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An article by Noah Forrest

Breweries in 2019 have the challenge of trying to balance consistency with innovation. The insatiable craft beer nerd wants a new beer every week, so the pressure to pump out products in a conveyor belt-like fashion is all too real for the contemporary brewer. As well, not only do we want these beers fast, we also want them to be perfect. This is quite the challenge – largely because it can take time and several batches before a beer ends up being where the brewer wants it to be.

Some breweries have almost dropped having a core lineup entirely. For instance, Brasserie Dunham has many beers on rotation, but generally speaking they cook up new beers all the time (or adaptations of beers that they’ve previously made). Dunham is one of the few that seriously nails this strategy. And given that so many (if not most) of their beers are produced through mixed fermentation, this is particularly impressive. On the other end of the spectrum, you have places like Microbrasserie Charlevoix who has a core line-up of particularly well made beers that hasn’t changed in years – with very few new additions (until recently). I’m sure both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The brewery that I wanted to talk about today falls somewhere in the middle, and to me, hits that perfect balance of innovation and solid consistency. Of course, I’m speaking of Microbrasserie Le Castor, a highly respected and now seasoned brewery based out of Rigaud (a town about 40 minutes west of Montreal). Le Castor has created a lineup of flagship beers that has been steady for years. Yakima was one of the first well made west coast IPA’s created in this province, and to this day it sells well (and now it’s in cans!).

That said, Le Castor also releases a constant flow of innovative mix-fermented (and mostly barrel-aged) wild ales that are as impressive as they are delicious. They have been on this steady run of brett fermented funk for a couple of years now and they keep going strong. It’s surprising how many of these offerings hit shelves consistently and just how well executed they generally are. It always sounds a bit cliché to say this, but Dan and his team do not compromise on quality, I’ve regularly seen pictures or beer being dumped for being sub-par. Also, I’ve had a chance to try some of the bottles that didn’t make the cut, and honestly, they were still quite decent. All this to say, if you crack one open, you know that the beer you’re consuming is up to the standards of the brewer.

Today I’d like to dive some of these wild offering, and tell you a bit more about them.

Ol’ Keeper

The first on my list is Ol’ Keeper; an old ale, initially fermented with English ale yeast and then re-fermented with Brettanomyces inside Brandy Barrels.

The nose delivers a whole slew of layered aromatics. Dusty Brett funk combines with a slight balsamic note, providing rich cherry sweetness. Lots of brandy and oak come through as well, alongside deep caramel, raisins, and fresh figs.

Up front on the palate comes caramel richness, mixed with a subtle tartness, and lots of tannic oak. The Brandy adds layers of rich fortified wine-like vibes, carrying vinous notes, dried fruits, and lots of cherry.

The Brett dries everything, and there is a nice tannic layer that helps cut any sweetness that much more. Sometimes these malty wild beers can be such a mess, but this is complex, layered and just damn delicious. I enjoyed this far more than I anticipated.

Saison Rayée

Next up is Saison Rayée. This barrel-aged saison came out in earlier 2018, but I only had a chance to try it for the first time a few months ago.

The nose begins with some dusty Brett focused aromatics that provide dusty layers and lots of animal funk. Pressed apple and pear flesh come next, alongside hints of white balsamic and juicy tropical fruits.

The palate has an amazing flora to it, with a perfect acidity, leading into big juicy layers. Again, cider and pear flesh are huge here, while a bright layer of acetic tang lends to the complexity of the beer as a whole. The general Brett profile in this is on point, delivering a nice balance of dusty funk, oak spiciness and a light but present acidity – coupled with some drying tannins. Truly an awesome beer. More people should be talking about it.

Saison Macérée (Marc De Raisin)

A few months ago Le Castor dropped two variants of a beer called Saison Macérée. Both were wine barrel-aged saisons. The first is “Marc de Raisin”, which spent time in Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc barrels, while the second is aged in Vin Orange barrels. Let’s start with the prior.

The nose is a bright mix of fruity esters, delivering pear and apple, but mainly green grapes. A Bretty funk comes next, carrying dusty notes, but there is a bit of earthiness here as well that must be from the pomace. Inviting nose though.

On the mouth, an earthy and almost peppery note is quite apparent, adding a sort of spicy mustiness next to that tangy and fruity backdrop. It’s largely apple cider meets white wine, with hints of balsamic. The beer is not sour, but there is a tartness here alongside oak tannins. The whole thing finishes quite dry and the beer is pretty drinkable as a whole.

Islay

Next up is Islay, a Scotch barrel-aged Belgian Dark strong ale, fermented with Brettanomyces.

The nose hits you with a blast of peaty smokiness, followed by prunes, dates, and lots of freshly pressed apples. Light caramel and cooked sugars come through next, alongside that Islay Scotch solvent-like thing.

Up front on the palate it’s far dryer than expected and comes off quite different than the nose let on. That said, it’s still intensely smokey, with that quintessential Islay peatiness.

Any typical Belgian phenols have been eaten away by the Brett, leaving more fruity and earthy flavours from the yeast profile. The Brett is pretty clean here though, without any big horsy or funky layers. Hints of raisin, dark cherry and figs start to come through more as it opens more, coupled with some caramel sweetness (again, still very dry though). This is really something – deliciously complex and surprisingly drinkable.

Fructus

Fermented with a mix of Belgian and wild yeasts alongside acidifying bacteria, Fructus is composed of 75% barrel-aged beer and 25% fresh beer. It was then matured with a cocktail of guava, mango and passion fruit (alongside Brettanomyces).

The nose is a bright mix of tropical delights. All three fruits are present, but the guava and passion fruit are really at the front, throwing some zesty aromatics at my senses.

The palate is subtle, with some light acidity and subtle fruitiness. Again, all three fruits are actually present, without one overpowering too much (although the passion fruit is certainly the most aggressive). It’s tart and zesty, but not overtly sour, carrying just enough acidity to balance the fruits. Hints of acetic notes provide a touch more complexity, but they are barely perceivable. Some nice tannins come through, helping further dry the beer. The yeast profile is quite clean, without much in the way of Brett phenolic funk, or general Belgian yeast flavours.

Saison Macérée (Marc De Vin Orange)

Lastly we have the Orange Wine barrel-aged version of Saison Macerée. The nose delivers tangy stone fruits, light white balsamic, sour candy, and lots of earthy Brett funk. There is a richness to the aromatics, with some nice vinous notes in the finish.

The palate matches, beginning with an ample but balanced acidity, leading into big stone fruit flavours. Tangy peach meets ground cherries and subtle honeydew melon. White balsamic notes lend a balanced acetic complexity, while the oak tannins help dry out the whole thing.

Overall I prefer this to the Marc de Raisin. The fruits are amped up and the beer functions better as a whole. Both have an almost briny profile to them, but it works in this one that much more.

