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Once in a while I'll find a beer in my hoard that I forgot all about. A few weeks ago I found a bottle of Vieille Artisanal Saison by Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project out of Fort Collins, Colorado. I actually bought this beer at Hill Farmstead in Greensboro, Vermont. So, Cody.. why would you buy a saison from a brewery out of Colorado while visiting the #1 rated brewery in the world (according to RateBeer.com)? Well, the label popped out to me when I was at the brewery, I freaking love saisons, so that's why! 

So, this batch of Crooked Stave's Vieille Artisanal Saison is the 2014 batch #14 of the saison, it's 4.2% ABV and aged in oak barrels and lightly dry hopped.

Appearance: Very cloudy lemon-orange with a very very light amount of carbonation in the body. I was expecting a hefty dose of sediment seeing that this bottle is a 2014 vintage but so far I'm noticing none at all. The head is a light to moderate amount of white head on top.

Aroma: Jeebus, I haven't smelled a beer like this in a while.. it's hard to find beers like this on the prairies for some reason. This beer is sour, moderately funky with a bit of a barnyard vibe to it. There's notes of bubblegum, lemon, and a light grassy/slightly piney hoppiness at the end. 

Taste: I seriously expected this beer to be considerably off when I found it in my hoard but it seems to be still quite delicate and tasty. I get a moderate sour presence with a barnyard funkiness to it right from the beginning. It kind of reminds me of the sourness you get from pickle juice to extent - somewhat vegetal yet a bit face cringing sour. I'm only noticing a bit of barrel aging in this beer, which gives off a very very slight amount of oaky woodiness here and there but if I wasn't told that this was aged in barrels, I wouldn't have known otherwise... possibly oaky wine barrels? ..I have no idea. Mild vinegar presence, hint of bubble gum, slight grassy hop presence. The beer is quite dry and leaves behind a mild vinegar/sour aftertaste on the palate. 

Overall Thoughts: There was a time when I hated Brett/wild yeast beers.. in fact it was right around the time when I picked up this beer at Hill Farmstead in 2016. Sour/Brett/wild yeast beers grew on me in the end because it's something I just can't get in Manitoba, so I guess something about the styles just grew on me. This one is decently sour with a bit of a barnyard funkiness to it, a bit reminiscent to dill pickle juice but still very drinkable. After 3 years since purchase of being in a room temperature beer hoard, this actually aged decently. This beer is nice, moderately sour, slightly sweet/bubble gummy and has a bit of wild yeasty funkiness to it. 


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Last weekend was the eighth annual Brandon Beer Festival and it was the best edition yet. Most of Manitoba's breweries made an appearance, with two of them making their very first presence this year including Winnipeg Brew Werks and Devil May Care.

I bought some glassware from Devil May Care but the tipsy overly schmoozing idiot I am forgot my glass at the event. I tweeted the next day that I forgot it and the awesome Colin & Christellar at Devil May Care showed by my place with a replacement glass (which really wasn't necessary) as well as a can of their newest beer, Milled Rye the Science Guy Ryewine ale (again, even more so not necessary!)

I keep wanting to call this "Bill Rye, the Science Guy!" instead of "Milled Rye the  for some reason, but their name puns are 100% on point, as is the awesome artwork (like as seen in Starstuff).

From the label:
Objective:
Devise an experimental brew to test limits of brewing equipment and patience of DMC brewers.

Method:
Use a massive amount of grain to fill mash tun to the brim. Include an insane portion of rye to maximize mash thickness. Brew it to 11, literally. Must be huge and made to age.

Results:
An enormous, malty ale in the style of a classic barleywine but with a spicy rye-forward twist.  Served best from a snifter and let to warm and open up, we think this is the perfect beer for sitting back, exploring our universe, and pondering how to save the world.

Conclusion: 
Fermentation rules!
...

Oops.. I poured this in their standard glass instead of a snifter! So after taking a photo I poured the beer into a snifter like it recommends! 

Appearance: Pours a murky tanned leather brown with a moderate amount of light beige foam on top.

Aroma: The spiciness of the rye comes out right from the cracking of the can. You know the aroma of rye.. right? Well if you don't, it's a nice toasty and mildly spicy grain. The beer is moderately sweet with a hint of bubble gum to it. There's a decent amount of caramel sweetness but not it's not overly over-the-top like many Barley/Wheat/Etc-wines. For this being 11.5%, this is quite light on an aroma.. I know I'm going to be in for a treat once I taste this!


