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Torque – Czech Please

My most sincere apologies to all of you out there in Winnipeg Beer Land. I’ve had a crazy month and it’s still going to get crazier. Work, family, starting a Ph.D program, all things that require my attention and I’m doing my best to balance.

I love writing this blog and really want to be doing my best here, but sometimes it’s going to take a backburner as I do it for fun.

There have also been some other updates in the beer community but I’ll save those for Beer News this Friday.

On to the Pilsner.

Czech Please! – Bohemian Pilsner

Torque has become a fun brewery here in Winnipeg. From their start they’ve focused on producing a variety of beer options and have always made sure to keep their taproom stocked with some new small batches for people to try out. I’m always excited to see what they’ve got on the menu and they do not disappoint. They recently announced a potential expansion as well, so that means more awesome beer!

For this Czech style Pilsner, they went all out. Not only did they stick with the traditional ingredients, they spent a great deal of time and effort trying to get the water just right. They softened it up so that they could try and match the water that makes this style.

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.  There are three styles of Pilsner:

  • German-style Pilsner – More bitter and earthy in flavour
  • Bohemian (Czech) Pilsners – tend to have lighter flavour
  • Classic American Pilsners – Brewed with more corn and rice as well as native cluster hops along with the noble hops when available.

All modern pilsners are very clear, very light beers that are pale to golden yellow.  All of them have a distinct hop aroma and flavor.  There are also Dutch and Belgian pilsners (not a separate style) which can be slightly sweeter.

ABV – 5%
Appearance – Golden in colour with an effervescent head that dissipates quickly.
Smell – Light malt notes, clean and bready, with light grassy hop notes.
Taste – Light, refreshing, a crisp bite at the finish along with some subtle hop bitterness. It has a semi-sweet malt characteristic to it.
Mouth Feel – Good carbonation with a coarse mouth feel and a nice lingering finish.
Overall Thoughts – Overall it was a really nice Bohemian Pilsner. I think it hit the highlights for me and over was a nice offering.
Do I like it? – Yes, I did enjoy this beer. I really like pilsners when it comes to the “lighter” beers. I think that they offer something interesting and flavourful. This one was certainly a very nice beer and I really enjoyed it. Just in time for this warm weather.

I’ve got some more posts lined up and look forward to getting them up. Thanks for following along.

-Beer Winnipeg

Torque – Foundation American Pale Ale

Torque - Foundation - 2018

So, this is going to be less of a review and a bit more of a write-up on the beer style and why I think it’s awesome. Torque has consistently been doing fun things with beer since they opened over a year ago. They’ve always got interesting beers on at their taproom and have been putting out a wide-range of brews for us to enjoy in bottles and cans. One such beer is their “Foundation” American Pale Ale.

American Pale Ales (APA) are, obviously, pale, refreshing and well hopped but with the right amount of malt backbone to balance the beer. The opportunity to select from hops can give this beer a range and either reflect classic hops or new world hops. Generally, an APA is more accessible than an IPA while still providing a hop forward flavour.

The APA is a modern American craft beer adaptation of the English pale ale. These beers tend to reflect ingredients that can be sourced by the brewery locally. While these beers are an American craft beer invention, the desire to source locally means that this Italian version will hopefully have a little bit of that old-world flare.

Prior to the explosion of popularity of the IPA, the American Pale Ale was the most well-known and popular of the American craft beer styles.

What makes the American Pale Ale from Torque so much better is that it supports charity. Last year they raised over $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity from the sale of Foundation at their taproom and in twelve-packs. Not only that, but it’s an easy drinking, refreshing, and well-hopped beer that is perfect to enjoy in this warm weather.

This year Torque has partnered with the Never Alone Foundation to raise funds in support of those affected by cancer. Torque will be donating $4 from every case of foundation to this worthy cause. The beer is launching this week and I really recommend people get out and pick some up. Not only do I think the beer is well done, it’s also for a great cause. If you are looking to stock your fridge with something that is refreshing, well-hopped and supports a great cause, Foundation is the beer for you.

I also want to highlight that I’ve been mistaken the past couple of weeks with the next beers from Torque. Torque’s “Czech Please” Czech pilsner will be out shortly and that will be followed by Magnetic North Hefeweizen and a six-pack of their Hazy Whaler New England IPA.

