Review: Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Blanche

The very last thing I did before heading to l'aeroport Jean Lesage in April 2013 was visit Chez Victor on Rue St-Paul next to Bassin-Louise. When I lived in Quebec City in 2008, I visited Bassin-Louise at least 3 times per week as they had amazing free concerts (Tokyo Police Club, Chocolat, We Are Wolves, Wolf Parade, among others). Anywho, Chez Victor was the same place my coworkers at my job back in '08 took me for my farewell lunch, but it was the Rue Saint-Jean location.. they knew I was obsessed with burgers and knew I would love it.. which I did! So checking out the Rue Saint-Paul location of Chez Victor was like a good memory for me. They had 500mL bottles of various varieties of Charlevoix Vobiscum - I chose the blanche because.. well, who doesn't love a good witbier? That meal was one of the best I had in Quebec City, the burger was better than anything I could get in Brandon and the beer was fresh and citrusy!

Now, in November 2015: Charlevoix's Vobiscum Blanche is available in Manitoba, so you can tell I'm excited as heck!

Appearance: Vobiscum Blanche pours a cloudy lemon yellow with a bit of sediment in it. A moderate amount of snow white foam on top that seems to go nowhere and a light amount of carbonation.

Aroma: Beaucoup de coriandre.. lots of orange peel, Belgian yeast to give it a bit of a fresh dough aroma, a hint of lemon and even a sprinkle of pepper. This is stronger in aroma than a Unibroue Blanche de Chambly but not quite as strong as a Rickard's White.

Taste: The first notes I get are Belgian yeast, candi sugar, a few squirts of fresh cut oranges, a moderate to high amount of coriander, a hint of mint, a hint of pepper and lemon zest. This is quite yeasty and carbonated as it's making me burp quite a bit.

Overall Thoughts: An incredibly solid witbier that has a good citrus zest, easy to drink and is the kind of beer that people would associate with Quebec summers. Like the aroma, I feel that it's in between a Blanche de Chambly and Rickard's White for flavour as it has a great deal of citrus vibes, but not anywhere as much as Rickard's does. The Blanche is a great grainy wheat ale that I'll be buying a lot of until it's all gone in Brandon.

Review: Stella Artois

In the X amount of years that I've been writing about beer, I still haven't reviewed Stella Artois. Back in October 2005, I thought that Stella was an alright pale lager but with a bit of skunkiness and corn. Back then, I was a big fan of lagers.. but now - I would rather drink an over-the-top stout than a lager or pilsner. In 2015, to me - Stella is the worst beer in the best beer country. One of my old high school teachers told me that he fell in love with Rochefort 10 after a local in Belgium told him that Stella Artois is the "wife beater" beer, the swillest of the swill beers. Here in North America, it's treated like a royalty beer, but in reality.. it's not even as good as Heineken!

Every year they come out with a Christmas edition of their beer, corked and describing the beer as a beer made for the holidays. In reality, the beer is just one big marketing ploy. That said, here I am to review it!

Appearance: This batch of Stella Artois comes in a 750mL corked bottle, something that's reminiscent to many bières belges I've tried over the years. When I pour the beer, it's a very carbonated and straw yellow lager. It gives off a thick snow white head that actually gets thicker over time.. instead of diminishing. More carbonation than your typical North American lager, it's a tad too carbonated for my liking.

Aroma: This is the combination of straw, creamed corn and skunk aroma. It's a very sweet scent that's reminiscent of everything low quality for beer in Europe. There's not much to say here but it has that typical green bottle skunkiness that turns people off, as well as a hint of lemongrass.

Taste: I haven't had this in years because it's simply too expensive, a ripoff in fact. The first flavour I get is lemon followed by the taste of skunk perfume. There's a very grainy barley and grassy taste that follows the skunk, but unfortunately the skunky maltiness ruins the entire experience of the beer. There's a bit of a tinny aftertaste, but other than that - creamed corn.

