Noah Forrest created this site/blog in order to explore the ever growing craft beer scene that she have fallen for. She will be reviewing, examining, and providing information about beer, food, breweries, and the beer community in general, with a special emphasis on Quebec.
Hey! Guess what? Brasserie Distillerie Champ Libre is having a bottle release tomorrow, Saturday, July 14th, 2018! I provided some details about this a few weeks back, so I decided to write a follow up post to let you know how the beers turned out.
Guests are welcome to arrive at 11:00AM, where you will be able to sample and purchase their regular line-up, on top of two brand new beers.
The first is Soleil Jaune, a strong IPA brewed with loads of Amarillo hops and Amarillo lupulin powder as well as a Vermont yeast strain. The second is Petite Fleur, a dry saison, brewed with wildflowers that were gathered from around the brewery.
Both beers will be available exclusively at the brewery this weekend, so if you’d like to try them, you’ll need to visit their beautiful space (limit of one case of each beer per person). Further details about the event can be found right here.
I received a couple bottles ahead of time in order to tell you about them! Here goes.
Soleil Jaune pours out an insanely hazy orange/yellow colour with a bright white head. The nose is a dank and bright mix of citrus, carrying lots of grapefruit and damp grass. This is further complimented by ripe strawberry and lots of papaya.
The palate is tangy, rich and resinous, but the bitterness is held in check. There is a sweetness as well, rounding things out, but the finish is dry and carries a bitter grapefruit linger on the palate after each sip. The body is insane, delivering a slick and smooth mouthfeel – it drinks like juice.
Considering I’m drinking this mere hours after being bottled, it’s going to change a ton in the next couple days. That said, it’s not as green as I would have thought, but it has it kinks and is hard to really judge it at this point, so I won’t. However, this is going to be good!
Petite Fleur pours out a foggy orange with some yellow highlights. The nose is a mix of zesty saison phenols, light fruity hops and some subtle but apparent herbal/floral notes. It’s very inviting.
The palate matches, delivering a dry fruity base, alongside some floral accents. It’s light and crisp, with a sessionable body that doesn’t come across too watery.
The botanical layers are certainly an apparent component of the beer, however it doesn’t overpower in the least. Instead the flowers compliment the yeast phenols and hop profile perfectly, adding to the dryness of the beer with what comes across as tannins.
This is a complex and inviting beer that can be pondered over or simply crushed by the pool on a hot day.
Alex (Co-owner and Brewer) is clearly stepping up his game. These are two solid offerings that you should definitely check out. Soleil Jaune is a haze-bomb, so if you are into juicy NEIPA’s, this will definitely be up your alley. As well, Petite Fleur is a fun and complex beer that balances drinakability and herbal botanical notes quite well. Delicious stuff.
Once again, details on tomorrow event can be found right here.
Do you ever just find yourself rooting for someone to succeed and prosper? That’s how I’ve felt about Alex Ganivet-Boileau pretty much the second I met him four years ago (as he hacked into a cask of the first ever batch of LTM’s Saison Brett during La Cuvée).
At the time Alex was well into his career as head brewer for Les Trois Mousquetaires (LTM), an extremely reputable brewery on the south shore of Montreal. Their focus was largely German styles, but as time went on the brewery started experimenting with more contemporary offerings, making the brand not only synonymous with solid classics, but also for setting trends. And although he might not say it, I suspect this shift in direction was largely because of Alex’s influence and passion for brewing.
As his rubber mallet burst into the cask and the Saison began jetting out, he quickly handed glasses to those all around, like some kind of jolly French beer-giving Santa Claus. At the time “Brettanomyces” was not a household term, and most breweries in Quebec were not on the band wagon just yet. Saison Brett was tart, funky, and wild – truly something solid.
From then on, I spent a lot of time chatting with Alex over the years about his upcoming projects at LTM. Although he wasn’t a partner there, he was essentially the face of the brewery – at least for us beer-geeks on social media. As you can imagine, when I heard that my man-crush was going off on his own and partnering-up with two other entrepreneurs to create a brand-new brewery called Brasserie Distillerie Champ Libre, I was pretty damn ecstatic.
