Category Archives: Beer Review

Beau’s – 80 Schilling Scottish-Style Ale

I was pretty excited to get a package from Beaus with a few more beers to review. They have a number of things coming up for us folks in Manitoba and I’m excited for the future.

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. While not the only completely organic brewery in Canada, they certainly have made a name for themselves with their business practices: they’ve won over 85 awards for their brewing, packaging design and business practices. This includes two gold medals at Mondial de la Biere (Strasbourg, France, and Montreal Quebec); six gold medals at the Canadian brewing awards, seven times “Best Craft Brewery in Ontario” and seven times “Best Regularly Produced Beer in Ontario” at the Golden Tap Awards.

Beau’s Brewing Company is the Official Beer Partner of Ottawa 2017 and Beau’s Lug Tread will be the Official Beer for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in the nation’s capital As part of this achievement, they are planning to do collaborations across Canada. I had the chance to try the collaboration they did with the Fogo Island Inn located on Fogo Island, one of Canada’ oldest settlements. It was a Myrrh smoked Gose and it was pretty tasty.

Beau’s did confirm with me that they are going to be doing a collaboration brew with a Manitoba brewery. What is still to be confirmed is the brewery and the style of beer. What I do know is that we are getting some beers from Beaus coming our way. In fact, the first one is on the growler bars now and is the focus of this article. Their Farm to Table 80 Schilling Scotch Ale.

The Beer

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

80 Schilling is a Scottish style ale. These beers originated in the 1800s and the “schilling” classification had to do with the alcohol content. Typically, these beers would range from 60 schilling (light) to 90 schilling (wee heavy). The 80 schilling variety was a popular style and was considered to be the “export” of this style of beer.

Scottish exports are typically malt-focused and are generally caramelly with a few esters and occasionally a subtle butterscotch aftertaste. Hop notes are only present to balance the beer and support the malt which is to be the star. Beau’s farm to table series is focused on brewing traditional styles of beers and is a compliment to their more experimental “wild oats” series of beers.

ABV – 4.7%
Appearance – Pours a copper colour with a nice 1” quickly fading white head.
Smell – Smells of caramel with a toasty malt note and some biscuit notes.
Taste – Up front malt sweetness with a crispness to it. The bitterness in this beer is very mild but is present as a compliment to the sweetness and generally caramel notes of the malt.
Mouth Feel – Soft carbonation with a dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – Very good representation of the style of beer as it is described. Malt is the star with a nice caramel and toasted biscuit notes. The hop presence is subtle and compliments the malt sweetness.
Do I like it? – As I’ve been noticing, Beau’s beers are quite on point. While this particular beer is not really one I’d seek out to buy I enjoyed it. If you are looking for a malt-forward yet easy to drink beer, this is worth a growler/howler fill.

Coming soon

While this is the first beer we have coming from Beau’s this year, we can expect more. In March we will see the arrival of “Strong Patrick”, an Irish-style red ale, as well as their Buenos Dias Gruit coming in May. Beau’s has also submitted to bring another seasonal beer, yet unknown, for the Liquor Marts coast to coaster promotion in June. Beau’s will also be at the Flatlander’s beer festival and there will be a seasonal beer coming to Manitoba in July, likely their Wag the Wolf Hopfenweisse. The Tom Green Beer Golden Vox Rye Pale Lagered Ale and Lug Tread are also listed for restaurants to purchase to put on tap.

We are starting to see more and more of Beau’s beers come into Manitoba and complimenting the great selection we are getting locally. I, for one, am very excited to see what the collaboration beer will be. Keep following along as once I know you will too. I’ve also got a follow-up with One Great City on the books coming hopefully later this week.

 

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Best of Beaus Mix Pack

Sometimes I feel pretty lucky doing what I do. I had the opportunity to try out the Best of Beau’s pack a little bit early so that I could spend some time tasting and writing about the pack. This pack is already listed on the MB Liquormarts website and I’m hoping that this write-up of the four beers contained within will prove helpful to you. Overall the pack presents some diversity of styles with some interesting twists.

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. While not the only completely organic brewery in Canada, they certainly have made a name for themselves with their business practices: they’ve won over 85 awards for their brewing, packaging design and business practices. This includes two gold medals at Mondial de la Biere (Strasbourg, France, and Montreal Quebec); six gold medals at the Canadian brewing awards, seven times “Best Craft Brewery in Ontario” and seven times “Best Regularly Produced Beer in Ontario” at the Golden Tap Awards.

This “Best of Beau’s” pack contains four beers. Dark Helmut – Imperious Schwarzbier, Bush-Fire – Rooibos Honeybush Beer, Collabrrrewnaut – Espresso Pilsner, and Quads & Rockers – Belgian Quad.