Taste: Good amount of caramel sweetness, followed by a very powerful rye malt bitterness that hits the tongue hard, leaving behind a tingling bitter aftertaste to it. The booze really freaking creeps up on you.. quickly! This beer is really deceiving because it's incredibly smooth but it's evil and freaking 11.5% ABV! I'm getting a bit of bitter hop presence in there, mostly mingling with the rye malt. I'm trying to think of if I'm getting any other notes but that's mostly it, there is also a hint of woodiness lingering somewhere but it's ever so faint.

Overall Thoughts: A ryewine.. in a can?! It works! This is the first time (that I remember of) that I've tried and I feel that rye needs to be in a loooooot more beers, so I'm giddy that I got to try this! This one was mildly sweet with a bit of a spiciness to it and a hefty bitterness to boot. Comparing this to a Barley Wine: this one is nowhere near "in your face" sweet, some of you may prefer overly sweet but I prefer a moderate amount of sweetness so I'm really enjoying this.  Also, you have to love this beer for the punny name and the great artwork by Christellar. I feel winter time is the best time for a "wine" themed beer but if this makes it to Brandon MLCCs, I'll gladly buy many cans for lazy Sundays. Also, Devil May Care's only been selling their beer in Brandon for maybe two weeks now and it looks like people in this Conservative Bud Light town are enjoying their beers quite a bit!

Thanks Colin & Christellar for stopping my place to drop off some seriously undeserved stuff, this is absolutely stellar! 11.5% ABV / 65 IBU
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Wow, it's been a while since my last review. I just haven't been feeling confident enough to review lately, I actually got anxiety thinking of what to review.. wtf?! Also, my expensive 2018 MacBook Pro likes to add random periods all over the place because the keyboard is a piece of crap, seriously Apple?

Garrison's been one of my favourite Canadian breweries since I first tried them back way way way back in the day, their beer is great and consistent. Today I'm checking out their Sour Castro. Sour Castro is an East Coast sour.. whatever that means. The sour is brewed with water, barley & wheat malt, mint, lime extract and yeast.

Appearance: Pours a lightly cloudy golden straw, lots of carbonation in the body and a moderate off white head on top.

Aroma: Mildly vegetal with notes of cucumber, a very heavy dose of mint, bit of lime. To me, this smells more like it should be more a gin cocktail mojito than a sour. There is a light sourness to it, but not much.

Taste: I took a sip of this before I ever looked at the label when I first took the photo and I thought "this tastes like toothpaste" not expecting there to be mint in it, so it's quite minty. The sourness is certainly there, it's a bit of an acidic vinegary-like taste to it. For a sour, it's actually quite balanced and quite easy to drink. This is what I'd call a patio sour as it's not overpowering nor does it make your face cringe... in fact, it's smoother than I expected. The aftertaste is a light sourness that lingers for a bit but I don't really notice it that much.

Overall Thoughts: I was kind of expecting to write this off but it wasn't bad, the mint was a bit more powerful than I expected but this was absolutely refreshing and actually helped calm the nerves a bit after the bout of anxiety I had before writing this. Would I buy this again? Yep! 4.8% ABV
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The thing that sucks about living in a place with many roommates is the lack of privacy. Right when I was about to set up photos for this beer, a couple of roommates invaded the room just to yell on the phone which happens all the effing time, so I had to find somewhere else to take a photo without being disturbed.. sometimes outdoors is the best solution.. but who are we kidding? You'd be just as likely to read this review if I took beer photos with a flip phone camera!

My parents were on a really nice holiday to the island of Curaçao a month and a half ago and brought me back a sampling of the island's most popular beers, some were beers that they've gotten me to try in the past, such as Carib Lager from Grenada and some beers I've never heard of in my entire life.

Brion Curaçao is a lager brewed specially for Curaçao by Windward & Leeward Brewery Ltd out of St. Lucia. I was assuming that this was going to be a beer brewed right on the island, but seeing that the island is only so big, they just don't have the capacity to brew much beer on the island at this time. Brion Curaçao is a light pilsner.

Appearance: The majority of lagers brewed anywhere in the Caribbean are going to look almost identical to this beer. This one pours a pale golden straw body with a LOT of carbonation in the body.. almost as if the bubbles were snow flakes and floating up and instead of down. The head is a fairly light and snow white in colour, the entire top of the beer is covered in the light head.

Aroma: It's fairly light and sweet, quite reminiscent of just about every tropical lager I've ever had. There's a sweet maltiness (a tad sugary) as well as a crisp graininess that expect in a standard German-style Pilsener, light grassy hop notes, not as corny as many other Caribbean lagers.. I think this has none at all.

Taste: The taste is sweet, a bit sugarier than most Caribbean lagers, I'm getting a lot of barley malt in there to give it a bit of a wet mushy barley grain taste to it, a light hop profile that has a bit of a grassy presence to it. I think there may be rice in it, but I'm not too sure about that.

Overall Thoughts: Similar to most Caribbean lagers with a lot of inspiration coming from Europe - it's a grassy hopped lager with a crisp malt profile to it and a good deal of sweetness. A bit too sweet in what I want in a Pilsner but on the beach.. this would be easy to drink.
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Well, this is a bit of a coincidence.. my most recent review (aside from this) was a review of a beer by a Bridge Brewing alumnus. I never expected it.. in reality I needed to get reviews out of the way and I decided the first beer I saw would be the beer I'd review.

Today I'm checking out Bridge's Side Kick India Session Ale. Sidekick is a cloudy North East Session Ale that combines a juicy flavour with a balanced bitterness from a variety of hops. Notes of melon, berries and stone fruit. Brewed with: North Shore water, Pale Malt, Flaked Oats, Caramel Vienna Malt, Oat Malt, North Shore Water, Pale Malt, Flaked Oats, Caramel Vienna Malt, Oat Malt, Acidulated Malt, Columbus Hops, Ella Hops, Amarillo Hops, Simcoe Hops, Mosaic Hops, London Ale III Yeast. 4.2% ABV

Appearance: Pours a kind of but mostly light hazy orange body with a decent amount of clarity to it.. buuuuut as soon as I pour in the last sip's worth of beer, that's where all the sediment is so the beer goes from decently clear (but not really) to a hazy orange juice-like beverage. The head is a frothy, off-white/beige.. good amount of foam but gradually diminishes to just give off a whole finger's worth. If you're wondering about the carbonation in the beer's body itself (you aren't), it's a good amount of carbonation that reminds me a tad of a lager before the last bit of beer was added.. but you honestly don't care.

Aroma: This is a sweet, up-front tropical "North East"-style IPA.. good deal of tropical fruits such as pineapple and orange, with a bit of a Five Alive aroma to it. Light amount of grass hop profile, not really that much bitterness.. so for the most part I'm getting a tropical fruitiness from this beer. Light amount of morning cereal vibe to it thanks to all the oatiness, decently sweet.. that's about it.

Taste: Tropical and fruity up front - a good deal of pineapple, oranges and a tad bit of grapefruit to add a bit of bitterness to it. A hint of I think melon/guava to give it a mildly vegetal fruit presence to it. There's a moderate amount of graininess that I can only describe as my childhood as my dad mainly grew oats as a grain crop.. and I'd grow a tiny little plot of oats right next to the grainery only to have the horses or the cows get overly excited and eat it all in one swoop... I know those horses and cows tasted some nice grain back then. There's a mild bitterness from the hops, as a bit of a straw profile to it.

Overall:  Not overly sweet, nor bland.. for a session it's pretty solid. The oats are a lot more dominant in this beer than most NEIPA/IPAs with oats added.. it kind of felt like oats could've been the dominant malt profile but we know it's not.. but growing up in an oat family, it's nice to see oats becoming much more present in beer than ever before! Decent tropical presence of orange and pineapple fruits.. oaty and a tad caramelly aftertaste at the end.


https://www.bridgebrewing.com/sidekick
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Wow, the day is finally here where I finally get to review a beer brewed by Kilter Brewing in Winnipeg! My previous two (one, two) reviews were Kilter's collabs with a couple amazing breweries on opposite ends of the country.

Kilter's beer has only been available in Brandon for maybe two weeks and it sold out within a day or two of availability. I managed to pick up a couple of cans of Juicii NEIPA when it was in town.. and I'm glad I did because anything with the Kilter name attached to it sells well in Brandon.. a city that's mostly a Bud Light market, still... after a bajillion years of writing about beer in the community.

Kilter's Juicii is described as a soft, tropical, and juicy New England IPA double dry-hopped with El . Dorado, Vic Secret, Lupulin-enriched Mosaic & Citra. 7%

Appearance: Juicii pours a thick, dark orange with a bit of a copper-brown hue to it. Incredibly hazy as you might expect, not quite orange juice thickness as I've seen with some NEIPAs, like Boréale's IPA du Nord-Est (Rated #1 IPA in the world according to RateBeer.com this year). There's a good amount of snowish whitish head on top that gradually goes down, leaving behind a liberal amount of lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Sweet, juicy and tropical. It has a very orange juice-like aroma to it that's mildly sweet but has that "pulpish" aroma that nobody can ever really describe. There's also notes of pineapple, a bit of creaminess to give it a smoothie-like aroma to it, very much like a creamsicle. Not really bitter or grassy for hop presence, not really that much graininess either.

