GIB – BC Bitter

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

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

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

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

*Note – I did receive this beer for free*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Beer Winnipeg

Deschutes – Pinot Suave

pinot-suave-22oz

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

 

 

 

Little Brown Jug

Little Brown Jug Logo

As I prepare to head out to the East Coast to celebrate family and enjoy the burgeoning craft beer community in the Maritimes, I have one more post to do on a local Winnipeg-based brewery looking to open in September.

Little Brown Jug, located at 336 William Avenue, graciously opened their doors to me for a tour and chat about their brewery. Founder Kevin Selch and brewmaster Bernie Weiland are hard at work getting construction finalized on their beautiful Exchange District location. The site was once the transportation depot for Red River Motor Coach before becoming a wallpaper shop, a printing business, and now the new digs of Little Brown Jug.

Some Winnipeggers may recognize the Bernie Wieland from his brewing work at Half Pints over the past year. While this was his most recent position before becoming head brewmaster at Little Brown Jug, Bernie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in brewing. His first job in 2000 was with a brewery at Gilde Braurei in Hanover, Germany. Producing over 600,000 HL a year.  This was one of northern Germany’s top 10 breweries.  After spending some time there he gained even more brewing experience at Fort Garry, the Vancouver Island Brewing Company before getting his brewing certificate from the Siebel Institute. He then went to get his Master’s diploma from UC Davis before taking the role as brewmaster at Lake of the Woods in Kenora. He came back to Winnipeg for his stint at Half Pints before moving over full time to Little Brown Jug at the beginning of June. This Brandon-born, Winnipeg/Neepawa-raised globetrotter is excited to be back full-time in Winnipeg.

Kevin Selch is also originally from Winnipeg. He had spent the last 10 years based in Ontario working as an economist with the federal government.  He worked with Industry Canada on all kinds of economic and policy plans, including telecommunications policy, intellectual property policy, the defence procurement strategy, and the Nortel bankruptcy. Before this he worked as a trade economist and was involved in negotiating free trade agreements in Geneva, including work on the Canada-EU agreement. Kevin has always had a passion for urban development, urban manufacturing and the repurposing/redevelopment of old buildings. Having taken an old Victorian home and renovating it from studs up, he has excels at taking the old and making it new while still keeping the character.

For the past three years, Kevin has planned to open a brewery. While recent changes to the liquor laws was certainly a help, the decision to open Little Brown Jug was a natural step in his business plan: he’d arrived the point where he couldn’t plan anymore, he just had to take the leap.

Having spent the past 10 years in Ottawa, Kevin had the chance to explore the southern Ontario, Quebec and Vermont craft beer scenes. He loved the social aspect of these breweries and wants to use the tasting room at Little Brown Jug as a community space to bring more people to the downtown. Kevin hopes that people will come to Little Brown Jug before heading out to dinner at one of the other local establishments. Working in partnership with other exchange businesses to help benefit them all.

Little Brown Jug Inside

For Kevin, transparency is a big part of the business model. They want to be honest in their advertising, transparent in their brewing practices, and community oriented in their business outcomes. They want to focus on quality ingredients and brewing practices and plan to pace themselves, launching the brewery with one beer, a kräusened Belgian Pale Ale. On open they also only have two fermenters – another good reason to focus on their Belgian pale ale before brewing other beers as they add equipment.  Bernie hopes that they will be able to add another beer starting in January or February.  As for capacity, they are starting with a 20 hectoliter system, brewing 40 hectoliters a week. Little Brown Jug will only use Canadian-made equipment and they worked directly with the engineer to help develop their brew system.

Focusing on one beer will allow for Little Brown Jug to be picky when it comes to sourcing ingredients for their beer. Belgian Pale Ale being Kevin’s favourite style of beer, and standing on Bernie’s experience brewing, they are excited to launch with a beer people will be keen to seek out.

Little Brown Jug’s ideal tasting room is more than a space for people to come, drink a beer and leave. They want the space to be usable by community groups, be a meeting place before heading out for dinner, and to be a spot where you can see the brewing process first hand, ask questions, and learn about the beer. Starting with kegs, growler fills and signature 750ml little brown jugs, people will have a few options for bringing beer home. While they do hope to can in the future, this is a more of a long-term plan; Bernie says he can see LBJ start canning two to three years down the road.

Kevin and Bernie really wanted to be a part of Winnipeg’s downtown atmosphere and the urban renewal happening in the Exchange District. It was important to them to be able to bring their brewery to this area, both benefitting from the surrounding renewal and contributing to it. While opening a new company is challenging no matter what it is, Kevin has said the process thus far has been good.

Kevin and Bernie have been incredibly busy with the construction phase of the brewery. When they came in, the space had to be completely gutted and while there hasn’t really been time to look back on all they’ve accomplished, Kevin did say that seeing how far the space has come is starting to make the dream of opening a brewery seem like a reality.

Kevin really wants LBJ to embody the grain to glass experience and told me having Bernie as part of his team is a huge asset. Bernie’s knowledge about brewing and the brewing industry, his input and his expertise bring a lot to the table. Forming a business team requires tremendous trust and Kevin feels they are a great fit as they trust one another’s opinion completely.