I’m off to Nova Scotia for work this week so I may not get a chance to post a Friday Beer news. I’ll certainly be tweeting about east-coast beers and look forward to trying out some of what’s new.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Torque – Fake News

The beer scene here in Winnipeg is exploding. Oxus has officially released it’s first beers with more on the way. Kilter has announced their location at 80 Sherbrook Street adding even more awesomeness to that neighbourhood, Trans Canada announced it’s first core beer with an Amber Ale (still hoping that Brett Pale Ale will make it to the list of cores) and breweries keep pumping out fun beers I want to try like Strawbarian Milkshake IPA coming out today from Barn Hammer.

I also want to take a quick opportunity to highlight a couple of upcoming events.

First, Joel Carleton of Bee’s Knees is partnering with Winnipeg Tasting Tours for a Beer and Chocolate tasting. It sounds delicious, so if you like those things and are curious about them being paired together, consider checking it out.

If you don’t have plans for this weekend, you should check out the Brandon Beer Festival. It’ll have a bunch of local breweries as well as others from outside of the province. It’s been growing as the years go on and it’s a fun event. Check out details here.

Now with that, to the main reason for this post. I’ve written about Torque on many occasions and feel that they are really pumping out some fun and unique beers. I wanted to take a chance to write about their Russian Imperial Stout.

Fake News – Russian Imperial Stout

Torque has become a fun brewery here in Winnipeg. From their start they’ve focused on producing a variety of beer options and have always made sure to keep their taproom stocked with some new small batches for people to try out. This Russian Imperial Stout is a different recipe from last years’ Konstantine but still brings the same rich, velvety approach to a Russian imperial stout. It also pokes a bit of fun at our neighbours to the South.

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

ABV – 10%
Appearance – Pours a deep dark black with a nice tan head.
Smell – Smell roast malt, cocoa and some subtle vanilla.
Taste – There is a nice roasted malt flavour here as well as some of that cocoa and malt sweetness. The flavours are a bit disparate right now. The beer was good, but I think it will get better with some time.
Mouth Feel – Good carbonation with a velvety mouth feel.
Overall Thoughts – Overall it was a pretty good Russian imperial stout. I’m a fan of this style and I wasn’t disappointed.
Do I like it? – Yes, I did enjoy this beer. As I said above, the flavours are all there but they don’t quite work with one another yet. I have more than one bottle and I am going to let the others sit a bit. I look forward to trying it with a bit of age.

I am a bit late getting this out, so I am not sure if you’ll find this anywhere. They only produced a limited number of bottles. If you got some, good on ya. If you got more than one, I’d set one aside.

I’ve got some more posts lined up and look forward to getting them up. Thanks for following along.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Torque – Borealis Gruit

Well, it’s official, there are a ton of interesting beers being made locally. I am having a hard time keeping up. The amount of new stuff happening in Winnipeg is truly awesome. Today I want to take an opportunity to do a write-up of a unique local beer. Torque Brewing brewed a Gruit. This is a unique and interesting style of beer and I want to write about.

I’ve written about Torque on many occasions and feel that they are really pumping out some fun and unique beers.

Borealis – Gruit

Gruits are an ancient style of beer that finds it origins somewhere around 700 CE. The Gruit reached the height of its consumption between the 9th and 13th centuries. Like many other ancient beer recipes, it was the women from whom this ale was produced. The recipe would be passed down through the generations. As time progressed, it shifted to being a task done within monasteries. The monastic communities gained economic prowess, having the best harvests, the best fabrics, etc… and they soon moved into producing beer.

During this time the gruit was a lot different than what we find today. Being made of an often-top-secret blend of herbs and spices. During the height of its popularity, the Gruitier was held in high regard and often had body guards to help protect the recipe. Holding positions of high regard and often luxurious houses, gruitiers all proclaimed their recipe to be the best and often boasted healing or medicinal properties. The use of the herbs and spices had a more practical reason, to keep the beer from spoiling. As hops were not used, these beers needed some other means of keeping for longer periods.

Today, a Gruit is a top-fermented ale that will still use blends of herbs, spices, or citrus. Most gruits produced today do use some level of hops but do so in a way that it imparts no hop flavour on the beer itself. Rather, these beers focus on being clean and imparting flavours from the use herbs, spices and botanicals. The Borealis gruit from Torque that we are trying today uses spruce tips (I love spruce tips), bog myrtle, yarrow, and juniper.

