A new year, a new blog – What to expect

Welcome to Beer Winnipeg.  I wasn’t sure that I would want to run my blog talking about different styles of beers and reviewing them.  Having had the Craft Beer advent calendar gave me the opportunity and then the confidence to do so.  So, welcome, to Beer Winnipeg.

The goal of this site will be to discuss a variety of things.  First and foremost I will post reviews about beers.  The reviews will contain the following information.

  • Beer name, location, and style of beer.
  • Description of the style, origins and information about the brewery.
  • Rating of the beer based on the following:
    • Appearance (Body, Colour, Head, Retention) (%5)
    • Smell (20%)
    • Taste (45%)
    • Mouth feel (Light, Medium, Heavy, Smooth, Coarse) (10%)
    • Overall (20%)
    • Do I like it (Yes or No) and why.

I like to be detailed and provide information about the brewery as well as the style of beer.  For me, knowing about the brewery allows for me to understand the concept of the beer a bit better and helps me appreciate it a bit more.

The rating scale is not my own, I have taken the scoring system from the site Beer Advocate as I felt it provide the most opportunity to rate beer effectively based on various notes.  I added into the rating the last section of do I like it.  This is completely subjective but I will tell you why I like it or not and hopefully these details will help you decide if it is a beer that you would like.

Secondly, I hope to talk about the state of beer here in Winnipeg and Manitoba.  We are far behind the rest of Canada when it comes to craft beer and the ability for craft breweries to shine.  I will talk about the breweries we have as well as any news that is beer related here in Manitoba.  For example, the Craft Beer action committee created by the Minister of Liquor and Gaming.  I will report on what news comes from this.

Thirdly, I hope to do some profiles on breweries.  Hopefully I can visit them, but I will profile some strong Canadian breweries as well as up and comers in the craft beer world.

Finally, I’ll likely be talking about anything that is craft beer related especially if it happens to be here in Winnipeg!

Beer is one of those beverages that is so simple yet incredibly complex.  The ability to shift ingredients and great a completely unique flavour is amazing to me.  My hope is that by following this blog you will gain an understanding about the many different styles of beer and an appreciation for their complexities.  If you already like beer I hope you would find my reviews useful.

Thanks for following along.

-Beer Winnipeg.

Manitoba Craft Breweries Stratgey

Well, it seems like there are some things happening here in Manitoba in respect to Craft Beer.

For a long time we have been pretty behind when it comes to craft beer and breweries.  We currently have three breweries in Manitoba.  When you compare that to a small province like New Brunswick which is home to 7 that I can think of off the top of my head (likely more) it’s not really that great.

So, to have the government announce a “Craft Breweries Strategy” is a very promising step that when combined with the Growler system and the work being done on the Liquor laws here may result in some actual change and growth.

According to the press release the Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux announced the first step as the creation of an advisory committee which will be made of of the following people:

MANITOBA CRAFT BREWERIES STRATEGY INDUSTRY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

  • Robert Holmberg, vice-president, liquor operations, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, and chair, Craft Brewery Industry Advisory Committee
  • Jim Baker, president and CEO, Manitoba Hotel Association
  • Noel Bernier, president and CEO, FB Hospitality
  • Bill Gould, president, WETT Sales and Distribution Inc.
  • Orest Horechko, general manager, Fort Garry Brewing Co.
  • Scott Jocelyn, executive director, Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association
  • Dwayne Marling, vice-president, Manitoba–Saskatchewan, Restaurants Canada
  • David Rudge, brewmaster and president, Half Pints Brewing Company
  • Darren R. Wanless, president, Wanless Geo-Point Solutions Inc.
  • Lawrence Warwaruk, owner, Farmery Estate Brewery
  • Kerry Wolfe, senior executive director, strategic gaming and liquor development, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries

Quite a number of people there who, I hope, will bring some good insight to the table.

At the very least this is a start.  We are in a sorry state for craft brewing here in Manitoba in comparison to the rest of Canada and I am hoping that we will begin to see some change in the quality and quantity of craft brewers we have.

I want to finish by saying the breweries we do have are excellent.  I’m always excited by their creativity and their willingness to put out special beers and try new things.  I hope that Fort Garry, Half Pints and Farmery will continue to do this and will help grow, not stifle, the craft beer competition in this province.

-Beer Winnipeg

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – That’s a Wrap

Craft Beer Advent Calendar - All 24 Beer

The craft beer advent calendar, 2014, is complete.  It has been a really interesting 24 beers with a lot of variety and a veritable world tour of brews.  My wife asked if I’d be interested in doing this again.  ABSOLUTELY.  It was a fantastic experience that gave me the opportunity to try beers that I might never have the chance to try again.  I certainly hope I can for some of them, others…I’m okay not having them again.