Le Castor continues doing what it does best, which is to provide solid, well balanced offerings that range from classic styles to experimental and more innovative offerings. 2018 was a great year, giving us a ton of new and amazing bottles to try, so I’m extremely excited with what 2019 will bring. I often hear about breweries being over hyped, but LeCastor needs more hype in my opinion. Saison Rayée was one of the best beers I had last year, and I can still grab it off the shelf at my local IGA. Wait, maybe I don’t want them to get more hype…

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Today might be Péché Day, but Brasserie Champ Libre is also having a pretty epic bottle release! That’s right, they are releasing a slew of new barrel-aged variants as well as a brand new beer altogether. Read about the event right here.

If you’re not already aware, Champ Libre is a young brewery that opened its door last year, delivering a slew of tasty modern and classic styles to its Mercier patrons. I’ve written several posts about their offerings, including an interview with head brewer and co-owner Alex. Check it out here.

To kick off the release, Alex and his brewing team took their Bohemian Pilsner called Simplicité volontaire and lagered it at 4 degrees Celsius for 3 months in oak barrels. Next up is a new take on their saison, Élonge de la Lenteur, but this time barrel-aged for three months with Cameries (haskap berries) – now called Élonge de Cameries. As well, there is a new take on their coffee infused imperial stout. Usually Déjeuner en Paix is barrel-aged, but then blended with a fresh beer. This time, they selected their best bourbon barrels and are sending it straight to bottles with a new coffee called “black honey.” Lastly is something that I’ve never heard of before. They brewed a Saison, but replaced 25% of the water with actual buttermilk and added raw straw from their farm. Crazy, right?

Okay, let’s dig in.

Élonge de Cameries

As I was saying, Élonge de Cameries is a barrel-aged saison brewed with Cameries (haskap berries). The nose is a mix of vinous wine notes, lush cherries, and tart raspberries. There is a aromatic sangria-like thing happening here. And it’s super inviting.

The palate is crazy dry. Lots of cherry and winey red grape flavours from the haskap berries dominate, but it’s not jammy or particularly intense. Instead, there is more of an extremely dry vinousy vibe happening. Lots of tannins pucker the finish even more, coupled with a subtle tartness. This is definitely not sour, though.

The barrel adds a tight tannic profile, with some vinous notes to help compliment the fruit. Speaking of which, I really like the balance of the fruit here and how it plays against the subtle tartness of the overall beer. This goes down really well and might be my favourite Champ Libre to date. I love beers that come off simple yet complex upon each sip.

Simplicité volontaire – Nefiltrovany 3

This Pilsner spent three months lagering in oak barrels. The nose starts with that quintessential herbal hop profile, mixed with some honey malt notes. Light floral and spicy layers come through as well, and hints of damp oak.

The palate matches the nose, delivering nice classic herbal hops flavours. Grainy malts give off that rich honey and wheaty profile to compliment. However, what sets this apart from their usual pils is a subtle tannic oak layer that dries things out more than usual. This not only keeps the malt profile in check, but also manages to increase the drinkability. 

Although highly quafable, Pilsners still have a distinctly sweet profile. What I love about this beer is how the barrels add just enough tannins to cut through it without overpowering it’s delicate profile. This is really solid. I could drink this all day. 

I’ve been following Champ Libre since they opened their doors, and I’ve been able to try almost every beer and every batch to date. Like all young breweries it takes time to get used to equipment and perfect recipes, etc. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to dive into all four of these beers before the release, but judging by these two, the team at Champ Libre has really tightened up and outdone themselves, delivering some truly special offerings that you should definitely try to get your hands on. Congrats!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Wait, another Péché Mortel article? Yes, that’s right, two Péché articles in one week. What the hell is wrong with me.

If you missed last week’s post, five friends and I attacked 18 different versions of Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel in one sitting. It was quite the ordeal. You can read it right here if you’d like.

I then decided to drink four more bottles? I clearly have problems.

Péché Day (Journée Péché) is an international event that occurs every year. On this day, beer nerds from all around the world celebrate the brilliance of this infamous coffee infused imperial stout called Péché Mortel. You can get all the details right here.

This week (as I recover from last week) I wanted to talk about the brand new Péché Pack that will be dropping on Péché Day (next Saturday, March 22rd in stores all around the province). This will be the 3rd year now that these 4-packs have been released, and each time the variants inside have been different – with the exception of Péché Bourbon, which is found in every pack.

This year we have Coconut, Moka, and Cherry. Let’s dive right in.

Péché Mortel – Coconut

The Nose on this coconut variant is pretty standard Péché all around. Not a bad thing at all, but not getting a huge blast of coconut. It maybe hits a bit in the background, alongside lots of rich coffee notes, dark chocolate, and a light fruitiness.

On the palate, it seems quite a bit drier than the standard Péché, with an agressive bitterness in the finish. I’m thinking this is the new coffee. Lots of bitter chocolate meets dark roasted espresso and hints of coconut sweetness in the finish. Definitely a more restrained sweetness against the bitter backdrop, but the body is the usual luscious but drinkable Péché standard.

There is just a kiss of coconut in the finish that lingers on the palate. I think it’s the aggressive bitterness that masks it the most. This is still delicious and interesting, but not sure I’d have picked up on the adjunct if I went in blind. I’m also assuming the coconut flavours will come through more with a few months on it.

Péché Mortel – Cherry

Here is the third different fruited variant to date. Honestly, the peach and the raspberry didn’t blow my mind, but let’s see how the cherry fares. The nose is subtle, but hits all the right notes. Lots of classic Péché chocolate notes lend complement to some fresh cherry flesh. The coffee is very present as always, lending an earthy and dark roasted layer. Brilliant aromatics on this one.

Interesting. The cherry here complements the dark chocolate malt profile extremely well. A subtle cherry presence in an imperial stout can be genius (one of my favourites being 3 minutes to midnight from Bellwoods). It creates this Black Forest cake-like thing that just works. However, as it was with the raspberry, I find the coffee bitterness ends up clashing with the fruit, creating an astringency that then leads to a cough syrup essence that I think I’m sensitive to.

That being said, this might be the most complementary fruited variant to date, and although it doesn’t work in some ways, it actually really does in others. I think many will love this. I just don’t think I’m one of them.

Péché Mortel – Moka

Péché Moka is brewed with cacao and a lighter roasted coffee to accentuate the chocolate notes. The nose carries a rich and intense coffee earthiness, with some doughy cake notes coming through as well. A light, almost smokey vibe comes from the cacao – and although subtle, it adds a nice new layer to the nose.

The lighter roasted beans add a touch of nuttiness to the flavour profile, while the cacao provides even more bitterness to the whole thing. There is certainly a mocha element happening, but everything is quite subtle and not screaming in your face.

Péché Moka is rich, velvety and chocolate forward, but this iteration of Péché comes off drier because of the lingering coffee and cacao bitterness in the finish. Tasty stuff.

