Review: Double Trouble Hops & Robbers Grapefruit IPA

Happy May Two Four long weekend! It's been quite a long time since I received mail that wasn't either a bill or a letter from my cellphone provider trying to get me to add more services onto my plan that I already can't afford. Nathan over at Double Trouble Brewing sent me a package with a bunch of cans of their two newest products: Hops & Robbers Grapefruit IPA and Hops & Robbers Unfiltered Pils.

Double Trouble has always been awesome to me over the years - their social media has always been engaging and witty ever since I first started using Twitter many years ago, and I've been enjoying their beers since 2011. I'm sad that their Fire in the Rye Pale Ale is no longer sold here in Manitoba but when it went on clearance, I bought out all the local LCs for stock.

So as you can tell, I'm really excited to try two new beers that aren't even out yet. In fact, I'm one of the first people to review the beer! Today I'm checking out Double Trouble's Hops & Robbers Grapefruit IPA. I'm honestly not surprised that they're expanding the Hops & Robbers line of products because most beer geeks I know aren't necessarily familiar with the Double Trouble name, but the Hops & Robbers name is already pretty entrenched in the Canadian craft beer scene. Will they be all new future products under the Hops & Robbers line? Probably not because there's a lot of good punny crime-themed names they could come up. Hell.. They make the Trailer Park Boys Freedom 35 beer!

Okay.. now onto the review.

Appearance: The Grapefruit IPA pours a clear caramel/honey body with a good amount of micro-carbonation. A fairly light amount of beige head on top that mostly diminishes into just the thickness of a pin. Lastly, there's a good amount of lacing on the side of the glass as it's gradually being savoured.

Aroma: The name is very on point, this is a Grapefruit IPA. Actually, to me, I would almost consider this a Radler IPA but I doubt that there's that much grapefruit juice in here to make it a radler.. so Grapefruit IPA it is. Grapefruit is the most dominant aroma in this beer - it's sweet, bitter and moderately peppery. I'm not getting much from the hop presence but I'm going to assume that they're possibly using some Cascade and Galaxy in here, which would definitely compliment the grapefruit aromas a great deal. Light amount of bread dough, lemon and a faint hint of tangerine.

Taste: The very first thing I get from the beer is.. you guessed it, grapefruit! The grapefruit flavour is what I'd consider the most dominant flavour in this beer. Following the grapefruit there's a sharp hit of bitterness, a piney resinous flavour that lingers around the tongue for a good amount of time. Through the grapefruit, there's a good deal of black pepper spiciness (which is one of the reasons I hated grapefruits as a child), subtle notes of crisp two row barley, a hint of lemon, and a hint of tangerine.

Overall Thoughts: I feel like this should be called a "Radler IPA" because Radlers are all the rage right now but in reality, while grapefruit is the dominant aroma/flavour in this beer, it wouldn't have enough grapefruit juice to be considered it.. especially with it being 5.9% ABV. The beer really is a Grapefruit IPA - it has a heavy presence of grapefruit and bitter hops. The thing that surprised me was that I would get used to the grapefruit taste but then all of a sudden the bitterness of pine attacks my palate and leaves a lingering bitter aftertaste. In the era of juicy tropical IPAs, I'm happy that Double Trouble has come out with something bitter in this day and age - I love bitter IPAs but most people just want sweet and tropical. Well.. then again, with the grapefruit, this IS kind of a tropical IPA after all..

From the archives: Kasteel Rouge

Review from July 2011!

Oh boy.. boy oh boy.. Kasteel Rouge from Belgium!

I saw this beer at the Liquor Mart the other day, it was a new addition to the stock, so of course, I love to try new stock. For some reason, for the entire previous week, including until yesterday I thought it was a Chimay beer for some strange reason (must be the bottle).

Reading the front of the label, I expected it to be your regular Belgian style Rouge beer, nope.

This is the most non-beery beer I've ever tasted, especially during this project. It doesn't taste like a beer at all to me, it reminds me of Arbor Mist more than beer, it tastes like very tarty fruit, like a bottle of Arbor mist does, not a Belgian beer.

Pouring the bottle, The very dark red/purple colour made it clearly obvious this wasn't going to be your regular beer. Very tart, very very tart. I believe what I'm tasting is cherries. The aroma  reminds me of cherry jelly. It's 8% alcohol/volume, kind of hard to tell, but it's there.

Looking online: Yep, the name is for the sour cherries added in addition of a brown ale, left in a barrel for 6 months. It certainly is surprising.

I can honestly say this is the most unexpected selection of the series, very good for a fruit beer, yet very very tart/sour. I certainly will buy it again though, just for something different. Also, it seems like a beer that may be popular with people who aren't so much beer drinkers (but will drink fruitier drinks). Also, this is something I could see one drinking as part of a desert, not for barbecuing, sitting on the deck or watching a hockey game.. too sweet for that!

Review: Moosehead Anniversary Ale Limited Edition

2017 isn't just the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation but also the 150th anniversary of Moosehead Breweries. Today, Moosehead Breweries is the oldest independently owned brewery in Canada. In the mid to late '00s, I was a big fan of Moosehead's lager - it was affordable, easy to drink and quite often came with free swag with purchase. I probably would have kept buying Moosehead more if they still gave away swag, but in reality my tastes just changed for beer.

For their 150th anniversary, Moosehead launched a limited release product called "Moosehead Anniversary Ale". The anniversary ale is brewed with only Canadian grown ingredients with Galena, Columbus, Cascade and Chinook hops sourced from Thompson Okanagan, BC, Ste-Anne-de-Prescott, Ontario and Moose Mountain, New Brunswick. The malts sourced include Beyond the Pale from Neustadt, Ontario and Pale 2 Row from the Canadian Prairies.

Appearance: Aside from their Hop City beers, this is the cloudiest Moosehead product I've ever seen. It's a cloudy copper body with a light amount of carbonation and a light amount of off-white head on top. As the head diminishes ever minimally, it leaves behind a bit of lacing on the side of the glass.

Aroma: Honestly, this smells like an expired IPA to me - If you have the misfortune of accidentally aging IPAs, this is what it reminds me of. The aroma has that smell of that the hops in the beer were at one time floral and bitter but have aged and turned into a very sweet malt-forward beer with a bit of nuttiness to it. I'm finding that there's notes of caramel, a bit of a crisp grainery graininess and a bit of lemon. The non-fresh IPA aroma is what I keep noticing the most.

Taste: Thankfully the tasting notes are much better than the aroma. Here, I'm not getting that past its prime taste (like kind of cardboardy) to it. The beer is pretty much a malt-forward ale but there's a decent amount of complexity to it, which surprises me coming from Moosehead. There's a decent bitter hop profile that gives off notes of pine, grass and a hint of citrus. There's a crisp light graininess in there that's reminiscent to a typical lager but there's also a good deal of sweet caramel malt and a light roastiness at the very end of each sip, almost like toasted puffed wheat to an extent.

Overall Thoughts: The aroma sucks and is pretty misleading, but in the end, this is actually a solid ale. While it's not juicy, tropical or barnyard funk - it's a decent English-style pale ale with lots of malt forward notes to it and a good amount of bitter hops to give it a bit of balance. Also, Moosehead's Pale Ale is back in Manitoba and re-branded with retro '60s style design to it - I tried it at Brandon Beer Festival, it was alright but the Anniversary Ale is definitely the better ale of the two.

Molson Export vs Labatt 50 - the battle of the Quebec guilty pleasures

I've finally done it! I'm doing a comparison of Molson Export against Labatt 50, the two guilty pleasure beers I enjoyed while living in Quebec City.. and the two macro ales that I honestly don't mind drinking.

First off, you'll be wondering Why would you do such a thing? You obviously don't follow often because I review stuff most people wouldn't just because I can! Also, some of you are wondering why I'm using a Rickard's Honey Brown and Moosehead glass for the review.. I don't have any proper glassware. I could've used an Alexander Keith's glass for the Labatt 50, but I don't want to give Keith's any support.

Molson Export

Appearance: Clear golden straw body with a moderate amount of white head at the beginning but leaves behind only a bit of head near the side of the glass for the most part. Definitely seeing a good deal of carbonation in here.

Aroma: Sweet creamed corn, very sweet malt forward smelling right from the second the can is open. Notes of straw, grass and lemon. The hop presence is mostly coming up as the grass aroma. Not much else going on.

Taste: Reminiscent of the aroma so far - I get a very sweet malt presence that gives of a bit of a straw flavour to it as well as the creamed corn taste. A good amount of lemon, grassiness and even a slight bitterness coming from whatever hop they're using in this beer. Sweet yet crisp, smooth and only a light amount of aftertaste (slight metallic aftertaste)

Labatt 50

Appearance: Clear golden straw with a very faint amount of head on top, mostly around the edge of the glass. A bit carbonated but not much.

