traditionally was one to have on nice summer day to refresh and quench your thirst, I wouldn’t recommend drinking many of these or your day probably won’t be very productive. I’d also forewarn folks that their beer is highly carbonated. The two bottles I’ve opened immediately started foaming from the top and so I’d suggest opening them in the kitchen sink so as not to make a mess.

Nonsuch - Saison

ABV – 8.5%
Appearance – Pours a hazy straw coloured with an incredibly active and vibrant carbonation. The head filled 90% of my glass did not dissipate. Pour slowly or let it expend some of its excess energy before pouring.
Smell – Nice fruity esters, notes of bubblegum and dried fruit.
Taste –It has a very nice fruity character to it with yeast esters coming through nicely and bringing a bubblegum note along with some pleasant sweetness. Alcohol is noticeable and has a warming character.
Mouth Feel – Highly carbonated, light bodied, alcohol warm on a dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – While I certainly don’t feel that this is what you’d expect in buying a saison (more a dubbel or a Belgian strong) it did bring some typical saison notes in the smell and taste. If you typically like other lower alcohol saisons, this is not like those.
Do I like it? – Yes. I like this quite a lot. Whatever you choose to call it, or however you choose to try and classify it, it’s a solid beer. The two bottles I opened, despite having ridiculous carbonation, were tasty and I enjoyed them both.

I’m really excited that Nonsuch has started bottling their beer. Not only does it mean they are moving forward, it also means that I can now start drinking it. The bottles are beautiful and I’m excited to see what else they come out with. They’ve got a Tripel on down at the Forks, and their Oud Bruin was stellar.

Congratulations Nonsuch. Well done.

Surly – Furious Black IPA

It’s been a busy month, that’s for sure, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. My daughter turned one, new beers have been pumping out from the local breweries, we are seeing more announce they are looking to open, and it’s almost advent calendar season. I hope you’ve been enjoying my Friday Beer News and if you have anything you’d like included in that, let me know on twitter, in the comments, or via email @ beerwinnipeg@gmail.com

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.

The beer I am reviewing today is their Furious Black IPA. This beer is currently available at Liquor Marts and some beer vendors around the city. Furious Black was originally introduced as a Darkness Day beer for the 2015 release. Building on the Furious IPA’s citrusy hops, it also brings a deeper malt character with roasted malt notes and, obviously, the darker colour. Black IPAs aren’t new to the Winnipeg beer scene. Black Galaxy has been a favorite from Half Pints for quite some time and we will be seeing Torque’s Rabbit Punch Black IPA coming to liquor marts this week.

Black IPA is a variation of the American IPA style and was first commercially produced by Greg Noonan as Black watch IPA around the 1990s. It’s become popular around the Pacific northwest and southern California and is also known as a “Cascadian Dark Ale” or CDA. Typically, a drier beer with a hop-forward balance and a darker colour. The roast from the malt is not expected to be overwhelming but rather play a supporting role to the hops. You can read more about the style here or, as always, in the BJCP guidelines located here.

ABV – 6.60%
Appearance – Pours a deep dark colour with a subtle red hue when held up to the light. Nice medium brown head.
Smell – Citrus and pine notes as well as a subtle malt roast. Nice aromatic hop on the nose that stands out from the malty notes.
Taste –The taste if very like the smell. There are good citrus and pine hop notes that are certainly up front and centre. You can certainly taste the malt in this beer, it brings a subtle roasted malt characteristic that is a bit more forward than on the nose but does not detract from the hop characteristics. Less sweet than the regular Furious IPA but still with citrus forward hops.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with a hop forward front and a bitter finish.
Overall Thoughts – An overall tasty Black IPA. It is not just an IPA that has been darkened using Carafa 3 (although that is a malt in the beer). It brings a nice hop forward character that is supported by a subtle roasted malt character.
Do I like it? – Yes. I like this quite a lot. It’s a strong Black IPA that I rather enjoyed. This is a style that I find to be very tasty when done right, and this certainly was done right.

There are still more beers coming our way from Surly. We’ve Damien, son of Darkness, coming on November 18th and the final beer in the “Embrace the Darkness” run, the 2017 vintage of Darkness on December 2nd. Watch for those.

Thanks again for following along. Beer News is out this Friday.

– Beer Winnipeg

 

Beau’s/Half-Pints – Killer Kvass

Killer Kvass
Huge thanks to http://www.beercrank.ca for permission to use this SWEET picture.