Overall, as expected these variants are not only fun, but also delicious. The Coconut and the Moka are very subtle though, providing hints of the adjuncts on the nose as well as on the palate. I imagine however, that over time their presence will increase. Although I’m not huge on the cherry, I think it’s the best of the three fruited variants to date, getting me more interested in where they could go in the future.

Again, the packs go on sale this coming Saturday in stores all around the province. The Facebook event for Péché Day is right here, where you get get all the details surrounding what’s happening at the pub as well as a list of all the stores that will be carrying this year’s Péché Pack.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Last Saturday I set into place a tasting that was as high in caffeine as it was in alcohol. It wasn’t an easy task to overcome, but it was certainly delicious – until it wasn’t?

Over the years I quietly collected various vintages of a particular beer that is often regarded as not only one of the best beers in Canada, but perhaps the world. It’s a beer that has it’s own day dedicated to it, where various pubs in many countries serve a slew of different versions of this luscious black beverage.

Considering you’re likely not blind and you probably read the title, you already know I’m talking about the infamous Péché Mortel from Dieu du Ciel!

I had 18 different variants of this 9.5% imperial stout at my disposal and I thought, “Hey, let’s drink them all in one night.” I’m not going to say it was a bad idea, but I’m not sure it was a good one either considering how I felt the next day.

Here is what we drank:

Péché Mortel regular 2014
Péché Mortel regular 2015
Péché Mortel regular 2016
Péché Mortel regular 2018

Péché Mortel Termopilas
Péché Mortel Édition Speciale
Péché Mortel Véniel
Péché Mortel Latte

Péché Mortel Peach
Péché Mortel Raspberry
Péché Mortel Bourbon Raspberry 2018

Péché Mortel Bourbon 2013
Péché Mortel Bourbon 2015
Péché Mortel Bourbon 2016 batch 1
Péché Mortel Bourbon 2016 batch 2
Péché Mortel Bourbon 2017
Péché Mortel Bourbon 2018
Péché Mortel Double Barrel (Cognac & Brandy)

I laid out close to sixty glasses on the table and we got to work. There were six of us to perform this feat. In order to avoid palate fatigue and general Péché overkill (pfff, if that’s possible), we separated the tasting into four parts, allowing us to stuff our faces with lots of sours and hops in between each “course”. Because of course we needed more booze.

We began with the four standard bottles (2014, 15, 16 and 18). The 14 was a touch oxidized, delivering some apparent sherry notes. The 15 and 16 were less so, finding a better balance with the coffee and dark roasted notes. The 18 was sharper and more intense, and probably the best of the bunch overall, even though the older bottles aged nicely.

Next came the non-fruited variants: Véniel, Édition Speciale, Termopilas and Latte. Véniel was their take on a lower ABV, standard style coffee stout. When fresh it was really nice, but the two years in the cellar were not kind, leaving a watery shadow of what it once was. Édition Speciale and Termopilas are essentially standard Péché but with different coffee variations. Termopilas was drinking really nice, with some subtle fruit and chocolate notes from the lighter roasted coffee beans. Édition Special was still drinking well, but being two years old, it just didn’t seem to hit the mark the way I remember it. Latte (which was standard Péché brewed with lactose) is a favorite of mine last year. It held up just fine and still carried a nice creaminess.

Next were the fruited Péché’s, which to be honest, I wasn’t huge on from the get go. The first time I had Peach Mortel, I thought it was fine, and a fun nod to all the anglos of the world that mistook Péché for peche. However, two years later none of us could take much more than a sip. It really dropped off the cliff. The nose on the raspberry was insane though, with a huge jammy explosion coming from the aromatics – more than I initially remember. It was still drinking well, but I find the berries add a certain medicinal element when combined with the bitterness of the coffee. The bourbon barrel aged raspberry was better, with some interesting vanilla accents complementing the fruit, but still not my favorite of the night by a long shot.

The theme so far at this point – for me at least – was that although Péché with some age on it is fine, ultimately the fresher the bottle, the better. However, Péché Bourbon proved something different.

Next came the best part of the night, which was being able to side-be-side seven different versions of Péché Bourbon. It’s how I always envisioned heaven. So there was six different batches over 5 years (two in 2016) alongside the infamous double barrel Péché (Cognac and Brandy). We were expecting the 2013 to have dropped off, but the nose was spectacular, delivering the biggest bourbon punch of the lot, alongside some oxidized sherry notes on the palate – but still going strong. The 15 also had a nice blast of bourbon, but less of those aged fortified wine elements happening. The first batch of 16 was off. Could be a bad bottle, but it was an outlier for sure, delivering what seemed like a brett infection, carrying an almost tannic berry vibe – we were all on the same page with this one. The second batch of 16 was spectacular, and the 17 and 18 were great as well, with 17 falling a bit short compared to the latter.

The second batch of Péché Bourbon 2016 might have been my favourite of the night, showcasing just the right amount of bourbon notes alongside a solid and smooth sherry-like layer from the age, while not loosing the sharper dark roasted malts you want in an imperial stout.

Lesson of the night: your standard and adjunct-laden Péché’s are probably better fresh than aged, but your bourbon variants will be delicious for over half a decade – just find the sweet spot that you like, and dig in.

I’m just kidding, do you actually think I remember any of this?

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest, Nathan Does Beer, and Hops and Bros.

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An article by Noah Forrest

Well, the weather might be trash right now, but at least we can look forward to strong beers and bottle releases. Once again, it’s time for Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!‘s Winter Marché! This annual party out in St. Jérome is a much needed celebration where you can drink amazing rarities on site and purchase barrel-aged bottles to go.

Every year, beer nerds drive from all over to line up to get their bottles – and of course, to drink a slew of deliciousness on site. Due to limited numbers, Dieu du Ciel created a lottery this year in an effort to make sure people don’t have to drive all they way out there only to end up leaving empty handed. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this now wanting to get in on the action, the lottery already took place. That said, there are often still leftovers, and the beers available to drink on site are amazing enough to take the trip.

  • 11 ans pour Saint-Jérome
  • Saturday, February 2nd 2019
  • 12:00PM-3:00AM
  • 259 rue de Villemure Saint-Jérome, QC
  • Full details here

This year’s bottle list may not contain a slew of brand new bottles, but what is being offered is quite amazing as usual. Returning classics are just as good as anything new. The Pinot Noir barrel-aged edition of Isseki Nicho is finally back, this being the third time released in bottles after the first batch back in 2013. The highly sought after Péché Mortel Bourbon is returning as usual, with countless people traveling to Saint-Jérome solely to acquire their two cases of this enigmatic beer. Both the classic version of L’Exorciste as well as the blackberry edition have returned this year, and the latest two Symbiose variants are here as well. Lastly, a brand new beer called Facteur Cosmique is on this list, which I’ll provide more details on shortly.

So let’s get to it!