Dark Helmut – Imperious Schwarzbier

Dark Helmut is a beer brewed in the style of a Schwarzbier, a German dark lager that literally translates to “Dark Beer”. The “imperious” nature of it both plays on the Dark Helmut (reminiscent of both Darth Vader and Lord Helmet) as well as the fact that the ABV on this beer comes in at 7.3%.

Schwarzbiers are typically a balanced beer. Presenting both a smooth roasted malt characteristic along with a moderate hoppy bitterness. Lighter in body and lacking the deeper roasted malt and heavy aftertaste make Schwarzbiers easy to drink.

While the history on this style is fairly sketchy, it is a regional specialty of Thuringia, Saxony and Franconia in Germany. Popularity for this beer came back after German unification and it served as an inspiration for Japanese brewed black lagers.

ABV – 7.3%
Appearance – Pours charcoal with a thin quick fading off-white head.
Smell – Smells of caramel and toffee, dark fruit and roasted malt
Taste – Bitter roasted malt notes along with sweet malt and caramel. Lingering bitter slightly astringent after taste.
Mouth Feel – Soft carbonation with a dry bitter finish.
Overall Thoughts – A very nice well-balanced beer that has a bit more flavour from the extra malt used to make this imperious(imperial).
Do I like it? – I found this beer to be quite tasty. It wasn’t too rich or filling but still carried a nice malt and hop balance. Easy to drink and flavourful.

Bush-Fire – Rooibos Honeybush Beer

Bush-fire is brewed using a blonde ale as a base with the addition of rooibos and honeybush teas. Blonde ales are traditional malt oriented with interesting hop or floral flavours and aromas. Light bodied, easy to drink and refreshing, these beers typically don’t overwhelm the senses with flavour. They are typically well-balanced and clean on the finish.

Typically, this style of beer is brewed as an alternative to a lager, which requires a period of lagering making it a more time consuming beer to produce. This particular blonde ale from Beau’s certainly contains a punch of both aroma and flavour that is clean on the finish and very satisfying to drink.

ABV – 5.8%
Appearance –  Pours amber with a short lived thin white head.
Smell – Smells of Honey right upfront with hints of southern sweet tea, and rooibos
Taste – Nice sweetness reminiscent of honey with a dry tannic bitterness on finish from the tea. Not overpowering by any stretch but flavourful and enjoyable. Rooibos and honey bush bring really nice flavours to this blonde ale
Mouth Feel –  Medium carbonation, light mouthfeel with a lingering dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – Overall quite a good beer. Teas bring a very good balance and depth to the blonde ale base. Honey sweetness and dry finish make for an enjoyable drink.
Do I like it? – While I tend to find blonde ales not to be up my alley, this one had nice flavours to it that added quite a bit to the easy drinking blonde ale base. So, yes, I did like it.

Collabrrrewnaut – Espresso Pilsner

Collabrrrewnaut is a really interesting blend of a Bohemian-style pilsner base and cold brewed organic fair trade coffee.  Done as a collaboration between Beau’s and Ottawa’s Bridgehead Roastery, this beer brings some really interesting flavours to an already delicious style of beer.

Pilsners are one of the most popular beer styles in the word and originate in the City of Pilzen in 1295.  While Pilsners are considered to be bottom-fermented beers now, they were actually top-fermented until about the mid-1840s.  The taste and standards of this older styles varied widely and in many cases entire barrels of beer were dumped out.  In 1839 the city of Pilsen founded a city owned brewery (now Pilsner Urquell) which was to brew beers and pioneer the Bavarian style.  Brewers had already begun to brew using bottom-fermenting yeasts that were fermented and stored in colder temperatures to be drunk later. This is where the term lager comes from. Lagern is the German word for storing and comes from this process.

Using Pilzen’s soft water, local saaz hops and this Bavarian style of lagering produced a clear, crisp and refreshing beer that became the standard for the style.  With the introduction of modern refrigeration there was no need to use caves for beer storage and this enabled the brewing of bottom-fermenting beers in many new places.

ABV – 5%
Appearance –  Pours a straw colour with an effervescent white head.
Smell – Smells of slight herb and spice and a subtle espresso note.
Taste – Deceptive. While it has a very subtle bitterness and a clean dry finish it contains interesting depth of notes from coffee to subtle fig and hints of chocolate.
Mouth Feel –  Medium body, medium carbonation with a lingering dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – While I tend to characterize pilsners as having a bit of a “bite” to them on the finish, this beer finishes clean. The really interesting flavours brought in by the use of coffee provide a variety of flavours that don’t typically crop up in pilsners.
Do I like it? – This beer was deceptively good. The initial pour is light in colour and gets the mind ready for a lighter crisp clean beer. While this beer certainly had a clean dry finish, the flavour profile was really interesting. I rather enjoyed drinking this beer and trying to pick out the different components. The coffee used definitely added.