With a goal to open in September, I’m excited to visit again when I return from the East Coast to see the progress they’ve made and, of course, I’m looking forward to trying their beer.  For now, they do have a really nice ¾ sleeve T-shirt for sale.

Little Brown Jug Tshirt

This is my last post before I head out East.  Be sure to follow me on twitter @beerwinnipeg if you’re interested in following my East Coast adventures. I’ll try my best to visit breweries and do some posts from the Maritimes where the list of breweries keeps growing, so be sure to follow along. As always, thanks for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

Interview – Colin Enquist,

download

So, yesterday I decided to do something a little bit different.  Rather than interviewing a brew master or someone trying to open a new brewery here in Manitoba (though that is coming), I decided to sit down and chat with Colin Enquist of 49th Parallel Group.

For those of you who do not know Colin, he is a 30 year old graduate of the creative communications program at Red River College who aspires to someday be a screenwriter.  For now, he has the very interesting job of being the territory manager for 49th Parallel group here in Manitoba.

49th Parallel group is an agency that specializes in the marketing, selling and promoting of craft beer in Western Canada. Representing 20 breweries across North America, the goal of the group is to help spread the wealth of craft beer into various marketplaces and dealing with all the red tape that comes along with it.

Colin, like most of us, started off not really liking beer.  It wasn’t until he moved to Edmonton where he really got into beer. He was out one night and wanted to have a drink, so he grabbed a beer, “It was a Kilkenny Irish cream, not a great beer but it was new to me”.  From that point Colin says that he was hooked on trying new beers.  When he moved back to Manitoba he started meeting people who were into craft beer and growing his interest.  He met his good friend Adrian Trimble, with whom he hosts the great podcast “Pubchat”, and eventually had the opportunity to work for 49th Parallel group representing craft breweries here in Manitoba.

Colin started off doing this gig part-time while he went through the creative communications program.  When he graduated he was offered the job full-time and has been working there ever since.  For about 2 ½ years Colin has been working hard to try and get craft beer onto the shelves of the Manitoba Liquor Marts.  This mostly entails making sales calls to the LCs, being the contact if there are problems or questions, doing tastings and training and most of all “trying to educate people about craft beer”.  It also involves writing beer themed recipes and doing a “beer and book” pairing from time to time as well.  You’ll have to follow him on twitter @49thparallelmb to get the beer and book pairings.

I asked Colin about the biggest difference he notices between provinces.  Colin told me that it’s what sells.  Here in Manitoba we are mostly a “can market”.  Beers in tall-boy cans seem to sell better here than in other markets.  “This may have to do with the cabin lifestyle” Colin told me.  This is different in other provinces “In Alberta it’s mostly 6 packs and the 650ml bottles do really well”.

We also talked a lot about craft beer, obviously.  Since Colin is someone who has the opportunity to drink so many beers I wanted to know his favorites.  He told me that Stouts are his favorite style of beer and that right now his favorite beer is probably Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout made by Oskar Blues. When it comes to breweries he’d have to list Flying Monkey’s, “I love pretty much everything they do”, and Oskar Blues out of Denver.

Colin and I also talked about the red tape and all the challenges in place to getting the beer on the shelves in the province of Manitoba.  When you compare our craft beer market to that across Canada we are really quite far behind.  When you look at a city like Vancouver with over 1000 breweries compared to Winnipeg where we have two, (three if you count the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute), you can see the vast difference in growth.  While there is progress being made, it’s slow but Colin did say that he noticed a huge difference in the knowledge of attendees at this year’s Flatlander’s beer festival compared to the last two years.

We are also seeing for the first time an upswing in potential breweries opening.  With Peg Beer Co, and Barn Hammer Brewing Company announcing their plans to open, we are seeing progress here in Manitoba.

Since I was sitting down with the Territory Manager I figured I should ask what we might be seeing coming in the near future.  Colin told me that we should be seeing:

  • Rogue Double IPA and Kolsch
  • Phillips Barn Stormer Saison IPA and the Phillips Anniversary Beer
  • Parallel 49 Cornhop IPA

So, keep your eyes peeled for those as well as the rest of the awesome stuff they bring to the shelves.

I have to say, it was really great to sit down with Colin and chat with him about beer.  His knowledge about beer is just phenomenal.  As someone who is passionate about beer and brewing it’s also nice to sit down with someone who has that same, if not higher, level of passion.  It’s great to know that there are people like Colin and the 49th Parallel group working hard to get craft beer into Liquor Marts and to help these breweries thrive.

So, be sure to check out the beers at your local liquor mart, check their website for the new products arriving and be sure to follow Colin on twitter @49thparallelmb to get the latest news from the source.  You should probably also follow me on twitter @beerwinnipeg if you haven’t already.

Next for me is I’ll be sitting down with Nicole Barry of Peg Beer Co to chat with her about opening a new brewery here in Manitoba.  I also hope to be able to sit down with the folks at Barn Hammer, and of course, I’ll be posting about the progress of my homebrew and reviews of beers I try.

Thanks for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg