Yesterday was the Summer Solstice so it only makes sense to review a beer brewed for that very day - Solstice d'été by Dieu du Ciel. According to the bottle, this is almost five years old as it was brewed in July 2013, so I have no idea how long I've had this in my hoard.
Last year, I happened to be at Dieu du Ciel a year ago today and enjoyed this same beer on tap at their pub, so I'm excited to have this again!
Solstice d'été is a Sour Wheat Ale that's brewed with raspberries and tops out at 5.9% ABV.
Appearance: With this being nearly five years old, it still looks amazing: It has a rich reddish-purple raspberry juice appearance with a light pink head on top.
Aroma: It's held up really well over this time - it smells just like what I remembered from last year - raspberry jam and a hefty amount of sourness. The raspberry aroma is sweet yet decently tart. Reminiscent of the Lindemans Framboise I had the other day. Good deal of sourness in here, a hint of vinegar. That's about it.
Taste: It tastes like if I'm having toast with homemade raspberry jam. It's decently sweet yet has a sour presence that isn't overwhelming yet is enough to give me a bit of goosebumps after each sip. There's a certain amount of breadiness in here. It's quite dry and leaves behind a light sourness that's a bit reminiscent of vinegar for the aftertaste.
Overall Thoughts: Seeing that this is almost five years old, it aged really well - the fruitiness of the raspberries is still there and the sour presence of what I remember from last year's batch while at the brewpub is completely on point. Very refreshing for this incredibly hot, muggy summer day in Manitoba.
Unibroue just launched their newest beer the other day - Autre Chose IPA à la pêche (Peach IPA). Autre Chose is a new series of beers that's experimenting with non-Belgian styles of beer and the Peach IPA is their first beer as part of the series. I'm not sure where Unibroue plans to take the Autre Chose line but they've been brewing a few non-Belgian style beers for well over 20 years ago with their "U" line of lagers which can be found in the discount section of any dépanneur in Québec.
Autre Chose IPA à la pêche is an IPA brewed with peaches and dry hopped with a medley of Cascade, Galaxy, Citra and Lemondrop hops. I'm expecting the beer to be slightly bitter with a large tropical presence. 50 IBU and 6% ABV.
Another thing, Autre Chose is only available in Quebec so you won't be seeing it at your local liquor store anytime soon.
Appearance: The IPA is slightly hazy and pours a rich golden straw body with a light amount of carbonation and a thin layer of snow white head on top that's mostly near the glass.
Aroma: Peaches. Peaches definitely dominate the aroma but there's also a bit of a hop presence, an ever so slight note of pine from the Cascade and a good amount of tropical fruit aromas like pineapple that unfortunately gets overpowered by the peach fruitiness. This definitely smells like a Unibroue beer - it reminds me a bit of Blanche de Chambly a tad as it's fruity, slightly spiced as if there's a bit of coriander but I don't think there is any in this beer.
Taste: Again, peaches. This is sweeter than most non New England IPAs as the flavour of peach is running the show here. Compared to the aroma, I'm finding that the hops are definitely showing more presence in the flavour as I'm getting the medley of hops popping up in every sip. There's a bit of pine and pepper popping out from the Cascade hops, while the Galaxy and Citra hops are giving it a bit of pineapple, lemon, and a bit of floral presence that I'm used to in the popular IPAs of today. The mouthfeel is mostly dry and the aftertaste is a bit of a pine bitterness and a bit of apple.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know what to think about Unibroue brewing an IPA, it's kind of weird but at the same time, U Blonde Lager has existed for forever so it's nice to see Unibroue experimenting a bit lately. It didn't really seem like an IPA to me - it did have a bit of hoppiness to it but the peach flavour was a bit much. I feel like they will be doing something like their Éphémère line and come out with a bunch of different fruit flavours over time. What would I like to see? They should try to master the Belgian IPA or do what Maltstrom did and create a new world meets old world Saison.
The beer was easy to drink though and brewed only 10 days ago, making it the second freshest batch of beer I've ever had from Unibroue, the freshest being Old Milwaukee Light right off the bottling line back in 2016.
As stated before, you can only find this in Quebec, so if you're looking for this beer.. either you're going to have to get an awesome friend to send you a bottle (or can.. apparently Unibroue has cans now?) or go to Quebec! For me, mon ami Nicolas over at Sipshare.com got his brother to bring me a couple of bottles (and other goodies) to try!
I haven't reviewed any witbiers in a while because I'm finding the style just isn't as popular as it was a decade back. Most breweries are working on saisons or tropical juicy IPAs as those are what's in demand right now, but for me.. witbiers are what got me interested in trying new styles of beers in the first place.
Fantacity is a a dry-hopped witbier brewed with barley, oats, and hops. Surprisingly, there's no wheat in this beer at all.
Appearance: A cloudy, light pale blonde ale with a moderate amount of carbonation and a finger's worth of snow white head.
Aroma: Spiced hoppiness with a hint of bubble gum, notes of cereal (oats), mildly sweet, lemony, a bit of orange peel.
Taste: The hops seem to be the first thing I get in every sip, it's a mild bitterness with a lemony citrusness to it, a hint of herbal presence that's almost like dill, a bit sweet with a bit of bubble gum and orange peel. Pretty much what I saw in the aroma.
Overall Thoughts: Fantacity was pretty easy to drink and had some interesting characteristics to it, but it was missing that kick of coriander that I see in every other witbier on the market, as well as it was missing that wheaty goodness that we all know and love.. but that said, the oats did a good job with giving it a nice cereally profile to it. I'll definitely buy it again, it's a serious thirst quencher for a hot day like today.
It's been nine years since I graduated Brandon University with my BA and I can't believe how fast the time has gone. I feel like I spent more time in the university pub (RIP) than in classes discussing politics and how it'd be kickass if Brandon had a brewery. It's been 50 years since Brandon College received their university charter, so to honour the occasion Brandon University teamed up with Winnipeg's Nonsuch Brewing to create a special beer to honour the occasion.
Nonsuch brewer Mark Borowski is a Brandon University alumnus while two of their other co-owners were raised in the Brandon area so it only makes sense to partner with a brewery that knows the Brandon market. They decided on a Märzen-style lager that tops out at 6.8%, which I think will be widely appreciated by the typical Brandon beer drinker and Brandon University alumnus. This marks the first time since 2007 that there's a beer created to honour Brandon in any way - the last time being Assiniboine Lager by Big Rock Brewing, which in reality I found to be a rebranded bottle of their XO Lager.
The Märzen, AKA BU50 was just released right in time for Brandon University's convocation and there's plans for more batches to be made if the demand is there, and brewed again in time for BU's homecoming event in October.
Appearance: BU50 pours a hazy orange honey comb body with a light amount of carbonation in the body and has a thick off-white head that diminishes to a bit of lacing on the side of the glass and a thin layer of bubbles on top of the beer.
Aroma: A bit nutty, incredibly sweet, and a bit grassy. There's a bit of a toasted malt profile in there that gives it a bit of that nuttiness that I just described and an a hint of sweet toffee in every sniff. There's a light grassy hop profile popping up here, a bit of a sweet biscuit dough scent and it has an aroma that seems suitable for the demographics of South Western Manitoba - it's not overbearing nor is it boring and light.
Taste: The initial taste I get is an up-front malt sweetness that has a toffee profile to it, followed by a bit of a metallic bite to it, a bit of a subtle grass hop presence and a gritty, toasty grainy cereal presence to it. The beer is clean, easy to drink, sweet and malty, and has a bit of a mixture of metallic and caramel for the aftertaste. Seeing that it's 6.8% ABV, it quickly creeps up on you!
Overall Thoughts: I thought I'd be going much more in depth in the review than I actually did, but all in all - it hit the mark in every category on what I expect out of a Märzen-style lager. BU50 is sweet, easy to drink, isn't in any way complicated nor is it boring at all. I feel that as I stated when discussing the aroma - this is the kind of beer that the typical beer drinker in Brandon or South Western Manitoba would actually enjoy drinking as this is still a Bud Light market unfortunately. The price point ($19.68) may be a bit excessive, but seeing that Nonsuch was the brewery that created the brew, and the proceeds are going to be used as a fundraiser for Brandon University's BU Foundation.