So, let us wrap up the post with some statistics.

  • We had 24 beers all of which were a different style or variation on a style.
  • We visited:
o        United States (3)

o        Israel

o        Netherlands (2)

o        Germany (2)

o        Brazil (2)

o        Guyane Francaise

o        England (2)

o        Belgium

o        Norway

o        Austria

o        Scotland

o        Iceland

o        Mexico

o        New Zealand

o        Australia

o        Italy

o        Finland

o        South Africa

  • We managed to hit 6 continents through this with the following stats
    • Europe (Scotland, Finland, Norway, England, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy)
    • North America (United States, Mexico)
    • South America (Guyane Francaise, Brazil)
    • Asia (Israel)
    • Africa (South Africa)
    • Oceania (Australia, New Zealand)

Certainly the majority of the beers came from the European countries with absolutely NONE coming from Canada.  We had some repeat countries as listed above with 3 coming from the United States as the top contributor.

Now.  My favorite beer for the entire 24 days.  It’s actually rather funny that I should have my favorite beer on the fourth day of the Calendar!  My favorite beer from the entire calendar comes to us from:

Peak Brewing Company in Portland, Maine and is the Hop Blanc

Thanks so much for following along.  I hope that you enjoyed these reviews and found them useful.  I hope that you continue to follow along as I continue to blog about beer news and reviews.

– Beer Winnipeg

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 24

Beer 24

Well, what a journey.  24 beers from around the world in a variety of different styles.  This process has given me a great deal of insight into brewing and breweries around the world.  I feel I have learned a great deal and I respect and appreciate beer a lot more than I did before this.  I certainly hope I have been able instill in some of you the same sort of sense of appreciation.

Our final beer comes to us from Sound Brewery out of Washington State in the USA.  Founded by Mark Hood and Brad Ginn, two seasoned home brewers, Sound Brewery began brewing in Poulsbo in February of 2011.  They have been brewing some award-winning beers that are Belgian inspired as well as traditionally northwest style beers as well.

The beer that has been given to us for the very last beer of this calendar is the Entendez Noël Belgian Quadrupel.  Sitting at 11.5%abv this is certainly a strong beer, bordering on a barley wine that promises to bring a good bitterness along with the warmth of malt.  Sitting at 50 IBU it is certainly up there with a good hoppy IPA for bitterness and having been brewed in the Belgian style, it promises to be a strong upfront beer with lots of complexity.  They’ve used Trappist yeast, Belgian Pilsner malts, cane sugar, and Motueka hops.

Quardrupels are a beer that is traditionally brewed by the Trappist Monks of Belgium.  Trappist Monks are renowned worldwide for their brewing abilities and rarely sell beer outside of their monasteries.  My brother had the opportunity to purchase 6 beers from one of the Trappist monasteries in a very limited release (100 cases of 6 beer each) in Toronto.  They were going for $100 a case, not cheap.

The name represents the strength of the beer and originates from the use of X on the bottles which indicated this.  So, a single would be marked with an X and indicate a weaker beer.  This is the strongest beer brewed by Trappist monks and would have been marked XXXX.  I’m rather excited to give it a try as it is the last beer of the Calendar.

Rating: 82/100

Appearance:  Clear amber colouring with no head.  Was concerned it was flat upon opening, luckily it just wasn’t.
Smell: Lemon notes, hoppy notes, some sweet honey smell and a bit of the caramel malt.
Taste: At first taste it is a light bodied, well balanced, sweet and hoppy beer with good citrus notes and some honey sweetness in there for flavor.  As I continued to drink the alcohol (11.5% if you remember) started to show itself making it taste like alcohol and overshadowing the other initial flavours.
Mouth feel: Light body with creamy mouth feel with light carbonation.
Overall: Nice, well-balance quardrupel that is better cold than warm.  As it warms the alcohol comes through a lot stronger and overpowers the other flavours.  They are quite nice though initially and this beer is well balanced and when I first sipped it I was surprised that I didn’t taste the alcohol.  As far as quadrupels go that is a good thing and this was definitely a strong contender.
Do I like it: No, I did not enjoy this beer.  It was good to begin with but as I continued to drink it the alcohol came through too strong.  Perhaps it is because it is such a strong beer and not my cup of tea, but it overpowered everything else for me and made it more of a chore to drink.  If I drank this one again, it would be outside on a cold Winnipeg day so that the beer would stay at that initial temp.

I have one more post that I will do for the Advent Calendar.  I will be summing up the 24 beers we have tried indicating their styles, location, and choosing my overall favorite.

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 23

Beer 23

Today’s beer comes to us from Israel making it another Asian beer.  The beer is called Mosco and is brewed in the Judean Mountain in the village of Zanuch in Israel.  Annoyingly the website is down for them to update it and so I can’t find any information the brewer or brewery other than its location.  Seems that a variety of the beers in the calendar are trying to sabotage my ability to review them.  Oh well, we shall just move into the beer style and its review.