Isseki Nichō Pinot Noir 2019 (Bottled 2018)

Isseki Nicho is a imperial dark saison that has been coming out every year since 2011 – it has always been one of my favourites. Back in 2013, we were all treated to the first edition of a Pinot Noir barrel-aged version, which simply blew my mind. It returned once again in 2016, and as I was mentioning above, this is now the third time we have been treated to this exquisite variant.

The nose is on fire as usual. Intense Pinot vinous notes marry with the saison phenols beautifully, creating bright and spicy aromatics that really don’t compare to anything else out there. Dark chocolate meets berry notes and lots of oak. This is truly one of the most amazing beers to inhale.

The palate is the usual Isseki Pinot delight, with some seemingly subtle differences. Fruity dark chocolate and light coffee notes meet some bold Pinot grapes alongside a light, almost blackberry tartness. Big espresso and a luscious body add a richness that resembles the original batch a touch more than recent years. The barrel is also very pronounced, with huge vinous layers and some cutting tannins that dry everything perfectly. Always amazing.

Facteur Cosmique

Facteur Cosmique is a brand new bottle this year. At it’s base it’s a quad, but blended with grapes from Frontenac du Vignoble Rivière, spontaneously fermented, and the aged in barrels.

It pour out a gorgeous dark purple, with lots of brown highlights. The nose is vinous, alongside some spicy phenols. Chocolate, dates and a lot of what smells like coffee beans come next, finishing with light Bretty aromatics.

The palate is crazy complex. It’s tart, vinous, and carries a subtle sweetness. The Brett however does dry things out and there has to be coffee in this, or it was in a Péché barrel. The quad qualities carry rich dates and figs, with general dried fruits. The wild yeasts clearly ate away all the traditional clove-forward phenols, and instead have more of a berry presence. There is a sweet tang to this, with lots of cherry and red wine complexities. Overall this beer is pretty amazing. The layers in here are endless and brilliant.

(I checked in with Leïla at DDC to asked about the coffee notes. The barrels were indeed 2nd fill Péché Bourbon barrels, but washed prior to use).

Péché Mortel Bourbon 2019 (Bottled 2018)

Péché Mortel Bourbon is essentially a currency at this point. Thankfully, it’s been dropping every winter for the last few years and hopefully that continues until the sun explodes and we all die. If somehow you are not familiar with it, it’s a coffee infused imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, and it’s godly.

The nose on the 2019 edition bursts with the usual doughy malts and huge coffee aromatics. This mixes with rich bourbon notes, delivering all kinds of vanilla and oak spiciness.

As usual, this coffee bomb has an amazing velvety body that carries a smooth richness, and is balanced out by the bitter coffee grinds. The barrel adds layers of vanilla, creating a sweet cakey vibe when mixed with the rich sweetness of the malts. Drying oak tannins provide lots of bitterness to cut through everything. Chocolate espresso loveliness encompasses everything, while the bourbon notes add a complex but sharp layer that warms each sip beautifully, also helping to contrast the richness of the malt base.

PMB isn’t a bourbon bomb like Bourbon County, and instead more resembles the bourbon profile of something like KBS. I actually appreciate the nuanced oak and vanilla notes, as it allows the other classic Péché flavours to shine. I’d say this batch is better than last years – carbonation is back on point.

L’Exorciste Mures 2018

L’Exorciste is a beautifully complex wheat beer that undergoes mixed fermentation and is barrel aged with various acidifying bacteria. This particular variant is made with a ton of fresh blackberries. They have done this one several times now. Let’s dig into the brand new 2018 edition.

It pours out an amazing bright purple, with ruby colour, carrying a fluffy pink head that sticks around. The nose throws huge blackberry jammy vibes, alongside some sharp tart aromatics. Light oak and Bretty funk even things out.

On the mouth I’m first hit with a solid acidity carrying a nice sharpness, but balanced overall against the jammy blackberry juiciness. Light acetic notes add some complexity, creating a light balsamic tang in the finish. This however, is very subtle and not overpowering. Bright fruits really dominate this beer, and it goes down really well – not laborious in the least.

L’Exorciste Mures 2018 is a perfect balance of juicy and jammy fruits, dry Brett phenols, light vinous layers, and amazing drinkability. Of all the batches I’ve had, this one might just be the best to date. 

As always I was impressed with everything, but this year the beers seemed even tighter than usual. I have no criticisms – these now classics are reigned in and drinking brilliantly. Once again, if you can make it out to Saint-Jérôme this Saturday, I’m sure you’ll have a good time. Details are listed above.

As well, I did have a chance to drink Symbiose No. 12, but somehow I lost all my notes. This batch is great as well – a bit boozier than the last batch, but drinking real nice. Cheers!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

With every coming year, the Quebec beer scene changes and grows within this province. New breweries continue to pop up and new styles get created, while old ones get tighter and more refined. I love seeing the progress each coming year.

2018 in particular was an interesting year for beer. Although I can’t think of any memorable macro-brewery acquisitions, Microbrasserie Vox Populi did officially become part of the Glutenberg family, moving away from contract brewing. The boys from The Wild Shack – a tiny pico brewery known for their amazing sour and hoppy elixirs – continued to grow their brand, delivering several new collaborations and an amazing event recently.

It’s not all positive though. Brasseurs du Monde continues to brew 37 brand new beers every day, each just as mediocre as the last. And the real low of the low operations still manage to fill shelves with their distracting, terrible tasting non-sense. Luckily, however, there are some amazing newcomers to balance.  

Milkshake IPAs were a big focus of this year’s beer scene dialogue, polarizing the community into two camps: those that were #teamlactose and those who were #teamnolactose. I am heavily rooting for the latter, but there was one or two that I enjoyed. And speaking of proponents for hoppy lactose-infused beers, Brasserie Du Bas-Canada took 2018 by storm. This relatively new brewery shattered expectations and brought several fun and interesting hoppy innovations to our tables. They crush with regard to their IPAs but also managed to brew a deliciously clean pils and a decadent barleywine.

As well, legend Alex Ganivet-Boileau left the helm as head brewer at Les Trois Mousquetaires in order to start his own brewery this year called Champ Libre. They have a solid line up and have had a few bottle releases already. Another home brewing friend of mine, Michael D’Ornellas, opened Microbrasserie 4 origines in Pointe-Saint-Charles, an amazing space where you can drink on site or buy cans to go.

Foudres Unis was this past summer – an unparalleled event hosted by Brasserie Dunham out in the Eastern Townships. For a set price we drank unlimited pours of some of the rarest beers in the words while staring out into the local beautiful landscape. It was amazing.

This year I brewed a beer! Well, I stood around mostly, but I was there! I worked with Pat from Sutton Brouërie and my friend Dan from Brasserie Une Bière Deux Coups Brewery to develop one of Quebec’s first Brut IPAs. However, we of course used Sutton’s quintessential house Brett strain, which gave it a character all its own.