Who better to explain this journey and his new brewery’s direction than the man himself? So I got with Alex and asked him some questions.
Brasserie Distillerie Champ Libre just opened its doors to the public in May. Can you tell me a bit about how the everything got started and came together?
“My partners Alexandre and Patrick reached out to me last year to see if I was interested taking part in a new project. Timing was not perfect considering my girlfriend was pregnant and I wasn’t looking for big changes in my life. I had a good job. I wasn’t interested in switching a brewing job for another regular brewing job… But sometimes in life, the stars align. This constellation turned out to be something different from ‘’just another ordinary brewery project’’…
Alexandre had a dream to open a distillery for a long time, so the possibility to make both beer and spirits was starting to take shape. I happen to be more and more interested in spirits and distillation, and I always love to learn new things and to be challenged. With this new possibility, the project now had my curiosity hooked. But it was not enough.
The other criteria for me was that I didn’t wanted to brew in an factory/industrial type of brewery. My grandfather was a farmer and I spent most of my childhood weekends playing in the fields on his land. I always dreamed of going back to this kind of life at some point. Alexandre lives in Mercier, a lovely small town known for it’s agricultural history. When he told me he had an eye on a building located that was a farm, he now had my full attention.
The final nail, if I may say, was the possibility in becoming a partner and co-owner with them. As much as I loved LTM, to the point where I gave my heart and soul over the years to develop the business, I was getting a bit demotivated by the fact that I had no opportunity whatsoever to become a partner there. However, it was not my business and I still respected that. So when Alexandre and Patrick offered me parts in the new business because they wanted a solid brewer, I was thrilled!
So, brewery + distillery + located on a farm + co-ownership. This was an absolute no-brainer. I joined.”
You obviously gained a wealth of experience at LTM. You’ve brewed everything from simple blond lagers to blended sours using mixed fermentation. You even made a Baltic Porter aged in a bourbon barrel from 1978. What direction do you and your partners want to go with Champ Libre? How will the beers differ from what you’ve done in the past?
“Like I said, I loved my job at LTM. I learned so much over almost 10 years. I will always be grateful for that. I started a barrel-aging program with just 3 barrels in 2010, and we had reached more than 300 when I left. And also Double IPA bottle releases, growing every year to attract more than 800 people in 2017… these kind of things are addictive, you know. I cannot imagine being a craft brewer and not experimenting with barrel aging and special beer releases. This fuels my creativity. So this is definitely going to happen… In fact, it already started.
But of course, I’m not going to replicate exactly what I’ve done in the past. I want to push things further and raise the bar. I want to go out of my comfort zone even if this means mistakes every now and then. I am now roasting malt myself. I smoked malt with peat for a collaboration. We sowed barley in the field and planted cherry trees. We will install beehives soon. We will forage ingredients for new beers. We grow herbs for future spirits. This was the next step for me as a brewer: growing and crafting things myself whenever possible. For me, this is the very soul of true craft beer. The terroir, the regionality. Working with other businesses around the brewery and having a positive impact on the local community. Reducing our impact on nature and preserving it as much as we can. This is going to sound hippie AF, but I just want our beers to be a source of hope in a fucked-up world. If I can help to make things better and generate more smiles, I will feel more useful on this Earth.”
The first beer to be bottled from Brasserie Distillerie Champ Libre is Épicentre, an IPA. Given the current IPA climate, which revolves around New England haze hype, not to mention lactose and vanilla, where does this beer fit? How will it stand out as different, but still relevant?