Aroma: Very light aroma where I'm not noticing much at all. I get a faint crisp barley aroma graininess with a subtle hop presence that gives off just a hint of pine bitterness to it. Good amount of bread dough and a faint lemon aroma at the end.

Taste: The flavours I'm getting up front the most are a crisp flavour from the malted barley that gives off a slightly sweet flavour to it. There's a definite bitter hop presence in here which is always surprising to see in mass produced macro lager/ales like this - it's a light pine hop bitterness. I'm finding it a bit watered down so it's being drunk way too easily. It's smooth, light, crisp, no noticeable aftertaste and a definite hop presence.

The Verdict

While these two beers seem to be each other's main competition, they do taste quite a bit different. Molson Export has more of a sweet malt presence to it with a creamed corn flavour to it - more what the typical lager drinker would like. Labatt 50 is lighter (a bit too light) but has a nice crisp grain finish and a nice amount of hops for a mass produced ale.

Both beers are bringing back lots of memories of summers of 2006 and 2008 but I certainly wouldn't spend $8.00 on a pint/tall can of this at a restaurant but I'd still get this at a Montreal dépanneur for the hell of it. I have to give Labatt 50 the win even though it's a bit too light but the hop profile just did it for me. If you agree/disagree, don't forget to let me know!

The Drunk French Canadian praises Dieu du Ciel!

Hey everybody! Stéphane Oni Dèls, AKA The Drunk French Canadian is back!

I don't believe I need to praise Dieu du Ciel!; their beers and success speak for themselves, but I'll do it anyway. I know Cody loves them; last time he was in town we met at their Montreal pub with one of his friend, another beer nerd obviously more qualified than me.

And while we sat there, me joining the duo after a long day of work, we talked about beers and nonsense life adventures and tribulations. So when the night was getting old, Our 3rd musketeer wanted to go home, prepping for sleep as work awaited him the next day. And while Cody asked and tried to convinced him to stay for at least one more pint, he categorically refused, his parting words, like a cautionary tale, omen of my fate, still resonate in my head to this day:
"No, Cody, when you're in town, nights don't end." 

To be fair, the night did end at some point, but only after a very late poutine. Just like my new friend, I too had work the next day, and I learned the harsh way the meaning of those words.

But I am not here to reminisce nor talk about Cody's Montréal beercation (I mean, we all know he can do that on his own), so onto DDC and their beers. While I am scribbling (some would say what I do is more akin to hieroglyphs), this at my second home, a.k.a. my local pub, which I will talk about in a future text, I am drinking a fine Dieu du Ciel specimen: Pénombre ("Penumbra", meaning "twilight" or "darkness") which is their black IPA - easily one of my favourite style of beers. Instead, I will actually be talking about one of my favourite summer beers: Disco Soleil. This Kumquat IPA is a refreshing bitter joy. This not too fruity but sugary-bitter blonde bombshell blasts beautifully beyond buds, begging brain "bring beer by buttload".

Alright, figure of speech asides, this is the absolute best beer... to make you Google "what the hell is a kumquat?" While I could write about this fruit and a stupid inside joke about it that stems from my podcast, I would never sink as low as shamelessly advertising like this... ( but I digress...

This fruity IPA is well balanced : fruitiness counters bitterness, refreshingness tramples the dryness of the ending, the only flaw I can find is that there seems to never be enough of it in a bottle! This is the perfect terrace beer, which just started opening here in Montréal, and we all know there's nothing better than a great beer after a long day of work (or play, there's no judging here). Disco Soleil is that - it's the easy drinking beer you want after a hot summer day, on your Friday night after a long week of hard work.. it starts the night easily. To be at bit more subjective, while I love this beer, usually a 6-pack stays in my fridge for a couple of days. This is a beer that has strong notes, most likely coming from the kumquats, and, at least for me, 2 or maybe 3 of these is more than enough in one siting. I usually buy a bunch of it when it comes out and then get tired of it until i randomly see it again throughout the summer. Then again, that's not very subjective, that's personal taste: one of my friends buys 6-packs of these every time he can, and drinks them all in one sitting. I guess you'll have to try it to judge it yourself!
(Cody edit: He actually had a Disco Soleil when we were at Dieu du Ciel last year!)