Just like every year, it gets harder to scale down my list of amazing beers – but I did my best, and got it down to 13. As usual, it’s important to know that this list is (1) 100% Quebec-based beers, (2) includes only bottled or canned beers, (3) only has beers that were bottled for the first time in 2018, (4) only includes one beer per brewery, and (5) is in no particular order. As well, most of the tasting notes for these beers are taken from previous articles that I’ve written. There are countless bottles that I didn’t have a chance to try (like anything from Auval this year), so if you’re thinking “how could he not have included…”, it’s probably because I either didn’t try it, or I only had a sip at a tasting.

Given the number of bottles, this is clearly a long post, so feel free to simply browse if you don’t want to commit to the whole text. Enjoy!

Pit Caribou – Brouerie Sutton – Auval: P.A.B

Brewed at Microbrasserie Pit Caribou, P.A.B is a three-way collaboration Between Pat Roy from  Sutton Brouërie, Ben Couillard from Brasserie Auval and Francis Joncas of Pit Caribou. P.A.B. is a wild ale, brewed with honey fermented with wild yeast found on local wildflowers. It was easily one of the best beers i had this year.

The nose is a complex and rich mix of honey, vinous oak, white grapes, and musty yeast. There is a big cider aroma, and some light vanilla.

The palate matches. There is a rich flavourful vinous quality to this that is very much like drinking a glass of white wine. Also, there is virtually no carbonation, which also adds to that quality. Fresh grape flesh and tart green apple couple with sweet pear to make up the fruit profile. The oak is very apparent, but not particularly tannic or abrasive. Instead there is a soft vinous quality that carries lots of vanilla and barrel spiciness. This isn’t sour, but there is a nice balanced acidity that creates a tart, almost crisp apple flavour. I feel like I can taste each brewery in here.

Le Castor: Saison Rayée

Next up is Saison Rayée from Microbrasserie Le Castor. This barrel-aged saison came out earlier this year, but I only had a chance to try it for the first time a few weeks ago. This bottle wasn’t the only new and exceptional offering that this now veteran brewery had to offer, but it was the one that stood out the most for me. I was pretty amazed with it’s complexity and drinkability – it definitely deserves to be on this list.

The nose begins with some dusty brett focused aromatics that provide dusty layers and lots of animal funk. Pressed apple and pear flesh come next, alongside hints of white balsamic and juicy tropical fruits.

The palate has an amazing flora to it, with a perfect acidity, leading into big juicy layers. Again, cider and pear flesh are huge here, while a bright layer of acetic tang lends to the complexity of the beer as a whole. The general brett profile in this is on point, delivering a nice balance of dusty funk, oak spiciness and a light but present acidity – coupled with some drying tannins. Truly an awesome beer.

Brasserie du Bas-Canada – Papillon de Nuit 3 am

Papillon de Nuit 3 am from Brasserie du Bas-Canada is an American Barleywine aged in both bourbon and rye barrels. It was released among several other amazing beers for their fist anniversary a couple of months back. It’s truly something special.

The nose is an amazing balanced blend of rich caramel malts, floral hops and big bourbon vanilla notes. It’s layered and complex, without coming off as either too aggressive or muted. Some earthy oak character delivers tannic aromatics that lead into inviting red fruits. Sugar pie and apple crisp come to mind.

The palate matches, but is on the fruitier side. Upon first sip, it comes off a bit sharp, with an ethanol induced finish coupled with some hop bitterness. However, this subsides as it opens and my palate adjusts.

Lots of stewed stone fruits mix with caramel and fresh figs. The hops add a zesty quality here, livening things up and cutting through the sweetness. The barrel is quite apparent as well, adding a layer of vanilla bourbon sweetness, along with subtle oak tannins – further drying things out.

The finish is actually quite dry despite the flavour profile, ending with a pretty clean bitterness and some lingering booze burn. The body is nice, but not sticky or cloying. Really, another well executed offering, and one very much up my alley.

Avand-Garde – Pilsner Funky

Avant-garde artisans brasseurs had an awesome year, delivering a slew of brand new barrel-aged beers that were rather well recevied. As well, they just announced recently that they purchased their own facility and will be moving away from being a contract brewery in the near future. Congrats!

Pilsner Funky is their Pilsner entitled “Jet Set” aged in Merlot barrels for 6 months with a house yeast culture. The nose begins with a balanced mix of Brett funk and wine barrel fruitiness. Lots of pear and sweet apple are complimented by layers of spicy oak, vanilla, and vinous grapes. I’m not getting any of the herbal German hop notes which have likely faded in the aging process. Some light pineapple and dusty basement peeks through, creating an extremely inviting nose.

The palate matches, but is far more subtle and almost muted. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to simply pour this into a pint glass and drink it by the pool. But let’s dig deeper.

The Bretty phenols do deliver some funk, but the star here is the barrel, providing some serious oak-forward flavours that stick with you long after each sip. Light notes of pineapple, pear and vanilla lend compliment to green grape flesh and slightly tart apple. The merlot grapes add some tannins to further dry this already highly attenuated little beer. There is a slight tartness in the finish, but it’s subtle, just adding to the fruitiness.

Barrel-aged beers can range from a challenge to get through to extremely drinkable – this however, is downright crushable. I love it.

Microbrasserie 4 Origines – Caffiend

Microbrasserie 4 Origines opened their doors earlier this year, providing us with a slew of classic and modern offerings that held balance and drinkability at the forefront of their brewing practices. Also producing a ton of delicious beers, I was particularly impressed with Caffiend.

Caffiend is a coffee infused stout with lactose. The nose is a blast of coffee, carrying earthy and rich espresso layers. There is some nice chocolate happening as well alongside light caramel in the background

The palate matches, delivering rich and robust coffee layers, but the bitterness is kept in check, making for a round but dry finish.

Cocoa, espresso, dark fruits and lots of fudgy components make out the profile, finishing very dry, yet still round and not resinous in the least. Coffee stouts usually carry an aggressive bitterness, but this is exceptionally balanced and easy to drink. Delicious.

Brasserie Dunham – No Gogosse

No Gogosse is a collaboration between Brasserie Dunham and the highly acclaimed Brasserie Auval. It’s a “no nonsense” blend of mix fermented saisons – and was definitely up my alley. The beer was brewed in Dunham and was part of their fall bottle release for 2018. Honestly, Dunham really reined in their flavours this year, delivering some amazingly balanced beers that were simply exceptional all around. This one however, was particularly delightful.

The nose is an amazing mix of dusty phenols, delivering earthy and musty aromas that are complimented by green apple and pear essence. Light honey notes come through as well, alongside hints of field berries.