“Trends are funny. You know, 4 years ago almost every brewery was doing a black IPA. Almost no one does them anymore. The same with session IPAs; even if you can find some here and there, there are nearly not as many on the shelves as there were 2-3 years ago. But when I first tasted one of Tree House’s IPAs, I knew they’d hit the jackpot and that this kind of flavour profile would be here to stay. A well crafted northeast IPA (and I insist on well crafted) is simply just too good of a beer, so I think this style is here to stay. But since it’s so popular and every other brewery does one (and sometimes shamefully badly), I wanted to explore something else with our first beer. I wanted it to be something other than ‘’Oh yeah it’s another NEIPA…’’ so I kinda went for a hybrid. It definitely has some north-east influences, but the bitterness is closer to a west-coast IPA, and, of course, it’s fermented with a quite unique wine yeast. So it’s kind of a odd beer and I totally get that some were thrown off by it’s flavour profile… that was precisely the point! I wanted to use this yeast to get not just hoppy and juicy flavours. Some think it’s a Belgian IPA. Nope. Some think it’s a Saison/IPA hybrid. Nope. Oh so it must be a Champagne yeast. Nope. Is it phenolic? Of course it is. This yeast is, in fact, an actual northeast yeast, but there’s a twist: it comes from the northeast… of France! It’s an Alsace wine yeast, a little nod to my brewing background (I did an internship in a small brewery in Alsace in 2007) and it was also used in the very first LTM Double IPA in 2013. Fun fact: the yeast was changed in 2014 because we wanted something less hazy and more clean. Seems we were ahead of our time on the haziness hype… maybe should have kept it! Haha! So, yeah, I’m using this yeast again, but in a different way to get more phenols/farmhouse character. Maybe this will start a new trend, maybe not. I couldn’t care less. I love this beer, and a lot of people do too. Some don’t like it? No problem, there is plenty of beers out there, so they should drink what they want! And as I once said: I don’t care about following waves; I just really, really like the ocean.”
Since Épicentre, you have released three more beers. Can you tell me a bit about them and why you chose the styles you did?
“We don’t want to brew 37 different beers. We prefer to keep it simple, with 4-5 regular beers and some special offerings from time to time. Brewing only novelty is lazy. Some brewers prefer to focus almost only on new beers because they know they will sell easily because there are enough people who buy beers simply because they are new. Buyers who only want novelty are hurting the industry. This is a downward spiral and it’s bad. It makes people only want instantaneous reward for their brain. But this intant gratification does not last long and soon they want some more, and more, and more. What about real joy and contemplation? A deeper satisfaction? This is what we want for our beers. Fuck instantaneity.
For the process of choosing our regular beers, we asked ourselves what we would drink if we had only 4 styles available for the rest of our lives. A modern refreshing IPA, a dry but clean Saison, a bohemian Pilsner with lots and lots of Saaz and a big partly barrel-aged dessert imperial stout. I would personally love to add a sour/fruit beer to this line-up but this takes time and we have plenty of that ahead of us. Speaking of time, we wanted our beers to promote a certain way of life. Slowing down, taking it easy, being amazed at simple things. The world sometimes seems crazy, but in the end, it just depends on how you choose to see it. Powerful light, powerful darkness. And between all this, balance.”
Well, this has certainly got me exited to dive into these first four offerings. Let’s do it!
Épicentre pours out a hazy bright orange colour. The nose is a zesty mix of citrus, with orange and tangerine at the front. Light pine and grassiness comes through as well. Some subtle yeasty aromatics lend a spicy and candied sweet layer, bringing everything together nicely.
The palate matches, carrying a bright fruit front, with orange citrus and some stone fruits as well – peaches in particular. It’s dry and well balanced, delivering an ample bitterness, while not overtly aggressive. There is a bit of the zesty hop burn you can get in an intense NEIPA, but the profile isn’t the typical juice bomb – although it’s still fruity AF. Unlike an NEIPA, the yeast profile delivers a subtle spice and some fruit candy.
Épicentre certainly doesn’t have the rich phenols of a Belgian IPA, but the flavour profile isn’t a standard west or east coat IPA either. Instead, Alex has brewed something rather unique using a particular yeast strain that lends character without being the dominant component. I think this beer will appeal to those who need the aggressive hop character of a hazy juice bomb as well as those looking for something a bit different.