Like I (and most likely Cody) said previously; there's no point in praising Dieu du Ciel!; their beers are almost perfect, but for sure this is one beer I wait impatiently for its release every year. Going back to my story, I can't remember which beer I had at the pub with my friends. It's almost a year ago, obviously I drank a lot (and drink a lot in general throughout the year), so it's hard to keep track. I could dig in my Untappd history, but that would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack. When you're blind.. and you lost both arms in a tragic farm equipment incident. (psst, also follow me on Untappd! (@onidels) Oni Dèls, the Drunk French Canadian.

Review: New Belgium Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour

I'm going to post the same thing I seem to say in nearly every one of my boring reviews: I've been a fan of New Belgium for several years now, possibly around six years. For a long time, their beer wasn't available in Manitoba until one day Fat Tire made a random appearance at local LCs a few years back. We mostly get Fat Tire and Ranger IPA but once in a blue moon one of their seasonal beers will come out. This week it was their Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour. I lost all my tasting notes for this beer because iCloud decided that I absolutely didn't need them.. Ha! Turns out I had emailed the notes to myself!

The tasting notes page on their website says that the beer will have strong citrus and sulfurs, honey, white wine and ginger notes, as well as a strong sourness that turns moderately sweet.

Appearance: What surprised me about this beer was how lemony this beer actually looked. It was a bright lemon peel meets golden ale. There's a light to moderate amount of head on top that mainly stays to the side of the glass but also collects into the very middle of the glass itself. Kind of reminds me a bit of a gose

Aroma: It's moderately lemony, with an additional hint of that chemically "lemon pledge" aroma to it. It's very lightly tart which surprises me because I was hoping for that lemon sourness that raises your hair on the back of your head. The ginger doesn't really seem to be making any appearance in here yet but there's a slight herbal yeastiness in there.

Taste: While the ginger finally makes its initial presence in this beer, it's pretty light. Sure, I'm not expecting this to be a ginger beer but I was hoping for a good deal of heat in this beer! It does have an ever so slight hint of ginger heat that would be comparable to a big soda brand Ginger Ale. The lemon flavour has a hint of that lemon cough drop taste to it but while the lemon certainly dominates the ginger notes here, I was hoping for face puckering sourness from the medley of lemon and ginger. It's still pretty easy to drink but a bit too light for a sour for me. Lastly, there's a bit of hint of grassy hops mingling in there as well.

Overall Thoughts: Pretty mediocre unfortunately. As I've already stated, I was hoping for more of a face puckering intense tart flavour but seeing that I really like New Belgium's products, I'll be buying a few more bottles of this to compare with other lemon-themed beers with gorgeous spring weather finally hitting the prairies!

Review: Phillips Thorny Horn Sour Raspberry Brown Ale

Phillips Brewing's Thorny Horn Sour Raspberry Brown Ale is the very first beer released as part of Phillips' Sour Note series of Sour beers.

Description of the beer: "Pucker up and play the sour note! The first ever release from our Sour Note series takes an encore this week. This tasty sour is born as a medium bodied brown ale and fermented with a saison yeast. 
Following this, it is infused with raspberries and augmented with a lively Lactobacillus bacteria, the magical secret to sour. 
Like all of our special sour note releases, this brew features our own ‘lacto’ strain that was culturedin-house from our spent grain.
A tangy berry nose leads to a rich, slightly sharp raspberry tartness through the body that finishes puckeringly dry."

It's been a while since I've reviewed a sour, so here we go!

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish cherrywood with a hint of clarity to it but it's dark enough that you just can't quite see through the beer. Moderate amount of beige head on top that gradually diminishes and leaves behind a bit of foam mostly around the edge of the glass.

Aroma: Not as sour as I was expecting. I get notes of fresh made raspberry juice, a bit of a classic brown ale aroma to it.. meaning that it has a bit of a nuttiness and caramel scents in there as well. As for the sour notes we are supposed to expect in this beer - it has a light bit of tart fruit like cassis or a tamed version of a sour cherry. Light amount of floral and grassy hops near the end. Really liking the fresh raspberry notes so far.

Taste: Thankfully this beer is a bit more tart than the aroma as I'm getting a bit of a light sharpness that's reminiscent of a red wine. The raspberry fruitiness is pretty lingering and still pretty decent - I'm liking that it doesn't have that faux syrupy taste to it like most raspberry ales have.. it tastes natural! The beer actually reminds me of raspberry pie, I get ever such a smidge of creaminess in there and a bit of a good homemade graham pie crust doughiness in there as well. The sour notes also give off a bit of an earthy profile to it as it warms up a bit.

