Review: Barn Hammer Theodore Augustus Russian Imperial Stout

Aside from the true French wine-like corked beer bottles where you absolutely need a corkscrew to drink the beer (or sabre it), this may have been the most frustrating beer bottle to open in my life. I love Barn Hammer Brewing, I try to meet up with Tyler & Brian at the brewery whenever I'm in town but that's rare now days. They're finally bottling their beer and their Theodore Augustus Russian Imperial Stout bottle is the most frustrating bottle to open.

I am in the minority of beer geeks who actually like wax on beer bottles as it helps preserve the beer better for aging to an extent. However, opening Theodore was a chore and a half - there was (what seemed like) half an inch of wax so my trusty cast iron Torque opener was having trouble chipping away at the wax, then the sharpest knife I could find had just as difficulty to get rid of the wax (and lightly cut myself along the way). I had to put the bottle cap side down under hot water for two minutes until it was good enough where I could just peel it off and finally drink the beer!

Anywho, I'm absolutely happy to see the guys over at Barn Hammer now bottling, even though it's not available in Brandon yet. Barn Hammer is the first brewery to open up in Manitoba since 2006 (Half Pints) and they were the first brewery in Manitoba to give beer drinkers that brewery tasting room experience that every other major (and minor) North American city has been experiencing for at least five years from now.

As you can tell, I was eventually able to get some of the wax off the bottle so I could do a review of their Theodore Augustus Russian Imperial Stout. Theodore Augustus tops out at 10% ABV and a staggering 95 IBU! I love Russian stouts.. and most stouts but I'm a seasonal kind of guy so usually in late April I'd get bored of them.. but it's been a really chilly April so I'm starting to crave them again!

Appearance: Theo pours the typical rich black-as-night stout with a cola brown hue to it. There's a very light amount of creamy beige head on top, mostly at the side of the glass. As the beer is being savoured (pretty quickly), the foam collects to the side of the glass leaving behind a bit of residue.

Aroma: Pretty smooth for a Russian Imperial Stout - I get a liberal amount of cocoa powder right from the beginning that reminds me of my grandma's cakes and cookies. The roasted malt profile is light to moderate, there certainly is a decent amount of coffee aroma to it but not as much as most stouts I've had lately. Barn Hammer describes this as being dark and smooth and I believe it 100%. It's not overly complicated but welcoming at the same time.

Taste: The very first impression I get is a combination of booziness AND roasted malt at the exact same time, giving off a warmth of alcohol and a roasted coffee flavour to it. There's a great deal of cocoa to it giving it a sweet, chocolatey taste to it. There's also an earthy hop presence that's a tad reminiscent of peat that lingers on the palate for a bit at the end. Aside from that, that's about it - simple yet straight forward.

Overall Thoughts: I just realized this was my very first Barn Hammer beer review over here at I've been wanting to review their beer for a long long time but usually Brandon only gets growlers of their beer once every 2-4 months or so and since I'm not from Winnipeg, I'm not lucky enough to visit the tasting room that often. While Theodore Augustus was really straight forward as you could tell, it was simply delicious. I'm happy I bought another bottle but I'm likely going to send that bottle off to a friend in Montreal soon. At $8.50/650mL bottle, this is a serious bargain. It's still available at a few LCs in Winnipeg for now, and likely still at the Quality Inn Beer Store.

Also, don't forget to check out my visit to Barn Hammer from 2016.

Review: Bissell Brothers Swish

Merci à Corey yet again!

When I think of swish when it comes to alcoholic beverages, I think of people who buy liquor barrels just to add water to it to get some of the alcohol out of the wood.. Hell, every time someone here in Manitoba asks me who to contact over at the Crown Royal factory about getting an empty barrel, it's never for home brewing or for decoration, it's to be a cheap weirdo and try to get drunk for cheap.

Bissell Brothers out of Portland, Maine also have Swish but in this case Swish is a Double IPA and not made from extracting liquor from the barrel's wood! Bissell Brothers' Swish is currently regarded as one of the top juicy IPAs on the market right now and with Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts being the frontrunner in the New England IPA scene (duh), it makes sense that Maine would be producing some delicious, juicy, floral beers! Swish is brewed with mosaic, citra, simcoe and apollo hops and tops out at 8.0% ABV and 80 IBU.

Appearance: Swish pours a cloudy, light orange creamsicle body with a moderate amount of snow white head on top and a decent amount of residue on the side of the glass. It kind of looks like Tang or a smoothie for the most part.

Aroma: Incredibly liberal aroma! After I poured the beer into the glass, I sat back a metre or so away from the beer and I could still smell the tropical aromas of the beer. I'm getting notes of pineapple, a sharp bitterness of pine, some other floral and grassy hop notes as well. The hops are very much present and mingles well with the juicy tropical flavours in the beer. Also getting notes of orange peel zest, a mild amount of grapefruit and a bit of lemon for a bit of a tartness.

Taste: So far, this is one of the stronger New England IPAs I've had - It's incredibly juicy with notes of pineapple, orange zest, apple peel and lemon (among other fruits), I also get a heavy hop bitterness that's more reminiscent of your typical classic American IPA - there's a sharp bite of pine and grass lingering all over the place in this beer. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy but not as creamy as the Julius I had the other day. There's a bit of a throat burn from the hops but it's so so so so worth it just to be able to savour each and every sip!

Overall Thoughts: Amazing juicy IPA with a very solid bitter appearance from the medley of hops used for this beer. At 8%, I can definitely taste the booziness in this beer since I'm getting a bit of a burn from it but yum! For the most part, this is to be savoured and not to be drunk quickly. Enjoy!

Review: Unibroue Éphémère Sureau (Elderberry)

Yesterday I reviewed Unibroue's 2017 edition of Seigneurial after a four year lapse since the last time I tried the beer. Today I'm checking out Unibroue's Éphémère Sureau (Elderberry) fruit beer as part of the 2017 Unibroue Sommelier Summer mix pack.

I'm not a fan of Unibroue's Éphémère line, in fact - I'd rather see four bottles of Blanche de Chambly in each taster pack than two bottles of any Éphémère beer but the mix pack is meant to satisfy the beer geeks with La Fin du Monde and Seigneuriale while Blanche de Chambly and Éphémères are for those casual beer drinkers or fruit cooler fans. I think Unibroue doesn't realize that most people who buy the Sommelier mix packs are mostly snobs/geeks as it is. Ah well..

The newest beer in the long line of Éphémères is the Elderberry (Sureau). I've never had Elderberry before so I'm not sure what to expect.

Appearance: Éphémère Sureau pours an opaque and heavy ruby red ale with a lot of yellowish/beige head on top. Like La Seigneuriale, I had to wait a while for the initial head to diminish. Once the head diminishes, it leaves half a finger's worth of yellowish/beige head with no trace of residue on the side of the glassware surprisingly.

Aroma: This is actually bringing me back memories of 2011 when Unibroue had a Cassis version of Éphémère. The Cassis (Blackcurrant) and Framboise (Raspberry) varieties are the only ones I actually liked to buy so I'm feeling really nostalgic because of the cassis-like notes. The aroma is pretty sharp with a liberal amount of sweet yet incredibly tart fruitiness in it. It's a bit reminiscent of Saskatoon berry but for the most part - cassis. It almost has a sweet Hubba Bubba bubble gum aroma to it, somewhat syrupy, a bit salty, light amount of floral notes, and a decent amount of tartness to it.