Beau’s keeps sending new beers out our way and I’m happy about that. While I am mostly focused on what’s happening here locally, and what beers we can get from our local folks, I do enjoy reviewing these beers from Beau’s. Luckily, this beer is both! It’s a beer brewed in collaboration with Half-Pints Brewing Co. as part of the nationwide collaboration brews Beau’s is doing for Canada’s 150th.

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. They are also the official beer of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

The Killer Kvass from Beaus is starting to pop up on shelves in Liquor Marts and beer vendors around the city. So now is the perfect time for a writeup of this beer.

*Writer’s Note: I did receive this beer review free of charge. This did not influence my write-up. *

Killer Kvass

The Kvass has been a common drink in Europe since the middle-ages. It is comparable with other grain based fermented beverages, like beer, but was invented by the Slavs and became a popular drink among this group. The word “kvass” first appears in 996 C.E. following the Christianization of the Kievan Rus. The first mention of Kvass in an English text wasn’t until 1553. In Russia, under Peter the Great, it was the most common non-alcoholic drink in every class of society. In Russia, the Kvass has been touted as a more “patriotic” alternative to drinks like Coke or Pepsi.

A Kvass is a style that I had never heard of before Beau’s and Half-Pints announced they’d be brewing one. A Kvass is a traditional Slavic beverage that is typically made using Rye Bread. The colour of the chosen bread will affect on the colour of the beer. Much like other fermented beverages like Kombucha, a traditional Kvass is classified as non-alcoholic typically having between 0.5%-1% alcohol content. In many instances, the Kvass is flavoured with fruit or herbs.

This Kvass is a “Killer” Kvass. The folks at Beau’s and Half-Pints have amped it up and produced a whopping 2.5% alcohol. This Kvass was brewed using 70kg of organic rye bread croutons, organic lemon peel and organic raisins. A portion of the sales of this beer will go towards supporting D’Arcy’s Arc in Winnipeg. For that reason alone, I encourage you to give it a try.

Beau’s did a really great video introduction of this beer with Chris from Half-Pints. I’d recommend checking that out if you haven’t seen it already. You can view it here.

ABV – 2.5%
Appearance – Pours a hazy golden colour with a nice amount of head that dissipates quickly leaving on a little bit of foam.
Smell – A nice bready aroma combined with some herbal notes and a hint of citrus. You can certainly tell it was made using rye bread as this comes through on the nose.
Taste – A lot lighter than I had expected but with a good amount of flavour. The rye bread notes come through along with a noticeable yeasty character. There is a nice raisin sweetness and that subtle lemon citrus just at the end.
Mouth Feel – Light bodied, clean drinking, good finish and rather refreshing.
Overall Thoughts – Having never had this drink before, I was rather impressed with it. It is an easy drinking beer that brings a nice punch of flavour for only 2.5%.
Do I like it? – I did enjoy this beer. I found that it brought a lot to the table for being only 2.5%. As someone who enjoys drinking Kombucha, a Kvass might be right up my alley.

I hope that this write-up was informative. I encourage you to get out and try as many new beers as you can. Broaden your horizons and your palate.

Keep following along as I keep doing what I can to write about beer, breweries and brewers.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Surly – Darkness 2016

I want to take the first part of this write-up to congratulate all of the folks who work so diligently to put on the Winnipeg Brew Bombers Pro/Am brewing competition each year. It’s quite astounding the amount of work and effort that is put in by all the volunteers. The competition went out incredibly well this year. With over 400 entries from around the country. One of my friends, Jeff Stacey, went up against Surly and won. That’s impressive. So, congratulations to all the participants, winners, volunteers and organizers. Well done.

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.

The beer I am reviewing today is their 2016 Russian Imperial Stout, Darkness. This beer is currently available at Liquor Marts and some beer vendors around the city. Before I get into the style, I wanted to make a couple of comments about Darkness. The price point on this beer is a bit steep for some people. I recognize that. The beer itself isn’t cheap even at the brewery. With exchange, the beer comes in at close to $25 Canadian if you drove to Minneapolis to get it. Getting this beer here in Manitoba for $29.95 is actually a very fair price for the beer.

Darkness has become an event as much as it is a beer. Every year for the release of the new vintage of Darkness people drive from around the United States and Canada to merge on the brewery in Minneapolis. Darkness Day, as it is called, bring beer lovers together with bands and special beers and the opportunity to share and trade beers you’ve brought with you for the occasion. There is a group of people from Winnipeg who go down and tweet about their experiences. I love following their trip and am jealous as I always work the weekend of Darkness.