Éloge de la Lenteur (Saison)
Éloge de la Lenteur (a Saison) pours a foggy orange colour. The nose is a rich mix of yeasty phenolics, carrying some clove and cardomom at the front, followed by fresh pear, light hay, grass, and some hop funk.
The palate matches, but displays more subtly. The yeast presence is less spicy and instead has a more dry, citrus forward note. Some pithy grapefruit mixes with pear flesh, while a light earthiness in the finish cuts through everything. This is incredibly easy to drink, with a really nice balance. I think a subtle tartness would assist this one as well.
I find the yeast profile a touch too similar to the IPA, carrying a lot of clove spiciness. I tend to prefer a dustier Saison, but this is certainly well executed.
Simplicité Volontaire (Bohemian Pilsner)
The nose on Simplicité Volontaire (a Bohemian Pilsner) is a mix of herbal German hops, delivering some light citrus alongside bready malts and lots of honey.
The palate is round, but still crisp. It’s definitely a bit dense for the style, but it goes down super well none the less. The finish carries an complimentary and aggressive bitterness, which helps clean that honey and bready malt sweetness, leaving the crispyboi finish that us Lager enthusiasts love.
Some citrus fruit and herbal/tangy hops help build on the malty base, with a quenching finish that sticks with you.
Overall, I like this, but I find it a bit malty for my tastes. Even then though, Alex is nailing drinkability and balance at every turn. I could slam these first three beers all day. Let’s see about the next one…
Déjeuner en Paix (Imperial Stout)
Déjeuner en Paix is an 11% ABV coffee infused Imperial Stout, aged briefly in bourbon barrels with charred maple staves. The nose is a mocha bomb, tossing fudgy chocolate aromatics at me mixed with rich and earthy espresso beans. Some subtle maple sweetness peaks through as well.
Up front the coffee takes the lead, providing rich espresso bitterness. There are layers of chocolate as well as a touch of dark fruits coming through in the finish.
The alcohol is well hidden – extremely well hidden. The beer is balanced and again (like everything Champ Libre) surprisingly easy to drink. The body is rich, but not cloying or slick. I’m not getting too much maple on this one, but there are echoes of it for sure alongside the vanilla bourbon notes.
Overall, I think the coffee leaves a little too much bitterness for the overall gravity of the beer. It comes off a touch watery and a bit one dimensional at times. That said, it’s impressively drinkable for an 11% ABV, and despite this, it is layered, delicious and the flavours all marry well. A good first batch.
If I were to open a brewery tomorrow and I had to think of my starter line-up, I’d probably have chosen the exact four same beer styles to begin with. I guess great minds do think alike! I’m so..
There is just so much to say about Boreale these days.
Les Brasseurs du Nord, Boreale’s parent company, has been making quality beer for decades. The Boreale brand is a Quebec staple. For me, their beers were always reliable, very well priced, and usually the best option in a sea of shitty “domestic” macro lagers, skunky green bottles, and overpriced widget infused Euro-cream in a can. Before really diving into craft, I would always seek out that dark blue 6 pack with the white bear on it. It was my go-to.
Although Boreale is still doing what they’ve always done, something has changed in the last two years – particularly from the standpoint of the ever growing beer-geek scene in the province.
In short, Boreale purchased a small pilot system to allow their brewmaster Gabriel to create new and innovative beers that would be released as one-off bar-only products. It was called the Episode program. The beers were a success, but one in particular blew up: IPA du Nord-Est.
After a couple of runs and with the increasing positive response over IPA du Nord-Est, Boreale decided to actually can the beer and place it in limited distribution. Things escalated quickly, and what seemed like overnight, Boreale went from that seemingly dated and kind of boring staple, to producing the most sought after IPA in the province.
IPA du Nord-Est wasn’t just good, it was great, and on top of that it was a style that had yet to be well represented in the province, Craft beer fan-boys went nuts.
Fast forward a bit and IPA du Nord-EST has become a pretty regular item. And now, it has some friends. A few weeks ago Boreale dropped several heavily hopped beers to join the family, and I’d like to tell you about them.