Taste: It has a floral and herbal flavour to it with the initial flavour reminding me of the herbs used in a good marinara sauce (such as oregano). There's a good deal of saltiness in there which is a surprise, a hint of spiciness hitting the middle of the tongue, a light sweetness with a good deal of tartness that reminds me of the cassis beer. Since it has notes that reminds me of marinara sauce, it does have a good deal of vegetal notes in there that I don't see often in a fruity beer. There's a bit of that Hubba Bubba bubble gum taste to it.. reminiscent of the grape flavour from my childhood.

Overall Thoughts: I still wish Unibroue would put in a different beer rather than bringing out a new Éphémère beer every six months. I know there's people who love the fruity beers Unibroue comes out but I'm not one of them. I'll be buying at least two more of this mix pack over the course of the next month or two so I'll be drinking this either way seeing as I don't like seeing beer go to waste. It's surprisingly vegetal with notes reminiscent of cassis and Hubba Bubba bubble gum. Not the worst in the series but doesn't compete with the actual Éphémère Cassis.

Review: Unibroue Seigneuriale (2017)

Time seriously flies. It's been over four years since the last time I visited Quebec City, the city that influenced my beer tastes more than any other place.

So way back in April 2013, as soon as I arrived in Quebec City I needed to pick up some beer for the hotel room for when I got back from pub hopping. The very first beer I picked up was Unibroue's Seigneuriale Ale because I never heard of the beer before that day. Actually, it turns out that the same day as I first found out about Seigneuriale, it was also now available in Manitoba as well! While in Quebec City, I just had to review this beer - which I did - even though there were hundreds of other non Unibroue beers I could've reviewed instead!

Appearance: Unibroue's Seigneuriale pours a really hefty, murky, almost muddy brown ale with a bit of a cherry wood reddish hue to it. There's a very liberal amount of foam on top so I had to let this beer settle for a few minutes - it's a light yellowish beige head that gradually does diminish to just a bit of foam on top as well as film on the side of the glass. Thankfully this wasn't a gusher at all!

Aroma: Notes of caramel, dark fruits such as raisin and prunes, and an aroma that's reminiscent to Raftman without the smokiness to it. There's a great deal of that typical Unibroue yeastiness you see in all of main staples, which is exactly what I said back in 2013! A hint of woodiness, a hint of pepper and a hint of apple peel at the very end.

Taste: The taste of Unibroue's classic yeast comes out as the very first thing I notice about the flavour - a yeasty, slightly sweet doughy flavour. It has a hint of iron-like taste, notes of plum, a hint of apple peel sweetness, a smidge of lemon and a hint of spiciness at the back. There's a moderate amount of woodiness to it making it a bit reminiscent to the current version of Raftman sans-fumée. La Seigneuriale is fairly sweet but it's also pretty heavy and moderately dark as well so I'm finding this more of a sipping and savouring beer, even compared to La Fin du Monde. Lastly, I'm finding there's a bit of an earthy hop presence that leaves behind a bit of a peat-like aftertaste on the palate.

Overall Thoughts: I haven't had this beer in nearly four years even though I have five or so bottles aging from back in 2013 that I forgot all about. The beer tastes nearly identical to what I thought it tasted like in 2013 but I'm noticing a lot more earthiness (ie peat) and spiciness in it this time around. This beer brings me back great memories of Quebec City - Chez Ashton at 3AM, pints with friends, seeing Les Cowboys Fringants live and making me wish I was back in Quebec City now. I'm planning on going to Montreal for Mondial de la Bière for the second year in a row and hopefully with that trip I'll have time to do a day trip to Quebec City for old times sake.. I guess it's a wait and see sort of thing because I don't know how I will be able to afford it. Santé!

Check out my review from 2013

Review: Beau's Buenos Dias Gruit Ale

A gruit is an ancient style of beer brewed without hops back when hops weren't readily available. Instead of hops, the beer used a variety of herbs to give it the bitterness it needs. If you've never had a gruit before, well.. you're not the only one. Prior to Beau's Buenos Dias, the only other gruit I ever had in my life was the Gruit from New Belgium Brewing, and only in a flight sample so I don't even remember trying it.

We all know Beau's is pretty experimental when it comes to beer, and it's no surprise seeing that they're sourcing organic ingredients as much as possible so seeing an organic gruit is nothing out of the ordinary for this Vankleek Hill brewery. The beer is going to be arriving in Manitoba in upcoming days so I got the chance to check out this product at the Brandon Beer Festival before people in Winnipeg for once!

Appearance: Buenos Dias pours a lightly cloud straw yellow with a minimal amount of carbonation and a light amount of snow white head on top, mostly around the rim of the glass.

Aroma: The first thing I notice is hops but seeing that there's no hops being used in this beer, it's the herb mixture used that gives it a bit of a piney, sprucey and grassy aroma to it. Wait a minute.. looking at the label.. it does use hops - the perle variety.. so Beau's is a big fat phony (or not, they never said that it didn't have hops in first place).

Ahem.. back to the smelling notes.. I'm getting a slight hint of a gose-like aroma in there with a light sour Belgian blonde ale with a sprinkling of sea salt. Notes of lime, lemon and a hint of cucumber. The name is pretty fitting so far because it reminds me of Cinco de Mayo quite a bit so far.

Taste: Reminiscent of a saison as I'm getting mostly citrusy, yeasty notes up front at the beginning - notes of lemon, lime, a light grassiness and a whole lot of herbal. The herbal notes are reminiscent of the aroma but more of a spruce and cucumber sort of flavour to it. There's a light sour bite that's reminiscent to a specific saison I used to love.. but I can't put my finger on which saison. Mild amount of saltiness like a gose. It's fairly light on the palate and easy to drink considering all I'm tasting - no wonder why it was a hit at the Brandon Beer Festival!

Overall Thoughts: A solid gruit with some herbal notes to it, some notes in there that remind me of saisons and gose and a lot of citrusy goodness that makes this beer perfect for the patio on Cinco de Mayo. I was expecting this beer to have no hops in it seeing that the traditional Gruit didn't contain hops, but hey.. it's current year, hops are plentiful now!

Review: Tree House Brewing's Julius

I've been really lucky lately being able to try beers I would usually never get to try in my life unless if I travelled a few thousand KM. Thanks Corey! Tonight I'm checking out Julius by Tree House out of Monson, Massachusetts. Juicy IPAs are all the rage and then some right now, every brewery's making them and Tree House is one of the breweries that turned the style from something experimental to one of the more sought after beer styles by all beer geeks.

Appearance: When I first pour Julius into the glass, it pours a thick, creamy orange creamsicle beverage in a glass.. so to say that it's a juicy IPA would be an understatement here! The beer settles and it starts to resemble heavy orange juice but with a hint of a copper hue to it. There's a moderate amount of white creamy head on top but it mostly ends up sticking to the glassware.

Aroma: Tropical! It's giving off notes of orange juice, mango, a hint of pine, pineapple, a mild note of NE yeastiness, and even more tropical sweetness making its way up to my nostrils at the very end. It has an almost beer mimosa vibe to it as it's just that juicy!

Taste: This beer has the flavours I'm seeing almost all breweries attempting now days - a heavily tropical fruit forward IPA that is balanced with the hops rather than a hop first sort of mentality. It's incredibly sweet, creamy on the palate, has a great deal of hoppy bitterness that quickly attacks the tongue with pine notes and then retreats. There's fruity notes of pineapple, orange and mango making me think that an IPA fruit smoothie would do really well.. but I don't really want to try it because what if it's a disaster? Maybe one day I'll give that a try.