Quads and Rockers – Belgian Quad

Quads and Rockers is a Belgian strong ale that has been brewed with a focus on tradition and style. Full-bodied and full-flavour, these beers are often quite heavy, bring rich malty sweetness.

The name Quadruple comes from the brewing process of this beer.  Essentially it means you are adding four times the malt as you would in a Belgian “simple”.   This increases the sugar content in the beer and results in a highly alcoholic beer.  The best Belgian quads hide this strong alcoholic flavor making them delicious but dangerous. Quads are highly adored due to their deep color, soft maltiness and unique yeast flavors.  Even with their high ABV (usually 8-12%) they are highly approachable when done right.

ABV – 10.5%
Appearance –  Pours Dark brown with a thin beige head.
Smell – Smells of banana, mocha and raisins.
Taste – Rich malty sweetness that has notes of cocoa, banana, and some peppery notes.
Mouth Feel –  Nice medium carbonation with a full mouthfeel and a lingering warmth on finish.
Overall Thoughts – Overall a nice Belgian quad carrying good esters from the yeast and a full sweetness that lingers warm. Alcohol is well masked.
Do I like it? – I’m a big fan of big bold beers. This was a full and enjoyable Belgian Quad that brought some really tasty flavours and a nice warmth from the alcohol. ABV is Well masked, but certainly still a sipping beer, I definitely enjoyed this one as well.

Overall I was quite impressed with the beers in the “Best of Beau’s” mix pack. I can see why they chose each of these beers. They provide a wide range of styles with some great flavours.

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.

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

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Deschutes – Pinot Suave

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It’s been a little bit since I’ve written a post and it’s nice to be back at it. I have had some exciting changes in my life recently which have prevented me from posting as often as I would like. My wife and I welcomed our daughter to the world on November 4th and it’s been a whirlwind. It is probably the best and most significant change I’ve ever had in my life and I’m really happy, if not a little sleep deprived.

While I am scheduling follow-ups with many of the local breweries in the city, I wanted to take today’s post to give a write-up on a unique beer that has arrived on Liquormart shelves. Pinot Suave from Deschutes is a pricey bottle of beer ($29.99) and many might be wondering whether it’s worth it or not. I’m not here to tell you one way or the other, but I wanted to give it a try and figured I’d give you some background on the beer, style, and my notes.

Deschutes is a family and employee-owned brewery located in Bend, Oregon. Starting as a public house in 1988, Deschutes believes that every pint of beer should be worth sharing. Deschutes is all about finding the balance between community, experimentation, and ingenuity and drinkability, quality and consistency. With a variety of all-year, seasonal and specialty brews, Deschutes makes some typical and atypical beers for folks to enjoy. We’ve been fortunate to have some of these come to Manitoba and I know I’ve enjoyed many of them.

Along with this passion for beer, they live by a motto of sustainability as well. Since 1988 they’ve followed the practice of “do your best and next time do it better” in all things. They employ a sustainability team to work at ensuring they use less resources while maintaining productivity and quality in product. You can read more about their commitment to sustainability here.

On-top of their commitment to sustainability they have a strong tie with the community of Bend. Since 1988 they’ve endeavored to be a part of the community and are always looking for ways to help other community organizations be successful. They contribute one dollar of every barrel they sell to charitable organizations throughout the territories they sell their beer. In total, they contributed $850,000 in cash and in-kind donations.

The specific beer that I tried was their Belgian Dark Strong Ale called Pinot Suave. It gets its name from being aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels that had previously contained Pinot Noir. They’ve also made an addition of pinot grape must and sour wort to the beer giving it a really unique flavor profile that contains both an acidity and wine like characteristic.

Belgian Dark Strong Ales are, oddly enough, very strong Belgian ales with an ABV of between 8 and 12%. Overall these beers typically have a blend of malt, dark fruit and spice characteristics and are often described as smooth, complex and dangerous because of their ability to hide the ABV amongst the flavours. Historically these beers are unique in character depending on the brewer and often produced in limited batches which end up being highly sought after. As always you can read more about the style in the BJCP guidelines (Page 53-54).

The beer comes in a 750ml bottle that has been waxed on top and given the alcohol content, this is one that you would be able to age should you so choose.

ABV – 11.9%

Appearance – Dark amber/brown with a medium light tan head.

