Three Beers for New Years

Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, December 30, 2016


2017 is already just about here. Now it’s time to look back at 2016 in Manitoban beer. Barn Hammer Brewing became the first brewery to open up in Manitoba since Half Pints Brewing opened up in Winnipeg back in 2006 - it took a whole decade for Manitoba’s third brewery to open! Ever since Barn Hammer opened, a bunch of new breweries and even a distillery opened up. Following Barn Hammer was Torque Brewing, Torque is also the first new brewery to also have beer available in cans/bottle - they currently have most of their offerings in 473mL cans but plan on doing special one-off 650mL bottles for special one-off releases including sours and barrel aged ales. Neepawa's Farmery Brewing became the first brewery to open up in Western Manitoba since Empire Brewing closed in Brandon back in the 1930s, their offerings currently include a lager, pale ale, a berry ale and a pink lemonade malt cooler.

PEG Brewing was expected to be the first of the new batch of brewers to open up back in 2015, they weren’t able to start brewing until only a few months ago, they are also the only brewpub/tasting room with a full kitchen. Winnipeg’s Capital K Distillery became Manitoba’s first new distillery in Manitoba, Capital K’s two Manitoban grain based vodkas - Crystal Vodka and Tall Grass Vodka are available at local Liquor Marts now. One month ago, Little Brown Jug opened up right in the exchange district, they currently brew one beer - a 1919 Belgian Pale Ale, Little Brown Jug’s brewmaster, Bernie Weiland is originally from Westman so it’s great to see someone from this area involved heavily in brewing operations! Lastly and most recently - Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries announced they were cancelling the five million dollar loan program for new breweries and distilleries. None of the new breweries or distilleries were able to take advantage of the loan program in the first place as the program was essentially non existent as soon as the PC Party came to power in April. It may slow down on potential new breweries and distilleries opening up in Winnipeg, but there will still be many more breweries opening up in the next two years - stay tuned!

With it being New Years Eve tomorrow, I felt like it was a good time to have a New Years Eve themed beer edition of First Draught, here’s three beers I feel would be great additions to a great New Years Eve party.

Unibroue La Résolution Limited Edition - With a name like La Résolution, I just had to include this beer first! My main resolution for 2017 is to travel more and check out the exploding beer scenes beyond Manitoba or Montreal. Unibroue’s La Résolution is a rich dark ale that tops out at 10%, it has an aroma of dark fruits, brown sugar, a light touch of burnt caramel and a hint of gingerbread. The flavour is rich and boozey, notes of gingerbread, nutmeg, burnt caramel, a light spiciness to it and a bit of dark fruit (prunes, raisins). A great beer to warm up to.. seeing that it’s 10%. $8.71 per 750mL bottle. 4.5/5 Pints

Boyne Born in a Day APA - Fairly new to Manitoba Liquor Marts, Born in a Day is an Australian-style Pale Ale by Irish Brewery Boyne Brewhouse. Pours a cloudy amber ale with a lot of carbonation, thick amount of light beige head. The majority of the aroma I get is a grainy aroma with notes of lemon, a hint of grapefruit and a bit of caramel malt. The taste is reminiscent of an Original 16 which is an American Pale Ale - it’s grassy, grainy, a bit of toasted bread, hint of lemon, a bit of caramel for sweetness and a hint of bitterness from the hops lingering for the aftertaste. I honestly wasn’t knowing what to expect for an Australian Pale Ale out of Ireland, but I expected more tropical hops, instead it’s more reminiscent to the lighter end of American Pale Ales to me. It’s very easy to drink and mildly bitter at the very end. 4.8% ABV, $3.99 per 500mL bottle. 3/5 Pints

St Sylvestre 3 Monts - Half a decade back, MLCC used to have this great beer called DeuS Brut des Flandres, it was the perfect New Years Eve toasting beer as it was very fizzy, sweet and even reminiscent to champagne as it was aged in champagne barrels. Unfortunately the beer is no longer available in Manitoba so I find 3 Monts Golden Ale to be a decent substitute to DeuS. 3 Monts pours a pale straw golden ale with a great amount of fizz at first but quickly diminishes to just a few bubbles here and there as well as a decent thick white head that diminishes to a light amount of white film with a liberal amount of lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is a sweet honey and herbal aroma with notes of champagne, a hint of European lager skunk and a hint of lemon. The taste gives off a sweet, flavour that’s aiming towards the direction of a champagne but misses out on the fizzy goodness of a champagne. The beer is very sweet, almost like a white mead, flavours of lemongrass, a hint of hop presence to give it just a hint of bitterness and a bit of a profile that I can only explain as sparkling wine aftertaste. While this beer can’t compare to DeuS, I actually really like the white mead honey-like sweetness and for a New Years Eve beer toasting.. this certainly works for me! 8.5% ABV. $6.68 per 750mL bottle. 3.5/5 Pints

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