Overall Thoughts: Creamed corn, skunk piss, even more skunk and a bit of low grade barley straw make this up beer. Out of all the beers available from Belgium, I can't believe that this is the one that people go to most. Labatt's owners at AB-InBev-SABMiller have better Belgian beers than this like Hoegaarden but never promote them. Mehhhh.

From the label: "Originally crafted as a holiday gift: Many years ago, the Artois Brewery crafted a special batch of beer as a holiday gift for the town of Leuven, Belgium.  The master brewers poured in all of their thought and care, elevating a simple recipe for beer into what we know as Stella Artois.  When we give something with thought, it lasts forever and today every batch of Stella Artois is brewed with that same thought and care so that it can continue to be given as a beautiful holiday gift." (Bullshit)

Unibroue's La Résolution 2015

One thing I see a lot of on social media from beer snobs is their hatred of pumpkin ales, they love to hate them! Well, a lot of people hate the trend of pumpkin spice. Well, aside from Fort Garry’s Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale that I reviewed just last week - pumpkin beers are on the way out to make room for some new treats!

The folks over at Lake of Bays Brewing out of Baysville, Ontario (Muskoka area) are excited about the Grey Cup coming to Winnipeg so they introduced the Chris Walby Pigskin Pilsner, which sounds as Winnipeg as a Muskoka beer can get (sorry, Farmery!) It retails for $15.89 per 1.89 growler and is only available at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart locally. The folks over at Craft Beer Importers Canada are bringing out their popular beer advent calendar sometime in the near future. The advent calendar retails for $133 and features a unique selection of twenty four different beers from all over North America. Last year had some interesting beers, including a beer from Nøgne Ø out of Norway. The price is a bit too much for me so I don’t think I’ll buy it this year, but you should expect a few other breweries to come out with their own beer advent calendars soon as well. Lastly, have you tried Wisers Hopped Whisky yet? What are you talking about Cody.. Wisers doesn’t make beer? Of course they don’t but they just released a new whisky that infuses notes of hops and malt to give it a bit of a dark ale vibe to it. I’ve reviewed several beers that incorporate whisky or their barrels before, so it’s pretty cool to see Wisers come out with a product influenced by beers. I wonder what a beer aged in one of those barrels would taste like? You can find this at Liquor Marts in Brandon, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Roblin and Virden for $27.99 per 750mL bottle.

The newest treat at the Liquor Mart that I can’t stop buying is Unibroue’s La Résolution dark ale. It was around this time last year when Unibroue’s La Résolution made its debut and somehow Liquor Marts got their hands on bottles before many dépanneurs in Montreal did! As soon as I tried my first bottle, I did a special order for an entire case (12 x 750mL bottles) because I assumed that this beer would sell off the shelves and never appear ever again, which is the norm for seasonal beers here in Brandon. Thankfully the beer was still around for a few months so I got to enjoy it over Christmas and New Years, but as well - I was able to age a bunch of it because Unibroue’s dark ales are constantly evolving in the corked bottles, so in four years time, it will be a great treat at Christmas time!

La Résolution tops out at a whopping 10% ABV, making it one of the stronger beers at the LC. It pours a rich, muddy, brown ale with a hint of a reddish hue to it. It’s incredibly carbonated so I recommend chilling this for at least an hour. It has a good amount of light beige froth on top going nowhere. The aroma is reminiscent to Unibroue’s Trois Pistoles, which if you have ever tried - it has a sweet, dark chocolate and dark fruit aroma to it with a touch of alcohol. Trois Pistoles is simply hard to explain to someone if the strongest beer they’ve ever had was Shock Top, it’s an experience itself. After the Trois Pistoles-style aromas, I find a bit of a Belgian yeastiness that you tend to see in every Unibroue beer ever made. The aromas that really pop out is the whiff of cinnamon and nutmeg - but not in the pumpkin sense as in this beer is as far away from a pumpkin ale as they get. Light amounts of brown sugar and a hint of pepper spiciness are always present. For taste, the first impression I get is cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted malt followed by brown sugar, a bit of chocolate, lots of presence of dark fruits like raisins, plums, figs and dates. It’s creamy on the tongue and leaves a bit of an aftertaste of dark fruit and cream. 