ABV – 6.5%
Appearance – Pours an amber with a slight haze, with a small bit of white foam that dissipates quickly.
Smell – Easily identifiable notes of spruce tips. Juniper is present on the nose as well. I am not familiar with the aroma of Yarrow or Bog Myrtle.
Taste – Malt sweetness on the front of this beer with a nice taste of those spruce tips and some juniper. The beer is clean and finishes nicely.
Mouth Feel – Good carbonation with nice bubbles and a dry salt finish.
Overall Thoughts – I’ve had the opportunity to try several gruits due to the availability of many this international gruit day. I found this one to be right up there and brought a lot of nice flavours to this unique style. When using botanicals over hops in a beer you rely on them to bring the balance, and this certainly was nice.
Do I like it? – Yes, I did enjoy this beer. I found the use of spruce tips and juniper to be really pleasant. I feel a need to get more familiar with yarrow and bog myrtle after drinking this and am overall impressed.

This beer is available at liquor marts, the Quality Inn Craft Beer Store, and at the brewery itself. Get out there and pick it up (along with a few others to try out). 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.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Torque – One Year In


When I first started writing this blog we had three breweries in Manitoba. Today, we have nine with more on the way. What’s even more, we are hitting the anniversaries of some of these breweries and I, for one, am interested in looking back.

I sat with John Heim, president of Torque Beer Co. and the new president of the Manitoba Brewers Association to talk about their first year. I wanted to take a minute to look back at their first year and ask him about what they’ve learned, what they would do differently, and where are they going form here.

When they first opened Torque came out of the gate with a large capacity, immediate packaging and selling directly from Liquor Marts and beer vendors. They didn’t focus on getting their taproom open first but getting their beer out the door. This helped them enter the market with a wide reach and bring their beer to a larger group of people.

The Torque Founders 2016/2017

While starting off strong, Torque had early on made the decision to have a Helles, a lager requiring 8 weeks from brewing to packaging, which meant that it took longer to cycle that beer out into cans reducing the capacity for other beers that require less conditioning. This decision along with the admirable community mindset of Torque meant that they were using their brewery to produce other beers besides their own.

While these decisions ended up both producing a delicious beer and cementing Torque as a stellar community member, it also delayed them finding their stride. With all that said, I think everyone would agree that Torque has managed to produce some tasty, interesting and numerous beers.

As well, John explained that if he could do it again, he’d like to have more man power at the start. They’ve recently added a third brewer to their team, Tyler Sattler (formerly of Fort Garry Brewing) and a full-time tap-room manager named Hannah. While, according to John, they are just now starting to hit their stride, if what they accomplished over the past year was them “finding their stride” I can’t wait for this next year.


In this upcoming year Torque is hoping to expand their space by another 6000 sq/ft to accommodate the multiple dry-good needs they have. They’ve started using superbags of malt which will help them keep up with demand and have a variety of can variations that take up a lot of space.

As they’ve continue with their focus on helping the craft beer community, helping with distribution for PEI brewing company, Dark Horse Wine and Spirits, Craft Beer Imports, and 49th Parallel, they could also use some more cold storage and tanks which means they need more room to store the dry-goods as well. Another 6000 sq/ft would go along way. John also thinks a silo for malt might be in the future.

With the recent hiring’s, it lets John focus on the higher-level thinking and his new role as MBBA president. He is looking at working with other MBBA members to change the occupancy rules for taprooms so that events are easier to hold. With a 50-person max, despite space, it makes it hard to throw a birthday bash. John is also looking at finalizing Torques website, working with their sales manager Raj to get them out to more restaurants and venues, and talking to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority about expanding to SK with their variety packs.

The first year has flown by and John and the team at Torque are trying to focus on looking forward. They are working on getting their website up and running that will provide details on beers, location, merch and where you can find them on tap. They are also hoping to hold more events and connect with other local vendors to bring beer and cuisine together.

Overall, John feels that they’ve really honed in on their production. They’ve implemented efficiencies in their canning line to allow for one person to operate it reducing waste and beer loss. They’ve hired new brewers to help fill the gaps and relieve the pressure that was once there and they’ve really focused on ensuring that the product they sell is something they would be proud of.


I’m excited for this next year and excited to share with you some of the bigger batches of beers we will be seeing from Torque over the next 12 months. Just know that alongside this they’ll have their small batches available at the brewery only. In fact, they are adding more small batch fermenters so that they can do more small batch brews.