Surly dday-line

Living vicariously through these folks you can see that while the event is centered around the release of the new vintage of Darkness, it’s become much more than just a beer release. What’s more, Surly always partners with a artist to develop the label for the bottles of darkness. Each year is different. 2016 was Cerebrus the three-head dog who guards the underworld while the 2017 vintage will have Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut. Both are awesome.

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.  Russian Imperial Stouts are a style that I’ve really started to enjoy and appreciate.  These beers age incredibly well and change over time.  This style of beer was originally brewed in the 1800s by Thrale’s brewery in London England for export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. This same beer is brewed today now under the Courage brewery name and is called Courage Russian Imperial Stout (RIS).   Ranging between 8%-12% alcohol with strong malt notes of coffee, caramel, chocolate and dark fruit (plums, prunes or raisins for example), it is a perfect beer for a winter night.

ABV – 12%
Appearance – Dark. The beer is named “Darkness” and it pours black as the depths of the earth. Light cannot escape from it’s darkness.
Smell – Deep roast malt notes with hints of chocolate and coffee.
Taste –I’d describe this as a chewy beer. It is rich and deep with roast malt and a sweet caramel, raisin character. There is subtle hop bitterness in there but it is overwhelmed by the richness of the malt. Finish is toasty malt.
Mouth Feel – Creamy and smooth with a chewy characteristic. The way the alcohol comes through is subtle with only a slight bite and warming sensation.
Overall Thoughts – This is an excellent example of a Russian Imperial Stout. It brings ample malt and flavour. This beer lives up to the hype and is incredibly tasty.
Do I like it? – Yes. I know that the price point is a bit on the high side for many, but if you like the style of beer, deep roasty malt and high ABV, this is one of the best you can get. I love this beer and while I can’t drink many of them due to ABV and cost, I’m happy to have the chance to get it here in Manitoba.

There are still more beers coming our way from Surly. We’ve got Furious Black IPA on November 9th followed by Damien, son of Darkness, coming on November 18th. Finally, we will be getting the 2017 vintage of Darkness on December 2nd. Watch for those.

Surly - Embrace the Darkness

As well, anyone who is interested in the Craft Beer Advent Calendar it comes out at liquor marts around the city and Quality Inn Craft Beer Store on October 27th (this Friday). I’ll see some of you in line.

– Beer Winnipeg

 

Granville Island – So Cal Style IPA

I’ve got another beer from Grainville Island to review today. But before I get to that, I wanted to share some good news. Stone Angel has opened their doors and will now be serving beer Wednesday-Sunday. That is another brewery open to the public and always cause for celebration. TransCanada is inching ever closer as is Oxus and I hope that by the end of October both will be open. Finally, I’ll be sitting down with Oxus, Barn Hammer and Peg in the coming weeks to do write-ups. Oxus about their opening and Peg and Barn Hammer in celebration of hitting the 1-year mark.

But, onto Granville Island and their So Cal Style IPA.

*Note, I did receive this beer from Granville Island free for review. *

I wrote about Granville Island in more detail when I first reviewed their Gose. You can read about them more here. In my previous review of their BC Bitter I also included a bit of a Q and A I had with brewmaster Kevin Emms. You can read about that here.

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.

While these beers 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.

The So Cal IPA is a West-Coast IPA. This variation on the IPA are 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. GIB So Cal IPA comes in at 80 IBUs.

ABV – 7.8%
Appearance – Pours a slightly hazy, medium copper colour with a puffy foamy off-white head.
Smell – Doughy malt biscuit notes with subtle aroma of grapefruit and citrus bitterness.
Taste – Biscuity malt comes through on the taste with a hit of bitterness and slightly astringent alcohol burn on finish.
Mouth Feel – Good carbonation and a bitter slightly astringent finish.
Overall Thoughts – Overall, I would say that this beer was a bit too malt forward for me. The bitterness was there, but for an IPA it wasn’t bringing the grapefruit and citrus notes I was expecting.
Do I like it? – While the expectation didn’t meet the reality, this beer certainly brought a good hop bitterness with a firm malt base.

Thanks for following along. I am meeting up with Oxus today and hope to get some updates for post next week. Lots still to come and lots of exciting beer related stuff happening.

-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