This is not a beer I recommend drinking by yourself, especially if you just recently started buying craft beer for the first time. Frankly, I recommend sharing this with 3-5 of your friends and family because a 750mL bottle may end up being a bottle drain if you aren’t accustomed to heavier darker ales, especially Belgian-style ones like La Résolution. I remember trying Unibroue’s heavier ales back in 2004 and I had a hard time stomaching them because they were simply too heavy. So share this with friends and family! I recommend sampling this with a homemade poutine (fresh curds are mandatory) on a chilly evening when the Jets (or Habs) or Wheat Kings aren’t playing. To me, this beer reminds me of a combination of Unibroue’s popular Trois Pistoles meets their Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve, but with less oakiness. You can find La Résolution at the Corral Centre and 10th & Victoria Liquor Marts for $6.15 per 750mL bottle. Age this if you can! My resolution for 2016: to start making friends in this town!

5/5 Pints

Skunkworth's Barleyslime: Fort Garry Two Rivers Lager

Tagline: "Craft brewed with natural ingredients."

This is a beer I am regretting to try - I kept putting off reviewing Fort Garry's Two Rivers Lager for the past month now, but it's been in my fridge for a few weeks, and some of you asked me to review it.. so I couldn't refuse!

Like Fort Garry's Stone Cold Draft beer, Two Rivers Lager is at the utmost premium quality of beers, to the point that it's available mostly in a 710mL brown pop bottle! How classy?!

First off, while I twist off the re-sealable plastic bottle cap, I only get a faint hiss of the carbonation, reminiscent to a half drunken bottle of Barq's Root Beer that's been in the fridge for the past 36 hours. As I pour it, I do get a hint of carbonation with a very subtle amount of snow white head.. but it ends up diminishing. The remaining micro-carbonation I do get.. it's a couple bubbles here or there, nothing like a bubble fireworks like you see in most typical Canadian lagers.

The aroma didn't scare me off as much as it did when I reviewed Stone Cold as this one has a bit of a honey vibe to it. BUT.. after the honey vibe, I smell lots of burnt plastic and a bit of straw mixed with a hint of horse manure to boot. Quite a bit of a straw and grassy vibe, but mmmm, who doesn't like hints of manure in their beer?!

The taste is sweet malt, lots of notes of honey, straw, some creamed corn and the taste of leftover beer filtered through a farmer's dirty sock after a harvest. Surprised there's no gritty pieces of straw or chaff in here. There's a faint bitterness of well.. plastic, the taste of a drink in a plastic bottle that you accidentally leave on the dashboard on an early spring afternoon.

I don't know why people drink this swill when Fort Garry actually brews GOOD beers like Dark Ale, Happy Jack, Pale Ale, etc. Oh ya.. because this is only $3.01 for a 710mL, and incredibly easy to carry as it's a plastic bottle... so if you're drunk and stumbling home from the vendor at quarter to 2 on a Sunday, if you drop these, you won't lose any beer like you would with glass or cans. But the typical Stone Cold/Two Rivers Lager drinker is planning on drinking it within seconds of leaving the vendor, so why would it matter anyways.. the beer has an easy-to-open cap! I can't wait until next spring when hundreds of empty bottles of this and Stone Cold are littering downtown Brandon again...

Honestly, not the worst beer that I've reviewed for Skunksworth's Barleyslime, but fuck.. I'm cringing every sip I take of this. 5.0% ABV

Review: Phillips Crookeder Tooth Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale

I don't know when I'm ever going to get through the backlog of pumpkin beers I have to remember.. BC alone had way too many this year! Phillips Brewing out of Victoria has not one.. but TWO pumpkin ales, first off they have Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale, and then they also have Crookeder Tooth Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale, which of course, is a bit stronger.. and barrel aged. Tonight I'm reviewing Crookeder Tooth as I don't think I have any Crooked Tooth.. because the local LCs never seem to carry enough of anything with the growing craft beer demand.