Torque release schedule (unless otherwise noted – 473ml cans):

September/October 2017 – Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin Ale
November 2017 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2017 – Winter Survival Pack (6x355ml – Smoked Coffee Porter, Dunkleweizen, Wee Heavy, Wheat Wine, Diesel Fitter and a Double IPA.)
January 2018 – Bumper Shine Winter Ale
February 2018 – A Gruit using local botanicals – 500ml Bottle.
March 2018 – Konstantine Russian Imperial Stout – 500ml Bottle.
April 2018 –  Dopplebock – 500ml bottles
May 2018 – Czech Pilsner
June 2018 – Magnetic North Hefeweizen
July/August 2018 – Summer Pack (possible variation on beers)
September 2018 – Witching Hour
October 2018 – Fest beer (Marzen or Oktoberfest) – 500ml bottle
November 2018 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2018 – Winter Survival Pack

I’m pretty excited for a lot of the beers on this list. I encourage everyone to continue to support local beer and to get out and try these beers. Some of them will be quite interesting.

I hope to continue to follow-up with the breweries as they hit milestones. Peg Beer Co. and Barn Hammer Brewing have both also hit their one year anniversaries. I hope to check in with them soon. I’m also going to be checking in with Stone Angel this week as they approach opening and talking to the founder of North City Growlers. So follow me on WordPress and twitter to keep up with the latest.

– Beer Winnipeg

Torque – Two Months In

torque-logo

Open for just over two months, Torque has entered the craft beer market in Winnipeg with a tour de force. That they have such a large brewing capacity combined with the fact they are the first of the new breweries to can has meant they are quickly building a name for themselves as makers of a high-quality and delicious craft beer.

The taproom at Torque is under construction. John Heim indicated they hope open in the next few weeks. After the construction phase the team must install their PoS system, and determine noise levels and seating arrangements.  They are going to move their test batch fermenters into the growler fill area (I wonder why) and will fill directly from the line (after purging with CO2). Look for an announcement on Twitter as John indicated they’d likely be doing a special taproom opening event.

When I stopped by Torque to see how things were going, they were just getting their canning line setup to do 12oz cans for their variety packs. They hope to have this coming out in the near future. We can pin the blame for the delay on one of their beers: since their Helles is a lagered beer it takes eight weeks from brew to can. This means it takes up a lot of tank space and, as one of their most popular beers, they are finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

torque-canning-line

 

That said, after their first three weeks of brewing, Torque had already found themselves in need of new tanks. They’ve ordered three new fermenters and two new bright tanks to give more capacity for the brews. The need for expanded capacity is urgent as Torque has signed on to contract brew for Lake of the Woods Brewing. Torque will start by brewing the Firehouse Ale but expect to probably do more in the future. The contract is for 100 brews a year, mostly suppling Manitoba.

The popularity of Torque’s beer can’t be overstated: they’ve gone only five of the past 57 days without an order from someone. They’ve recently been put on tap at the King’s Head, Original Joes while The Keg will soon be carrying their beer in cans. Recognizing this, they are working hard to reward supporters who believed in them from the start while still growing to meet demand.

Even though Torque is working hard to keep up with demand for its four flagship beers, they aren’t going to allow themselves to get stagnant. They have a “Finish Line IPA” coming to growler bars in November. This is their Red Line IPA but done with local flower hops from Prairie Gem Hop Farm. They also have a Dunkelweizen that is planned for the growler bars in December and are looking to release a “Winter Pudding” winter warmer in January.

On top of all this brewing, Torque is looking to get their barrel program underway. Working with Ken Yost, they are looking to start doing barrel-aged sours as well as barrel-aged beers such as Russian imperial stouts and Belgian Strong beers. They also want to work with the new local distillery, Capital K, to get some whiskey barrel-aged beers on the go.

If you are interested in connecting with the folks from Torque, they are very active in the community and participating in a number of events. Coming up on November 16 they will be at Garbonzo’s (U of W) for their annual Beer Festival which runs from 7 to 10 pm. On November 17, they’ve partnered with Inferno’s on Academy to offer a Beer Dinner: a five-course meal of dishes made with Torque’s beer along with a pairing of beer. Tickets for this are $80 and as of writing they had 20 remaining. You can contact Inferno’s to book.

With all the success Torque has seen so far, they’ve added a second brewer. Torque is very happy to welcome Perry Joyal to the team. He is working closely with Head Brewer Matt Wolfe as they continue to expand their operations.

Overall, things are moving forward at a lightning pace for the folks at Torque. I hope they are able to keep up with their demand as I have been enjoying all of the beers I’ve tried thus far. I’m anxiously awaiting the opening of the tap room and looking forward to trying some of the new brews on the way.

You can find Torque’s beer all over the city, but especially at Liquor Marts and beer vendors like Quality Craft Beer Store on Pembina.

-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

barn-hammer-moonlight-desires

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