Kruhnen & La Décapsule's King Cogne Rye Pale Ale

What happens when a popular beer blog teams up with a brewery to create a collaboration brew? King Cogne happens! Two years back, my buddy David and his brother Alex over at La Décapsule teamed up with the folks over at Brasserie Kruhnen to create a Rye Pale Ale called King Cogne. In fact, according to Untappd, King Cogne is Kruhnen's most popular beer to this very day! As a lover of Rye PAs, I'm excited!

Appearance: King Cogne pours a thick, very cloudy blonde ale with a nice, thick, frothy snow white head on top. Moderate amount of fizziness taking place and a hint of foam residue left behind on the side of the glass.

Aroma: First off I'm getting a bit of a sweet, light tropical/fruity aroma of tangerine and grapefruit. Moderate amount of hop bitterness giving off a bit of a pine aroma and just a hint of rye. So far... so good!

Taste: When I was opening this bottle, I entirely forgot that this was a Rye PA until I took my first sip. The rye makes a dominant presence at the beginning, giving off a rich, bitter rye flavour to it (a hint of a woodiness), pepper spice, slight amount of graininess, a nice compliment of tangerine/grapefruit zest and a moderate pine hop presence that leaves a light metallic bitter aftertaste. For a Rye Pale Ale, the rye isn't as bitter/in your face as most Canadian Rye Pale Ales, rather the rye works with the hops and malt to give off a bunch of great flavours.

Overall Thoughts: Incredibly solid Rye Pale Ale, I love a good Rye Pale Ale and it's unfortunate that rye beers aren't as common as they should be.. but it's getting better. Not overpowering like many I've had over the years, very easy to drink and even has a bit of spiciness to it. 6.5% ABV/60 IBU

Now if only I knew how to brew beer.. I'd love to have a BeerCrank themed saison s'appelle La Saison de Crank. The folks over at Double Trouble Brewing suggested a Cranky Cody Cascadian Dark & Bitter. Ha!

La Voie Maltée - Session IPA (Série Frimée)

Back in June when I was on my bièrcation with Alex from Le Malt Incarné, we took a tour of rural southern Quebec, checking out places like Brasserie Dunham and various brewpubs in the region. We stopped at Marché du Village in Ange-Gardien, Quebec. According to Alex, this grocery store - in a small town no less - happened to have one of the best beer selections in all of Quebec. Not only that, they had a locked cabinet dedicated exclusively to aging beers (but unfortunately the person in charge of the beer aging display was not there).. oh and the super market also acted as the local SAQ agent as there wasn't a nearby SAQ, making this one of the best damned liquor/beer stores in all of Quebec! We spent about 20 minutes just going through beer, I was loopy as hell because I got minimal sleep that week, but I picked up as many beers as I possibly could carry. La Voie Maltée's Session IPA from their Série Frimée popped out at me, so I decided to pick a can of that up.

Appearance: The Session IPA tops out at a whopping 3.7%, making it a true session, not a "4.8%" session like many I see on the market already. As soon as I open the can, it's quite foamy - thick white head. The beer is a moderately cloudy and straw yellow/lemon peel.

Aroma: Decently hoppy and tropical. Notes of cascade hops giving it a nice pine aroma, bit of lemon grass and tropical notes of grapefruit, hint of pineapple and somewhat herbal. Very solid aroma.

Taste: Starts off with a bit of a gritty barley graininess followed by lemongrass, a moderate amount of cascade for hoppy bitterness. A light amount of soapy aftertaste, hint of nuttiness and a light amount of grapefruit citrusness. Good deal of various cereal bitterness lingering on the palate.

Overall Thoughts: Solid session IPA but I've never had a bad beer by La Voie Maltée so it's not a surprise at all! Even at 3.7%, they still packed in a good deal of hops in the brew - to the point where I'm getting a moderate hop burn in my throat!

Photos: A visit to Torque Brewing

Seeing that Torque Brewing is officially canning their beer sometime this week, it only made sense to post photos of my trip to Torque from a week ago! This summer has been busy for new breweries in Winnipeg... and this is just the beginning!


They were starting to brew their Witty Belgian witbier when I arrived. I can't wait to see how the final product turns out!

Barrels for future barrel aging projects!

Brew Technician Matty "Cool Beans" Wolff! It's been a year since I last visited him at Fort Garry.

With the guys over at Torque being the "mechanics of beer", you better bet that they have wrenches all over the place in many different sizes!

Dried orange peels from California for Witty Belgian

Not only that.. they also add fresh orange, lemon and lime peel shavings for the Witty Belgian

Lots of room to grow.. assuming that the pallets of cans don't end up taking up lots of the space

Adding the yeast

"Cold Beer"

Next time I'll be there, the tasting room will be up and serving fresh beer on tap. They're canning this week and selling kegs to beer vendors/pubs/restaurants this week. I hope we see Torque in Brandon available at pubs on tap.. a beer culture is developing and I don't want to see the Wheat City 15 years behind like always. If you're in Brandon, demand your local restaurants, pubs and beer vendors to stock Torque, Barn Hammer and other made in Manitoba beers. Let's keep beer dollars in Manitoba!

Review: Tree & Beau's Collaboration - Leap Beer Smoked Bock

Leap year only comes around once every four years so the idea of a beer brewed specially for February 29th is simply just too good to pass up! Tree Brewing and Beau's All Natural collaborated to create a Leap Beer Smoked Bock that tops out at 6.7% ABV. Beau's LOVES collaboration beers, in fact.. while I was in Quebec over the years I had a few collaboration beers. Only a few days after Leap Beer arrived in Manitoba, Lug Tread made its very first appearance in Manitoba. So.. this is the first Beau's beer to ever be available for the Manitoban market.. even though it was brewed at Tree in BC.

Appearance: Dark caramel with a ruby red hue. Thick yellow/beige head that slowly diminishes yet leaves a good deal of foamy residue on the glassware.

Aroma: Smoky! I love smoky beers so it's always a treat when I find one. Rich notes of smoked barley malt, a hint of bonfire, caramel and a hint of dark fruit.

Taste: First and foremost, it's smoky but not overwhelmingly like many out there. The smoke hits the palate at first, but diminishes quite quickly. Other flavours I'm noticing include caramel, a bit of a graininess from the barley and hint of dark fruits (plum)? So for the most part, similar to what the aroma had.

Overall Thoughts: Solid bock with a nice smoky profile that's not overpowering. Very easy to drink and I wish my asshole roommate didn't steal my other bottle because I'd so go for another bottle right now.

Review: Hill Farmstead Edith Dark Farmhouse Saison

I'm only finally starting to review my Hill Farmstead beers I got back in January. Not only that.. I still have to post photos of my trip to Hill Farmstead! Seeing that the brewery is only a short drive from Montreal, I think I'll be back again in a year or two.

Today we're taking a look at Edith, Hill Farmstead's Dark Farmhouse Ale. Edith tops out at 5.8% ABV and contains American malted barley, German roasted malts, European hops, farmhouse yeast and Hill Farmstead's well water. Seeing that dark saisons are slowly starting to become more common in the beer scene, I get to taste how one of the top rated breweries in the world does theirs.