Taste: I get a bit of a creamsicle right from the beginning - some creaminess, a light amount of sourness and some fruity notes of orange and pineapple. It has a bit of a vegetal leafiness to it as well, but for the most part has a healthy tropical smoothie vibe to it (with some vegetables likely added to make it even more healthy.. but this is a beer, we know there's minimal health benefits!) The aftertaste is a bit vegetal but also a bit of a bitter hop taste as well.

Overall Thoughts: Like any craft beer, this beer changes batch by batch, this one was a bit more vegetal than many, it was still tropical with a hint of creaminess to it, easy to drink and damn well worthy of being a Day Off Brunch Beer as not everyone has the pleasure of getting Saturdays or Sundays off (like us retail employees). I absolutely love what Miguel at Kilter's doing and I've been following his beers since he was over at Bridge Brewing in BC. For a while, every time I visited Half Pints, he was there brewing like heck with the rest of the awesome guys at HP! I'm happy he's doing his own thing, I'm usually wrong on a lot of things but I knew he'd do well as a brewer in MB if he ever moved back and here we are.. This is the third beer associated with him that I've reviewed. Cheers!

https://kilterbrewing.co/pages/beer
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Another day, another Beau's review! They keep bringing out new beers so I can't help but review them for you! Today's Beau's pick is Jänis, a Sahti beer (or Finnish-style Juniper Ale). I've never tried a Sahti-style beer but I've said that quite a few times with Beau's releases, they like to bring out styles I've never knew existed (such as a Kvass or a Mumme), props to them for introducing rare styles to the masses!

A Sahti is a Finnish-style made from malted and un-malted grains including barley, rye and oats. It's typically flavoured with juniper with or without hops. Beau's Jänis contains local spring water, barley, rye and wheat malts, oats, juniper berries, juniper boughs, hops and brewers yeast. Since Beau's is organic, most of the ingredients are certified organic, including the juniper.

Appearance: Jänis pours a clear caramel amber ale with a light amount of sediment floating around in the body. Very moderate amount of carbonation and a very light cookie dough beige/brown head on top that quickly diminishes to just a slim amount of bubbles in the end.

Aroma: This smells eerily like their staple beer, Lug Tread. It's sweet, lightly toasted malt with a good amount of caramel aroma to it. There's a mildly herbal aroma to it, and a very very faint scent of juniper berries in the end to give off a light tartness/sweetness.

Taste: The junipers come out right at the initial sip, it's a sweet yet somewhat tart fruitiness that I can only describe as pleasant and brings me back memories of Muskoka's Legendary Oddity. The beer still reminds me quite a bit of Lug Tread with its toasted malt profile, sweet caramel/toffee presence, grassy hop profile, a bit of a nuttiness, a hint of banana. Quite an easy drinking beer yet. The aftertaste is pretty much the juniper, leaving behind a slight tartness on the palate.

Overall Thoughts: Still, reminds me of Lug Tread but with a nice juniper and toffee presence to it. It's quite easy to drink so it's not aggressive in any way. It's a bit surprising that it's 7% ABV because it seriously tastes like it's 5.5% at most. If you're someone who likes something like Lug Tread but wants something a bit different, I definitely recommend this but I do wish the juniper berries came out a bit more in the aroma and tasting profile as the only place where it's really coming out a lot is in the aftertaste.
https://beaus.ca/beer/janis/
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Today I'm checking out Southern Tier's Citra Hopped Live Pale Ale.

Citra Hopped Live Pale Ale is described as "Citra Hopped Live is bright, refreshing & loud. We cranked this pale ale up to 11 by adding a generous amount of Citra hops. With that in mind, we wanted the label to reflect the feeling of live music. Live pairs great with toe-tapping or head-banging to your favorite band on stage." 5.5% ABV

Appearance: The beer pours a cloudy orange body with a good amount of carbonation in the body, not clear at all but it has a faint appearance that looks like you could almost see a blur out of it.. more so than most IPAs now days. The head is a moderate thickness with a white hue to it, it gradually diminishes, leaving behind a light amount of lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Sweet and mildly tropical - sweet fruitiness like pineapple, mango, grapefruit, mild pine bitterness. Pretty straight forward so far.

Taste: Mango and honeydew hits right from the beginning with a bit of a pineapple taste in there as well.. so it's a bit like a fruit cup. Moderately bitter with pine, as well as a bit of a fresh cut grass taste in there as well. There's a bit of grapefruit as well. The aftertaste is light bitterness with a hint of honeydew to it.