Overall Thoughts: The theme of this beer: juicy! It wasn't until this past autumn when I started hearing all about these juicy IPAs and finally got to try some.. even if they weren't from New England. Juicy IPAs seem to be a trend that's moving your typical bitter, hoppy as hell, burns your throat, abrasive IPA into this sort of beverage that's almost like a beer drinker's version of a fruit cooler as it's sweet, easy to drink and even a party in your mouth. Julius is sweet, creamy, still retains a great deal of bitterness to satisfy the die hard hop heads and appeals to people who didn't drink IPAs until New England IPAs became a huge trend. To me, this is reminiscent to an IPA mimosa in a can to an extent, so no wonder why the style is called juicy!

Review: Unibroue À Tout le Monde Saison (Megadeth Beer)

I reviewed Unibroue's Blonde de Chambly saison a few weeks back after thinking I did a review here back in 2012 or so, which I did not. Turns out that Blonde de Chambly is being replaced (for now) by the Unibroue-Megadeth collaboration beer À Tout le Monde, I know Blonde de Chambly will make a return.. but for now, it's Megadeth's time to shine. I was told this beer was coming to Manitoba for six months now, I was told to expected it right before Christmas, and then January.. but then they didn't know when. So, now here it is.

I was a huge fan of Blonde de Chambly back in its early days, it was nice and citrusy and complex enough to differentiate itself from the Blanche. I feel like À Tout le Monde may confuse some people with La Fin du Monde but the same thing certainly happened a LOT of times Blonde de Chambly vs Blanche de Chambly at pubs and liquor stores in Winnipeg.. a lot.

Appearance: À Tout le Monde pours a heavily cloudy orange ale with a light amount of carbonation and a light amount of white foam on top.

Aroma: The moment I poured this into the glass I was salivating - it has a rich citrus zest of lemongrass, a hint of bubble gum and even an actual appearance of a bitterness from the hops being used.. that's a first! There's a pinch of pine in there there that gives it a nice hint of bitterness, a sweet wildflower honey scent that's incredibly reminiscent to Unibroue's recent Lune de Miel release, and a light amount of Dove soap. It's definitely got notes that differentiate itself from la Blonde de Chambly but it's not giving off much of a barn yard aroma that most of the saisons I've been drinking tend to have.

Taste: The typical Unibroue yeastiness is the dominant flavour at the beginning, giving off a dry, light cracker flavour to it. There's a light wildflower honey sweetness in there, which I feel is as if they based the recipe a tad off of Lune de Miel.. but probably not. Notes of pear, clove, hint of coriander, bubblegum, and a touch of lemon.

Overall Thoughts: À Tout le Monde is certainly a great tasting saison that's perfect for the warm spring that just popped here in Manitoba, but is it worth the hype? Not really - they had an awesome saison (Blonde de Chambly) over half a decade and put it on hiatus for this beer. Musician and brewery collaborations are all the rage right now and for the most part.. they're pretty tasty - this is no exception. I was hoping for that light pine hoppiness we saw in the aroma to make its way into the flavour of the beer but it just didn't happen, but Unibroue has never been known for hoppy beers to begin with. I will be drinking a lot of this in the coming weeks and months but I'll be reminiscing about Blonde de Chambly for some reason as well. 4.5% ABV / 22 IBU

Fuggles & Warlock Valis Imperial IPA

I consider myself to be one of the biggest fans of Unibroue in the world and I've met others who consider themselves the biggest fans of other breweries in the world.. but only ONE friend of mine was such a super fan of a brewery that he ended up working for them. My awesome buddy Chris was such a big fan of Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks in Richmond BC that when he got a job working for the brewery he loved the most, he was absolutely giddy with joy! Fuggles & Warlocks first arrived in Manitoba only a week or two after their tasting room first opened up last spring and I was instantly wowed by their The Last Strawberry Witbier, to me - it tasted like a Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino, absolutely creamy and fruity!

Today it's all about Fuggles & Warlock's Valis Imperial IPA, a New England influenced Imperial IPA/DIPA from their Experimental IPA series with 9.0% ABV, burusting with aromas of oranges, apricots, stone fruit, tropical citrus, and a dank, yet floral bouquet. Featuring the golden hop and El Dorado Hops. 68 IBU.

Appearance: I'll be flat out blunt, I've been really lucky lately and been able to source some New England (Vermont/Massachusetts) IPAs that everyone is wanting to try right now so I'm kind of a snob about it sometimes. The appearance of this IPA is a golden honey appearance with a lot of carbonation in the beer itself, a light amount of cloudiness, and a mild amount of beige-ish foam on top.

Aroma: This simply smells AMAZING! The very first thing that I get from this beer is the sweet, fruity, tropical notes of pineapple, orange zest, kiwi and a slight hint of grapefruit. This is a really fruit-up-front IPA and this is more sweet than bitter in every instance so far.

Taste: The first thing that pops out in the flavour is a hint of pine to it - which is nice to see in an IPA in this day and age.. kind of rare sometimes. For the majority of the beer, it's fruity and bready. There's a lot of tropical fruit notes that I already described in the aroma - pineapple especially, with a cameo by orange peel zest, a hint of grapefruit and a bit of a sweet honey biscuit flavour at the end.

Overall Thoughts: Every brewery in every part of the world is trying to create the BEST New England IPA and aside from Heady Topper, it's all about tropical flavours and a bit of a honey biscuit vibe to it. This one really does fit in the category well, it's not as sweet and juicy as some - I find some New England IPAs are too juice-forward so this hits right on the point for my tastebuds, it's sweet and tropical but not overly sweet to the point where it's like I'm drinking Tang. This is the second best New England IPA I've ever had by a Canadian brewery, with the first being the limited Codename: Ghost IPA by Half Pints Brewing - that one was absolutely perfect. I love the label on Valis Imperial IPA because it gives off a comic book feel of a super villain who is on his day off not knowing what to do.

Lastly, I'm the kind of IPA drinker who prefers bitter, floral and more piney based IPAs but I do like the surgence in popularity to these tropical New England IPAs because I love an almost-desserty IPA once in a while.. as if this should be a sherbert.

Skunksworth's Barleyslime: Bud Light Grapefruit Radler

But why? 

Well, sometimes I have to review beers so you don't have to. That means I'll have to try new products by Anheuser Busch sometimes.. so that means it's the return of Skunksworth's Barleyslime!

Today I'm taking a look at Bud Light Grapefruit Radler (or more likely just Bud Light Radler to most people), Labatt's third take on a radler this spring! Labatt already makes Lowenbrau Lemon Radler and Shock Top Radler but decided that they weren't taking up ENOUGH of the Radler market so they needed one from a brand that everyone will drink.. thus - Bud Light Radler.

Whistler Chestnut Ale

Review: Tree House Brewing Bright Double IPA

Juicy IPAs are all the rage when it comes to India Pale Ales now days. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to IPAs, I looooooove the bitter, pine and grapefruit forward IPAs but it's more about the sweet, orange peel and pineappley New England-style beers as of recently. Breweries like Tree House Brewing have single handedly influenced the style to become an international beer trend. Tree House's Bright Double IPA is one of the juicy IPAs everyone is talking about. Thanks Corey for the beer! I would have never tried this beer otherwise!