Appearance: Near pitch black with a hint of a faint cherry wood hue against the light. A good amount of foam to start off - 1.5 fingers worth, diminishes to a nice beige cream head (very thin) and doesn't diminish any further.

Aroma: The first thing that pops out to me is the aroma of Brett yeast: it gives off a sour, barnyard funk with a bit of a roasted coffee like aroma in there, light amount of oak, a hint of caramel and a smidgen of chocolate.

Taste: Wow.. the tartness of a sour and Brett yeasts punches me right in the palate immediately! A good deal sour, dark fruits, a liberal amount of lemon, barnyard funk and not as roasty as I expected with it being a dark saison.. rather I'm getting more notes of a sour than saison anyways. Bit of an acidic mouthfeel with a bit of a carbonated tingling sensation. The aftertaste gives off the dark notes I was expecting, a light hint of dark chocolate and a light woodiness lingers long after the beer has been savoured.

Overall Thoughts: Sour! The barnyard funk isn't as overwhelming as many of the Vermont beers I had in my brief stay back in the winter. There's a bit of sediment at the bottom of the beer, but that's alright for me. I was expecting more dark and roasted notes but I enjoyed this as it is.

PHOTOS!!! Festival mondiale de la bière 2016!

It only took me TWO months after Le Festival mondiale de la bière for me to post pictures of my awesome experience of drinking beer and checking out booths. To check out my previous column on Mondial, click here!

If you are using a cellular data connection, this post will use up too much of your data! (Click the orangish Read More button below to read more.. if you dare)

Landshark Island Style Lager

Margaritaville Landshark Lager

If you like Piña Coladas, getting caught in the rain..  if cheeseburger is paradise medium rare with mustard'd be nice! If you’ve ever checked out a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, you’ve likely seen Landshark, Margaritaville’s go-to lager. Now the Margaritaville beer is available in Canada at your local LC. Landshark Lager is a tropical island-style lager brewed generally by Labatt owners Anheuser-Busch InBev, but for the Canadian market, Landshark Lager is actually brewed by Brick Brewing out of Waterloo, Ontario. How in the world Brick Brewing was able to get the Canadian rights for a beer brewed by the world’s largest beer conglomerate, I have no idea.

It’s been incredibly humid lately, almost as bad as being in Quebec City, so a strong, crisp lager is very much appreciated. Brick’s Landshark Lager pours your typical crisp straw golden lager, clear as the sky, good amount of carbonation, minimal amount of light white foam that pops up on top just to settle on the side of the glassware. The aroma of Landshark is a very much malt based lager. It’s a sweet, caramel influenced grainy aroma, Notes of buttery store bought toast, typical scents of Canadian camping beers (Moosehead, Kokanee Gold, Labatt 50) pops out once in a while. The taste is very much described by yours truly as a grainy barley malt, sugar, grainy, at the farm lager with a moderate amount of hops to give it a bit of a grassy hop vibrance to it, not bitter as hell, yet present for those who still have their taste buds after drinking 80 two-fours of Bud Light. I wish I could have compared this to a can of Landshark right out of Minot, but I won’t be going to Minot until next week at the earliest, so there’s no comparison this week.

For a lager, this is a much more malt-forwarded lager with notes of honey, gritty barley, memories of cleaning the grainery and a good hint of malt sweetness making this sweeter than Manitoba’s favourite beer, Bud Light.
You can find Brick Brewing’s Landshark Lager at Liquor Marts in  Brandon (10th & Victoria, South End), Dauphin, Minnedosa and Portage La Prairie! $2.75/473mL. 4.6% ABV. 3/5 Pints

If you’re not so much a fan of lagers, Brick Brewing’s really well known in Westman for their Waterloo Grapefruit Radler, in fact.. it’s easily Westman’s most popular radler! If you love the taste of grapefruit juice and a hint of lager, you can find this summer time delight at Liquor Marts and vendors all over the province for $3.25 per 473mL can. 

Actually, one thing I did forget, Beau’s Brewing is coming to Manitoba! Over the years I’ve seen people wearing Beau’s Brewing t-shirts over Westman, and of course - people were disappointed that Beau’s only ships their beer within a 300 mile radius. Within the next few weeks, Beaus’ All Organic Beer will be available here in Manitoba, making it the first time that Beau’s has shipped their beer outside of the 300 mile radius of the brewery, and not only that - they will be bringing many of their popular organic beers to the Wheat City! I’ll be reviewing their beer as soon as it’s available here! 

Is that an import? Nope, made in Canada!

Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, August 7, 2015

Last week, MolsonCoors Canada announced that they were bringing in their popular American beer Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Ale to Canada, as a way to compete against Labatt’s American Shock Top and Goose Island brands. The thing I don’t like about this is that Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Ale is the exact same beer as Rickard’s White - which has been available in Canada since 2006. The beer was near identical to the point that Americans purchasing Blue Moon would regularly get beers labeled with “Blue Moon Brewing Co. Toronto, Ontario/Montreal Quebec” at the Molson breweries. One of the reasons why Blue Moon is coming to Canada (as Belgian Moon because the name copyright for Canada is owned by a brewery out of Toronto) is that the Rickard’s White sales have plummeted a great deal in the past year since Shock Top came to the Canadian market. Like it or not, Canadians love American beers. Molson’s PR team says they will continue to brew Rickard’s White alongside Belgian Moon for the meantime. Time will tell if Coors' Belgian Moon will be brewed out of Golden, Colorado like it is in the States, or rather be brewed at the Molson facilities right next to the Rickard’s brewing tanks. 

With this announcement, I did some quick investigating where our beer is coming from. Many beers we love to drink that we believe are from elsewhere: are actually brewed right here in Canada! In this week’s First Draught, I will be showing you what beers are in fact, made in Canada when you may believe that they are imports.

Made in Canada:
The first one that surprised me was Löwenbrau and its Löwenbrau Radler. The Löwenbrau beers were brewed in Canada between 1999 and 2002 but went back to Germany until October 2014, when Labatt received the Löwenbrau beer rights again. I found the standard Löwenbrau has less malty sweetness to it, a bit lighter and even reminds me of Labatt’s other Canadian products to a point. 

Farmery Lager - Of course Farmery is made in Canada, but the thing you don’t realize is where it’s brewed. Farmery Premium Lager may have great history in Western Manitoba, but the beer is brewed under contract at the Muskoka Brewery in Muskoka, Ontario. With all their publicity showing signs like “farm fresh”  and “brewed from the ground up”, I wish they would start brewing the beer in Manitoba as there’s nearly a dozen breweries within an 8 hour drive of Arden Ridge, Manitoba. I don’t know if full production will ever come to Manitoba, but I’ve heard they are looking into building an interpretive centre with possibility of a small brewery on site to show tourists how beer is made. I’ll believe it when I see it. (EDIT: Farmery will start brewing at their up-and-coming in Neepawa soon - by fall 2016)

Not a surprise, really but Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, Bud Light and some of their sister beers (ex. Rolling Rock and Shock Top) are brewed at the Labatt Breweries throughout Canada - it’s not considered a premium beer anymore. For Molson, Coors Light  and Coors Altitude are brewed at their Molson facilities throughout Canada. Interestingly enough, Coors Banquet Lager is produced straight at Coors’ main brewery over in Golden Colorado. Kokanee is also brewed at various Labatt facilities throughout Canada now as well. What's actually funny is that Labatt Blue for the US market is brewed by.. get this.. Molson at the Molson Brewery in Toronto!

