Category Archives: Nonsuch

Nonsuch – BU50

photo courtesy of the illustrious

Every time I sit down to write one of these posts I take an opportunity to reflect on where we are. When I first started this blog, the beer community was in its infancy. Half Pints was the predominate craft brewery, and remain to this day the original. We now have more breweries than I know what to do with. And I love it.

Today I write about an fun partnership with Brandon University. Nonsuch brewmaster, and Brandon University Alumnus, Mark Borowski has brewed a special beer for Brandon University’s 50th anniversary. This “Marzen Style” beer is, like most Nonsuch Beers, a cranked up version of the Marzen style.

For those of you who don’t recall, Nonsuch is a local brewery that is made up of some pretty talented people. Take a read through my write-up on them here. They’ve run into some bad luck along the way and have had a difficult time finding a space of their own. Thanks to the amazing camaraderie of the local beer community, most especially Barn Hammer who has provided Nonsuch with space to brew, they’ve still managed to get beer out the doors. This bottle release represents the first beer they’ve packaged and sold at such a large volume.

It is somewhat auspicious that I am posting this write-up today. NONSUCH HAS A SPACE. They announced it this morning. They will be moving into the old Peg Beer Company site at 125 Pacific Avenue. This is a happy and a sad day. I am happy for Nonsuch to finally have a place to call there own. At the same time, this means there won’t be a return of Peg.

This “Golden Ale” brewed for the “Golden Anniversary” of Brandon University is crafted from a recipe inspired by a Marzen, a German festival beer that is traditionally served at Oktoberfest.  Before refrigeration, it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer due to the hot weather and bacterial infections. Brewing ended with the coming of spring, and began again in the fall. Most were brewed in March (Märzen). These brews were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months, or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’d keep. Märzenbier is full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content.

According to the description, the unique BU50 Anniversary Ale uses a hybrid yeast to brings out more crispness, and further enhanced by the use of Saaz hops. The result is a refreshing and well-balanced strong beer that comes in at 6.8% ABV — intentionally chosen as a nod to 1968, the year the first graduates of Brandon University received their degrees. Previously, graduates from Brandon College received degrees from other institutions.

ABV – 6.8%
Appearance – Pours a clear golden/honey colour with a foamy head.
Smell – There is a biscuit malt character to the nose along with some hints of caramel and a bit of grassy hops.
Taste – This was a rather sweet beer. The sweetness from the malt came through strong and was only slightly cut by some crisp bitterness on the finish.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with good carbonation and a nice dry finish.
Overall Thoughts – Nonsuch is known for making ramped up beers. This was no different. The malt character really shone in this beer and, while I found it to be on the sweet side, it did have a crisp finish. I think that it hit on the characteristics one would expect to find in a Märzen while still maintaining something special that is worthy of the celebration.
Do I like it? – I did like this beer. I found that it brought a nice malt character. I found it to be a bit sweet for me, but I was able to move past that and enjoy it. I think this type of collaboration is really fun and I hope we see some more of it. The price tag on this beer, $19.68, is rather high. But, we know that Nonsuch’s overhead for there beers is already pretty high and if we consider they are donating a portion of this to the Brandon University’s BU Foundation, it makes a bit more sense.

The beer is already sold out in most of Brandon. Luckily, Nonsuch is currently brewing their second batch of the beer which should be ready in about a month. There are hopes it will be sold at rural Liquor Marts in Western Manitoba and eventually Winnipeg Liquor Marts as well.

Nonsuch – Saison


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
Courtesy of

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.

Nonsuch Launch Party

May is a ridiculously busy month for me with work. It seems to be a series of meetings followed by other meetings and a few trips away. It’s hard doing all this with a new baby at home as I just end up missing her and my wife that much more. But, the month of May is coming to an end, and I’ve got a few things to update on.

First, the second annual get to know a brewer event is coming up on June 6th. This year it will be held at Brazen Hall. Tickets are available here. Last year I had the chance to attend the event and it was a fantastic precursor to Flatlanders. You get an opportunity for a sneak peek at what will be coming and a chance to speak one on one with the brewers and other folks from the local breweries. If you’ve never been, I highly suggest you go. It’s a fantastic event and well worth it.

Second, as I mentioned above, Flatlanders Beer Festival is fast approaching. Last years saw our first glimpse at some of the upcoming breweries. This year, we have our newly established brewery folks joining with our long-standing ones and some potential newcomers. All this along with other brewers from across Canada and around the world. This is the pinnacle of beer in Manitoba as it brings together so much from so far. If you love beer, go to this event. Come say hi, I’ll be in a Yellow Beer Geek shirt.