Appearance: Tree House's Bright Double IPA pours a thick and hazy golden-orange IPA, moderate of frothy off-white head on top, a little bit of lacing on the side of the glass, and a light amount of micro-carbonation.

Aroma: Notes of pineapple, fresh pine, a LOT of orange zest, a good deal of lemon and mango, reminiscent of Five Alive from when I was a kid and for some reason that was the only drink in stock at the local snack shack (from near where Corey grew up). There's a hint of breadiness but for the most part it's incredibly sweet and essentially a can of tropical sweetness.

Taste: The first thing I get from Bright is a moderately bitter IPA with a good amount of bitter pine hops, a decent amount more bitter than most New England style IPAs I've had lately. The tropical sweetness of pineapple, orange, lemon and mango gives off a big kick even in the tasting here. What's surprising me is that it's not OVERLY sweet like how some IPAs have been lately.. some of them seem like tropical coolers with hops added instead of an IPA now days, so this is a nice treat as it has a nice moderate pine bitterness with a good amount of tropical fruitiness but not over the top.

Overall Thoughts: Insanely tasty NE IPA! This is what IPAs are becoming now days which is tasty as heck.. but I'm already missing the oldschool bitter piney IPA that was popular for the longest time. This kind of IPA is something I'd love to drink on the patio in the spring and summer as it's very citrus forward, easy to drink and goes well with a nice sunny day! Cheers mon amis (especially Corey!)!

Review: Brasserie Dunham Black IPA

The first time I ever had Brasserie Dunham's beer was LaPatt Porter Robuste thanks to whisky blogger Freaky Whisky! I had the privilege to visit Dunham's tasting room back in June thanks to Alex & Alexe over at Le Malt Incarné! More recently, Brasserie Dunham has been selling a few of their beers in Manitoba including their Berliner Melon Weisse, Saison Rustique and Black IPA. The Black IPA was definitely their most popular beer of the batch because it was an insanely cheap $2.69 per 341mL bottle, more affordable than at most dépanneurs in Quebec apparently! So today I'm checking out their hard to find (in Manitoba) Black IPA!

Appearance: Dunham's Black IPA pours like a rich dark porter with a hefty amount of yellow foam that doesn't want to go away!

Aroma: The very first thing I get from the beer is a rich roasted coffee aroma. There's also a mild amount of bitter hops in there that give off a bit of pine and floral aroma to it, it's a hint grainy even when it's as dark as it is, and a hint of dark chocolate at the end. Reminiscent of a porter or stout for me so far.. but hoppier.

Taste: The taste has a rich roasted coffee flavour to it, a heavy nuttiness that seems to coat my entire palate, a mild pine and earthy hoppiness, dark chocolate and with it being as dark as it is.. I taste a hint of lemon in there as well!

Overall Thoughts: For those looking for a floral or juicy centric IPA, you may not like this, but if you like rich robust porters as well, you will enjoy this a lot. Black IPAs are pretty heavy and roasty compared to their non-Black counterparts but since I like just about any style - I really like this beer. This is great for a chilly winter night yet has a nice typical piney hop presence to it to give it a bit of personality. You can still find this at the Quality Beer Store off of Pembina Ave. in Winnipeg for now.

Review: Yukon Brewing Breakfast at the Brewery Mimosa Kölsch

It's 1AM so that means it's the absolute best time to have a mimosa.. screw sleep, let's have breakfast! Yukon Brewing is bringing out 12 different beerss for Canada's 150th birthday throughout 2017 as well as the brewery's 20th anniversary: some of them are old favourites, others are new recipes and of course there's going to be some unique styles in the mix.

The first time I ever had a beer mimosa was at Unibroue - it was Blanche de Chambly and orange juice and frankly.. it was amazing! The folks over at Yukon Brewing just came out with Breakfast at the Brewery, a kölsch (lagered ale) brewed with four kinds of oranges. The beer tops out at 5% ABV and I absolutely love how Yukon Brewing pays homage to classic films like Breakfast at Tiffany's on their limited release beers.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy, juicy, orange ale with a bit of off-white head on top. The head is just a supporting actor in this beer as the body is the main star of the show - it reminds me of a really heavy witbier or of one of those popular juicy IPAs everyone seems to be making now days.

Aroma: For some reason, this smells exactly like I was expecting it to - it kind of has a gose vibe to it as it's giving off a mild sourness to it with the yeast, a hint of lemon, for some reason some salt, a hint of graininess and a moderate orangey citrus aroma that's giving off mostly marmalade, nectarine and bitter blood orange.

Taste: While the aroma reminded me quite a bit of a gose (which for some reason I was expecting even before buying it), to me.. this is very much a kölsch with a lot of oranges to it.. which is exactly what the beer is aiming for! The first thing I get is a crisp, light yet grainy lagery-like beer that leaves behind a bit of a toasted barley aftertaste, then I get notes of blood orange that gives it a bit of that grapefruity flavour it seems to have.. which I hated until only a few years ago, a bit of a sweet juicy valencia orange and a bit of tangerine in there to be the middle ground between those two, I know there's other oranges in here, but this is all I'm tasting right now. Light amount of saltiness reminiscent to a gose but the mouth-puckering sourness isn't there, in fact - this is pretty much a delight.

Overall Thoughts: I'd like to be drinking this on a morning day off with an additional splash of good not from concentrate OJ but it's past 1AM and the beer has been calling my name since 3:30PM. You do notice the lagered ale (kölsch) notes in this beer but this really does remind me of a beer mimosa to an extent. I'd recommend this to radler, shandy and beer cocktail fans, it's reminiscent of a decent radler or shandy but with a normal 5.0% ABV. Breakfast at the Brewery is very easy to drink and if it was a permanent product in can form, it would sell really well to the radler demographic as it's the least heavy beer I've had all day.

Three great Canadian lagers worth trying

Unibroue Blonde de Chambly

What surprises me is that in the five or so years that I've been a fan of Unibroue's Blonde de Chambly, I've never done a full review of the beer.. I have no idea why. Unibroue's Blonde de Chambly was my go-to beer from 2011 to 2013. I still like to drink the beer once in a while but there's too many new beers to check out so it's hard for me to come back to this at times! I've heard rumours that this beer is being discontinued in Manitoba due to sales but time will tell. Looking on MLCC's website, only a handful of stores have the beer still in stock, so once it's gone, it's possibly gone for good... or until a future Unibroue Sommelier taster pack.

Appearance: La Blonde de Chambly pours a heavy, hazy, sort of orange-yellow body with a hefty amount of off-white head on top. The foam is pretty much present during the entire time.

Aroma: A citrus forward saison with notes of lemongrass, a hint of pepper, a grainy/bready combination from the wheat malt, light floral hoppiness, hint of banana, clove, and a hint of coriander but not to the extent of what we see in la Blanche.

Taste: A pretty dry saison with a hint of pepper to give it a bit of spice, good amount of lemon, clove, a flower-like taste. It's clean and crisp, leaves a light sour aftertaste at the very end. Hint of banana and apple in the background. Light amount of earthiness.

Overall Thoughts: It isn't like most contemporary saisons/farmhouse ales that we all love now days - it doesn't have a barnyard funkiness to it nor does it have an overly yeasty presence either. Aside from that, this is a solid saison with a nice citrus zest, a hint of pepper and a dry finish to it. I'll miss this one but we'll see each other again! Actually, I'm expecting to see À Tout le Monde to make an appearance in the near future... HOPEFULLY.