The palate matches, carrying lots of dusty Brett layers alongside some lovely crisp white fruit and honey. There is a tart finish that cuts everything nicely, as well as rich tannins that dry the palate after each sip. The subtle tang of it all really brings out lovely fruit notes, while the oak brings in leather, vanilla and those serious tannins. If you’ve had Auval’s Saison Espinay and you’ve had Dunham’s slew of bretted saisons, this is exactly what you’d expect – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Microbrasserie La Memphré – Rhus Typhina

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An article by Noah Forrest

It seems like just recently that I was reading about Brasserie Harricana opening their doors for the first time. But in reality it was four years ago! The brewery has come a long way in that time. They have always had a flair for eclectic beer styles and combinations, using interesting adjuncts and even some fortification. However (in my opinion) they really tightened up and truly upped their game when Francis Richer took the helm as head brewer a couple years back, introducing such beers as the wild 7205 series, and some other exceptional creations.

This coming weekend, Brasserie Harricana will be throwing their 4th anniversary party! There will be 44 beers on tap, and they will also be launching three new barrel-aged bottles to take home.

  • Brasserie Harricana | 4e anniversaire!
  • Saturday, December 22nd 2018
  • 12:00PM – 3:00AM
  • 95 rue Jean-Talon O, Montreal, Quebec
  • Details right here

What I would like to do today is dive into the three brand-new bottles being launched this Saturday. And I have to say, these beers are ballsy. Not because they are big, bad-ass monsters, but instead because (to me) they are rather daring and obscure creations that don’t fall within the parameters of the usual fair one finds at a bottle release. This is one of the reasons I appreciate Brasserie Harricana. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as excited as everyone else over the latest hazy juice can or gigantic stout, but if everyone chased the same styles, boredom would ensue.

They are releasing three different wild barrel-aged Grätzers. What the hell is a Grätzer? Well, it’s a Polish beer, brewed with oak-smoked wheat malts. It’s known for being an easy-drinking, refreshing beer that has a noticeable smoke and hop character without being overly aggressive, or too “meaty”. And Richer being Richer, he created three versions of this one beer, each barrel-aged with brett and different adjuncts: one with Sangiovese grapes, one with Apple must and one with Dulse (seaweed) and Salicornia (also known as samphire – a salty herb that grows near the ocean). Holy Umami!

Let’s get started.

2343 – Grätzer du Vignoble

Grätzer du Vignoble is a wine-barrel aged Grätzer, with added Sangiovese grapes. The nose begins with that now quintessential Harricana flora funk, followed by lots of fruity notes: berries, grape skins, pear flesh, and so on. The nose finishes with an ample but balanced smokiness, lending an interesting compliment to all the aromatics.

As expected on the palate, it starts off tart, dry and very tannic. That said, it’s not leaving my mouth feeling like sand paper as some of their previous tannin-bombs have done in the past. Still dry AF though.

The profile matches the aromatics, delivering lots of red fruits, like cherry and strawberry, but it’s mostly vinous grapes that are apparent. It has a crisp drinkable character, despite the complexity found here. The smoke is certainly a big part of this, but it’s very well balanced, and not in your face by any means. I’m pretty sensitive to peaty beers (often not a fan), but I like what the smoke adds to this beer. Delicious stuff.

343 – Grätzer du Verger

Grätzer du Verger is a wine-barrel aged Grätzer with the addition of apple must. The nose launches lovely barrel character, holding subtle vinous notes, lots of oak, and a gentle funk. Cider and fresh pear flesh mixes with a well-blended oakey smokiness.

It’s more tart than the Sangiovese version, carrying a bright acidity and an zesty mouth-puckering tang. The apple notes are pretty apparent, but are cut by a tannic and dry finish, with echoes of smoked wheat malts. The smoke is even more subtle in this one, and is once again rather complimentary and well integrated.

Overall, this fruity, grainy, tart, and smokey beer is an awesome complex crusher. Damn tasty.

343 – Grätzer de Mer

Grätzer de Mer is our last beer to examine in this series – and Is easily the most bizarre. It’s a wine-barrel aged Grätzer with dulse and samphire added. As I mentioned earlier, dulse is a type seaweed and samphire is a salty herb that grows along the ocean. This, coupled with the smoke, should provide a very intense umami experience. Let’s do it.

The nose on this one is something. Just like the previous two, there is an awesome barrel character and floral funk. This is mixed with white fruits, lemon, and lots of seaweed.

On the palate, the ‘walking down the beach’ seaweed funk is more restrained than on the nose. Just like the Verger however, the acidity seems more pronounced, holding layers of tart apple, lemon and lots of tannins. The samphire adds a saltiness, giving it a gose vibe, while I suspect the dulse is responsible for the seaweed, umami-bomb going off in my mouth. I like this, but it’s likely not something for everyone – you definitely have to be into “ocean” flavours.

So there you have it, three brand new Brasserie Harricana bottles that are dropping this weekend at their anniversary party. Once again, the details are right here.

It’s always a pleasure diving into one of Richer’s latest creations. They are always well thought-out and executed. Brasserie Harricana is doing something original and modern in a way that a mango milkshake IPA is not, which – to me at least – is very refreshing and important. Keep doing what your doing!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

I can’t believe Brasserie du Bas-Canada has only been around for a year. In this short period of time, they have brought a rather contemporary angle to the Quebec hoppy beer scene; something some would argue was lacking. I’m not always huge on fruited or Milkshake IPAs, but these modern interpretations are loved by many and certainly have their place in the hoppy landscape. And most importantly, Brasserie du Bas-Canada are simply making great beer; over and over. Los Tabernacos (their Milkshake IPA) is not only one of the only examples of the style that I can enjoy, but I actually seek it out when it hits stores. That’s actually saying a lot for me.

That said, Brasserie du Bas-Canada are not only producing adjunct-infused madness, or intense New England inspired haze, they have released an amazingly clean Pilsner, an American porter, and most recently, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. Their line-up has generally been a beer-geek’s wet dream, and the hotness just keeps coming.

This coming weekend, Brasserie du Bas-Canada is hosting a bottle and can release for their first anniversary:

  • Lancement de brassins spéciaux – 1er anniversaire BdBC.
  • Saturday, November 17th 2018.
  • 10:30-15:00.
  • 455, boul. de la Gappe, Gatineau, Quebec.
  • Details here.

Five brand new beers will be available for purchase to go. Each one has been announced separately over the last few weeks as a tease of things to come – but the full list is now available.

  1. Papillon de nuit 3AM – Bourbon and Rye Barrel-aged Barleywine- 10% – 750 ml – 15$ – 2/per person.
  2. Double Los Tabarnacos – Double Milkshake IPA with lactose, Mango and grilled coconut – 8% – 473 ml – 6$ – 12/per person.
  3. Entropie – Sour IPA with lactose, passion fruit, Mango and tonka beans – 6% – 473 ml – 6$ – 12/per person.
  4. Néron – Double IPA with Galaxy, Citra and Amarillo, 8% – 473 ml – 6$ – 8/per person.
  5. Hypa IX – IPA Citra and Vic Secret (double dose) – 6,5% – 473ml – 6$ – 16/per person.