Smell – Very interesting aroma. Wine grapes, caramel, oak notes, some toffee and a boozy aroma as well.

Taste – Taste begins clean and crisp with notes of oak, rich sweetness, grape must and some light tartness. The grape notes are quite noticeable and the finish is very tannic giving this beer a wine-like characteristic. It’s almost like a combination of wine and beer.

Mouth Feel – Soft carbonation with a dry tannic finish reminiscent of a red-wine. Boozy warmth is ever-present.

Overall Thoughts – Very unique combination of flavours. Comes across as more of a wine-beer hybrid. The Belgian strong-ale base is definitely there and brings a really deep malty-sweetness that works well with the tannic and tart notes from the wine aspect of this beer. Overall a very interesting Belgian style of beer.

Do I like it? – I enjoyed drinking this beer. I found that the combination of flavours was something I hadn’t really had before and it was enjoyable. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the beer and , while I would certainly be interested in having another one, the price-point on this makes it a little less approachable. I did buy another one to age and will be trying that down the road.

As always, I encourage people to try new beers whenever they have the chance and make up their own minds. Hopefully my notes help.

Thanks so much for continuing to read this blog. I’ve got a follow-up with Little Brown Jug and Nonsuch in the works and hope to be following up with others in the near future. I also got my hands on the craft beer advent calendar again this year and I’ll be posting about each of the beers every day in December. If you haven’t already, follow me on twitter @beerwinnipeg

-Beer Winnipeg

 

 

 

Local Fall Offerings

Local Fall Offerings

We’re into October and thus comes the arrival of many fall beers – mostly pumpkin spiced yam and pumpkin beers from around the country and the United States. For some, these represent something wrong with beer, while for others they are as comforting as the first pumpkin spice latte of the season, a warm embrace of comfort and joy. As our craft beer community continues to grow (we now have four active Winnipeg-based breweries) I thought I’d write about what they are offering this fall.

Half Pints

Image result for Half Pints Oktoberfest

Every year around this time we see the release of Half Pints Oktoberfest Lager. It’s a traditional German style of beer, also called a Marzen. Before refrigeration it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer time due to bacterial infections caused by the increased heat. This meant most brewing had to be completed by the end of spring (March/Marzen). These beers were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months resulting in a darker, amber colored lager with a higher alcohol content than average. They would typically be rolled out for Oktoberfest celebrations.

This is also the beer that often is transformed into “Punknfest” with pumpkin and spices added to become the “typical” pumpkin fall beer, but this has not been announced yet, nor is it a guarantee. For now, the Oktoberfest is Half Pints’ fall offering.

Appearance:  Dark amber-brown pour with a slightly off-beige head
Smell: Caramel notes, dark fruit, slight earthy hop aroma
Taste:
Nice malty sweetness brings great flavours that are kept from becoming overly sweet by some nice earthy/grassy hop notes

Torque

Even though they are the new kid on the block, this brewery is hammering their beers out of the park. I’ll be doing a write-up on their all-year offerings in the near future, but for now let’s tackle their fall offering, a Dark Pumpkin Ale called “Witching Hour”.

While called a Dark Pumpkin Ale, this beer is brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. This means that while it can be brewed in a similar fashion to another style of beer – in this case an ale – the main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. What I can say about this particular beer is that it is heavily malted providing a very nice caramel rich backbone to compliment the addition of pumpkin (or yams) and spices.

Appearance:  Dark brown, bordering on black, with a slight red hue with a tan head.
Smell: Dark malt, caramel sweetness, pumpkin pie spices (nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon) and some roasty notes.
Taste:
The sweetness from the dark malt comes through strong and is complimented by the spices. While sweet, it does have some roasted notes to the malt that cut the sweetness just slightly making this beer not overpoweringly sweet. The cinnamon and nutmeg come through with a bit of clove.
Barn Hammer

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Barn Hammer has taken a different route altogether and has brewed a Smoke Pumpkin Saison. This was one of their first test batch beers and they’ve now produced a full run of it for sale at their brewery. Through and through this a saison.

Saisons are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer. Originally created in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was traditionally 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 last but 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 earth yeast notes to the beer. They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness. Usually there’s lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness.

This particular saison uses both beechwood smoked malt and locally sourced roasted sugar pumpkin combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger to bring a little bit of smoke, spice and funk to the beer.

Appearance:  Pours a cloudy copper with an off-white head
Smell: Some spice notes from the additions, smoke notes and a bit of pepperiness.
Taste:
The beer is lightly spiced and the smoked malt comes through as the star. The spice is subtle backing up the pepperiness from the saison. There is a bit of funk to this beer.
Fort Garry

Fort Garry has once again released their Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale. This is another beer brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. The main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. This has additions of real pumpkin, traditional spices and then it is aged with oak. Another take on the traditional fall “pumpkin” beers being offered both locally and from afar.