Microbrasserie Le Castor - Le Moine Féral

I was lucky enough to visit Microbrasserie Le Castor during a bièrcation back in January 2016, I might post photos one day but I didn't really capture many photos that visit. Le Castor is highly regarded in the beer scene as making one of the best Canadian IPAs outside of the West Coast and also one of the best organic breweries in the world. I reviewed their Yakima IPA only about a year after they first opened and while I haven't been able to try many beers by Le Castor over the years, I've been satisfied with the few I've tried.
Today, we're checking out their Le Moine Féral, a blonde Belgian-style Abbey Ale brewed with Brett yeast. I'm not a fan of Brett-styled beers but since they're non existent in Manitoba, I'm actually now getting cravings for the danky, barnyard experimental yeast for some reason.

Appearance: Le Moine Féral pours a heavy, cloudy orange juice-like body, a sort of thick amount of frothy white head on top to start off with but eventually diminishes to a light-to-moderate amount of head mostly concentrated around the side of the glassware and a bit of beer foam skim everywhere else on top. As I got the beer out of the fridge I noticed a very liberal amount of yeast sticking to the bottom of bottle - unfortunately it didn't make its way into my glass.. even with a bit of um.. shaking.

Aroma: I'm finding this beer pretty complex as I'm getting a bunch of different flavours all hitting me all at once. The first thing that I noticed was a mild sourness from the Brett yeast which gave off a light presence of dill. I also got a bit of Dove soap in there, the typical barn yard ickiness we all love in a beer brewed with Brett. There's a good deal of citrus notes (lemon, orange peel) and a surprisingly floral hop presence which shocks me as I bought this back in June! Fairly bready, sweet and even a bit of earthiness popping out here.

Taste: The beer tastes starts off with a combination of the Brett yeast and the hops, giving off a moderate amount of barnyard flavours, a bit of woodiness and a nice amount of light floral hop presence. The Brett is pretty tame in this beer compared to just about every other beer I've tried with this yeast... perhaps it's because a lot of it is at the very bottom? Mild notes of lemongrass, a sweet caramel maltiness, surprisingly smooth and quite dry. Compared to many of the Belgian Abbeys I've drank over the course of the past few weeks, this one is surprisingly insanely smooth and easy to drink, no overly boozy bite in there and not much of a lingering aftertaste at the end.

Overall Thoughts: If I didn't know that this was a Blonde Belgian Abbey, I wouldn't have known. It does have a presence of your typical Belgian Abbey but smoother, not as heavy on the booziness and much drier than what I'm used to from this style - also the Brett makes a difference as subtle as it seems to be. I like this a lot! 8.0% ABV

Review: Samuel Adams Fresh as Helles Lager

Wow, it's been a while since I've reviewed a Boston Beer Co/Sam Adams product, in fact - my most recent Boston Beer Co review was of Coney Island Root Beer, and it's been nearly half a decade since I've reviewed a Samuel Adams beer.

I'm not a lager fan but I've been growing on Helles Lagers thanks to the awesome What the Helles lager by Torque Brewing. I was a big fan of Sam Adams around 2007-2010 when their beers weren't available in Manitoba but I've gotten bored of their beers for the most part. Now for my take on Samuel Adams' Fresh as Helles Lager!

Appearance: This helles pours a crisp, clear, golden straw lager with a great amount of carbonation. There's a few fingers worth of white head on top.. very frothy!

Aroma: This smells great! It's a citrusy lager with notes of lemongrass, a moderate amount of grassy hops, honey and a hint of graininess. This reminds me every so slightly of my old Sam Adams standby - Sam Adams Spring Lager (Alpine Lager).

Taste: Quite a sweet lager with notes of orange blossom, honey, a hint of pepper spiciness, a mild amount of floral hoppiness, biscuits. The beer is crisp and very easy to drink.

Overall Thoughts: Not your typical lager! I'm loving the sweet honey popping at every sniff n sip - it's a reminder that spring is just right around the corner. The hint of pepper is a real surprise but it doesn't come off intrusive but it adds a nice bite to it.. almost like cracked pepper Triscuits but nowhere near as strong. 5.4% ABV

Review: New Belgium Snapshot Ale

Review: Collective Arts IPA No 1 (Collective Project)

My current list of my go-to beers whenever I visit the local LC: Unibroue Lune de Miel, Torque Witty Belgian, Unibroue Trois Pistoles and Collective Arts' Ransack the Universe Hemisphere IPA. Those are my most common beer picks each and every time I visit the nearby LC. Why? Those beers keep me happy!

Collective Arts' Ransack the Universe Hemisphere IPA is by far my ABSOLUTE go-to IPA right now, beating out Driftwood's Fat Tug and Fuggles & Warlock's Destiny IPA.. though I still go out and regularly buy both IPAs! Something about Ransack the Hemisphere just tastes like pure joy to me. So.. when I discovered that the LC was bringing out a limited release of Collective Arts Collective Project: IPA No. 1, I was too excited so of course I had to go out and get it.

IPA No. 1 tops out at 7.1% ABV - a bit heavier in alcohol than most IPAs. 80 IBU and brewed with Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe and Citra hops.

Appearance: The IPA No. 1 pours a moderately cloudy orangey-yellow body with the ability to actually see through the glass near the bottom. There's a moderate amount of microcarbonation as well as a pretty moderate amount of off-white head at the beginning that gradually diminishes to film on the side of the glass and a light amount of head on the top of the beer.

Aroma: It's reminiscent to Ransack the Universe to me, it's a sweet, tropical IPA with notes of grapefruit, various sweet fruits such as apricot, kiwi and of course, grapefruit. There's a light candy/sugary like sweetness in there as well but the hops are overpowering just about everything else here.

Taste: Full on tropical. This is almost like an adult version Capri Sun - it's sweet with tropical flavours, enjoyable to drink every sip and I'm going to be sad when my last sip nears. The flavours I'm getting here are papaya, grapefruit, apricot and a hint of kiwi. There's a light amount of a bitter metallic aftertaste at the very end.

Overall Thoughts: This is the kind of IPA that has helped me deal with a super (horrible) cold, heck, this is the single beer that helped numb my pain/suffering while I was dealing with the super (horrible) cold (sans medication). Every time I drink this, whether or not I'm feeling sick or fine - it is like a party in my mouth. I love Collective Arts' artsy labels so I was disappointed that they only used one label for this beer.. but the artwork they did use was pretty awesome.

Review: Hop City Polly Want a Pilsner

I was planning on not trying this beer at all - skipping this beer completely.. but today I was walking around the liquor store across from my workplace (to avoid the windy, rainy stabby-stabby sleet). As I was looking at the minimal single serve craft beer they have on their shelves as they're a small store, I kept thinking "okay I've reviewed this, this, this, not this (because it's swill), this this and this.. I need to try something different." So that's how I ended up picking up a bottle of Hop City's Polly Want a Pilsner - I treated myself to a bottle of Unibroue Blonde de Chambly as an extra push to get me to write this review! Especially since pilsners are one of my least favourite styles of beer.

Appearance: Polly Want a Pilsner pours a pale light-yellow straw beer with a 1/3rd of a finger's worth of white foam on top, it has a bit of a light frothiness to it, slightly frothier than your typical pilsner.