Alexander Keith’s - Since we’re still on the topic of Labatt - Alexander Keith’s and their wide variety of flavours have been brewed at the Creston, BC Kokanee facility since 2009. When I see Keith’s on a “Premium” beer menu while Kokanee is on a “Domestic” beer menu, it makes me shake my head. Apparently the Keith’s available on the east coast is still good… but I don’t buy the beer anymore anyways.

Goose Island Goose IPA - This original Chicago beer is something you may have just noticed starting to pop up on tap and at local beer vendors and Liquor Marts over the past few weeks. Goose Island IPA is produced at the Labatt facilities. Unfortunately for me, I found Goose IPA to taste too bland for an American-style India Pale Ale.. though it is a tad bit better than your regular Alexander Keith’s. 

Lastly, Sapporo Lager - the most famous Japanese beer in the world is actually brewed at Sleeman’s Brewery in Guelph, Ontario. For Americans, when they purchase a can or case of Sapporo in their neck of the woods, it’s the Canadian version of the beer.. and to top it all off, it’s still listed as an Imported Beer, tricking customers into thinking it came from Japan, not Guelph.

In the United States, lots of foreign breweries are now moving their production to the United States as a reason to keep up with demand and to cut down on shipping costs. Beck’s Lager out of Germany is made in St Louis for the American market. The popular Stubbied beer from Jamaica’s Red Stripe is also now being produced in the United States, and there is a class action suit currently taking place because customers believed that the beer they were drinking Red Stripe straight from Jamaica - thankfully us Canadians get the real Red Stripe, for now. Corona plans on building a new brewery in Southern California in the next few years to cater the US market as the production just can’t meet the demand of consumers all over the world.

Next time you’re buying a beer at the store or at a bar, look and find where your beer is being brewed, it could possibly be brewed close to home, or as far away as Fort Worth, Texas.. or somewhere more international. 

Yukon Brewing's You'd Be Surprised Raspberry Citrus Ale

Yukon You'd Be Surprised Raspberry Citrus Ale

It's been a while since I last tried a beer from Yukon Brewing, but today I'm checking out You'd Be Surprised Raspberry Citrus Ale

Appearance: The beer is a somewhat clear golden/amber ale. The pour gives off a very carbonated fizziness, like a soda. Light white head that diminishes near immediately.

Aroma: Bit of raspberry to start off, hint of lemongrass, grassy alfalfa-esque hops, fairly sweet malt.

Taste: The beer starts off with a grassy vibe but then gives off notes of raspberry, lemongrass and a light hoppiness to top it off.

Overall Thoughts: Quite carbonated, notes of raspberry here and there but it tries to be a raspberry beer but also a citrusy, carbonated beer at the same time. Out of all the beers I've ever had by Yukon, I'm surprised how mediocre it was.

Ten great beers available in Manitoba (Part Five!)

It's been a few years since I've done the Ten great beers available in Manitoba column, but ever since I started writing for the Brandon Sun, I put Ten great beers on hiatus. Buuuut for one night only, I'm bringing it back. Here's my fifth edition of Ten great beers in Manitoba! My sixth edition will likely be popping out in the autumn or early winter once the new Manitoban breweries are canning and distributing to Liquor Marts, vendors and pubs across the province.

Battle of the band… beers!

Unibroue's coming out with a collaboration saison with the band Megadeth called À tout le monde. Here's a review I did for the Brandon Sun back in 2014 of two band beers - AC/DC's Australian Hardrock Lager and Iron Maiden's Trooper Premium British Bitter

Battle of the band… beers!

Beer and alcohol has become such a hot commodity in this era that musicians and celebrities have launched products to boost their brand. There’s the Dan Aykroyd wine and vodka products that are available at local Liquormarts - which he personally came to the 10th & Victoria Liquormart back in 2010 to promote! In Ontario, Tom Green has his own Imperial Stout brewed by Beau’s All Natural Brewing out of Vankleek Hill (near Ottawa) - which we will never see here, unfortunately. Closer to home, the folks over at Flying Monkeys Brewing out of Barrie, Ontario have released a few musician inspired beers, where the musicians themselves are involved in what they want to see in a beer.. Barenaked Ladies was their first (successful) experiment with BNL Imperial Chocolate Stout back in 2012 - which, to me, tasted like a chocolate fudge brownie squeezed in a 750mL bottle, it was incredibly decadent. Then more recently, they collaborated with City & Colour to release an Imperial Maple Wheat Ale, which I’ve heard was pure heaven in a bottle. 

AC/DC and Iron Maiden are two insanely successful bands that have also used the powers of the beer industry to market themselves in a new way, by having their names plastered on bottles (or cans) of beer! While they sure aren’t the first to do it, they may be the most well known to do it.

Let’s start off with AC/DC’s Australian Hardrock Lager, a lager brewed with 5.0 percent ABV, brewed in France at Brasserie Licorne SAS. This kind of scares me right off the bat - France is NOT known for good beer.. Belgium and Quebec on the other hand.. are known for some of the best beers on the planet, but France? They’re a wine producing country. The AC/DC beer pours a very pale straw yellow hay, A thin amount of spongey white head on top. The aroma is your standard North American pilsner aroma - scents of LOTS OF BARLEY!!! A bit of corn, light amount of skunk aroma and a bready aroma of what reminds me of fast food hamburger buns. For the flavour, it’s even lighter as it has a bit of a lightly barley grassy flavour to it, a bit of corn, a bit of some sort of corn syrup extract that gives it a bit too much of a sweet flavour to it. It’s lacking in the flavour department, it’s a bit too sweet and there’s no presence of hops. I was expecting at least a bit of a light floral bitterness tingling my tongue… eventually, but um.. it looks like that’s not going to happen… boo urns to that. 