Appearance:  Amber coloured with an off-white head
Smell: Roasted malty scent with an interesting almost rum aroma from the oak and vanilla that is complimented with pumpkin spices.
Taste: The vanilla, spices and oak come through well. The beer has a lighter body than expected. There are some savoury/bitter notes and the spices leave you with a bit of an aftertaste.

I always encourage people to get out and try new beer. I hope that you do and expand your beer horizons. I’m working on some other write-ups at the moment and have many folks to follow up with. So lots more to come.

As always, I appreciate everyone following.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

 

 

 

The Tom Green Beer

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It sure seems like it has been a long time since I’ve written about any of the beers I’ve been drinking.  It might be that – or the number has grown so large it’s a bit overwhelming when I look at the ones I wanted to write about. Whatever it may be, I’m back with a write up.  This time, I’m talking about one of the beers we’ll see on Liquor Marts’ shelves soon: Beau’s The Tom Green Beer.

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. While not the only completely organic brewery in Canada, they certainly have made a name for themselves with their business practices: they’ve won over 85 awards for their brewing, packaging design and business practices. This includes two gold medals at Mondial de la Biere (Strasbourg, France, and Montreal Quebec); six gold medals at the Canadian brewing awards, seven times “Best Craft Brewery in Ontario” and seven times “Best Regularly Produced Beer in Ontario” at the Golden Tap Awards.

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The Tom Green Beer was produced in collaboration with comedian and actor Tom Green.  For those of you who saw his sketch comedy show, you’ll remember he was known for drinking milk straight from the cow’s udder. His love for milk surely played a role in him wanting his beer to be a Milk Stout.

What I really admire about Beau’s is they give away a lot of details about their beers. So here are the technical specifications for the Tom Green Beer for those of you who are interested:

TECH SPECS
ALC/VOL: 5.0%

INGREDIENTS: Local Spring Water, Organic Barley Malts, Organic Oats, Organic Lactose, Organic Hops, Ale Yeast.

MALTS: 2 Row, Munich, Oats, Caramel 120, Roasted, Chocolate, Black (All Organic)

 

HOPS: Perle, Hersbrucker (All Organic)

YEAST: Ale Yeast

IBU’S: 27

OG: 14.1°P

FG: 6.3°P

SERVING TEMP.: 7-10° C

GLASSWARE: Nonic

As I’ve said many times on this blog, stouts are one of my favorite styles of beer. 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 name ‘stout’ referred to the often stouter bottles these brews were sold in, which eventually became the term used to describe the style of beer.

There are numerous sub-styles of stouts ranging from Dry Stouts, to Porters, and Oyster stouts and my favorite, Imperial Stouts. While they had lost popularity after the First World War, they’ve 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. You can see a number of craft breweries playing with stouts regularly. Higher alcohol stouts also often age well, making them a wonderful cellaring beer.

This particular stout is known as a “sweet stout,” which are much sweeter and less bitter than most other stouts. This is a traditionally English style of stout developed in the early 1900s as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers. Originally called Milk or Cream stouts, this designation is no longer permitted in England (even if it is everywhere else) and the name derives from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener in the beer. Lactose is not a fermentable sugar and remains after fermentation is complete, which gives this beer its sweet and creamy nature.

tom-green-beer

ABV – 5.0%         IBU – 27

Appearance – Opaque black with a nice tan head that leaves little lacing.
Smell – Slight roasted malt notes, coffee notes, sweet dough, and chocolate
Taste – Nice silky sweetness from the lactose, notes of toasted nuts and some caramel or brown sugar
Mouth Feel – Silky mouth feel with a nice carbonation. Dry start with a sweet finish
Overall Thoughts
– A bit of a lighter bodied stout than others I’ve had of this style. The sweetness isn’t overwhelming and provides a really nice contrast to the roasted notes and dry start of this beer. Very approachable beer that is easy to drink and provides some nice flavours.
Do I like it? – I do like this beer. I’m a big fan of stouts and I really like trying a good milk stout. For me, the lighter body of this stout makes it less heavy in the stomach and makes for an easier drinking beer. I think this is a solid milk stout and I’d love to have it again.

As with all of my write ups on beers, this is my opinion. I encourage everyone to get out and try new beers. If this sounds good to you, give it a try, if not, give it a try anyways.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Fuggles and Warlock Two-fer

So, I’m gonna do a two for one today. There are two beers that have recently hit the Liquor Marts here in Manitoba from the brewery Fuggles and Warlock.  I’m going to give you my thoughts on both of them today.  Let’s go!