Aroma: Notes of lemon, crackers, sweet malt profile to give it a bit of a honey biscuit flavour to it (but not really honey), wet.. grassy hay, hint of skunky vibe but not really. This is coming off as your typical every day pilsner for the most part. Not as skunky as the brewery owner Moosehead's staple beer.

Taste: Crisp, light, hint of lemon, quite grassy, a mild yet sharp hop bite that gives off a combination of fresh cut grass and a hint of pine bitterness. A hint of apple peel in the background and a light gritty barley bite hitting my palate at the end.

Overall Thoughts: A solid crafty take on a popular style. Not something I'd ever drink again but for the pilsner fans out there - you'll like this. It's crisp, fairly light but with a sharp hop bitterness that hits all of a sudden. Easy to drink, but too light for this guy's palate.

Fernie Brewing's Quite Rye't IPA

Originally posted in The Brandon Sun, May 8, 2015

This week’s beer is Quiet Rye’t Rye IPA by Fernie Brewing out of, you guessed it, Fernie BC! I find Fernie Brewing likes to bring out a new seasonal once every few weeks, to the point that I’m overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Here in Manitoba, they currently have their Quiet Rye’t, Lone Wolf IPA, Sap Sucker Maple Porter, Snowblind Belgian IPA and Kickstand Honey Kolsch available in single serve bottles - that’s more than the single serve products by Fort Garry and Half Pints combined! My favourite of theirs so far was What the Huck Huckleberry Wheat Ale, which was gifted to me by CBC Music’s Grant Lawrence - whose father actually grew up in the Onanole area!

Quiet Rye’t is part of Fernie’s Bucket List IPA series of beers, which is a series of one-off experimental IPAs ranging from bready yet sweet and citrusy to bitter and piney. Seeing Quiet Rye’t is brewed with a decent amount of rye malt, I expect this to be more of a moderate IPA rather than bitter.

Quiet Rye’t pours a fairly clear caramel amber ale, reminiscent to beers like Sleeman Honey Brown or Half Pints’ Bulldog Amber Ale, very reddish/caramel hue to it. Fairly decently carbonated with just a light amount of foam on top. The aroma has a nice sweet caramel sweetness to it, followed by fresh hops from the Pacific NorthWest, which gives it a very floral, parfumic yet bitter aroma to it - a bit of a pine aroma to it. A bit of a spicy, peppery aroma coming from the rye malt. Fairly bready. The taste starts off lightly spiced from the rye malt, giving it a bit of a hint of peppery bite to it, followed by a rich breadiness that can be best described as Winnipeg Rye Bread. The hops quickly make an appearance, giving it an earthy, floral, and somewhat bitter pine bite to it. There’s also a hint of caramel to give it a bit of a sweetness to top it all off. The thing that surprises me most is that it’s very easy on the palate, it’s very smooth, a bit creamy on the tongue and very easy to drink.

I’ve found Fernie’s beers to be hit or miss but they’ve improved a great deal since the first time I’ve tried their beers back in 2012. Lightly spiced, nice breadiness, not overwhelmingly bitter so I’d recommend this to beer geeks who aren’t a fan of “in your face” hoppy bitterness. 6.7% ABV and available in 650mL bottles at Liquormarts in Brandon for $6.50/bottle. Stock for BC beers are always limited in Brandon, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is completely gone by mid next week. 4/5 pints

Garrison Winter Warmer

It's that time of year for me - I'm coming up with a bad cold. I've never really had bad bad colds compared to most people but usually I'll have a sore throat/aching nose/face for a bunch of days, nothing where I need to run to the bathroom to barf every 5 minutes.. thank goodness! Every time I take a swallow, it feels like sandpaper rubbing against my throat.. the only thing keeping me sane is beer even though my senses aren't up to norm at the moment.

Tonight's review is Garrison Brewing's Winter Warmer Ale. I really enjoy a good Winter Warmer alongside great Scotch Ales and Barley Wines, those boozey, caramelly treats are always a delight in middle of winter, especially when I'm coming up with a bad cold.. the alcohol numbs the pain for the slightest moment! ON TO THE BEER!

Appearance: Garrison's Winter Warmer pours a slightly cloudy ruby red ale with a light amount of beige foam on top. As I let the beer warm up, the head diminishes to a foam line close to the side of the glass.

Aroma: Notes of raisins, caramel, well spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, a hint of a booze burn on my nostrils and a hint of brown sugar. So far the beer's looking great!

Taste: The first thing I notice is a bit of the grain popping out giving it that farm yard taste to it. There's notes of sweet caramel, the spices turn up again (cinnamon, nutmeg), an earthy hop bitterness that leaves behind a light bitter sensation on the tongue, and there's a hint of booziness in there at a point.. it's only 7%!

Overall Thoughts: I would have preferred this more around Christmas time but hey.. it's still winter and I really like the nicely spiced flavours complimenting the caramel sweetness. Great style of beer for a chilly winter night like today. (Currently -17C)

Garrison Star Trek Golden Annivesary Ale (2016)

Fernie Brewing's The Real Peel Grapefruit IPA

Today I'm checking out The Reel Peel Grapefruit IPA by the folks over at Fernie Brewing out of Fernie, BC. I've reviewed a few of Fernie's beers out of their popular Bucket List IPA Series already.. for the most part the IPA series has been fairly decent, nothing overwhelming but still decent at least.

Oh crap.. apparently this IPA is pretty old but I recently bought it at an LC.. so I might as well still try to review it as I already put my time into it already!

Appearance: The Real Peel starts out very foamy as soon as the cap comes off, it gives off a lightly cloudy orangey appearance, good amount of carbonation and thick amount of off-white head that slowly diminishes to one finger's worth of head. A liberal amount of foam sticks to the side of the glass as the beer gradually goes down.

Aroma: Grapefruit seems to be the main aspect of the beer as I get a liberal dose of grapefruit. I get a bit of a light sour note in there - lemon and a very gritty yet sweet graininess that takes me back to all the brewery tours I've had over the years. Light perfumy.

Taste: Grainy to start off, followed by notes of grapefruit and grapefruit peels. There's a mild bitterness to it mostly diminishes a second or two after it hits the palate. Hint of lemon and caramel. Not overpowering, very easy to drink and only leaves a trace bitter aftertaste at the end.

Overall Thoughts: While I generally want more of a hop bite to it, the grapefruit comes out decently in this beer, as does the lemon and barley. Easy to drink.. in fact a bit too easy to drink. I probably won't buy this again unless if I forgot I had this in a few years time, it's decent but there's just too many IPAs out there for me to try right now.

Review: Parallel 49 Mystic Skull No. 5 Dark Lager

It's been quite a while since I last saw a Parallel 49 beer in a bigger, seasonal release bottle - so it's nice to see their beer selection increasing here in Manitoba! Tonight I'm checking out their Mystic Skull #5. Mystic Skull #5 is described as being a dark lager inspired by the Vienna Lagers brewed in Mexico, Mystic Skull No. 5 is light and crisp with bready, toasty malt flavour. Brewing this beer with traditional ingredients used in mole sauce give this cerveza its aromas of chili spice, cumin, cinnamon and chocolate.

Appearance: Mystic Skull pours a bright amber caramel red lager with a light amount of carbonation, a light amount of beige head on top but starts off with a whole finger's worth of head when pouring into the glass but diminishes into a light amount of head around the edge of the glass almost immediately.