AC/DC Lager is your typical lower quality Eurolager, a bit of a corny, lightly skunky golden lager that leaves a bit of a syrupy sludge on your tongue long after you’ve finished the beer is very unappetizing for this beer geek. I like a clean finish to my pilsners/lagers.. but that’s just me.  1.5/5 Pints

Now off to Iron Maiden's Trooper Premium British Bitter by Robinson’s Brewery out of the UK. Unfortunately this isn’t a Trooper.. the band themed beer.. for those who are here to raise a little hell, like this typical Canadian hoser. This is Iron Maiden’s own custom-made beer. I’m easily expecting this to beat the AC/DC lager as it’s insanely impossible to find this bottle in stores in the first place, every time one of the local Liquormarts stocks it on the shelves, the shelves are bare within a day or two! That must mean something good. Trooper Premium British Beer pours a nice caramel-honey amber ale, close to no foam on the head, which is actually quite normal for a British Bitter, though I prefer a beer with a decent amount of head! The aroma is actually quite welcoming - if you like a British bitter. There’s scents of sweet malted barley, giving it a bit of a caramel sweetness at first, a bit of a light nutty aroma to give it a light balance on the aroma, a very light touch of hops to give it a hint of a floral touch, all in all - this is reminding me of a British Bitter. For the flavour, it is a tad bitter.. get it… bitter?! Trooper is a bit of a standard amber ale with a hint of bitterness coming from the floral hops to give it a hint of alfalfa. A nice sweet ale with a touch of honey and breakfast cereal taste that reminds me a bit of Alphabets’ cereal, sweet and grainy! For this being a beer brewed in honour of one of the best heavy metal bands of all time, I’m impressed with how drinkable this beer is - it’s not too light, it doesn’t taste like a brewery avoided the hops and instead poured a bunch of corn syrup in the batch - the brewer (Robinson’s Brewery) took the time to brew a typical British Bitter that not only metal heads would love, but so would beer drinkers. The beer is 4.7 percent ABV. 3.5/5 Pints

Review: Collective Project: Gose

Collective Arts has been working on some interesting brews for a one-off beer series called Collective Project. In the project they are working on one-offs including a hefeweizen, black IPA, a papaya saison.. and what I'm about to review, a Gose. Collective Arts' Collective Project: Gose came to Manitoba yesterday as part of the Coast to Coaster beer event at the LC. Actually.. this is the very first time that a Gose has ever been available at the MLCC, ever. Every other time it was a one off at a pub or Half Pints.

I still remember going to Barley Bros back in November during the Grey Cup. My buddy Chris ordered an Anderson Valley Gose, when he ordered it he pronounced it the right way - gose-uh but the bartender was confused and went "you mean gose?" That shows you how well goses sell in Manitoba. Things will change.. now.

Appearance: The Gose (er Gose-uh) pours a straw yellow with just a hint of cloudiness, enough to make you go "is this clear or isn't it?" Good amount of carbonation to start it off but it just leaves off a hint of white foam round the rim of the glass.. less than minimal.

Aroma: Somewhat tart, a hint of salt, notes of vinegar.. er more like fresh cut potato chips with salt and malt vinegar. Somewhat grainy profile in the back.. I just can't describe that scent.

Taste: The taste starts off a bit sour, like salt and vinegar chips right in the middle of the tongue, followed by a very heavy sack of steeped barley water. Tastes like the farm. Some grassiness, hint of lemon but for the most part - what I described already.

Overall Thoughts: Not much really there. Salt & Vinegar chips hitting a specific part of my tongue and for the rest of the time.. steeped barley. Higher ABV than most Goses I've had at 5.2% ABV. Not great but not bad at all.

Evil Twin Femme Fatale Brett

I've had a few Evil Twin beers over the years.. a few of them being collaborations.. like hoser Ryan and the Gosling with Crooked Stave and a few others that I don't remember right now.. all I remember is BRETT! Right now I'm checking out Femme Fatale Brett, another of Evil Twin's brews made with Brett. I've been drinking a good amount of Brett beers lately so I'm slowly getting used to them, but I need to see a brewery in Manitoba brewing it regularly/seasonally or MLCC to bring a Brett beer or three... so I can finally get used to the barnyardness for once and all.

Appearance: Femme Fatale Brett pours a heavy, cloudy golden straw, there's not much carbonation taking place but there's a light amount of white head on top collecting at the side of the glass and a few bubbles here and there near the middle of the beer.

Aroma: Damn that Brett! It's your typical funky barnyard woody aroma, notes of lemon, other citrus notes including a sweet pineapple zest, and god damned.. this reminds me of clearing straw out of the barn when I was 4-5 years old.

Taste: Tastes like it smells, a good deal of barn yard here. Lots of straw, lemon, the taste of a wood cattle barn if it was made into a beer. Then there's notes of lemongrass, pineapple, a bit of breadiness to it, a hint of booziness that's getting me a bit buzzed and an aftertaste thats slightly metallic, slightly bitter from the hops being used.

Overall Thoughts: Actually, I know what a barn yard smells like as I've been shovelling cow shit since I was a toddler. This is a woody, citrusy beer with a bit of a tartiness to it, a hint salty like a gose.

New Belgium Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale (2015)

You know what pisses me the fuck off? A lot of things.. but a roommate stealing your hard earned beer is one of the very top of the things on the list. I had a bottle of Half Pints' Old Red Barn Sour Ale waiting for me, just to find out that the $14.95 CDN bottle of beer was stolen from me. No idea who stole it, but I have my hunches. It's hard to save up to buy such specialty beers when I only work 10hrs a week (yeah, I'm job searching) and my life seems to be going nowhere sometimes..

I picked up a bottle of New Belgium's La Terroir (2015) at Sobey's Liquor in Regina a few months back and surprisingly.. it wasn't stolen somehow, so instead of the jackass piece of shit drinking it and not actually enjoying it.. I'm reviewing it!

I love New Belgium, while they seem to be one of the larger micros out there, they still make solid beers time and time again, and anything in their Lips of Faith series is guaranteed to be beyond solid.

Appearance: La Terroir pours a lightly cloudy orange/golden in colour. Light to moderate amount of carbonation. A light but nice amount of off-white foam sprinkled on top and clinging to the side of the glass.

Aroma: Damn aromatic sour. I'm getting the notes of soury goodness. Notes of sour cherries, a hint of earthiness (peat?), a light amount of soap (ivory), a hint of wood, vinegar and a hint of bug spray (not that that's a bad thing).

Taste: Getting goosebumps from the first sip I take. A sour lemon vibe with notes of oak, vinegar, a light amount of bitterness from the hops, a good deal of fruitiness that gives off a medley of apricot, grapefruit and well.. as said before.. lemon. There's also a hint of caramel that pops up in the beer once in a while.

Overall Thoughts: Damn, that's a solid sour. While it's sour/tart and even gives me some goosebumps, it also has nice sweet fruit and caramel notes popping up once in a while. One of my old piece of shit roommates stole my 2014 bottle of Le Terroir, I'm glad I was able to save this before another piece of shit would've drank this. 7.5% ABV

Bière de Balcon by the Drunk French Canadian

Today we have a guest post by mon ami Oni Dèls, AKA THE Drunk French Canadian! It's been a long time since I had a guest post here, but Oni has been around the Quebec scene for a long time, and even even worked at the Molson Brewery at one time, so he's been around! Today he's giving a review of his favourite beer for summer 2016 - Bière de Balcon by L'espace public - brasseurs de quartier!

Bière de Balcon

I have to tell you a secret: I'm not a “real” Montrealer. That is.. I wasn’t born on this island, but rather on that other island. Anyways.. It’s of no real concern whether or not I come from a place that the local refers as “douchebag land”.