Appearance: Pours a fairly clear (only slight haze) caramel brown, good amount of carbonation, a good amount of beige head popping on top.

Aroma: Lots of brown sugar, good amount of nutmeg, some cinnamon, a touch of vanilla, light notes of pumpkin and only a hint of oak. When I've sampled this previously, I never realized this was a barrel aged beer as it is because it doesn't pop out in the aroma.

Taste: Pumpkin is first and foremost in the taste.. unfortunately.. buuuuut the barrel pops out here, thankfully. I get a bit of an oaky wood flavour to it, some whisky, notes of vanilla and a hint of cream. Very reminiscent of gingerbread in this case and there's a good deal of brown sugar and nutmeg making a presence again.. and just a touch of cinnamon.

Overall Thoughts: The flavours are certainly more present in the taste than the aroma, so it's not a write-off of a pumpkin ale. Good amount of oakiness in there which I appreciate when the nights get longer, and the temperature drops. Has a light Innis & Gunn-like syrupiness, but I'm able to get past that as the brown sugar and nutmeg certainly compliment the beer. 7.3% ABV

Review: Rickard's Red India Pale Ale (IPA)

Sometime approximately two and a half years ago I believed that the Rickard's brand at Molson was on its way out. The newest additions to the brand back then were the Blonde and Dark ales, which were released a few years earlier. It kind of made sense that the brand would diminish over time as Molson was really pushing Granville Island Brewing's beer from coast to coast. I felt that Granville Island was going to become the new Rickard's, the new "go to" pseudo-crafty beer that the average beer drinker would have on tap at mom & pop pubs or chain restaurants. Well, Granville Island's popularity soared quickly here in Manitoba, while the Rickards brand gradually disappeared.

Pubs eventually stopped selling Rickard's White in favour of Labatt's Shock Top Belgian-style Wheat Ale, even though Rickard's had a better product.. and now that Molson is bringing Blue Moon to Canada as "Belgian Moon".. so it looked like the Rickard's line was done for good. That was then - in the past year they've brought out a few new seasonals including Rickard's Lederhosen, Rickard's Radler - which is one of the best radlers I've had in 2015, and now Rickard's Red IPA.

When I first heard about Rickard's Red IPA, I didn't know what was Molson's intent - this could easily confuse beer drinkers as Rickard's Red is already a successful beer as it is.. but it turns out that the India Pale Ale is part of a new series of seasonal "Red" beers as part of the "Rickard's Red" series of ales. For some reason, the label on Rickard's Red IPA can reminds me more of a Redd's Apple Ale or a Bud Light Apple more than a Rickard's Red, so perhaps it won't confuse drinkers as much as I initially thought.

This isn't the first India Pale Ale that Rickard's has released - they previously had an India Pale Ale back until around 2006 when Rickard's White replaced the IPA in the Rickard's Taster Pack. I barely recall much about the IPA other than it was very easy to drink, a hint of floral notes and no bitterness to it. Back then, I wasn't an IPA drinker so beers I considered bitter back in 2006 may not be perceived the same way now.

Now onto Rickard's Red IPA, it's an English-style IPA that tops out at 5.7% ABV, 40 IBU - so it's not that bitter, but it may be a nice transitional IPA for those beer drinkers who want something with a bit of hops to it, but dislike hop bombs of some craft IPAs on the market.

Now onto my review!

Appearance: Rickard's Red IPA pours a rich caramel-red ale with a great deal of micro-carbonation. There's about half a finger of yellowish-to-beige head on top that's not going anywhere, yet sticks to the side of the glass as the beer slowly goes down. To me, it looks a lot like your standard Rickard's Red.

Aroma: Surprisingly aromatic and mildly hoppy. It's not overbearing like some hop bombs out there, but it has a nice balance of hop/malt presence. There's a light-to-mild amount of fresh cut alfalfa and pine that's reminiscent of some of my favourite IPAs and a light citrusy note of grapefruit, which I'm really liking. A bit of a caramel maltiness, light bready notes. Quite light but coming from Molson, they're more liberal on the hops than most of their brews.