Overall Thoughts: I was hoping for face puckering in this sour and I'm disappointed in that. That being said, this is a solid fruit beer. It shows off the raspberries a great deal, it's mildly tart and mostly reminiscent of a light amount of a tarty fruit like cassis. It's easy to drink and could work in any season in my opinion - Summer on the patio or winter by the bon fire.

6.8% ABV

Review: Wood Buffalo Northern Special IPA

As you all know, Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo, Alberta had a really devastating forest fire last year that wiped out several hundreds of homes, leaving a lot of people homeless. It was almost like as if the disaster wasn't real but from a movie.. but unfortunately it was 100% real. Thankfully the city is rebuilding and going to be better than ever. Fort McMurray's Wood Buffalo Brewing started brewing again not long after people were allowed to return to the city.

I've never had anything from Wood Buffalo Brewing because Manitoba doesn't get any beer from Alberta outside of Big Rock and Brewsters, so we're missing out a lot. Thanks Kailey for bringing this beer back from all the way up in Ft McMurray!

Northern Special IPA is an IPA that tops out at 6.0% ABV and 54 IBU, so it's not that high up on the bitterness - but there's nothing wrong with that! The beer is described as following in the footsteps of its west coast counterparts and blazes a new trail into this northern region. Expect a kick in the mouth with this big floral Ale but don't let it discourage you.

Appearance: Northern Special pours a lightly cloudy, caramel ale with a decent off white/almost beige head to it. Minimal amount of carbonation but looks solid so far.

Aroma: This IPA isn't kicking me in the nose so far - I'm getting notes of malt: A caramel sweetness with a hint of soapiness at the end, a bit of a grapefruit aroma that is more common in West Coast IPAs. A hint of bubble gum, slightly floral and grassy hops and a hint of pine at the very end. Not really that bitter so far.

Taste: Like the aroma, I'm finding that this is more of a caramel-forward IPA more than hop forward. It's decently sweet and very easy to drink with flavours of caramel, a bit of grassiness from the hops, a hint of grapefruit (not as prevalent as it was in the aroma), a light herbal flavour to it and a hint of pine bitterness lingering in there once in a while. Very easy to drink but nowhere near as bitter as most IPAs I drink. Lastly, there's a bit of a piney aftertaste that tickles the tongue long after the beer is finished.

Overall Thoughts: Reminds me more of an Amber Ale more than an IPA. It's decently sweet and caramelly but misses out on the harsh/bitter West Coast bite that everyone knows. Really solid beer but as an IPA? Not really but I'd certainly drink this again easily! Of course it's substantially better than Keith's though.. but that's easy to do!

Merci Kailey! 🍻

Review: Trillium Congress Street IPA

One thing I learned about Trillium Brewing the other day is that Trillium loves to promote the neighbourhood with their beers - almost every one of their beers is named after a street within a stone's throw from the brewery. Congress Street in Boston is right where the brewery is located. Pretty cool!

Congress Street India Pale Ale is a double dry hopped IPA that tops out at 7.2% ABV. Congress Street is brewed with 2-row Barley, White Wheat, Galaxy and Columbus hops.

Appearance: Congress Street pours like your typical orange juice with an almost smoothie-like creaminess to the body. The beer has a liberal amount of white head at the beginning but quickly diminishes to almost nothing at all.. aside from the lacing on the side of the glassware.

Aroma: The smell I get right from the beginning is the aroma of fresh squeezed orange juice (sans pulp). It's sweet.. really sweet. It has notes OJ as well as pineapple, a bit of an herbal note from the hops that's slightly reminiscent of rosemary and fresh cut grass.

Taste: The taste starts off with a mild bitterness from the Columbus hops as well as a hint of pepper.  The taste then gives off that rich, sweet, tropical juiciness that we all know and love! I'm getting flavours of orange juice (sans pulp), pineapple, a hint of grapefruit for a bit of a bite to it. A slight hint of breadiness from the White Wheat. So tasty, sweet, juicy yet has a great bitter profile to it as well.

Overall Thoughts: It won't be a while until I'll be having another New England IPA so I'm enjoying every drop while I still can! While I'm a hop head, I really like New England-style IPAs for being a great alternative to witbiers and other sweeter, heavy ales I love. Merci yet again to Corey for being awesome by bringing me this amazing mixture of beer! I owe you big time!