What I meant to say is that I moved roughly five years ago to a small neighbourhood called Hochelaga, and just a couple weeks after that, a new pub.. pretty much the first of its kind in this area, was opening: L’espace Public - brasseurs de quartier.

L'espace Public is a bar dedicated to fun beers for fun people made by people dedicated to making great beers. It didn't me take long until I became a regular there, and now I'm following their evolution in this local beer revolution that's happening throughout the neighbourhood. Lately, we're seeing more and more microbrew-focused restaurants and pubs opened up surrounding L'espace Public but none of them have the same following nor the same beer geeks who know what they wanted.

Now, they have reimagined their image and have launched their 3 first beers to take home: 3 sours in cans. Like many of their other popular beers, these 3 have odd and funny names, but I’m going to focus solely on their berliner weiß, the Bière de Balcon (aka the Balcony Beer). This sour is a mere 3% ABV and has a very lemony taste, but is brewed with raspberry and has a sweet aftertaste, not too syrupy and not too sugary.. like sour candy that you can drink! This perfect summer beer is great to be shared with friends on long evening in a packed apartment, celebrating life and such. But beware: it is a sour beer. It’ll take more than just a sip to get use to it, and some won't dare drink more than one. Shame though.. because the tongue gets used to it rapidly and beside the occasional cheeks going inward, you’ll see that the can is quickly empty.

But it is ok that you don't like it, a lot of crazy dudes and dudettes love sour beer, counting me amongst their rank.

Oh. But that's not all, while I won’t go in deeper details (for now) about the two other cans, let me whisper you sweet poetry about them: La Bière de coin de rue (aka corner street beer), a sour blonde with strong cereal taste, and the very peculiar Bière de ruelle (aka back alley beer), a hoppy sour that reminds us of west coast IPAs.

But that’s the canned ones. For their launch, the pub had a lot of sour on taps, many of their own recipe, like their “mon ami(e)...” series (my friend...)
Mon amie Maxime, another hoppy sour..
Mon ami Whiskey, a smoked rye sour..
Mon ami Frank, a sour stout that taste like heaven, but mostly chocolate­y citrus..
And others, that sadly as I am writing this, 4 days after launch, have already been erased from the beer menu board and replaced by more conventional (read: less sour) beers.

I’m obviously 300% biased, because I love this place and the people who work here, but they do brew really good beers, and if you happen to find yourself on Promenade Ontario, remember my not­so­-wise words and go for a pint, you will thank me later!

While so far the cans are only available in the greater Montreal area, we can only wish for it to be distributed on a greater scale, and perhaps this is the start of a great line of beers from our favourite pigeon brewers...

“Another pint, another story...” Cheers guys!
­ “Oni” Dèls, your favourite Drunk French Canadian. 

The Beer With No Name by Lake of the Woods Brewing

Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, June 10, 2016

Last week, the second edition of “Coast to Coaster” launched at select Liquor Marts and beer vendors to show off some of the best beers Canada has to offer, especially beers never before seen in Manitoba. 
Last year, they did a large advertising blitz, making sure that everyone knew about the event. This year, the MLCC kept it fairly quiet for the most part, not really promoting it before it even began and also - expanding it from one month to two full months, and not only that - spreading the event out over the course of two months. So instead of a huge influx of beers arriving all at once, 8 beers will be featured for two weeks straight. This year’s retail participants for Coast to Coaster are the Liquor Marts at 10th & Victoria and South End, the beer vendors at Keystone Motor Inn and Victoria Inn, B & D Hardware in Onanole, Spud City Family Foods in Carberry and Kim’s Family Mart in Austin. I’m glad to see a good variety of locations promoting the Coast to Coaster event this year!

Kenora’s Lake of the Woods is one of the participants for this year’s edition of Coast to Coaster. To me, they are Manitoba’s first brewpub post-2003 because it’s so close to Manitoba that it might as well be part of Manitoba! Last year they expanded big time by bringing in a canning line allowing them to sell their beer in convenient 473mL cans, rather than just selling 50L kegs or 1.89L growlers. The biggest upside of the addition of a canning line is the product doesn’t spoil as quickly as a growler does - the shelf life of a growler is up to a month tops, and that’s if it’s refrigerated the entire time, while for cans, depending on the style, it can stay fresh for as long as six to twelve months depending on the style. I previously reviewed and raved about Lake of the Woods’ Forgotten Lake Blueberry Ale and now they have a raspberry ginger beer called The Beer With No Name Raspberry Ginger Wheat Ale. To me, raspberry and ginger are two flavours that seem to scream “SUMMER!” so I’m excited to see how Lake of the Woods did.

The Beer With No Name pours a heavy, cloudy, grapefruit pink with half a finger of creamy white head, to me - this is exactly what I expect in a fruit beer - the more unfiltered, the better! The aroma actually reminds me a great deal of Unibroue’s Éphémère Framboise as it’s a bready, yeasty beer with a good deal of raspberry sweetness to it. Light grassy aroma but for the most part - fruity! The flavour starts out with a large amount of sweetness from the puréed raspberries, followed by a hint of lemon, a hint of ginger but lacklustre on the ginger side. The more I drink the beer, I start to get a bit of a tingling sensation on the tongue, I am divided on rather it’s the ginger or the hops used because it could be either way but it’s certainly not a bitter aftertaste, just a tingling aftertaste.. if that makes any sense to you. 

As an unfiltered raspberry wheat ale, it’s pretty decent and surprisingly reminiscent of Unibroue’s Framboise, but the ginger aspect was lacking completely, I was hoping for a bit of heat from the ginger or even more than just a passing through hint of ginger. It’s a fair bit tart, but easily a patio worthy beer that’s considerably more natural than any Shock Top will ever be. $3.85 per 473mL can. 6.0% ABV. You should be able to find it at the retailers I mentioned earlier but act quick - stock is very limited!

3.5/5 Pints

Review: La Voie Maltée La Malcommode Hefeweizen

I like to consider myself a bit of an expert on the Quebec beer scene but it's a bit too hard for me to keep up with all the beers coming out of Quebec because.. well, I'm in Manitoba! Sometimes with that, I'll try a beer by a brewery years ago only to not ever try another one of their beers several years later. La Voie Maltée is a good example of that. I reviewed their Criminelle Stout Impériale 3.5 years back but haven't had any of their beers ever again until Mondial last month. I wish I had time to try every beer possible, but I'd die from that, there's just too many beers out there.. just in Quebec alone. With it being summer, I picked up their La Malcommode Hefeweizen because I just don't really ever drink German-style hefes because I tend to go for Belgian-style witbiers instead.. so maybe it's the banana aspect of hefes? Who knows.

Appearance: Somewhat cloudy with a dark straw yellow, a bit of an orange hue to it. The head is pretty depressing because I'm finding that it pours out a nice light beige foamy top only for it fizz into nothing within seconds, I love a good head.

Aroma: Bananas, clove, a bit of an earthiness to it from the hops, a hint of bubblegum and a light doughy presence.