For absolute freshness, several are in the process of being canned now, but I was lucky enough to receive a couple of samples so that I could give you my thoughts. Here we go!

Double Los Tabarnacos – Double Milkshake IPA

As mentioned above, their standard Los Tabarnacos is one of the only Milkshake IPAs that I enjoy. This brand new iteration is a Double, brewed with mango and their usual toasted coconut (in place of vanilla). And of course, lactose.

The nose is a massive juice bomb, throwing huge zesty citra and mosaic aromatics at my senses. The mango is there as well, adding more fruity fun to the mix. Then comes the coconut, further sweetening this surprisingly inviting nose.

The palate delivers the same layers. Again, loads of hops dominate, providing tangy and citrus-forward flavours that burst with vitality. The mango is certainly a flavourful component, but it’s not too aggressive, adding just the right amount of fruit to balance and not overpower the hops. This drinks like an actual DIPA, not a glass of fruit juice. Just like in the standard Los Tabarnacos, the coconut adds a fun essence of sweetness without the actual sugar, along with some nutty complexities. The lactose however, provides extra sweetness and a fuller body as usual (a touch too much sweetness for my tastes actually, but that’s the whole point of this beer).

Even though this beer is on the sweeter side, it finishes pretty dry and actually quite clean – all things considered. For a beer that sounds like the kitchen sink, it surprisingly works well, being subtle where it needs to be (lactose, fruit addition) and in your face in the places I like (hopping rates). It’s certainly not something I’d have more than one of, but I’d seek this out again, and I’d be curious to see what variants come out down the line.

Papillon de Nuit – American Barleywine

Papillon de Nuit is an American Barleywine aged in both bourbon and rye barrels. I was very excited to see this on the list.

The nose is an amazing balanced blend of rich caramel malts, floral hops and big bourbon vanilla notes. It’s layered and complex, without coming off too aggressive or muted. Some earthy oak character delivers tannic aromatics that lead into inviting red fruits. Sugar pie and apple crisp come to mind.

The palate matches, but is on the fruitier side. Upon first sip, it comes off a bit sharp, with an ethanol induced finish coupled with some hop bitterness. However, this subsides as it opens and my palate adjusts.

Lots of stewed stone fruits mix with caramel and fresh figs. The hops add a zesty quality here, livening things up and cutting through the sweetness. The barrel is quite apparent as well, adding a layer of vanilla bourbon sweetness, along with subtle oak tannins – further drying things out.

The finish is actually quite dry despite the flavour profile, ending with a pretty clean bitterness and some lingering booze burn. The body is nice, but not sticky or cloying. Really, another well executed offering, and one very much up my alley.

So, if you are free this Saturday and want to make a day trip to Gatineau, I’m pretty sure that you’d enjoy bathing in some of the fantastic offerings that Brasserie du Bas-Canada will be releasing. I can’t speak to everything, but these two bad boys certainly surpassed my expectations. Cheers!

An Article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

October is here. Winter jackets are being pulled from closets, leaves are hitting the ground, and there are far more pumpkin spiced things out there than we need. And although everyone is exited about Halloween, I’m actually more excited about Brasserie Dunham‘s 2018 bottle release. It’s happening this weekend!

  • Brasserie Dunham Fall Bottle Release Party
  • Saturday, October 27th, 2018
  • 11:00AM-9:PM
  • 3809 Rue Principale S, Dunham
  • Facebook Event: Here
  • Bottle orders and descriptions: Here

As usual, a slew of beer geeks will be heading out to the town of Dunham – located in the beautiful eastern townships – where they will be able to stare at all the pretty coloured leaves and drink loads of barrel-aged sexiness.

The day will be filled with a slurry of specialty one-off creations, as well as plenty of classic Dunham offerings that can be consumed on site, or purchased to go. If you are interested in bottles to take home, it’s best to reserve ahead of time. There is a 10$ fee, but you’ll receive a branded glass and a free beer.

This year’s list is just as inviting as ever, putting forth the usual slew of barrel-aged beers of mixed fermentation as well as some darker more robust offerings. And although Dunham is known for their collaborations, this release is packed with even more than usual, with five out of the six bottles having been brewed alongside amazing folks from other breweries. Dunham was kind enough to send me some bottles to review ahead of time, and I’d love to tell you all about them.

No Gogosse

No Gogosse is a collaboration between Dunham and the highly acclaimed Auval. It’s a “no nonsense” blend of mix fermented saisons – and it’s definitely up my alley.

The nose is an amazing mix of dusty phenols, delivering earthy and musty aromas that are complimented by green apple and pear essence. Light honey notes come through as well, alongside hints of field berries.

The palate matches, carrying lots of dusty Brett layers alongside some lovely crisp white fruit and honey. There is a tart finish that cuts everything nicely, as well as rich tannins that dry the palate after each sip. The subtle tang of it all really brings out lovely fruit notes, while the oak brings in leather, vanilla and those serious tannins. If you’ve had Auval’s Saison Espinay and you’ve had Dunham’s slew of bretted saisons, this is exactly what you’d expect – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mroczny Pan BBA

Mroczny Pan is an Baltic porter, aged in bourbon barrels. It’s a collaboration between Dunham and a polish brewery called Browar Widawa.

The nose throws out some ashy roasted notes, complimented by bourbon-induced vanilla aromas, and some red berries. Light espresso and dark chocolate lend to the complexity as well.

The palate begins with a rich silky body, while still feeling smooth and drinkable if compared to Dunham’s usual imperial dark ales. It’s quite exceptionally fruity, carrying lots of cherry and some tart berries, which I believe stem from the roasted malt and slightly tannic oak. The barrel is apparent, delivering vanilla and leather flavours, but it’s not overly present, just applying enough to add complexity to the whole thing.

At 10% ABV, it does carry a slight sharpness, but it integrates extremely well, complimenting the overall profile. This is highly drinkable and lovely. One of their better dark beers of recent years.

Ginnungagap

Ginnungagap is a collaboration with L’Albion out of Joliette. It’s a blend of a 100% English-style pale ale with some Arctic ale (barrel-aged Old burton ale).

The nose is a mix of chocolate, toasted grain and light Brett phenols that add just a touch of earthiness. Some noble hops add a tangy and herbal aroma that comes through as well. Smells delicious

The palate matches, shaping an original flavour profile that somehow works in all directions. First comes the pronounced malty English pale ale base, delivering lightly toasted grains that produce a subtle nutty and chocolate base. Then some rich earthy hops comes forth, holding a sharp but balanced bitterness in the finish. The Brett, although here, is subtle and not overly dusty or leathery; instead it provides just hints of mustiness. There is a dry slightly tannic finish that carries hints of acidity – creating a cherry/strawberry thing. This is truly delicious and crushable.