Brewery

Fuggles and Warlock Craftworks is a brewery located in Richmond B.C.  Their motto is “Keeping Beer Weird”.  This means that they try to push the traditional styles of beer as far as they can by adding “a West Coast flair”.  They are also really big geeks and reference a lot of video games and pop culture in their beers.

This dynamic duo, Dan Colyer and Tony Laci, began brewing beer through collaborations and contract brews and only opened up their own brewery in 2015.  The first production brewery in Richmond, it stands at a whopping 13,000 sq/ft.  They have a variety of beers already coming out, Destiny IPA, Raiden Black IPA, Personas West Coast Common, to name a few.

I think we can expect to see more from Fuggles and Warlock as they continue to grow and get their distribution set.  As a young brewery they’ve got a lot of ambition and some neat toys, I’m looking forward to seeing what other beers get sent our way.

The Beer

So, we have two beers from Fuggles and Warlock on the shelves at our local Liquor Marts.  The first is “Destiny IPA” and the second is “Personas West Coast Common”.

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. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia or IPA Beer.

While these beers are part of the pale ale family, they are strongly hopped and often showcase 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 by the use of a large quantity of hops is not for everyone.

West Coast Common

This beer, while called a west coast common, is a variation on the California Common style.

This style originated in the 18th century when brewers, who unless rich didn’t have access to refrigeration, brewed lagers at a warmer temperature.   They needed to be creative in the way they cooled down the beer, often using shallow fermenters.

This resulted in the lager yeast being trained to ferment faster at warmer temperatures.  The style is also often referred to as a “Steam Beer” and some commercial versions include Anchor Steam.

You can expect the beer to be light and fruity with some graininess from the malt, a toasted characteristic and a showcasing of rustic hops.

 

As always, I suggest people who are interested take a read through the BJCP guidelines or the American Brewers Association guidelines. Both are interesting and fun to read.

Review

IPA

Appearance:  Clear golden brown with about 1” of thin head that dissipates leaving some lacing around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Big citrus notes of oranges and grapefruit with some hint of passionfruit and a slight spice/resinous note at the back of the nose.

Mouth feel:  Good carbonation that tingles the tongue, silky mouth feel that is light with a dry bitter finish.

Taste: Citrus notes of grapefruit come through the strongest with some spice and resinous notes. Passionfruit is noticeable as well. The grapefruit and resinous notes bring a nice citrusy bitterness to the taste that lingers well into the finish.

Overall: A well balanced IPA that brings a variety of hops to the table. The bitterness is certainly there the whole way through. The finish a little on the harsh side and I think a crisper finish would be nice.

Do I like it:  While I said the finish was a bit on the harsh side, I actually like that. I think that this IPA is quite nice and I’m pretty happy with it. It certainly doesn’t stand out from other IPAs I’ve had but it a tasty IPA that I’d be happy to drink again.

 

 

West Coast Common

 Appearance:  Murky copper brown with about 1” of head that dissipates leaving lacing on the edge of the glass.

Smell: Caramel and toffee come through on the nose as well as a bit of a bready note. There is a slight citrus profile there as well on the nose but really faint.

Mouth feel:  Soft carbonation that’s just about right with a grainy mouth feel and a sweet finish with just a hint of bitterness.

Taste: Comes through as a more malt forward version of an APA. The citrus notes and bitterness from the hops (almost identical hops to their Destiny IPA) comes through quite prominently. The malt notes are more present but the hop notes take the front.

Overall: I’m not sure what to say on style. It’s a bit  like an APA/California common cross, from my perspective. It has a very hop forward taste with some good malt characteristics. The finish isn’t really crisp like I’d expect from a lagerish style, but it certainly has the malt, and certainly showcases the hops.

Do I like it:  I like this beer, quite a bit. The malty characteristics add a bit of depth of flavour to this one that compliments the use of hops quite well. I enjoy the hop forward flavour in combination with the malt.

 

Garrison – Ol’ Fog Burner

Garrison - Ol Fog Burner

I’m pretty happy that some of the beers I grew up enjoying are making their way here to Manitoba. One such brewery is Garrison.  They’ve been around since before I could drink, and I know that they were a go to beer at many local pubs.  They have certainly grown, as have my tastes, and now they produce a wide range of beers.  Today I’m going to review their Ol’ Fog Burner Barleywine.