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the fantastic launch event that Nonsuch held this past Thursday, May 25th.


I had the good fortune of meeting the guys from Nonsuch and chatting with them about their vision a while back. While they’ve had some trouble finding a location, they are very close. This hasn’t prevented them from doing what they set out to do, brewing beer, and we should see their beers showing up in the Liquor Marts by June.

Nonsuch has been brewing in collaboration with Barn Hammer to perfect their beers and get everything where they want it to be. At the launch party, they debuted their Old Ale, Belgian Strong, Saison and Biére de Garde. I had a chance to try each one of these beers and was overall very impressed with the quality and taste. I’m quite excited to see these beers start showing up in the Liquor Marts.

What’s impressive is that they have been sticking to their original plan of brewing with spring water and selling in caged and corked 750ml bottles. The bottles look sharp and with the beer inside being darn good, I think they’ve got a product that many people in the city will enjoy.

While I don’t want to write a full review of the beers I tasted, I do want to say that each one of the four beers were top notch. Mark has a unique ability to adjust his beers on the fly and come up with a result that is tasty and enjoyable to drink.

As we approach Flatlanders and the Manitoba Brewers’ Association event, there are numerous opportunities to meet those brewing our beer and taste what they’ve got to offer. There are sure to be some special ones so be sure to get out and give them a try.

Thanks again for following, and be sure to check back for more

-Beer Winnipeg

MBBA Event

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Manitoba Brewers’ Association (MBBA) meet and greet event that was held down at Fort Garry Brewing Company.


MBBA Shirt
The sweet MBBA Tshirt

The event was incredibly well attended and it was nice to see so many people come out to support not only local craft beer, but the Winnipeg Jets True North foundation.  This was the kickoff, if you will, for the Flatlanders’ Beer Festival happening this weekend.  If you don’t have your tickets yet, they are still available here.

The event provided an opportunity to give a try to some of the beers the local breweries have been working on.  Most only brought one to sample, leaving room for excitement at flatlanders, but the beers that they brought were all quite good.

Torque brought their American Stout, One Great City their Pale Ale, Barn Hammer brought their Double IPA, Nonsuch had their Saison, Half Pints had the MBBA collaboration brew and a Coconut Milk Stout, and Fort Gary had their Black Pearl and Buddha Lager.

The big surprise of the night was the new comer, Brazen Hall Brewery and Kitchen, who are going to be opening at the site of the Round Table.  It was an opportunity to meet them and to have a taste of their first beer, a Best Bitter.  Kristjan Kristjansson, who I hope to sit down with again, was saying that they want to combine his Icelandic heritage with the British heritage of their head brewery, Jeremy Wells.  The bitter was nice and I’m excited to hear more about them.

Brazen Hall

While this was just a first opportunity to try some of these beers, I was pretty impressed with what I tasted and I’m excited to be able to try the beers as a final product.

So, I hope that you will all try to make it to the Flatlanders’ Beer Festival this weekend. I’ll be there Friday night enjoying myself, Saturday afternoon as a Beer Geek (come ask me questions) and Saturday Night helping out pouring for Brewsters (come by and say Hi).

On one final note, the Manitoba Bartenders Guild has organized a self-guided brewery tour event that sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll be going along with them and anyone else interested in joining, come on out.  See the image below for details. It should be fun.

Brewery Tour

Thanks for reading as I follow the changing climate of beer here in the province of Manitoba, I’m pretty excited to keep following these, and other, breweries as they start moving closer to opening their doors.

-Beer Winnipeg

Nonsuch Brewing Co.


It’s been a while since I had the chance to write a post. I did a quick update last week but work and being sick have kept me from posting as regularly as I’d like. Luckily, I’m back at it and I’ve got a good one today. With the Meet Your Local Brewer event, Barn Hammer starting to brew, and Flatlander’s coming up, it’s a great time to be a beer drinker in Manitoba. We are finally going to get our first taste of what is to come and I am going to make sure I get as much as I can.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Matt and Mark from Nonsuch Brewing Co. the other day and learn a bit more about their team and their vision – one that certainly takes a step outside the norm with their very clearly defined plan.

First, who is Nonsuch?  There are four guys who are behind the brewery all with various backgrounds, expertise and brewing experience but with one shared vision: to brew high quality Belgian and European style beers.  The four of them are proud Manitobans, something that they all feel plays a huge role in their lives. It is the reason they have chosen “Nonsuch” as their name, because of it’s strong connection with Manitoba’s History.