Taste: There's notes of caramel and fresh baked biscuits that remind me of the original Rickard's Red ale, followed by a bit of a spice to it - possibly a hint of pepper and clove. There's a bit of hop presence that gives off a piney bitterness, but it's quite a bit toned down compared to say.. a Red Racer India Style Red Ale - nowhere near as bitter. It's very easy on the palate, a bit creamy on the palate and leaves a bit of a grassy aftertaste at the end.

Overall Thoughts: This isn't a hop bomb snob's IPA, rather it's the kind of India Pale Ale that the average Manitoban beer drinker would drink at a pub with friends as they're eating wings and watching the Jets game on TV. One of the biggest complaints I've heard from friends and beer drinkers in my neck of the woods is that they don't care for IPAs because they tend to be overly bitter. This one certainly has a good hop presence with a hint of alfalfa, pine and even grapefruit, but it's not overpowering. For an English-style IPA, it's a tad hoppier than Wells IPA, and certainly much more of an IPA than Alexander Keith's IPA will ever be.

Will I drink this again? Yeah, I probably will. The Rickards line of beers was one of THE brands of beer that turned me from a lager drinker into a craft beer drinker. While it's not in any shape or form a craft brand, I'm not disappointed if that's the best option on tap - just like how I settled with Rickard's Red (in a glass boot!) at Montana's last night because it was either that, or Shock Top, and frankly - Shock Top sucks and Rickard's Red is still very drinkable to this very day.

42nd Canadian General Election Beer Pairing Party - Go vote!

I can't believe tonight's the eve of the 42nd Canadian General election as it feels like it was just last week when the long campaign began!

As a political scientist and beer drinker, I've always wanted to do an election beer party. The focus of it would be to pair certain beers with political parties. Back in 2006, my university's pub had such an event - they had 4 different beers on special to represent the 4 main political parties (sans Bloc). The Conservative Party was Labatt Blue, The Liberal Party was Molson Canadian, The NDP was... well, I forget what beer.. and the Green Party was Molson Old Style Pils.

This year, here's my Canadian beer suggestions for a political party election PARTY! I'm listing beers that are generally available here in Manitoba. Feel free to share your list of political party PARTY! beers you'd associate with the election.

Conservative Party
This one was the toughest for me to pick a beer for the Conservatives. Well, of course I could have gone out and said Labatt Blue, but that would make it too easy.

Instead, I chose Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale. The Pale Ale is quite a popular beer here in Brandon-Souris - a political riding that's gone Conservative for all but one election in the past 50+ years. It's a lighter, malt forward pale ale that is a bit stronger than what you generally see people drinking in the typical Western Canadian Tory ridings.

Edit: I've been told to include Carling Extra Old Stock Ale in the list! LOL!

For NDP, I chose Farmery Lager. Its overly orange can pops out and is a respectful grainy lager that tends to get a lot of debate over by beer drinkers here in Manitoba. You can find more cans/bottles of Farmery Lager at small town vendors and bars than NDP voters in the entire community.

Liberal Party
This was another tough one for me, I was going to choose Rickard's Red but decided with Red Racer India Style Red Ale. It's something that's bitter, malty and leaves a weird taste in your mouth - just like voting Liberal in rural Manitoba in 2011 but it's a very tasty alternative to Red Racer's popular IPA - full on hops!

Alternate beer: Trou du Diable Shawinigan Handshake for the single fact that the label features artwork of Rt Hon. Jean Chrétien choking the devil (or in some cases, Don Cherry). I know many of my Liberal Party-supporting friends have tried this beer when they've visited Montreal.

Green Party
Mill Street Original Organic Lager. This is easy. Green Party fans like my buddy Sarah are all about organic this and that. I don't know what else to really say here.

Alternate beer: Steamwhistle Pilsner - obviously because of its green label but their retro delivery truck was retrofitted to be turned into an electric truck - no more nasty emissions from that truck!