IPA du Nord-Est (100% Galaxy)
This 100% Galaxy hopped edition of IPA du Nord-Est first dropped earlier this year in brewery-only growlers. I had the chance to try it at the time – it was fantastic. I actually found this surprising given that mono-hopped IPA’s are often kind of one dimensional. This however, was not. Let’s check out how the canned version is.
The nose is a massive dank blast of fruity hops, with huge citrus, passion fruit and all kind of tropical goodness. Tangy and zesty aromatics attack my nostrils before I dive in.
The palate matches with equal veracity. Loads of sharp and tangy hop fruitiness blasts my senses is all directions – Passion fruit, papaya, and grapefruit rind dominate. A rich silky body follows, carrying a fluffiness to help enrich the citrus bomb that preceded it. This iteration is a bit sharper and more bitter than the standard edition, but it’s still nicely rounded and “balanced” overall.
I’ve had the privilege of drinking several, if not all releases of Double Descente, Boreale’s double IPA. The first batch was tasty, but the sweetness and bitterness were a bit too aggressive for my tastes. Then, when it was finally canned, the recipe was improved, delivering more brightness and less sweetness. I’m very excited to dive into this latest batch.
The nose is straight orange juice, with some sexy orange crush vibes going on as well. Tangy passion fruit, lemon zest, and light juicy mango come through as well.
The palate matches with an orange explosion of hops. The sweetness is way scaled back compared to previous versions, and is basically 100% on point now. Lots of tangy and bitter grapefruit rind finish off an aggressively bright and fruity flavour base. All walks of citrus make up this profile, but tangerine and clementines are at the front, while some lime and grapefruit come in the finish alongside a lot of tropical juiciness. I’m loving this latest batch.
This is the first time I’ve tried Motel Coconut, a dried coconut infused pale ale that was brewed last summer for the first time. This is the first time in cans though, so I’m very intrigued.
The nose is a crazy blast of citrus, with fresh orange juice at the front. Some light tropical notes come through as well, but that orange is on fire. The flavour profile is less bright, but still carries a deep citrusy base. Lots of tangerine, mango and papaya come through as well. The coconut is also there, but largely in the finish, adding an interesting nutty sweet essence. That said, it’s exceptionally dry and very easy to drink. The body is luscious and creamy, providing the often desired Milkshake-like mouthfeel without any of the pesky lactose.
This is a solid addition to the recent line-up of canned Boreale haze – providing a bit more drinkability, but with loads of palate attacking turbid hop goodness.
What we have here is Boreale’s first ever barrel-aged beer. And it only made sense for that first beer to be a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. This beer was made in small quantities and only available at the brewery.
The nose releases loads of bourbon up front, carrying ample vanilla, barrel and general bourbon fun. Some fudgy chocolate comes through as well, mixed with subtle cacao and coffee bean aromatics.
Up front it’s impressively drinkable for the ABV. Like the nose, there is a lot of vanilla bourbon notes, with some slightly astringent barrel in the finish.
Chocolate, coffee and light caramel come through, and as it opens, red fruits start to emerge, with black cherries making an appearance. Overall, this is a really solid, pretty straightforward bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. In a sea of adjunct-infused lactose nonsense, it’s nice to see them attacking the modern classics once again
Unfortunately these beers are likely long gone. That said, you may be able to find some stragglers around town, but they are reaching their threshold of freshness, so tread lightly.
However, with the success of these beers, I have a feeling that we will start seeing more and more new and exciting stuff from Boreale. Lets all keep our eyes out!
Brasserie Artisanale Maltstrom may have only been around a couple of years, but they are already on their way to becoming one of the most sought after breweries in the province.
Helmed by owner and brewer Michaël Fiset – as well as brewer Elaura Bussiere – this Notre-Dame-des-Prairies brewery is producing highly acclaimed beers from a wide spectrum of styles. Their standard line-up is one of my favourites in the province, ranging from hoppy and hazy, to an delicious and clean Pilsner.