The Brewery

Garrison Brewing is located in the largest maritime city, Halifax.  The name comes from the fact that this one was of the major garrison sites for the protection of Canada being the largest eastern port.  As well, Halifax has a long history of brewing with William Steel opening shop as the first brewer in 1754 in order to serve the early settlers and troops who were stationed at Citadel Hill.  By prohibition, Halifax was home to some 20 brewing operations!

Garrison itself tries to follow this concept of independent micro-brewing and set this at their heart when they opened in 1997 with their first brew “Irish Red Ale”.  They have continued to produce and grow serving hand-crafted ales that use the best ingredients available.

After 15 years in business, in 2013 they expanded to develop over 13,000 square feet of industrial space to become their new home. Their setup is made up of tanks and equipment that were designed and fabricated in Charlottetown, PEI (keeping it local, very nice) and consists of a single-step infusion mash tun and a propane-fired kettle and whirlpool.  It takes them an average of 10 days start to finish to ferment and condition.  You can read all about their brewing process here.

The Style

This beer is brewed in the style of an English Barleywine.  A very strong, heavily malted beer.  This style is really a showcase of malty richness with a warming alcohol and often pleasant hoppy or fruity notes. This beer can be aged and when done so it can often take on port like flavours.

bass-barley-wine-ad-1907

While there have been strong ales of various different formulations for a long time in England, the modern Barleywine can be traced back to Bass no. 1 in 1872.  This was the first to be called a “Barleywine”.  Traditional a darker style of beer, in 1951 a brewer called Tennant (now Whitbread) produced “Gold Label” a gold coloured Barleywine.

Gold-Label-No1-Barley-Wine-Labels-Tennant-Brothers-Exchange-Brewery-Ltd_39261-1

These beers are quite often the strongest ale offered by a brewery and now typically are stamped with a vintage date as they have become popular cellaring beers.  This style will age well and often changes in flavour profile.  The English Barleywine is the original style of this beer that has spawned off into other styles from Belgium, the US and elsewhere.

As always, read more about the style in the BJCP style guide found here.

The Review

ABV – 11.3%     IBU – 60     Can be cellared

Appearance:  Beautiful tawny/caramel in colour with a good 2” head that just won’t quit.

Smell: A beautiful array of smells come from this complex beer. Caramel, molasses, cognac, raisins, alcohol warming, biscuit/yeasty notes, toffee and some resinous notes as well. The aroma is pleasant and rich.

Taste: This beer has a soft start that moves towards a huge hit of malt, rum and cognac. The warming from the alcohol in this is really pleasant.  The toffee and caramel sweetness is certainly there along with some subtle spices like cinnamon or black pepper. There are some slight fruity notes as well as a nice bitterness that on the finish.

Mouth feel: Medium bodied, rich mouth feel with a nice carbonation. Hugely rich and deep front with a nice clean bitter finish.

Overall: Really impressed with this beer. I expect a lot of complex flavours in a barleywine given the huge amount of malt and complexity available to the style. This beer does not disappoint and brings a huge array of different aromas and flavours to the table. Overall this beer is very well balanced and with the high alcohol content that can be a bit dangerous.

Do I like it: Once again, I am impressed with Garrison.  This beer brings so much in the way of flavour and aroma.  I am certainly going to be aging one of this to see how it tastes next year. Beautifully rich and balanced, well worth it.

I’m pretty excited as I will be heading to the Maritimes this summer to visit family. That’ll mean a visit to a number of new breweries as well as old. I’m going to certainly make the trip to Halifax to visit Garrison, and I can’t wait.

-Beer Winnipeg

Parallel 49 – Bodhisattva

Parallel 49 - Bodhisattva

That’s right another sour beer! We’ve been seeing more of these start coming our way. I’m a fan of sour beers and so I’m always excited to give them a try. We’ve also slowly been seeing more and more beers come in from Parallel 49 brewing company out of BC. We’ve recently received their Brews Brothers Vol. 2 (still a few left), 12 different beers done in collaboration with 12 different breweries from BC. (I hope to be posting about some of these in the next weeks).  We’ve also recently received their Bodhisattva Dry-Hopped Sour Ale which is the beer I’ll be talking about today. (It’s got a sweet label too.)

The Brewery

Parallel 49 is a brewery that spawned out of three friends love for good beer.  Mike, Nick and Anthony all grew up about 10 minutes away from where the brewery now stands. Having been avid home brewers and lovers of good craft beer, these three friends quit their day jobs in 2008 and opened a restaurant which quickly became known as a mecca for good craft beer in Vancouver. Wanting to put their money where their mouth was and stop talking and start brewing, they partnered with Graham with, a respected Home Brewer, and Michael Tod, a friend who had the business savvy and experience in the Vancouver craft beer industry, the Parallel 49 brewing team was born.

