Review: Fort Garry Big Bison Extra Special Bitter

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Review: Fort Garry Big Bison Extra Special Bitter by Cody La Bière
First a rant, then a review. I (try) to work hard at my job to be able to afford to try new beers and eventually review them. However, it pisses me the eff off when one of my roommates has been stealing my beers and beer glasses for weeks now. I had a hoard of Quebec beers, I wanted to drink my bottle of Unibroue "U" Rousse, and hmm.. for some reason the bottle was opened and empty. That's not like me.. EVERY time I try/drink a beer, I post it on untappd, even if it's Club or OV. But this time, I looked to see if I had it very late at night when I may have had a few too many.. nope. I didn't check in.. so something's up. I look in a box where I had 12 different Quebec beers.. oh look.. 6 of them are all empty.. I didn't even get to try them! Then the other day I wanted to drink a bottle of Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve out of my Unibroue glass (Note: I bought one for $25 + shipping off eBay and got another two from my friend Jonny, but the other two are at the farm), the Unibroue glass is missing! I live in a place that's basically a dorm meets rooming home, everyone here's about my age. None of them really like beer, so it seems really unusual that someone would be stealing my beer I used my HARD EARNED MONEY to buy.. IN QUEBEC! You may be saying "but Cody? Why don't you move out?" Well, I'm perpetually broke. I can't afford to move out. Every time I do have money, I save it for my Quebec bièrcation fund ($50 or so per paycheque) and the rest goes to bills bills bills. I'm sick of this fucking shit.. I work my ass off (even if some don't think I do.. I honestly try my best) and this is the thanks I get. What does this have to do with tonight's review? One beer that fortunately DIDN'T get stolen out of the box was the new Big Bison ESB by Fort Garry Brewing.

Matt & team over at Fort Garry Brewing have been working on a bunch of new seasonals/one-offs for quite a while now, and I still remember reviewing their very first craft beer, Munich Eisbock back in 2011.. oh how the times have changed!

Appearance: Big Bison, like most of their seasonals/Brewmasters beers comes in a painted 650mL bottle. Big Bison has a portrait of a.. bison with the words Big Bison on it, with a 1970 Manitoba centennialesque "Manitoba" logo. Pours a somewhat clear slightly reddish-honey golden ale, thick amount of creamy beige head, fluffy as heck.

Aroma: Has a kind of Fort Garryesque aroma to it, reminiscent of Fort Garry's Rouge in aroma, some moderate amount of bitterness from the hops, a whiff of barley, sweet caramel malt notes and slightly bready.

Taste: While it's called a "bitter", it's quite moderate in bitterness to the tongue.. hi-oh ;) It has a bit of a creamy mouthfeel, floral yet somewhat bitter hops, caramel maltiness, slightly grainy, and somewhat toasted. The flavour is very much of a Fort Garry taste to it, it has a combination of Fort Garry of the past meets Fort Garry of the present. Notes that remind me of Fort Garry Rouge and Gibraltar yet flavours we should expect from Brewmaster Matt.

Overall Thoughts: I'm nowhere near as cranky as I was when I was starting this piece, the beer really calmed me down, soothed me to the point I'm just about ready to go to sleep. I've had quite a few Extra Special Bitters (ESBs) in the past few weeks thanks to taste testing beers at the Lt Governor's Winter Festival, and this is an incredibly solid ESB, nice moderate amount of bitterness, creamy on the palate, caramel notes, a bit toasty, not a beer you would see in Manitoba circa 1970 but this is a style that seems to be one of the "next big styles" in beer, as I've seen a few of my favourite breweries starting to experiment with ESBs as of late. Costs $6.55/650ML bottle at the Liquormart. 5.5% ABV and 45 IBU. I love the name, it's really a Manitoban kind of beer name, and the 1970 "Manitoba" logo reminds me of Manitoba's past. This will of course, pair well with a local bison burger topped with fresh bacon (with a bit of drizzling of maple syrup), Bothwell's award winning Monterey Jack cheese, buns from Le Croissant, Minary Homestyle Bakery in Souris or my favourite.. Stella's Cracked Wheat buns. Oh and don't forget to have a bit of BBQ sauce for the Big Bison burger.. a stout/dark ale BBQ sauce will do its trick!

Okay.. I'm hungry.
Beers that were drunken on me :(