Review: Farmery's Pink Lemonale

Originally posted in The Brandon Sun, February 3, 2017

On Monday, the folks over at released their “best of” for Manitoba’s best brewer, new brewer and best beer for 2016. Half Pints won the award for Manitoba’s best brewer and for Manitoba’s best beer - Le Temps Noir Batch Two.. which was featured in last week’s article as one of the best beers I’ve ever reviewed so far! Torque Brewing took the award for Manitoba’s best new brewer. Congratulations to Half Pints and Torque on the awards, Manitoba is lucky to have a great up-and-coming beer industry!

In coming weeks you will start seeing Winnipeg’s newest brewery, Little Brown Jug’s 1919 Belgian Pale Ale available in Brandon. First off, they are supposed to be part of the 10th & Victoria’s growler bar tap list but I’m not sure when that will be happening as they didn’t take part on Liquor Marts’ Little Brown Jug tap takeover for some reason. The beer is now available in 750mL little brown jugs at Prairie Firehouse but they were sold out when I visited the other day, only days after announcing they brought the beer to Brandon!

On Wednesday, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries announced they were giving more choice to beer vendor-based growler bars when it comes to beer selection. Considering that the only beer vendor with a growler bar is at the Keystone Motor Inn - they will be given the ability to choose their own tap selection when it comes to growler fills. Previously, beer vendor growler bars essentially carried the same beers as the Liquor Marts did. With the changes in the regulation, growler bars such as the Keystone Motor Inn will be able to order in an alternative product when a Half Pints beer sells out as Half Pints only delivers to Brandon once per month. One beer that Keystone Motor Inn will be getting in for growler fills in the near future is Vankleek Hill, Ontario’s Beau’s 80 Shilling Scottish-style ale.

Now on to the review! In the three years I’ve been writing this article I’ve only had three or so people ask me “why haven’t you written a review on Farmery yet?” This is a bit of a surprise to me seeing that the brewery is now brewing locally in Neepawa and locally owned by the Warwaruk Brothers, originally from Erickson. Well, the fact is that most of my readers have tried Farmery’s brews back when it was being brewed at Muskoka Brewing in Ontario, and at one point I was planning on reviewing their Canadian Pale Ale but was told that it was still being tweaked so it wasn’t ready to be reviewed. Since the end of August they have been brewing out of Neepawa, using a good deal of ingredients sourced from their farms in Arden Ridge and Erickson as they possibly can but I don’t know how it would be possible to malt their grain without it getting crossed contaminated with grain from say.. Lauder or Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan unless if they’re malting it themselves or if the malting is done in very select batches at the maltster.

Since Farmery has opened up in Neepawa, they have released three new products - Prairie Berry Ale (sour cherry, raspberry and Saskatoon), Windchill Winter Lager, Pink Lemonale and soon a Hard Iced Tea. Honestly as a beer critic, this disappoints me - this is Western Manitoba’s first new brewery since the 1930s and my gut feeling is that their products are aiming towards the Bud Light and Twisted Tea markets.. because that’s exactly what it is. Well, that’s actually smart planning on their part because Western Manitoba is still pilsner country with a splash of malt coolers! It’s February and I still see people buying six packs of Twisted Tea Half and Half as if it was actually July! I wish Farmery was brewing a Saskatoon Porter or Session India Pale Ale.. but I’m not the brewery’s target demographic. Edit: They have since come out with a Robbie Scotch Ale that has received some decent reviews from friends so far. 

I picked up a six-pack of Farmery’s Pink Lemonale the other day after overhearing multiple customers asking specifically for the brew. Unable to find it in the regular Farmery display, itt turns out that Farmery’s Pink Lemonale is being considered a malt-based cooler rather than a beer, so it’s sitting amongst the likes of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Not Your Father’s Root Beer, near the fridges. Farmery Pink Lemonale tops out at 4% ABV, making it lighter than your typical Farmery lager.

Pouring Farmery’s Pink Lemonale, it’s reminiscent of a radler - it gives off a kind of cloudy yet dull, pink body with a good amount of carbonation to it. There’s a moderate amount of white head on top. The aroma is a liberally sweet and sour lemonade smell with notes of a grainy barley malt, decent for a cooler but it’s masking the “beer” properties so this isn’t trying to be a beer at all. The taste is sour lemon with a good amount of glucose-fructose, a bitter yet gritty barley taste that’s typical for most malt based coolers with notes reminiscent of a radler or shandy. The dominating notes are lemon, sugar and a hint of barley.

As a beer, this is way too sweet to the point that it’s almost sweeter than a carbonated lemonade soda.
As a cooler, this will sell well.. like lemonade on a hot summer day. My problem with this product is that they released it in the coldest months of the year - they could have released ANYTHING else.. a stout, a strong malt liquor product to take on Fort Garry’s Stone Cold Draft or even a malt based root beer but instead they decided on a pink lemonade inspired malt beverage.

Well, it seems to be selling well even if it’s -20C out. This, I can’t even imagine how popular this will be June hits.. but it could easily be the most popular Made-in-Manitoba beverage after Crown Royal - Well, who doesn’t like a cold lemonade with a bit of alcohol to it on a hot summer day?! Available at Liquor Marts in Brandon, Dauphin, Killarney, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Roblin, Russell, Swan River and Virden, as well as likely at local beer vendors for $13.85 per six-pack (355mL cans).
3/5 Pints

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