Typically, I find Märzens are best served during Oktoberfest, but seeing that Brandon University's homecoming event is taking place in October.. maybe the homecoming will have an Oktoberfest theme?!
The beer is already sold out in most of Brandon but Nonsuch is currently brewing their second batch of the beer which should be ready in about a month. If the beer is successful enough, it will be sold at rural Liquor Marts in Western Manitoba and eventually Winnipeg Liquor Marts as well. 6.8% ABV, 24 IBU
It's a chilly and rainy day today so it's the perfect day to stay in, wear a sweater and drink some chocolate! If you don't happen to have hot chocolate like I do, then there's Hot Chocolate Porter by Abbotsford, BC based Ravens Brewing.
The Hot Chocolate Porter is conditioned with Cacao Nibs, rich silky dark chocolate flavours are at the forefront of this robust porter. With hints of vanilla, a creamy and decadent malt body makes this porter a delicious, grown up version of a winter treat.
Appearance: As I crack open the can, it's a bit over carbonated so the foam is trying to exit the can a good deal but once I pour the beer, the foam doesn't to be an issue. It has a black coffee presence with a bit of a cola hue to it. The head is fairly minimal and gives off a bit of a burnt caramel appearance to it.
Aroma: I was excited for hot chocolate so I was a bit surprised that my first impression of the beer was that it had a hefty, rich roasted coffee presence from the malt. Sure, that's not a bad thing but sometimes I just want a rich, creamy chocolatey beverage with no complexity to it. I get notes of cocoa nibs, a hint of vanilla bean, a hint of dark chocolate, and a bit lactose.
Taste: The porter still has a definite roasted coffee profile to it but more subdued than in the aroma. This time, I'm getting the chocolate up front in every sip. There's notes of cocoa nibs, some roasted coffee presence, a hint of vanilla, a bit of a milkiness in there that even makes its presence in the mouthfeel. There's an earthy bitterness for the aftertaste, but doesn't linger long. Pretty easy to drink, especially if you're a porter or stout fan like myself.
Overall Thoughts: Was hoping more milk chocolatey goodness, but I'm glad to see a good lactose presence in the beer.. so there's that. One thing that could've been cool is they did a spicy Mexican-style hot chocolate version of this porter, that's all I can think of right now thanks to Stone's unique Xocoveza Stout I had a year back. With all that being said, absolutely solid porter - good amount of chocolate and vanilla presence, definitely has some creaminess to it, and just like most porters/stouts now days - it has a bit of a roasted maltiness to give off a bit of a coffee presence to it.
It's been a while since I've seen any beers by Penticton BC's Cannery Brewing, but I saw a nice selection while I was in Saskatchewan last year, so I had to pick out some that I've never had before, including this beer - The Muse & The Golden Promise.
The Muse & The Golden Promise is described as her serene blend of Golden Promise malts, California ale yeast, and Simcoe hops flow seamlessly together weaving a path of strength and vitality. The Muse is the heart, the spark, that enchants your mind in such a way you can't think of anything else but her.
Appearance: The Muse pours a cloudy orange ale with a light amount of sediment and a light amount of white foam on top.
Aroma: Mildly bitter hop profile with pine and grass, a bit of a caramel sweetness and lemon. There's a light amount of tropical sweetness that gives off pineapple and apricot. The grassy hop profile seems to be one of the most dominant aromas.
Taste: Pretty typical for a Pale Ale - it has a good pine and grassy hop profile, a moderate amount of caramel malt sweetness, some tropical apricot/pineapple notes. There's also a bit of soapiness and a sharp pine bitterness for an aftertaste.
Overall Thoughts: Sweet, hoppy, bitter and a bit tropical, this is pretty much your standard American Pale Ale. Nothing really standing out but it's not bad and easy to drink. As it warms up, the apricot flavour pops up even more. 6.5% ABV / 35 IBU
This is the first time I've ever tried anything by Brasserie Artisanal Maltstrom out of Notre-Dame-des-Prairies and today I'll be checking out their Farmhouse Blanche, a rustic Belgian-inspired ale.