Taste: Starts out a bit acidic the second I taste it but turns into a medley of banana and clove, a bit of a metallic aftertaste, the tomato sharpness you see in ketchup, bubble gum, a hint of coriander and a light grainy blunt flavour from the wheat. Not bad at all.

Overall Thoughts: This is a very straight forward hefeweizen with a natural wheaty, bananay, clovey goodness with no noticeable extracts that you see in some of the bigger hefeweizen brands out there. I'm finding it a bit too easy to drink.. which is exactly what I want when I'm dealing with this heat and humidity!

Review: Glutenberg Double IPA

I have to say that Glutenberg / Brasseurs Sans Gluten has done a damned good job at producing beer for those who can't consume food/beverages with gluten in them. Most gluten-free beers are frankly.. disgusting rice water but I've tried several products by Glutenberg that actually not only taste like beer but I actually enjoy. I absolutely love gluten, I'd eat pizza every day if it didn't make me fat but what I like more is breweries experimenting with different grains to create a beer like nothing else on the market because.. beer is such a wide category compared to wine. While checking out southern Quebec, I came across Glutenberg's Double IPA which I never knew even existed until then.

Glutenberg's Double IPA tops out at 8% ABV, making it consistent with most DIPAs on the market today. The beer is brewed with water (well, duh), millet, buckwheat, quinoa, candi syrup, maltodextrin, hops and yeast. 360 calories per 341mL serving, making it an anti-Molson 67!

Appearance: It pours a cloudy copper-brown which is reminiscent to quite a few DIPAs as it is, a thin amount of yellowish/beige foam that just stays put.. and that's about it.

Aroma: Moderately hoppy but the millet is the front runner in this beer as it's giving off a sweet, somewhat woody aroma with a hint of a diaper aroma. Notes of syrup, raisins and a bit of a cascade piney/floral bitterness in the background.

Taste: I'm getting the taste of diapers in here just like I got in the aroma but it eventually transitions into a piney hop flavour. There's a bit of syrupy sweetness that makes it a bit too much for me. Somewhat fruity but honestly, I'm not really enjoying it. The weird diaper-like taste is just too much for me. A bit of a hoppy bitterness for aftertaste that lingers a bit after... as well as leaving a bit of a hop burn in the throat.

Overall Thoughts: Not a fan. When I reviewed their IPA, I felt the same way in some aspects. When I get past the weird diaperness to it, it's actually somewhat enjoyable but I don't think I'm going to get this again. I prefer Glutenberg's Pale Ale Américane much more and I'd love to see a liberally hopped Imperialized version of that come to market. Their Blanche made an appearance at Flatlander's last month and hopefully it will be showcased at liquor stores soon because that's easily one of the best witbier-style beers I've had in a long time.

Review: Brasserie Dunham Saison du Pinacle Réserve Batch no. 6 Vrai

Last month I finally got to visit another one of Quebec and Canada's best breweries, this time Brasserie Dunham in Dunham, Quebec. While I didn't go on a personal tour like I did at Unibroue, I got to try many of Dunham's various brews at their brewery taproom with Alex and his wife. It was an absolute blast! I wanted to buy all the beers they had available but seeing that I had very limited space for beer in my luggage, I had to settle on two beers, so one of them is this one - Saison du Pinacle Réserve Batch no. 6 VRAI, a hoppy saison, which was bottled on April 28, the day before my birthday!

Appearance: La Saison du Pinacle started out foaming the second I opened the bottle, while not quite a gusher.. it's never fun to lose out on every sip of amazing beer. The saison pours heavy, cloudy golden/orange with an off-white frothy head. The head isn't going anywhere! I poured the beer about 15 minutes ago and the foam hasn't moved one millimetre! 

Aroma: The first thing I notice is the typical barn yard musky aroma you see in a lot of saisons lately, especially in Brett-based saisons. For a saison, it's hoppier than usual but for it being a "saison houblonnée", I expected more bitterness.. but I do get a bit of a hint of cascade pine bitterness. The hoppy aroma is more so a fresh cut grass scent. Also notes of lemongrass and a bit of tart notes reminiscent of kriek here and there, but don't think it's supposed to be as this isn't doesn't appear to be the regular réserve aged in wine barrels. A saison with aromas from all over the spectrum.

Taste: Yep, there's definitely some Brett in there, and I'm still not used to beers brewed with Brett (which I say every single time I review a beer brewed with Brett). It's a heavy barn yard flavour that actually pairs well with the hops, giving it a true "hoppy saison" theme to it. A bit of a lemongrass flavour, light amount of bar soap and for the most part - musky and bitter. A bit of a bitter/metallic aftertaste. There's also a hint of creaminess in there somewhere.

Overall Thoughts: Bitter, Bretty and interesting. While this isn't the kind of saison I would drink on the patio in the summer, it's something I would drink again and bring to a bottle share. 

Review: St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale

FINAFUCKINGLLY! It only took a bajillion years for A St Ambroise (McAuslan) product to come to Manitoba. I don't know what took so bloody long seeing that Saskatchewan Liquor Stores have had sold their beers for at least a decade now. Unfortunately for me, it's only one beer - St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale.. and it's only available for the Coast to Coaster event at the MLCC. So.. that means once this event is over, no more St Ambroise.. or actually - the event is not even done yet and the beer sold out within a few days in Brandon, making it impossible to find it. Ah well, at least I was able to pick up enough to do a review, finally.

Appearance: Pours a light honey orange/yellow in appearance, a finger worth of light beige foam with remnants of the foam sticking to the side of the glassware. Incredibly carbonated, more carbonation than your typical macro lager.

Aroma: Apricots! Peaches! Actually, I've never had an apricot before but I still remember trying it for the first time in 2012, all I remember about it was HOLY FUCK THIS IS TASTY! IT SMELLS AND TASTES LIKE PEACHES! The aroma alone has a very fruity, summer time patio essence to it. There's a light amount of whole wheat breadiness from the malt and yeast.. and yeah.. apricots!

Taste: The sweetness isn't as powerful here as it was in the aroma, it's more neutral but you still get a nice fruity apricot flavour to it. The wheat bread flavour is much more dominant here but what's surprising me is that there's a good amount of earthy, peppery spiciness coming from the hops (I assume), but it doesn't hurt the beer at all.

Overall Thoughts: A very solid product by Brasserie McAuslan, but I may not be able to savour this again anytime soon unless if the MLCC starts full on pushing McAuslan's products in the near future.. bring on the Oatmeal Stout!

Skunksworth's Barleyslime: Alberta Genuine Draft (AGD) (Big Rock)

It's been quite a while since I've done a Skunskworth's Barleyslime post, but how fitting to have it right on one of the most humid days this summer.. so far.

I always say that no brewery can have only amazing beers, even the best breweries on the planet are bound to have piss poor products once in a while.. even if the brewery ends up drain pouring it themselves. Big Rock Brewing has been mostly miss for as long as I can remember. If I was comparing macro beers, Big Rock would be one of the better big breweries in Canada, but since they are still considered a microbrewery in this day and age.. they have a lot of products that I wouldn't waste my time checking out.