Bloc Québécois
It's appearing that the Bloc may actually win seats in this election so it would be bad for me not to include them here. I chose Glutenberg Pale Ale Américaine for the Bloc mainly because I don't believe they deserved to have a Unibroue beer paired with them. That and I still remember when the Bloc dreamed of trading with the States much much more.

Alternative beer: Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc - pas canadienne but the Bloc doesn't want to be part of Canada anyways

Rhinoceros Party
My favourite party party! One of their platform ideas in this election is the Senate Loto where you can win a chance to become a Senator. For the Rhinoceros Party, La Divine Comédie by Dieu du Ciel/Trou du Diable is a perfect pairing for the Rhinos.

For those who don't give a damn, or more for those who won't be happy with ANY of the possible election outcomes: Unibroue La Fin du Monde, might as well get tipsy and hope that the new/old guys are better than the old/older guys.

Now, your thoughts?

From the review archives: Unibroue Éphémère Poire (Pear)

From the Brandon Sun, July 31 2015

I think it’s time for me to declare 2015 the “year of fruity beers.” I’ve seen more fruit flavoured beers in 2015 than any other year. Nearly every brewery from Fort Garry, Amsterdam Brewery to Labatt making fruit flavoured beers to battle the heat. Budweiser USA, owned by Labatt’s owners Anheuser-Busch InBev sent out a tweet stating "Nobody cheers for the guy who brings a watermelon wheat beer.” Well.. the problem is that Budweiser’s Bud Light branch of beers produces several fruit flavoured beers ranging from Bud Light Apple to Bud Lime Mango-rita, which I can confidently state taste nasty - they’re trying to flavour a piss-poor product and market it to people who are drinking other types of beers and beverages as they’re sick and tired of the same ol’ Bud Light. What do I think of Budweiser’s Tweet? I think you should check out Parallel 49’s Seedspitter Watermelon Wit at Liquor Marts in Brandon and Dauphin, it’s a fruity, citrusy, watermelon wheat ale that goes well with Friday evening TGIF patio parties and this heat we’ve been having. 

Another fruity beer I’ve been drinking a lot of lately is Unibroue’s Éphémère Poire (Pear) Wheat Ale. As you probably already know, I’m probably one of the biggest fans of Unibroue in the world. I seldom mention them in my column because I find whenever I do mention them, one of their beers ends up exploding in my face (TIP: ALWAYS chill Unibroue beers, even if it tastes better room temperature - you just don’t want to get a cork in your eye and beer all over your clothes.. like I did). Unibroue’s Éphémère line has produced a lot of fruit flavoured beers over the years from apple, cranberry, cherry and even cassis. My absolute favourites were the late cassis and the late raspberry Éphémère. I’m not a fan of pears but I can’t seem to get enough of Éphémère poire. Poire pours a hazy golden straw, very cloudy, incredibly carbonated and fizzy. A bit of a creamy white foam on top that gently fizzes away. The aroma gives me notes of freshly sliced pears, notes of bubble gum, Belgian yeast to give it a bit of a hint of bread, a bit of apple core and just a hint of lemon. The beer tastes like it smells, the yeast makes a big appearance in this beer to give it more of a bready bite to it, notes of pears, apples, light herbal notes, lemon peel and some bubble gum sweetness.

I absolutely love Unibroue’s beers, but I generally find the Éphémère line to be mostly miss, but Éphémere Poire may be the best of the series so far. It’s full of peary goodness - lack of a faux syrupy fruitiness that you would expect in a Bud Lime pear-r-rita if it ever existed. It’s sweet, citrusy and even has notes reminiscent of my favourite wheat ale, Blanche de Chambly. I wish this beer was available on tap locally because this would compete well with Shock Top. You can find the beer in 750mL bottles for $6.15 at the Brandon 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart and as well at the Killarney Liquor Mart. 5.5% ABV 

TIP #2: Unibroue is pronounce uni-brew, not unibrow. Éphémère is pronounced eh-fay-mare.