Maltstrom’s core beers are mostly lagers, and their exceptionally popular IXPL (India Extra Pale Lager) accounts for more than half of their revenue. Why brew a hazy and dank styled IPA with lager yeast? The answer to that lies in Michaël’s background.
Although being Québécois, Michaël began his brewing journey picking grapes in France. His love affair with wine led him towards a vinous direction, but the climate in Quebec isn’t ideal for creating wine. Instead, he began working for L’Alchimiste, and stayed for over 10 years (much of that time as the head brewer).
If you are not familiar L’Alchimiste, it’s a Joliette based brewery that has been around since before the craft beer scene really blew up. To me, their model seemed to be about reasonably priced craft beer that was accessible and easy to drink. When I was first starting out, they were a good breakthrough brewery for those wanting to drink outside of the macro-beer universe, but who also might be intimidated by more aggressive flavours (or aggressive prices).
Michaël’s time there taught him many things, including the brilliance of lager yeast. So, when he finally started Maltstrom, he wanted to create his own post-modern beer styles that were basically the best of both worlds: drinkabl eand complex. And you know what, he nailed it. When you first take a sip of IXPL, you’re hit with an explosion of hazy hop goodness, yet it still manages to carry a subtle cleanness to it.
That said, I don’t want to talk about Maltstrom’s regular line up today, I want to dive into four of their new (and returning) barrel-aged offerings. I’m damn excited.
Let’s begin with Grisette Tropicale, a Grisette brewed with peaches and pineapple, barrel aged for 8 months and hopped with Galaxy and Rakau. The nose is a complex mix of fresh pineapple, spicy yeast phenols, dank and fruity hops, and lots of tangy acidic notes.
Up front there is ample acidity mixed with some astringent bitterness. However, the fruitiness is there as well. The barrel is subtle, lending a touch of oak, and also more tannic layers, furthering the bitterness. As my palate adjusts, the juiciness comes through more, with clear pineapple and some subtle peach. The hops lend citrus and tropical notes as well. It’s a touch vinous, carrying a tangy white wine component.
Overall the flavour profile is on point. The dry phenolic yeast lends character to the abundance of fruit, while the hops and the barrel add even more layers. However, the bitterness is too pronounced for the dryness of this beer, creating a slightly astringent and aggressive finish that I’d like scaled back (for my tastes).
India Extra Pale Lager Brett
India Extra Pale Lager Brett is Maltstrom’s IXPL, aged in Sauvignon Blanc Barrels with Brett and then dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, and Mosaic. The nose blasts you with lots of bretty animal funk, coupled with some citrusy and tropical dank hops. Loads of tangerine essence meets pineapple and white grapes. Some oak lends spicy vinous aromatics in the finish.
The palate matches, carrying a perfect blend of hops and barrel character. Plenty of musty and barnyard brett funk lend compliment to a whole wack of tropical and citrus fruits. There are countless layers here. The mosaic adds a typical orange citrus, while the Nelson Sauvin provides a white wine component that perfectly compliments the vinous wine barrels that the beer is aged in.
IXPL Brett is incredibly dry, and surprisingly clean in the finish. It’s so easy to drink while still incredibly complex and downright brilliant. I loved this one.
Russian Imperial Premium Stout
In early 2017, Maltstrom dropped this unassuming imperial stout called RIP. After my first sip, I was floored. It was 11.9%, but carried an approachable finesse – the beer was incredibly easy to drink. It was rich and luscious, with huge fudgy notes, but was just so accessible. Well, they took most of that batch and threw it in bourbon barrels for the better part of a year.
The nose is quite subtle, with a some dark roasted aromatics of coffee and chocolate, mixed with hints of barrel. Cooked toffee, cake and toasted oats come through as well, with vanilla bourbon accents in the finish.
The mouthfeel is thick and slick, with a brilliant lusciousness. There is virtually no sharp edges to this beer, it’s round and incredibly easy to drink.