Berlue Rose

Berlue Rose is a blend of mainly Berliner Weisse and barrel-aged saisons, with some apple saison and a touch of beet beer. It’s a collaboration with the good folks at Microbrasserie Pit Caribou.

The nose carries strong bretty aromatics, releasing dusty phenols, alongside oak funk, and general vinous aromatics. Cider-like apple layers and tart grapefruit rinds add fruity dimensions to this exceptionally inviting nose.

The beer is tart up front, bordering on sour, but also balanced and quite juicy. Tannic grapefruit rinds meet lots of stone fruits and orange juiciness. There is a lovely sharp tang, like biting into an underripe tangerine. This is mixed with hints of passion fruit. It’s a touch vinous and tannic, with some white wine layers as well. Everything is in balance here. Perfect acidity, dryness, tannins and juiciness. Brilliant stuff.

Every time I write one of these articles I usually say something along the lines of “as usual, Brasserie Dunham continues to make amazing beers…” however, I’m more impressed than usual. This set of bottles seems rounder, more balanced and just simply on point. Even though most were barrel-aged wild ales or Saisons in some part, there was a clear difference in each, displaying diverse levels of acidity and funk. Sure, some people might have preferred more examples of big stouts or hoppy offerings, but for me the drinkability of the bottles in this release is something special. Dunham’s refinement and use of balance is at its peak. I can’t wait to see how things progress.

Once again, if you are interested in purchasing these bottles, the release is this Saturday. I always recommend heading out to the eastern townships- and when there is beer like this available, it’s even better.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

October is here. Winter jackets are being pulled from closets, leaves are hitting the ground, and there are far more pumpkin spiced things out there than we need. And although everyone is exited about Halloween, I’m actually more excited about Brasserie Dunham‘s 2018 bottle release. It’s happening this weekend!

  • Brasserie Dunham Fall Bottle Release Party
  • Saturday, October 27th, 2018
  • 11:00AM-9:PM
  • 3809 Rue Principale S, Dunham
  • Facebook Event: Here
  • Bottle orders and descriptions: Here

As usual, a slew of beer geeks will be heading out to the town of Dunham – located in the beautiful eastern townships – where they will be able to stare at all the pretty coloured leaves and drink loads of barrel-aged sexiness.

The day will be filled with a slurry of specialty one-off creations, as well as plenty of classic Dunham offerings that can be consumed on site, or purchased to go. If you are interested in bottles to take home, it’s best to reserve ahead of time. There is a 10$ fee, but you’ll receive a branded glass and a free beer.

This year’s list is just as inviting as ever, putting forth the usual slew of barrel-aged beers of mixed fermentation as well as some darker more robust offerings. And although Dunham is known for their collaborations, this release is packed with even more than usual, with five out of the six bottles having been brewed alongside amazing folks from other breweries. Dunham was kind enough to send me some bottles to review ahead of time, and I’d love to tell you all about them.

No Gogosse

No Gogosse is a collaboration between Dunham and the highly acclaimed Auval. It’s a “no nonsense” blend of mix fermented saisons – and it’s definitely up my alley.

The nose is an amazing mix of dusty phenols, delivering earthy and musty aromas that are complimented by green apple and pear essence. Light honey notes come through as well, alongside hints of field berries.

The palate matches, carrying lots of dusty Brett layers alongside some lovely crisp white fruit and honey. There is a tart finish that cuts everything nicely, as well as rich tannins that dry the palate after each sip. The subtle tang of it all really brings out lovely fruit notes, while the oak brings in leather, vanilla and those serious tannins. If you’ve had Auval’s Saison Espinay and you’ve had Dunham’s slew of bretted saisons, this is exactly what you’d expect – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mroczny Pan BBA

Mroczny Pan is an imperial porter, aged in bourbon barrels. It’s a collaboration between Dunham and a polish brewery called Browar Widawa.

The nose throws out some ashy roasted notes, complimented by bourbon-induced vanilla aromas, and some red berries. Light espresso and dark chocolate lend to the complexity as well.

The palate begins with a rich silky body, while still feeling smooth and drinkable if compared to Dunham’s usual imperial dark ales. It’s quite exceptionally fruity, carrying lots of cherry and some tart berries, which I believe stem from the roasted malt and slightly tannic oak. The barrel is apparent, delivering vanilla and leather flavours, but it’s not overly present, just applying enough to add complexity to the whole thing.

At 10% ABV, it does carry a slight sharpness, but it integrates extremely well, complimenting the overall profile. This is highly drinkable and lovely. One of their better dark beers of recent years.

Ginnungagap

Ginnungagap is a collaboration with L’Albion out of Joliette. It’s a blend of a 100% English-style pale ale with some Arctic ale (barrel-aged Old burton ale).

The nose is a mix of chocolate, toasted grain and light Brett phenols that add just a touch of earthiness. Some noble hops add a tangy and herbal aroma that comes through as well. Smells delicious

The palate matches, shaping an original flavour profile that somehow works in all directions. First comes the pronounced malty English pale ale base, delivering lightly toasted grains that produce a subtle nutty and chocolate base. Then some rich earthy hops comes forth, holding a sharp but balanced bitterness in the finish. The Brett, although here, is subtle and not overly dusty or leathery; instead it provides just hints of mustiness. There is a dry slightly tannic finish that carries hints of acidity – creating a cherry/strawberry thing. This is truly delicious and crushable.

Berlue Rose

Berlue Rose is a blend of mainly Berliner Weisse and barrel-aged saisons, with some apple saison and a touch of beet beer. It’s a collaboration with the good folks at Microbrasserie Pit Caribou.

The nose carries strong bretty aromatics, releasing dusty phenols, alongside oak funk, and general vinous aromatics. Cider-like apple layers and tart grapefruit rinds add fruity dimensions to this exceptionally inviting nose.

The beer is tart up front, bordering on sour, but also balanced and quite juicy. Tannic grapefruit rinds meet lots of stone fruits and orange juiciness. There is a lovely sharp tang, like biting into an underripe tangerine. This is mixed with hints of passion fruit. It’s a touch vinous and tannic, with some white wine layers as well. Everything is in balance here. Perfect acidity, dryness, tannins and juiciness. Brilliant stuff.

Every time I write one of these articles I usually say something along the lines of “as usual, Brasserie Dunham continues to make amazing beers…” however, I’m more impressed than usual. This set of bottles seems rounder, more balanced and just simply on point. Even though most were barrel-aged wild ales or Saisons in some part, there was a clear difference in each, displaying diverse levels of acidity and funk. Sure, some people might have preferred more examples of big stouts or hoppy offerings, but for me the drinkability of the bottles in this release is something special. Dunham’s refinement and use of balance is at its peak. I can’t wait to see how things progress.

Once again, if you are interested in purchasing these bottles, the release is this Saturday. I always recommend heading out to the eastern townships- and when there is beer like this available, it’s even better.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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