Aroma: So when I was smelling from the bottle, I seriously couldn't smell anything. Once I poured it into the glass some of the scents finally popped out. I got a bit of a smell of caramel, raisins and wet paper. The malt aroma is sharp and not really enjoying it - I can't pinpoint exactly what I'm smelling. Some are saying it's the cumin but I'm not familiar with the spice so I'm not sure what it is. It almost reminds me of an oxidized amber ale.

Taste: Starts out with the taste of tortilla chips (without the salt), followed by a hint of saltiness (oddly enough), a hint of caramel malt and again, a bit of a wet paper taste in there. It's comparing itself to being inspired a bit by Mexican hot chocolate but this tastes nothing like Mexican hot chocolate. The only thing I'm actually liking about this beer is that there's an interesting spice presence (likely from the cumin) that warm up the back of my mouth ever so slightly. Not noticing even the faintest hint of chili spice, cinnamon or chocolate.

Overall Thoughts: Sure not worth $6.00 + taxes. There was a weird sharp taste in there that just rubbed me the wrong way. Not only that, I kept getting the taste of wet paper which shouldn't be happening.. I can't see this beer being in the MLCC warehouses for several months next to a radiator or anything. The reviews over at seem to be agreeing with me. Maybe there's something I'm just missing in this beer? Let me know.

5.5% ABV

Review: Double Trouble French Press Vanilla Stout

It's been a while since I've reviewed a Double Trouble beer.. in fact.. it was back in 2015 when I last reviewed their beer, and it was for the Brandon Sun.

Double Trouble's French Press Vanilla Stout has been in my fridge before but an asshole roommate stole it so I was never able to even try it. I'm sad that their Fire in the Rye isn't available in Manitoba anymore.. but their collaboration lager with Trailer Park Boys should be coming to Manitoba sometime in the hopefully near future.

Today I'm finally checking out Double Trouble's French Press Vanilla Stout.

Appearance: Thick like motor oil, burnt caramel head, just a hint of a ruby red hue in there at the base.

Aroma: Notes of moderate roasted coffee with a great deal of fresh vanilla bean and a moderate amount of milk chocolate - not that bitter at all. Very easy on the nose.

Taste: Certainly stronger on the palate than what I saw in the aroma. The roasted coffee flavour comes out more here than in the aroma, rich dark chocolate, a nice vanilla bite that - combined with the chocolate flavours gives off a really rich and powerful vanilla/chocolate swirl to the tastebuds. Very creamy, light amount of bitter aftertaste but diminishes quickly.

Overall Thoughts: Great deal of vanilla in this stout, it works well with the chocolate and coffee notes in here quite well, make it reminiscent to a great, creamy mocha stout at some points.

Review: Farmery's Pink Lemonale

Review: Black Bridge Brewing's Smoked Porter

Review: Garún Icelandic Stout Nr. 19 (Borg Brugghús)

Originally posted in The Brandon Sun, July 24, 2015

If you have visited the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart lately, you would have noticed that a lot of your favourite spirits have been moved around. They are currently adding more shelf space to accommodate a larger selection of rums, whiskies, wines and beers.
So for the beer fan like myself, this means that more of Canada’s best beers will be appearing at 10th & Victoria! For me, this means that hopefully I don’t have to travel all the way to Winnipeg to pick up a one-off product by Phillips or Red Racer. With the single serve beer area getting more space, I’ve noticed a few new beers popping up already including Central City's Mayor Kolsch Ale, Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Lemon Chifon Crueller Ale (which is over $20 per 750mL bottle - don’t buy it unless if you like the taste of lemon throat lozenges) and Garún Icelandic Stout.

Iceland isn’t well known for their beer but they make one of the best stouts I’ve ever tasted - Lava Smoked Stout. Lava is a perfect example of all things Icelandic - it’s smokey, sweet, dark and mysterious yet welcoming. Unfortunately Lava Stout hasn’t been available in Manitoba for three years now. Garún Icelandic Stout may not be a Lava Smoked Stout, but according to sites like where it scored ratings as high as 98/100, I believe Garún will likely be a good replacement for Lava.

I honestly don’t remember the last time I had a stout because it’s summer! Summer is for all things citrusy, light and fruity! Garún tops out at 11.5% ABV so this is one of the strongest beers available in Manitoba, but since it’s in a 330mL bottle, I don’t think people are going to get drunk on it as easily as if it was in a 650mL bottle. Garún pours a thick, black beer with a cola brown hue to it.
The head is creamy, thick, frothy and yellowish-brown - reminiscent of cookie dough. The aroma is sweet, caramelly with notes of raisins, chocolate brownies, hint of roasted coffee beans and a hint of molasses. The chocolate brownie aroma is enough to make me want to dive in to the beer ASAP! When sipping on this, the first thing I notice is that the flavours are overwhelming and pungent, which I find a bit of a surprise because the aroma was fairly light for an Imperial Stout, but considering it’s 11.5%, the booze had to pop out somewheres!
The flavour has rich notes of roasted coffee beans, a strong malt presence that gives it the taste of toffee and raisins. Very sweet and boozey, almost reminiscent of a Barley Wine, in fact - the sweetness made me gag because I didn’t expect it. There’s also hints of dark chocolate, molasses, vanilla and a creamy mouthfeel.

So, was this a good alternative to Lava Stout? Of course! It’s easily one of the better Imperial Stouts I’ve had in my day. It’s strong, sweet, chocolatey and good amount of roasted coffee goodness. While it may not be a smoked stout like Lava, this is in its own category. With Gimli being New Iceland, I would love to see more products from Garún makers Borg Brugghús available in Manitoba. You can find this for $4.98 per 330mL bottle at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart. 11.5% ABV
4.5/5 Pints

Review: Epic Brewing's Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout

"Holy good!"
-Cody L. - October 3, 2014

That's all I had to say when I first tried Epic Brewing's Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout.. so it's got to be good! Unfortunately for me $19 CAD per 650mL bottle, Big Bad Baptist was a purchase that I couldn't justify paying because I'm simply just.. poor. Sure, if I cut down on my beer consumption and only had one or two beers a week instead of more than that, I could afford it.. but pft - I like some of my regular beers as well.

The cool thing about Epic's Big Bad Baptist is that on the bottom right corner of the label they tell you what batch number it is - which is great for those who plan on doing a vertical of various batches of Big Bad Baptist.. but those people are rich, lucky beer snobs! This batch of Big Bad Baptist is Release #73, which according on their website was brewed on October 12, 2015 and packaged on August 24, 2016, brewed in Salt Lake City, Utah. Malts: Maris Otter Malt, 2-Row Brewer Malt, Crystal, Light Munich Malt T1, 2-Row chocolate malt, 2-row black malt, roasted barley. Hops: Nugget, Chinook, Cascade. Spices: Blue Copper Coffee "Guatemalan Blend" and Cocoa Nibs... So it turns out every batch uses a different blend of malts, hops and spices.. huh, that's pretty damned cool!

Appearance: Pours a thick, dark as night stout with a very very light amount of burnt caramel head on top - there's a light amount of head mostly around the rim but in the middle it's mostly sporadic bubbles here and there.

Aroma: A well spiced stout.. spicier than I anticipated. I get notes of deep, rich roasted coffee, a hint of roasted pepper which gives off a mild/kind of liberal amount of heat on the nose. A hint of dark chocolate aaaand that's about it. Not noticing any barrel aging here but we'll likely see that coming up. The aroma makes me think that I'm going to have a bit of acid reflux later on.. but I'll live with that.