This is a hybrid beer combining an American Farmhouse, a white IPA and a Belgian saison, dry hopped with American and New Zealand varieties of hops.
Appearance: As soon as I opened up the can, there was a liberal amount of foam trying to escape from the top but thankfully it wasn't a gusher like many Belgian-style beers. Pouring the beer in the glass, it is pretty hefty in snow white foam again, but the foam diminishes pretty quickly, leaving behind a really nice amount of lacing. The body itself is cloudy and lemon yellow and has a moderate amount of micro-carbonation taking place, as well as hint of fizziness.
Aroma: My initial thoughts on this beer is that it has the aroma of your typical American Farmhouse ale right up front, citrusy and a bit of a barn yard funkiness to it. There's notes of lemon, bubble gum, a tad yeasty and a light amount of breakfast cereal. Light amount of sour notes. As the beer warms up, pretty much the same as the initial thoughts.
Taste: Starts up sweet with a hint of bubble gum, a bit of tropical fruit, a moderate funkiness that reminds me a bit of a beer brewed with Brett, so it's a bit funky, somewhat herbal, decent amount of grassy notes, a hint of pepper, and hints of lemon and orange peel. Quite dry, very carbonated on the palate, easy to drink.
Overall Thoughts: I was expecting this to be a run of the mill witbier but this turned out to be an interesting saison mashup - You get the typical sweet and bubble gum notes that I absolutely love in an old school saison and it's mixed with a newer American style Farmhouse that has more of a funky wild yeast presence to it, so gives off more of a tart presence. Neither style proved to overpower each other so it was quite delightful and easy to drink.
Cheers to Alain & Blanche for the awesome parcel they sent me!
Torque Brewing won Gold in the Herb & Spice beer category for its Borealis Gruit
Barn Hammer won Silver in Wheat Beer - Belgian Wit category for their Le Sneak Belgique Witbier, as well as Silver in Other Belgian-style Strong Specialty Ale category for their collaboration with Nonsuch on their Lune Noire Black Saison
Brasserie Nonsuch won Silver in Belgian Quadrupels for their Belgian Strong Ale, and as I just stated above, also won silver for their collaboration with Barn Hammer for the Lune Noire Black Saison
Congratulations to all the breweries that won, it's a great time to be a craft beer drinker in Manitoba!
Torque sent me an awesome care package a while back featuring some swag and a bottle of their now-award winning Borealis Gruit. Quite awesome of them to do that! Borealis was brewed for International Gruit Day, a new one day event to pay homage to the old, ancient styles of brewing that brewed with herbs and spices instead of hops. Their good friends over at Beau's created the festival this year, and I think that it's going to be something we'll see every year! Breweries from Canada, United States, Australia and Europe participated in the event. Prior to trying Beau's Gruit for the first time two years ago, I never knew what a Gruit even was.
Torque's Borealis Gruit is simply described as a traditional Gruit made with spruce tips, lavender, juniper berries and yarrow. 6.5% ABV.
Appearance: It's slightly murky but more of a dark brown body with a bit of a cherrywood hue to it. There's only a faint amount of carbonation in the body.. and as for the head, it starts off with approx. one finger's worth of beige head only to diminish to only a small right alongside the glass.
Aroma: The second I opened up the bottle, the scent of flowers, herbs and spices hit me pretty hard.. and it was reminiscent to all the Beau's Gruits I've tried over the years, which is definitely a good sign! I get an aroma of rosemary, juniper, spruce, and tree bark. This is moderately sour and has a bit of that floral "fresh from the laundry" smell.. which is attributed to the lavender.
Taste: It has a good deal of sour presence to it, yet the sourness diminishes almost instantly to leave behind a medley of different flavours. I'm getting lavender, juniper, a hint of cherry, spruce, rosemary, a hint of a grassy presence. This is quite dry and leaves behind a moderate sour cherry presence to it.. which I know that I stated the sourness diminished immediately.. but the more I sample it, the sourness is definitely wanting to linger around. Oh, last thing I forgot, once in a while I get a bit of an earthy, coffee flavour popping up.. especially if I haven't had a sip in over a minute or two.