With all that being said, summer is here - that means bonfires and camping. When I'm camping I don't like to bring a 12 pack of Unibroue.. I always tend to pick up a 12 to 15 pack of a lager or pilsner in cans. When I first heard about Alberta Genuine Draft several years ago, the label alone made me cringe thinking that it was a Minhas product. Now, Big Rock revamped the product design to have an appearance that's reminiscent of the 1970s with a pop top that turns the can into an aluminum glass.. pretty cool, but at $21ish per 15-pack, the beer left a lot to be desired.

The appearance is your typical Canadian prairie adjunct lager, a very pale straw yellow, minimal foam and a slight bit of fizz to it. The aroma might as well make it a Minhas product - it's giving off creamed corn, a strange vegetal aroma to it and to top it all off, way too sweet. The flavour is pretty much how it smelled, the cream corn really pops out there, little to 0 hop presence and I'm getting a light medicinal yet metallic aftertaste that lingers momentarily... thank goodness not for long.

To top it off, it attracts all the bugs to the yard. Right as I was about to go in for another sip, there was a massive fly in it. I hope the fly enjoyed the beer more than I did.

If it was 5.5% rather than 5.0%, I'd give it some leeway, but for the most part it's just Alberta horse piss. Ha! Actually, with everything I've stated, this is actually tastier than: Coors Light, Kokanee, Bud Light, Budweiser, OV, Club and Labatt Lite. So, that's a plus I suppose.

Review: Central City Red Racer Super Stellar IPA

This grumpy, depressed, anxiety-filled asshole always wonders how the hell Central City Red Racer sells out so often. The second anything branded "Red Racer" in Brandon.. it just sells out within a day or 3. I do kind of miss the times when I was the only one buying the craft beer, but I cant afford to be the ONLY one buying craft beer. In the first edition of this year's Coast to Coaster event at the MLCC, vendors, pubs and rural convenience stores - Central City's Red Racer Super Stellar IPA seems to be quite the popular treat. In fact, when I first had it on tap at Barley Bros in Winnipeg two years ago, the staff told me they were running out of the beer on tap. It's just that popular

Appearance: Super Stellar pours a bright amber ale with a bit of a caramel hue, a slight amount of cloudiness. The foam is gushing up with a thick and frothy beige, but it gradually dissipates to nothing at all.

Aroma: For the most part, I'm getting notes of pine, grapefruit, a strange bite of black pepper, mild notes of caramel malt and a hint of alfalfaesque floral notes from the hops. Pretty just out there as it is.

Taste: Hmm.. the first impression I got from the beer is that it's giving off a bit of a woody characteristic, followed by a liberal amount of caramel malt sweetness, a light amount of grapefruit, a light soapy vibe on the palate which is actually.. quite usual for an IPA, and last off.. a bit of a metallic aftertaste.

Overall Thoughts: Just your standard Red Racer Ale in the end, lots of flavours all over the place, but in the end of the day, it's not as good as the typical Red Racer IPA... but Red Racer disappears within moments of appearing in Manitoba.

Review: PEI Brewing Gahan Blueberry Ale

For the Coast to Coaster event at MLCC, they have brought in a bunch of PEI Brewing's beers and damn.. PEI Brewing is pretty damned amazing lately! Not only that, this is the second blueberry review in a row! Right before this review, I reviewed Unibroue's Éphémère Bleuet, which finally showed up to Manitoba just the other day.

Appearance: PEI Brewing's Gahan Blueberry Ale pours a bit darker than straw yellow, cloudy, and a light to minimal amount of white foam, that.. as you can see.. diminishes immediately.

Aroma: Full on Ocean Spray Blueberry Juice, fruity and a fair bit of a tartness to it. Notes of wheat straw, hint of caramel and a light hint of bread.

Taste: The first impression is a very sweet, tart taste of blueberry juice. Once the initial kick of flavour dissipates, it's mostly a grassy, straw ale with a bit of a light blueberry aftertaste that kicks around for a bit. A hint of yeasty breadiness in there as well.

Overall Thoughts: Nowhere near as fruity as Unibroue's take on blueberry ales, but this is a solid summer time fruity concoction. With all the fruity beers that are coming out this summer, it appears that breweries want to win over the fruity cooler market, and in some cases.. it's working! 4.5% ABV

Review: Unibroue Éphémère Bleuet (Blueberry)

A few months ago Unibroue released their newest beer in their popular Éphémère fruit beer series, this time, the Éphémère Bleuet (Blueberry). Around the same time it was launched, they also brought back their Éphémère Framboise (Raspberry) as part of the Unibroue Sommelier taster pack.. I will be reviewing the raspberry beer shortly, but back in 2006, it was one of my favourite beers but it disappeared off the shelves not long after.

Éphémère Blueberry tops out at 5.5% ABV and has a whopping 7 IBU, so it should be an interesting brew. I've had a good amount of blueberry beers over the years and either they are too sweet, too tart or they're just simply too bland. The Bleuet was supposed to be on shelves almost two months ago but according to the Sleeman rep for the region, the beer was held up at MLCC warehouses for several weeks due to labelling issues. 

Appearance: As you can already tell, Éphémère Bleuet has an appearance of a very pink/reddish ale with a very liberal amount of beige foam and carbonation. More reminiscent in colour to the old Ephemere Cassis (or Framboise), but at least it doesn't have a faux blue food colouring to it to make it look more like blueberries.

Aroma: Holy hell, this is by far Unibroue's sweetest and fruitiest beer I've had yet. The first impression I got was BLUEBERRY JUICE! Compared to quite a few of the blueberry ales I've had over the years, this one has more of a natural blueberry aroma rather than the typical sugary, syrupy blueberry extract that we all know and love. There's also notes of cardboard, Belgian yeast (which gives it a bit of a hint of bread) and a hint of sour candies.

Taste: Hmm, the taste of blueberries isn't as sharp as the aroma led to make me believe. For the taste itself, it's a moderately subtle blueberry taste with the Belgian yeast taking up most of the flavour here, which gives off a bit of a sour dough taste to it, very very yeasty. As for the aftertaste, it's a hint of a tartness from the blueberries, it lingers a decent amount after drinking the beer. Oh! And a hint of pepper lingers on the tongue too, which comes off as a bit of a surprise.

Overall Thoughts: The aroma of blueberries makes this a true summer beer, but the taste is mostly sour dough in my opinion. I was hoping the aroma would transfer over but that's not the case here. By far, this is easily the sweetest Unibroue beer I've ever had.. just from the aroma alone. It beats out the Cassis, Framboise and even the Cerise for aroma. Better than most blueberry ales I've had, but as you can see... it could be even more noticeable in the flavour profile.

Quebec beers shine at Montreal festival

Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, June 17, 2016

Last week was Festival Mondial de la bière in Montreal and being the beer geek I am, I went! Some of you are going “but Cody, you’ve written about your trips to Montreal several times already!” Yeah, I have but this time it’s all about the festival! My original intent was to showcase the top beers at Mondial that you can find in Manitoba, but honestly.. Central City’s Red Racer IPA doesn’t need any more publicity at this point, it’s almost always sold out at local LCs and vendors, and not only that - the Red Racer we get in Manitoba is several months fresher than the stuff they get in Quebec.