Taste: Would I call this "Holy good?" It's good, actually really good.. but I feel a bit disappointed for some reason. Perhaps it's the $19 price tag? Nah, I just need to pick this beer apart a bit more.

So for the flavour, the first thing I noticed was that it wasn't as intense and in your face like the aroma led me to believe.. thank goodness. In fact, the barrel aging does make its way into the taste. I get a great deal of the cocoa nibs up front on nearly every single sip with a light to moderate amount of roasted coffee flavour (yet not as strong as your typical Imperial Stout with coffee) and a subtle but certainly noticeable amount of barrel in the background which gives off that oaky goodness and that typical vanilla flavour that completely compliments the initial chocolatey goodness. Not overly bitter chocolate but bitter enough that for the aftertaste you know that you just had a bit of chocolate in your liquid barley diet.

Overall Thoughts: Would I buy this again? Hell yes I would! At $19 it's too pricey for now but I'd buy two more bottles - one to age and one to send to one of my beer buddies in Quebec. I'm surprised that the spiciness from the aroma didn't pop over in the flavour, but for those who don't like spiciness.. that's a good thing. As I keep drinking this.. the 12.7% ABV is really creeping up on my body.. so share this at a bottle share if you're an awesome friend.. or drink it on a night when you don't want to go out and just watch hockey on TV.

Photos: A visit to Hill Farmstead Brewery

Dogfish Head ApriHop IPA

Oh god.. I'm bad at hoarding beer - I do it too often. This is one of those beers.. I bought this during my bièrcation in Vermont last year but just remembered now that I had this in my fridge. 

I remember a few years back when Dogfish Head was regarded as the best of the best of American craft beer. Since then.. a bunch of breweries have taken over the position of being the best, according to RateBeer and Beer Advocate. Today I'm checking out their ApriHop American IPA - brewed with Pilsner and Crystal malts, massively hopped (Amarillo) and complimented by the addition of apricot juice.

Appearance: ApriHop pours a cloudy caramel amber ale, moderate amount of beige head and a light amount of foam lacing the side of the glass.

Aroma: Mostly bitter with a light touch of apricot sweetness to it. The bitterness gives off a heavy pine aroma, notes of grass and a hint of caramel malt. I was hoping for more fruity apricot popping out but it's alright.

Taste: The pine and grassy hops pop out first and foremost with a light amount of tropical apricot sweetness at the very end which ends up lingering for a few seconds and then disappearing completely. The hops have held up really well here but compared to your typical popular IPAs now days, this one is nowhere near as tropical as say.. Lawson's Sip of Sunshine.

Overall Thoughts: Fairly easy to drink, not as bitter as I'd expect (even when I first tried it), the apricot could be more dominant but it's only a secondary character in this beer. 

Review: Half Pints Le Temps Noir Batch Two

Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, March 11, 2016

Ever since Gimli's Crown Royal Northern Harvest won the award of “World’s Best Whisky” according to a spirits author out of the UK, Northern Harvest has sold out almost immediately at almost every Liquor Mart. Is it the world’s best whisky in my opinion? No, Lot 40 Rye Whisky out of Ontario is even better, but with this being Manitoba and all - it’s great to see a made-in-Manitoba product selling off the shelves the second they arrive to stores. I finally picked up a bottle of Northern Harvest Rye last week upon hearing the news that the Gimli Crown Royal plant is going on strike, time to stock up! By the time you read this, the entire provincial supply of Northern Harvest has likely been completely depleted by now - again.

I wish people talked about beer like they would talk about whisky. I’ve had the pleasure of trying 20 of the 2015’s top 100 beers in the world and what I find surprising is that some of them were available here in Westman at one time including the Westvleteren 12, which is rated as the holy grail of beers to many beer geeks.

Back in 2013, Winnipeg’s Half Pints released a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout called “Le Temps Noir”. Brandon LCs got a few cases of it and it sold out almost immediately. I saved four bottles for myself to taste and age and sent one off to my beer buddies in Montreal. According to my beer buddies out of Montreal, Le Temps Noir was one of the best Imperial Stouts they ever tried, it was liquid gold to their taste buds. I laughed it off because, well.. Quebec’s beer scene is constantly rated the best beer scene in Canada. Well, in 2014, Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir was rated the Number 1 beer in Canada that wasn’t made in Quebec, according to the folks over at To this very day, Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir is rated as the 17th best beer in Canada, only getting defeated by ice ciders by La Face Cachée de la Pomme, Dieu du Ciel and a few other ice cideries. That shows you that we have amazing beer in our own neck of the woods.. let’s savour it!

In January, the Second Batch of Le Temps Noir was released with lots of fan fare. For myself, I bought an entire box of 12 pack (650mL) just so I could hopefully age it without roommates stealing it from me. Le Temps Noir, as said above, is a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. Le Temps Noir tops out at 9.6% ABV, so it’s a boozy treat, so share with friends!

The appearance of Le Temps Noir is a rich dark chocolate stout with a hint of nutty brown for hue, there’s a minimal amount of carbonation and for the head on top, it’s a nice light burnt caramel brown head that’s simply clinging to the side of the glass. The aroma is a dessert in a bottle for me, the first thing that pops out for me is chocolate brownies!!!! Following the brownies is even more chocolate and a moderately rich and spicy American bourbon whisky that’s not anywhere near as strong as your typical bourbon aged ale, but it gives off a nice aroma of oak, vanilla and a hint of caramel malt. To me, the aroma simply reminds me of freshly baked brownies with a bourbon chocolate and caramel sauce on it, my goodness I love it! The taste itself is much more in-your-face than the aroma. The very first notes I get from the taste is a kick of Tennessee Bourbon, it’s immediately burning my throat, just like a strong whisky/bourbon would.. damn that’s strong! Following the Bourbon I’m getting a very buttery influenced butterscotch sweetness. Then there’s a roasted maltiness giving off a hint of caramel, freshly roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Here, the bourbon is the star of the game, especially as it warms up I’m getting more of the typical oak, vanilla, nutmeg and.. a lot of the bitterness that you typically get from a whisk(e)y. Oh, it’s strong and I like it that way!

For a price of $12.52 per 650mL bottle, it will seem excessive to those who tend to buy six-packs for that price, but this isn’t your Bud Light, this is Le Temps Noir: easily one of the best barrel aged beers that’s ever been sold in Manitoba. People don’t blink an eye at $20 bottles of wine, so why is a $12.52 bottle of barrel aged stout considered expensive? Well, the people who tend to think that it’s expensive in the first place would likely take one sip of Le Temps Noir, make a funny face and then pour the rest of the beer down the sink. This isn’t your father’s beer, this is the beer snob’s beer, the whisky, bourbon, scotch and even wine connoisseur’s beer. This is something that has to be shared with friends because at 9.6% ABV and in a 650mL bottle, it’s meant to be shared as a dessert beer. If your idea of an amazing stout is Guinness, you will be disappointed - but if your idea of an amazing stout is a roasted coffee stout aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, then you will be in for a serious treat!

You can find Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir at Liquor Marts in Brandon (10th & Victoria, Corral Centre, South End) for $12.52 per 650mL bottle. If the Corral Centre location is sold out, the South End location has the largest stock of Le Temps Noir outside Winnipeg.
9.6% ABV
5/5 Pints

I reviewed Le Temps Noir back in 2013 when it first came out as well, here's the original review.