The roast is there, but not heavily pronounced, while the bourbon notes come through, more aggressively, providing some vanilla and slight warming ethanol in the finish. Chocolate and cooked taffy come through as well, adding some sweet elements, yet the beer itself is very dry.
Overall this is great, but I actually preferred the fresher, non-barrel-aged version. The brightness of the hops and the chocolate notes were just so on point at the time. In this version, the barrel does add some nice bourbon vanilla notes and spicy oak layers, but I’m just not feeling it quite as much as the OG – I feel like it lost something with time. That said, I still highly recommend finding a bottle if you can.
Sept Carrée – Farmhouse IPA Brett
Sept Carrée is aged for seven months on French oak with lots of brettanomyces, then was dry-hopped with Rakau and Enigma. The nose is a rich mix of juicy and ripe stone fruits, bretty animal funk, and some zesty barrel notes. There are also some serious hop aromatics, launching apricot, peach, and plum at my senses.
The palate matches, but is a touch more subtle. Lots of overripe plum and peach are complimented by some nice vinous barrel complexities. The brett is less on the dusty side of things and instead is all barnyard animal funk, delivering some dry phenols to help balance the fruitiness. There is a great tang to this this beer, providing an amazing fruity zip to the finish.
Overall Sept Carrée is a delicious funk bomb that attacks the wild hoppy style quite differently from the IXPL Brett. Instead of the bright citrusy and sharp “NE” hop profile of IXPL, this one is a touch richer and more round, with a huge ripe stone fruit essence. It’s amazing.
If you haven’t had a chance to try anything from Maltstrom, you really need to get on that. Their beers are as complex and layered as they are easy to drink. These new barrel-aged offering are no different, delivering amazing original flavour profiles at every turn. You can always visit the brewery to grab some cans to go, or head to a select few stores around town (Maltéhops in Verdun frequently carries stock).
With the approaching summer weather just around the corner, it also means that the infamous Brasserie Dunham May bottle release party is arriving! And this year is as sexy as ever. This Saturday on May 26th, brasserie Dunham invites you to drive out to the eastern townships for an afternoon of amazing beer and plenty of bottles to go.
As usual, the lineup of available bottles is impressive. The 8th Hors Série (Jane doe) edition is dropping, as well as the 8th Assemblage. In addition, a Mosiac version of their barrel-aged and dry-hopped sour Oro Zuur will be available, and a remake of Assemblage #3 from several years back will be there. In terms of brand new titles, they have Funk Siberian (a barrel-aged sour with sea buckthorn), Bière de Foudre (a sour grisette/saison blend), and two versions of L’Écchymose(a blueberry, rosemary, cinnamon imperialstout with cacao), one aged in bourbon barrels, and the other in cider barrels from Quebec.
You can reserve your bottles ahead of time (which is recommended if you don’t want to miss out). It will cost you 10$, but you get a free glass to take home and that glass is filled with your beer of choice. If interested, you can reserve your bottles by clicking right here.
I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on several of the beers ahead of time so that I could give you my opinion on them! Let’s begin.
Jane Doe #8
Jane Doe (Assemblage Hors-Série) is a series of barrel-aged blends that always have a fruit component to them. This is the 8th in the series. Its base starts with a barrel-aged guava Berliner Weiss, which like most of the beers in this release, is blended with l’Orange de Dunham and a Foudre-aged rye Grisette.
The nose is a burst of acidic fruitiness, with guava, tangerine and some light melon at the front. Subtle vinous oak flavours meet some fuzzy peach candy. There is also a light bretty dustiness speckled in.
The palate begins with a punch of acidity, which is balanced against some amazing sweet fruitiness. Tons of juicy guava, clementine and some bitter orange rinds make up the juicy fruit profile. Yet, although fruity, the finish is bone dry from the acidity and oak tannins. It’s sour candies galore (orange jolly ranchers?), with peach and guava bursting forth.
Overall this is excellent, with everything in perfect balance. There is a nice clean aspect to the beer, while still being juicy, jammy, and very sour.