Overall Thoughts: This could get labeled as a Sour rather than a Gruit and I'd believe it. This is quite a sour (juniper/cherry) beer with a good herbal presence to it. I hope Torque brings this beer out again, even if only at the taproom itself - it's a great beer to simply enjoy and savour. Definitely worthy of being listed as one of the International Gruit Day Gruits!
I'm not a fan of birthdays because I always end up drinking by myself and wishing I had friends, so this year I decided to book a weekend trip to Calgary to see friends who've wanted to see me for years. My amazing buddies Tom & Vicki over at Hipster Beer Run and Jovan I've known for almost five years now made sure I had a VIP experience for my birthday weekend, planning visits to some of Alberta's best breweries and restaurants.
Railyard Brewing Railyard Brewing is only a few minutes right outside of Calgary International Airport, so if you're a beer geek, it's the perfect first place to visit when you get into Calgary. Unfortunately I wasn't able to use my Canon Rebel T6S for this.. so I apologize for the potato quality photos!
Now for some photos of awesome friends! Here's Tommy, Vicki and Jovan!
Catching Tom in the process of making a panogram
Now back at Chez Hipster Beer Run, they had a can of Nelson River Collab Herbed & Soured Ale, a three-way collaboration between Alberta's Blindman Brewing, Saskatchewan's Nokomis Craft Ales and Manitoba's Barn Hammer Brewing, all breweries that happen to be in the Nelson River watershed in Manitoba. At the time, I never expected the beer to ever be available in Manitoba.. but it is today (but probably for not much longer).
It's so why is there a new lite lager being made when the beer industry is moving towards styles of beer that nobody thought would exist ten years ago? Well.. here in Manitoba, Bud Light is still the king of beers so Fort Garry Brewing had to come out with a light lager that would be suitable for golfers during the hot, sunny Manitoban summers. Sure, Fort Garry already has Premium Light (4.0% ABV), but Special Lite (3.5% ABV) is for those who want a more concentrated golf swing on the course.
Appearance: Special Lite pours just like your typical light beer, it's light blonde in colour with a good amount of carbonation taking place in the bottle, a light amount of foam on top but leaving behind a good amount of snow white film on the top of the beer.
Aroma: This is a crisp, light lager with a hefty amount of toasted malt to give it an aroma of Saturday morning cereal if you happened to come from a family that didn't believe in overly sugary cereals. There's a bit of creamed corn, a hint of sweetness that, again, comes from the malt (a bit reminiscent of if you were about to make a puffed wheat but used puffed barley instead).
Taste: This is an incredibly malt-forward lager even with it being 3.5% ABV. I'm getting a sweet barley presence with a bit of honey, a bit of grittiness from the barley and a bit of grassiness from the hops. Honestly, this will likely be too much for the typical Manitoban golfer as the malt profile is giving off the puffed wheat barley presence again. It's gritty, sweet, and grassy. I think that this would be popular with golfers who prefer craft beer over the typical Bud Light you see at every licensed establishment in the entire province. For those who aren't Bud Light fans, this will likely be an acceptable alternative seeing that this has a hefty malt profile for only being 3.5% ABV so you're not likely going to get a buzz going after a few rounds of golf.
Overall Thoughts: Fort Garry's Special Lite is definitely more flavourful than Bud Light or the old time Manitoba favourite, Labatt Special Lite (or better known as Labatt Lite). It's a sweet, grainy, malty yet grassy lager that will be liked by golfers who don't happen to like Bud Light.. but that's about it. 3.5%/12 IBU. I can't see this beer being popular outside of the summer months, but seeing it has a low ABV, craft beer drinking golfers will be able to drink this without getting a huge buzz. Will this replace their Premium Light Lager? No. That being said, as of May 2018, you can find cans of Fort Garry Special Lite at Liquor Marts throughout Manitoba for $3.01 per 473mL can.