Matt Sabourin is the one who originally came up with the idea of opening a brewery. With an operations background – having been a production manager at Frantic Films before moving into the French film industry and finally spending the past 5 years as the operation manager at his parent’s company – he’s developed the entrepreneurial spirit. Opening a brewery for him has been a no-brainer. He’s spent the past five years learning all he can about brewing through homebrewing, all with the goal of opening Nonsuch. While Matt originally came up with the idea of opening a brewery, it was the whole team who developed the vision and concept of focusing on Belgian and European beers.

That’s where the rest of this team comes in. With Matt filling the role of President, his good friend Ben Myers will act as VP and focus on the sales and marketing aspects. Ben has a lot of experience as the Product designer for Robots and Pencils.  An artist, designer and developer, Ben will bring his creativity and experience to the team.

The head brewer is Mark Borowski. This is someone Matt knew he wanted to tap on the shoulder; when he finally sat down with Mark they shared the same vision, almost verbatim.  Mark is a qualified teacher who has worked across North America. After getting bored with teaching, he went to film school in Calgary, returned to Winnipeg for a brief period before heading to Victoria. He finally made his way back to Winnipeg, started a family and began brewing beer. Now he’s going to take that brewing experience, including numerous medals at competition, and put it into the brewing of beer for Nonsuch.

Finally, we have Tyler Johnston who will act as brand manager.  He’s already done an awesome job developing the website and will continue to work with the rest of the team from his new home in Saskatchewan.

Matt has been looking to open a brewery for the past four to five years; he got into homebrewing with a full brewery as his compelling end goal. The focus on Belgian and European styles became more evident about two years ago.  Matt has always enjoyed wine and finds Belgians, sours, and big beers are similar in complexity, flavours and aging.

While Matt has been planning Nonsuch for some time, the first meeting of “the team” occurred in November of 2015. Even though they’ve only been working on this major project 17 months, they already have a location in mind. The site’s identity is under wraps for now, though they did say they want to connect with the history of Manitoba (hence the name) and feel being in the Exchange near the downtown is important for them.

While they have no confirmed beers to announce, we will get the chance to taste a high ABV (8%) saison and a mid ABV (6.5%) kolsch at Flatlander’s. Mark has multiple award-winning sours under his belt, and given that both he and Matt named sours (Flanders Red and Sour Brown Ales) as a favourite style, I think it’s safe to assume we will see that. They did say we can expect the gambit of Belgian styles from brown ales to quads.

The team is going to use the “lean-approach” to the brewery. This approach puts an emphasis on the business model over the business plan and encourages a process of customer discovery, development and iteration to achieve the right fit in the market. Given this, they are looking for the most efficient way to get brewing. They’ve selected a pilot system that can carry them forward. Matt said they want to validate their product and then expand, but overall they will remain relatively small. Mark said he doesn’t want to go beyond 5 barrels (596 litres) because he prefers to make beer in smaller batches.  This gives Mark more control over the beer and he strongly feels you can brew better beer in smaller batches. They want to find the happy middle between homebrew and big market.

When their beer does come to market it will be in 750ml corked bottles to allow those who love to cellar beer to do so. There will likely be a growler bar, but they are a bit unsure if all beers will be on it given many will have a high ABV. A tap room is in the plans but this will likely be part of their second phase of expansion in five years. They are also considering using the champagne method to carbonate their beers, but this is still undecided. They also have some other plans in the works, but those they want to keep as a surprise for now.

I always ask about the experience in opening a brewery here in Manitoba. So far, the process has been great and they have had a lot of support.  Their experience with the brew hub has been great, as has the MBLL. They are a bit concerned about the permit process but are hopeful everything will go well. The biggest support they’ve received so far has been from Half Pints who has given them, as well as many others, the opportunity to produce beers at their brewery for Flatlander’s. It is really thanks to Half Pints we will get the chance to try many of these new breweries and I think they deserve huge props for providing this support.

What is going to separate Nonsuch from the other breweries opening? The team wants to stay thematic and brew exclusively Belgian and European style beers. The look and feel of the entire brewery is going to connect with the concept of premium: everything will be done with the best possible product. They will be the only brewery using mineral water to brew instead of city water. Matt says people will know from the bottle, the brewery and the beer that they are out to make the best possible product.

People should expect “our darndest of efforts” to make the best possible beers and give the best possible experience from start to finish. They want everything to be exceptional.

If you’re not already going to the “Meet Your Local Brewer” event, be sure to check out the Nonsuch team at Flatlander’s – they’ll be at both of these events and it will be your chance to ask any other questions you might have, and of course, taste their beers.

I’ve got an update from Barn Hammer I’ll be posting next week sometime, so please watch for that. Again, try to get out to Flatlander’s if you can. If you do, I’ll see you there.

-Beer Winnipeg