They have a variety of different beers and not afraid of trying some unique things either. I’ve enjoyed all of the beers I’ve tried from them, some more than others, but they are worth checking out.

The Style

What makes a sour beer? Well, that depends. There are two different ways a sour beer can be produced. The most common is controlled.

In the controlled method, the brewer does something to the beer to lower its pH. This can be done by adding other strains of yeast or bacteria (Typically Lactobacillus or Brettanomyces or Pediococcus), by using an Acidulated Malt (this meets German purity laws) or by adding Lactic Acid (an acid produced by Pedioccous or Lactobacillus) or Acetobacter, a less common bacteria.

Check out this blog from the American Home Brewers Association. It goes into detail about all these different strains.

This beer used Lactobacillus, bacteria that acts similarly to a yeast by eating up the sugars in the wort (unfermented beer). Rather than converting the sugars to alcohol like our beer yeast, it turns them into lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers the pH of the beer rather quickly and gives the beer a sour but clean taste. It is most commonly used in sour German styles of beer Berliner Weisse or Gose.

This beer has also been dry-hopped.  While the Phillips Sax in the Dark was aged on Grape Musts to provide it with a different depth of flavour, dry-hopping allows a beer to take on much of the aroma of the hops added without any of the bitterness. You are not really getting the full flavour of the hop but there is certainly a variety of aromas that come along with dry-hopping that can impact the way the beer is perceived and tastes.

Review

ABV – 7%

Appearance – Clear pale straw colour with a nice carbonation on pour that dissipates as quickly as it came. Almost looks a bit like sparkling apple juice.

Smell – The floral hop notes come through nicely on the smell along with some pear notes, citrus fruit and some yeasty funk.

Taste – Crisp and tart, incredibly refreshing. Citrus notes, pear comes through as well.

Mouth Feel – Tart, sour, crisp. Nice carbonation that leaves the tongue a tingling.  Dry finish, light bodied.

Overall Thoughts – Solid, balanced, crisp and delicious. Alcohol content is unnoticeable making this refreshing beer easily drinkable. Overall it is a solidly balanced sour that would be delicious on a nice warm summer day.

Do I like it? – I did really like this beer. I’m a big fan of sours, but even if I wasn’t, this beer brings a lot to the table. It’s crisp, its refreshing, and the sourness is not overpowering. The aroma from the dry-hopping makes it pleasant all around.  I rather enjoyed it.

 

Half Pints – Black Galaxy

Half Pints - Black Galaxy

Today’s review comes to us from a local brewery of which I am very proud to be able to support.  I’ve talked about Half-Pints in the past so for more information about the brewery itself please read those here and here or check out their website here.

The Style

The beer I am tasting from Half-Pints today is there highly rated Black IPA, Black Galaxy.  A Black IPA is a specialty style of an IPA.  Like an IPA, they are meant to be hop forward and drinkable. One of the biggest differences is that they bring a darker colour and often roasted or burnt flavours from the use of different malts.

When drinking this style one can expect to get a lot of different hop notes from the variety of hops used in the brewing of the brewer that are melded with a variety of different malts that would not normally be used in the brewing of an IPA.

This beer is a variation of the IPA style and was first commercially produced by Greg Noonan as Blackwatch IPA around 1990. It began to grow in popularity through the 2000s and there are many varieties of this style which can be found.  This beer is also known as a Cascadian Dark Ale.  Overall the style is similar in many respects to a traditional IPA but bringing with it some more complexity in the malt profile to compete with the diversity of hops.

The Review

Appearance:  Black with a slight red hue when held up to the light. A persistent 2 finger off-white head that leaves lacing as it dissipates.

Smell: Piney notes, citrus, passion fruit, roasted malt. Soft notes of pineapple and coffee also.

Mouth feel: Medium body, medium carbonation that leaves a bit of tingle on the tongue.

Taste: Passion fruit and pineapple come through on the taste with a nice bitter finish that balances well with the sweet fruit, light caramel, and roasted dark malt backbone.

Overall: I haven’t had many Black IPAs to compare this too but overall this is a great beer. It is well balanced and brings a depth of different flavours (passion fruit, pineapple, caramel, coffee, roasted malt) that all seem to balance well together and with the 60 IBUs.

Do I like it:  Yes. This is a beer that I really enjoy. Half Pints does a great job with this beer bringing both balance of malt and hop. The flavours in this are really good together and I’d be happy to drink this any day of the week.

Picaroons – Timberhog Irish Stout

Picaroons-Timber-Hog

Intro

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.

The brewery

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.

The Style

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.

The Review

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.