Overall Thoughts: Moderately bitter, good amount of tropical fruitiness to it.. but it reminds me a bit too much of a breakfast fruit cup, which I'm not really a fan of. Not a bad pale ale but nothing wowing about it either. Easy to drink, moderate amount of bitterness but nothing screams out in this beer.

https://www.stbcbeer.com/beer/live/
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After a few years of brewing over at Oshlag Brasserie & Distillerie, my buddies Shawn & Renaud over at Avant-Garde Artisans Brasseurs are opening up their brand new brewery at 5500 Rue Hochelaga in Montreal.. a literal stone throw's away from the famous Stade Olympique.

Renaud saved this beer and a bunch of others when I made a visit to Montreal back in August but I've finally gotten time to review it. Mon ami Stéf has a bunch of the beer I couldn't bring back with me because I was already well over the limit for beer I was bringing back to Manitoba.. awesome friends, am I right?!

Today I'm checking out Avant-Garde's Assemblage Sauvage. The beer is a blend of Saison en enfer, Wild 1 and Funk et la furie aged several months in wine and tequila barrels inoculated with a rich and diverse microflora of wild yeast and lactic bacteria. Glass: Yes, Aging potential: sure! Tasting notes: A beautiful, tart, fresh, very, very nice product!

I already like my odds from the description!

Appearance: Pours a very hazy lemon yellow with a light to moderate amount of carbonation, light amount of sediment that ends up at the bottom of the glass, and a nice finger's worth of white head on top.

Aroma: This is beautiful, the first thing I got was the sourness of the wild yeast mixed with a bit of a peach fruitiness. My nose is already letting my mouth know that this is going to be a very dry beer so I'm salivating a bit. Notes of barnyard funk, lemon, a good deal of oakiness from the wine/tequila barrels used.. I do get a bit of a red wine aroma to it as well as a hint of tequila spiciness to it. Quite sour yet quite aromatic

Taste: Holy hell, this is sour the second it gets to my lips, it's face puckering sour.. in a good way! It's sour with a definite note of tequila right from the beginning. There's notes of lemon, barnyard funk, mildly fruity.. a  bit of pear and maybe apple. Good amounts of oaky woodiness, a nice amount of red wine to give it a bit of a dark fruitiness to it. This is a good beer just to sip on and enjoy the day with.

Overall Thoughts: It's beers like this that I want to see more of, but unfortunately Manitoba Liquor Marts would never bring in a product like this. It's sour, it's funky, it's oaky and it's something worth drinking on a lazy Saturday. Light amount of fruitiness to it, definitely will age well.

I'm hoping to go to Mondial de la Bière in May as I really need a vacation to clear my mind. Hopefully I'll end up going and get to meet up with Shawn & Renaud, always awesome guys! Their brewery should be up and running by the time Mondial comes around.
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Today's non-alcoholic beer selection is Beck's non-alcoholic. I've had this beer in the fridge for a few weeks but I just didn't have any motivation to review it when I knew I could be reviewing better beers.

I was briefly a fan of the regular variety of Beck's back in the mid 2000s but I couldn't get over how skunky the beer was, so I ended up briefly falling in love with Heineken instead as it was a bit smoother and not AS skunky. The last time I reviewed a Beck's beer was back in 2011.

Beck's non-alcoholic beer is brewed with water, malted barley and hops and has 45 calories per 330mL serving. Far from the whopping 10 calories from the Partake India Pale Ale, but still reasonable. 0.0% ABV

Appearance: Pours a clear, light yellowish straw. There's lots of carbonation in the body, which is typical for a standard macro lager. There's also a nice amount of head - a finger's worth of snow white head on top of the beer.

Aroma: This is definitely a Beck's beer, the second the cap came off, I could smell a huge whiff of skunkiness, very skunky! Following the skunkiness, I get a bit of a wet grain aroma to it, as well as a light sweetness as well. So far, this actually smells like the actual beer. 

Taste: Very grainy up front with a grassy hop profile to it. Of course, it's quite skunky tasting as expected but nowhere near as overpowering as seen in the aroma. The aftertaste is a tad sour which is a bit strange, but aside from that, this tastes like a Euro lager to me!

Overall Thoughts: This may be the best tasting macrobrewed non-alcoholic beer I've tried so far, this tastes so much like the original that it's actually shocking. It has the skunkiness that we all expect in a bottle of Beck's, it has a grainy malt profile with some sweetness and even has a grassy hop profile to it. I'm not a fan of Beck's but this is definitely drinkable if you're looking for a non-alcoholic beer that tastes like the original.


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