Mondial de la bière is one of the largest beer festivals in the world with an attendance of over 100,000 each year. This year the festival happened to be going on during Montreal Formula Grand Prix, so I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was over 150,000 seeing how jam packed the entire city was for the Grand Prix. Mondial had special imported beers from as far away as Brazil and local beers from local brewpubs as close by as a few blocks down the street. Some of the non-Quebec breweries that made an appearance at the festival include Beau’s Brewing out of Ottawa, Bomber Brewing out of Vancouver, Rogue Ales out of Oregon and a good amount of Labatt/Molson subsidiaries such as Labatt’s Goose Island and Mill Street as well as Molson’s Mad Jack, Creemore Springs, Granville Island and Rickards. To me, it was the Quebec variety of beers that lured me in - while Unibroue no longer makes an appearance, Quebec’s super-popular breweries Trou du Diable, Dieu du Ciel, Brasserie Dunham and Les Trois Mousquetaires all had hopping beer stations with very long lines, but once you paid four dollars in tickets to get a 4 oz sample of a Belgian style saison, India Pale Ale or cask barley wine, it’s just all worth it.

What made it even better for me is that two great friends of mine actually had their own beers being sampled at the event. My buddy Alex, who took me on a craft beer trip all over southern Quebec on Saturday, he collaborated with the new brewpub Brasserie Harricana to create a rich, hop forward Double IPA simply called “42”. This was easily one of the top beers of the festival for me, it was floral, lots of fresh pine and citrus notes, very reminiscent of a West Coast style IPA, if it was available in cans or bottles, I would have purchased a few to take home! One of my other friends, David, a popular beer podcaster/blogger in Montreal has his beer “La King Cogne” Rye IPA on tap at a Quebec Oktoberfest booth but unfortunately I didn’t try any of his beer while there. David recently wrote an article in Quebec’s go-to beer magazine “Bières et Plaisirs” discussing the top beers he’s had in his life - he stated that Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir was the best “outside of Quebec” beer he ever had in his life, and it’s all thanks to me that he got to try it, 3 years ago! 

Frankly, I tried a lot of beers while at Mondial because I have no idea when I’ll be back in Quebec next, but likely not for at least a year. My absolutely favourite beers and treats I had at Mondial has to be the Barleywine Germanique Cask by Les Trois Mousquetaires, a delicious, creamy, raisin/dark fruit sweetness of a barley wine that just loves to tingle your palate and belly at the exact same time. Saint-Maurice by Trou du Diable was an amazing saison that ended up being a great refresher between beers, a bit carbonated, fairly light yet citrusy and tasty, but Saint-Maurice may have been influenced on me as my old beer buddy Mathieu from Quebec City was the bartender for Trou du Diable for the weekend, I hadn’t seen him in over two years, so I know I drank more Trou du Diable last Friday than any other time in my life. There’s far too many beers from Brasserie Dunham to list that I fell in love with, but their L’assemblage #1 and No Tahoma Farmhouse Saison were frequently sampled by me, but thankfully Alex took me to Dunham on Saturday to try their beers in a a more intimate pub setting at the brewery’s own pub in Dunham, Quebec.. I wanted a Dunham t-shirt but they didn’t have anything larger than a large! Darn..

Aside from food, Mondial de la bière also had a great selection of food carts and stands ranging from gourmet pretzels, bison sausage, fresh cheese, barbecue, fresh baguettes and of course.. poutine! You would think I’d be eating ALL the poutine at Mondial, but I only ended up picking up a cone of fries with a side of homemade mayo over at the Frite Alors tent, something about their fries scream summer to me, maybe it’s the fresh cut, chip truck vibe?

On the weekend Mondial also hosted “Master Class” seminars featuring people in the brewing industry discussing their craft, how craft beer has changed and even how wild and experimental strains of yeast are becoming more popular in the industry. The main seminar I went to was about finding the right hops in times of hop shortages by Brett Porter, the brewmaster of Goose Island Brewing. He discussed the difficulty Goose Island and various Labatt’s “crafty” products have experienced in sourcing the right type of hops over the years and how he was able to use different strains of hops to replicate the flavour he wanted. Also, that if you are home brewer or have a brewery/brewpub, become friends with the local hop farmers because they’re always wanting to produce hops that the brewers absolutely want, even the experimental varieties.

To me, Montreal has a true beer culture but Winnipeg is quickly developing a craft beer scene which will influence a smaller craft beer scene here in Brandon eventually. Next weekend, June 24 and 25, Flatlanders Beer Festival is taking place in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre, the most exciting thing about Flatlanders this year is that all the new breweries that are opening up this summer are going to be using the beer festival to showcase the beers that they will be brewing once Winnipeg City Hall gives them the approval. At the festival, thew new breweries include Barn Hammer, Nonsuch, One Great City and Torque. Barn Hammer is the only brewery of the four that is now brewing beer at their brewery site, while the others are still doing test batches for now. I’m excited to see how the Manitoba beer scene will be. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling early batches of Barn Hammer and Torque beers in the past and we are in for a real treat!  Tickets range from $39.95 and $49.95 and can be purchased at Winnipeg Liquor Marts or through Ticketmaster. 

Review: Bridge Brewing's Lemon Gin Saison

I hate the taste of gin. There's something about gin that just makes me cringe to the point I want to gag, so for the thought of me picking up a Lemon Gin Saison.. makes me a bit scared, I LOVE saisons but if the gin is too much, I'm going to be gagging quite a bit. That being said, this is the first Bridge Brewing beer I've ever tried, and seeing that this is one of the last beers Miguel Cloutier worked on before moving back to Manitoba.

Appearance: The Lemon Gin Saison pours a honey golden ale, for the most part filtered and clear, a very good amount of beige foam on top that doesn't go anywhere. The fact is that I'm lettting the beer set because as I said.. I don't like gin, 10 min later, still full on frothy!

Aroma: For the most part I'm getting a lemon grass aroma starting off the beer. A hint of Belgian yeast, very crisp, a hint of pepper, no noticeable "barn yard" smell murking around, and only a hint of gin so thankfully the gin's not overpowering... now after several minutes of letting this beer sit, time to sip up!

Taste: Well the gin makes an appearance first and foremost but it's not as bad as I would have ever believed. It gives off a bit of a grainy, lemony taste to it with a moderate amount of floral piney hops to it. Smooth mouth feel on the palate aside from the light alcohol burning sensation from the gin itself. As for the aftertaste, a hint of gin, slightly metallic but very muted for the most part.

Overall Thoughts: The Lemon Gin Saison is better than I expected, in fact, as soon as I finally started sipping on it nearly 40 minutes after opening the beer, I've already drank a good deal of the beer almost instantly. More of the traditional style saison I like, it's not that easy to find in Manitoba except for a few LCs, so I might not have this again until next year. 5.5% ABV