Review: Central City Patrick O'Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Just last week I reviewed Central City's Red Racer Spiced Pumpkin Ale, now Central City has yet another pumpkin beer called Patrick O'Pumpkin as part of their comic book-esque series of beers that featured Detective Saison and Mayor Kolsch. Patrick O'Pumpkin is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale that tops out at 8% ABV, a bit stronger than the Spiced Pumpkin and Patrick O'Pumpkin is barrel aged. Not surprisingly, Spiced Pumpkin is already sold out, so this one will be gone soon too.

Appearance: A rich nutty brown ale with a light copper hue to it. This is much more reminiscent to an autumn-inspired ale than your overly sweet reddish amber pumpkin beers. Very dark yet not too heavy.. not as heavy as a stout or porter but darker than your standard nut brown ale. Minimal amount of carbonation at the pour but I get a small amount of beige/cookie dough foam on top.

Aroma: I'm getting a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg in this beer. Also, a good amount of pumpkin aroma is popping up.. for the most part this is reminding me of their Spiced Pumpkin Ale for aroma. It's quite sweet, almost obnoxiously sweet with lots of brown sugar, caramel, and a bit of doughiness as well. Apparently this is a barrel-aged pumpkin ale but I'm not getting much of barrel/spirit aroma to it.. no oak, no vanilla and no whisky or rum notes so far.

Taste: A nutty brown ale with notes of toffee, coffee, toasted cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. The nuttiness gives it a bit of a bitter aftertaste that lingers for a while after the beer is finished. The cinnamon and nutmeg aren't as much present in the taste as it is in the aroma. I'm noticing a hint of woodiness in the tastes finally, but only minimal hints at best. Later on as I'm sampling this, I notice a bit of a pumpkin flavour in it.. but it's not as pumpkiny as the Spiced Pumpkin Ale, thankfully!

Overall Thoughts: Really liked the nuttiness and that it's more of a brown ale.. but I was very disappointed that I barely noticed any of the flavours/aromas from the barrel aging.. it was underpowering. This compared to Spiced Pumpkin Ale.. this one is more reminiscent to an autumn brown ale that's perfect for the changing weather.. with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, while the Spiced Pumpkin is more for those who want a spiced pumpkin latte for a beer. I don't think I'll be drinking this again in the next 11 months, but I might save a bottle if I do see it again just to see if it can be aged.

Review: Driftwood Farmhand Saison

Victoria BC's Driftwood Brewing's beers have been really steadily showing up at local LCs ever since the Coast to Coaster event took place back in June, ever since then, a few of Driftwood's beers have been making an appearance here in Brandon. The newest one to the list is Farmhand Saison.

Appearance: Farmhand Saison pours a hazy orangish wheat ale with a really weird reddish hue to it.. it's a bit darker and redder than the typical saison. As I pour the beer in the glass I get a light to moderate amount of carbonation and just a hint of foam on top that only makes a guest appearance.

Aroma: I'm getting notes of straw, Belgian yeast, lots of lemon, hint of coriander, a bit of orange peel. I can say that this is quite a fruity saison so far. I even get a bit of bananas and pear aromas popping up in there.

Taste: I find it to start off very sweet but mellows out immediately. I can only describe it as a candy sweetness that turns into a peppery and yeasty complexity of flavours. I'm getting memories of dad's fried potatoes with way too much pepper on them.. that he will only end up drenching in ketchup. There's a bit of lemon citrus, lots of farm-yard straw maltiness that gives it a bit an earthy/grainy taste to it. Aside from the initial taste, I don't really notice much sweetness anymore - it's pretty mellow and yeasty/bready/peppery. An interesting take on a saison.

Overall Thoughts: It has the earthy farm yard tones that I grew up with and what I'm familiar with in saisons, adds a rich spiciness of black pepper and has a hint of lemon citrus. It's much more fruity in the aroma but that's alright. This is a nice, complex saison that I have been savouring quite a bit lately, more than my typical Blonde de Chambly.