The beer is a Strong Blonde ale brewed in the Belgian method, so a Beligan Pale Ale essentially.  Blonde ales are very pale in color and are usually clear, crisp and dry.  Being brewed in the Belgian style means that it will use wheat malts which will make it cloudier than you’d expect but it should still hold the same coloring.  Blondes are from the Pale Ale variety of beer and usually have a lighter body with a subdued malt character and large hop profile.  They aren’t hoppy by any means, but they typically are not malty either.  Think of Coors or Coors light. Onto it then!

Rating: 67/100

Appearance:  Cloudy with a straw coloring and quite a bit of yeast sediment.
Smell: Yeasty on the nose with caramel malts and grassy/lemony notes from the hops.
Taste: Cool and crisp with a dry finish.  Slight fruitiness with a sickly sweetness making it taste far more alcoholic than the 6.5% abv should account for. Not as crisp as I would expect as the wheat malts make for a creamier mouth feel so the taste is subdued a bit on the end.
Mouth feel: Light body with creamy mouth feel with good carbonation.
Overall: Not the best Belgian style beer I’ve had in this variety nor even in this calendar.  The yeast sediment is a big turnoff for this style of beer as was the overly sweet character to it.  Overall this beer was below average for its style and not really a good showing for this calendar.
Do I like it: No, I did not enjoy this beer.  The sweetness was too much, it didn’t have the body and flavor that I would expect in a Belgian beer. I would not be interested in drinking this one again.

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 22

Beer 22

The 22nd beer from the advent calendar was a Winter Saison produced by the gents at Rooie Dop, a brewery out of the Netherlands.  Interestingly enough, while these gents do brew small batches at their own brewery located in Utrecht, their large batches are brewed by the Brouwerij De Molen who produced our 19th beer!

Rooie Dop is a brewery that wants to make some flavourful and sometimes experimental beers.  They do a lot of collaboration with their beers and don’t really care about the rules for brewing particular styles of beer, they “care about flavor” as they say on their website.  The brewery was started y three friends some years ago.  Mark Strooker is the one who calles the shots at the brewery and is an IBU extremist according to his profile (I like this guy).  Overall the brewery sounds unique, creative, and over all talented based on being rated one of ratebeer.com’s 2013 best.

The beer we get to try today is a Winter Saison.  Again, Saison’s are broadly defined pale ales that are higher in alcohol content, highly carbonated and generally spiced.  They are traditionally a Belgian style of beer which means they include the wheat and barley malts which produce a creamier mouth feel.  This particular Saison is called “Final Countdown” and was produced using smoked malts and rye.  It was specifically made for inclusion in this year’s Advent Calendar and that is pretty exciting. Onto the beer!

Rating: 80/100

Appearance: Cloudy amber colored beer with good head that dissipates rapidly.
Smell: Smoke and apricot are right at the front.  Interesting combination that isn’t unappealing, actually.
Taste: Very smoky with a hint of fruit notes in there.  Sweet malty balance that goes well with the smokiness of the beer.  Reminded me a little bit of being at a  campfire though, which wasn’t wholly appealing, but not terrible either.
Mouth feel: Good carbonation, creamy mouth feel, light body.
Overall: Definitely a unique beer for me.  I’ve had smoked beers out of Germany before which taste like you are drinking the campfire.  This one was lighter and had that pleasant creaminess of a saison.  As a Saison I’d say it was good with a unique flavor balance and some risks taken that turned out pretty okay.
Do I like it: I enjoyed this beer for the risk that was taken in producing it.  Adding smoked malts to a saison is an interesting idea that I didn’t know if it would work.  Overall it worked well enough to taste good, but I wouldn’t drink it again.

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 21

Beer 21

Well, today wasn’t a bad day, although one of the beers in my advent calendar had gone bad as it had not sealed properly.  I opened it, poured it and right away could tell it had turned.  No carbonation at all and a sour smell.  I did taste it and the taste had turned also.  I will not include a rating of this beer only details about the brewery as I did not feel it was fair to rate a beer that had turned.

The beer today is from Fürst Wallerstein Brauhaus in Wallersten, Germany.  Founded in 1999, it is a large scale operation that produces malt based beverages including beer.  The beer that we had in the advent calendar today was their Winter Bock.  We have seen a bock before, they are a strong lager made in Germany with a variety of subtypes.  In this instance a winter bock is a bock that has been spiced, in this case with molasses and a bit of pepper, to give it a more winter warmer/ale style flavor.

There are not many details that I could find on the brewery, so I apologize for the curtness of this post.  As I said, the beer had gone bad, so I moved on to the next one!

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