Review: Brasserie Dunham Petite Mort Whisky

I was fortunate enough to get to visit Brasserie Dunham last year thanks to Alex and his wife over at Le Malt Incarné. I picked up a few beers at Dunham including this one - Petite Mort Whisky. Petite Mort Whisky is (obviously) a whisky version of their Petite Mort Imperial Stout, aged in Scottish Whisky barrels for 6 months. This one was bottled in April 2016 making it juuuuust over a year old.

Appearance: Petite Mort Whisky pours a heavy black stout. There's a thick amount of brownish burnt caramel head on top which reminds me of some of the best Imperial Stouts I've had years ago. Once the beer settles a bit, there's a lot of burnt caramel brown lacing on the side of the glass.

Aroma: The very first thing I get from this is the smell of whisky - it has a rich oak, vanilla and boozy scent to it. Once the beer settles a bit, the notes of the stout are much more dominant with notes of lightly burnt malt that gives off a bit of peat and a good amount of coffee, chocolate and overall pretty sweet aroma.

Taste: While the whisky is definitely more muted than what I found in the aroma. Each sip starts off with a roasted maltiness and then it changes to a light whisky booziness with a bit of a caramel sweetness to it. The roasted malt is the dominant aftertaste as I'm getting a lingering burnt coffee and peat taste on the palate for a bit.. but then I'm also getting a hint of apple peel in the aftertaste as well. Moderately boozy, notes of vanilla and oak but not as aggressive for a whisky barrel aged stout compared to most.

Overall Thoughts: The beer is only 375mL but it's giving me a bit of a buzz, but it shouldn't be a surprise as this beer is damned 11%! Nice roasty Imperial Stout with a good amount of whisky barrel notes to it, not as aggressive as most barrel aged stouts but you get a hint of whisky in every sip.

Review: Stone Xocoveza Stout

Originally posted in The Brandon Sun, February 10, 2017

Last week I went to the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart to pick up my usual selection of Unibroue beers with a couple of India Pale Ales mixed in for good measure. As I was walking to the register to pay for my beers I noticed a display at the cash register entrance. The display featured two beers - Bridge Brewing’s Uganda Sipi Coffee Brown Ale and Stone Brewing's Xocoveza Stout. I’ve reviewed BC's Bridge Brewing in the past and all their beers are solid but what popped out at me was Stone’s Xocoveza. Stone Brewing is amongst one of the top 100 breweries in the world and while their beer is currently available in Manitoba already with their Arrogant Bastard Ale, I never expected to see any other Stone Brewing beer available in Manitoba.

Stone’s Xocoveza is also one of the most interesting stouts I’ve ever had in my life. The stout was meant to be savoured over the holiday season but as we know already - it usually takes longer to get good beers in Manitoba. Since it’s still winter and the windchill is still hovering around -30 on any given day, the beer is still worthy of the season. Xocoveza is brewed with cocoa, coffee peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. When I bought the beer, I never noticed peppers on the label so when I tried the first sip, it really surprised me!

Xocoveza pours your typical stout with it being a heavy black beer, dark burnt caramel hue and a light amount of yellow cookie dough head on top. The aroma is reminiscent of your typical chain coffee shop - in particular: Tim Hortons. The aroma has a combination of multiple pots of coffee being brewed all at once, donuts and a hint of hot bubbling chili. There’s also a hint of dark chocolate in there as well as a hint of milk. The taste is what really surprised me - Since I didn’t notice the word “peppers” on the front of the label I really never expected spicy peppers in the mix. The flavour gives off notes reminiscent of Subway’s barbecue sauce - a sweet, tangy yet spicy concoction, as well as a great deal roasted coffee, a moderate amount of creamy milk chocolate, cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. It’s very much a sweet and savoury beer in my opinion.

This is actually not the spiciest beer I’ve ever had in Manitoba - Rogue’s Chipotle Ale wins that award but the up-front spiciness of the pasilla peppers in the first sip shocked me but as I kept drinking this, I really liked it. Sure, the flavours that made it reminiscent to Subway’s barbecue sauce make it seem weird but as the beer mellowed out as I kept drinking it, it was more like a Mexican drinking chocolate - a creamy hot chocolate with a bit of spicy heat to it thanks to the peppers, cinnamon and nutmeg. This isn’t something I would recommend to the casual beer drinker - this is for the stout lovers and for those who like a bit of spice or sweet and savoury foods. Stone’s Xocoveza Stout is available for $4.95/355mL bottle at Liquor Marts in Brandon and Dauphin. 8.1% ABV. 4/5 Pints

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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)