Dunham describes Funk Siberian as a the little sister to Funk Royal, a fantastic plum sour that they released earlier this year (I wrote about it here).
This beer is a Foudre fermented Grisette with the addition of sea buckthorn fruit. The nose is a bright acidic mix of sour citrus, passion fruit, spicy oak, and light brett funk. It’s crazy fruity and very inviting.
It’s just as sour as the nose let on, carrying a sharp acidity that quenches and attacks the palate upon each sip. The fruitiness is intense, but doesn’t overpower the beer. It’s tart, juicy and reminds me of passion fruit, ground cherries and currents. The barrel adds oak complexities, alongside some rather earthy layers from the fruit, and a light pepperiness from the rye.
It goes down pretty well considering the aggressive PH on this, and is perfect for the summer. That said, I find the acidity a touch aggressive for the base beer, but that’s just my preference.
This is the 8th edition of Assemblage, a series of wild and blended barrel-aged beers that Dunham has been putting out for some time now. This version consists of a Foudre fermented Grisette, Saison Orange, d’Orange de Dunham, and two year old barrel-aged No Tahoma. Let’s dig in.
The nose carries that quintessential Dunham Brett funk, with lots of dusty phenols and loads of vinous wine soaked oak. Apple flesh and fresh pear meet some tangy berries and citrus. It’s very inviting.
The palate matches. There is a present brett profile, lending some earthy layers. Next comes the barrels, adding a touch of oak, but mainly lots of rich and tannic wine remnants. There is a orange-focused citrus component here that provides a lingering grapefruit-like bitterness in the finish. This, combined with the tannic dryness, creates a pretty aggressive astringency. Grapefruit, orange, and tangerine are at the forefront of this beer and there is a slight acidity to the whole thing – that said, it’s subtle and hard to place.
There are a lot of interesting and downright delicious layers to this. I like the way the tangy bitterness creates this potent orange and grapefruit rind thing, but overall the beer is too bitter for my tastes, making it quite astringent.
There are two versions of L’Écchymose coming this weekend, one aged in Bourbon barrels, and the other was aged in a cider barrel from the Milton Cidery here in Quebec. It’s an imperial stout, made with blueberry, rosemary, cinnamon and cacao. Let’s dig in.
The nose begins with lots of herbal notes, lending cola-like aromatics the chocolate-forward stout profile. You get the cacao as well, with hints of fruit in the finish.
The palate matches, but is more subtle in the herbal department. Instead, I’m first hit with a big fudgy body carrying loads of chocolate. The blueberry is extremely subtle, adding hints of jammy fruitiness and acidity. The rosemary and cinnamon notes are there, but not so intense that it feels like a gruit.
There is an aggressive hop bitterness, and the bourbon barrel and cacao further dry things out, cutting through everything, leaving a lingering bitter finish.The alcohol is very well integrated and drinks really easily.
I was nervous about this one as I’m not huge into big adjunct stouts – but this works. Everything is there, but it’s all subtle and quite drinkable.
Bière de Foudre
Bière de Foudre is the first blend of beers from the two Dunham Foudres, a rye Grisette and a more classic Saison loaded with wheat.
The nose is mix of tart and sour candy, with peaches, mango and some grapefruit. Up front this beer is quite aggressively sour, carrying lots of under-ripe nectarine and clementine. It drinks well even given the acidity. As it opens, passion fruit starts to come out. Slight barrel notes come through as well, adding oak accents and lots of drying tannins.
It’s puckeringly tart, sour, and dry, while also being round and very, very fruity. It’s surprising there is no fruit element. Overall this is an impressively drinkable yet complex blend that would be perfect for the summer patio.
As usual, Dunham did an amazing job at creating innovative beers that push the envelope. It seems that this time around, they concentrated on a couple of particular beers to use in most of their blends, which provided a similarity across a lot of what they released. It was interesting to examine what these base beers brought to the overall blends – what worked and what didn’t.
If you’re interested, buy yourself a ticket (or attend without a ticket) and head out to Dunham this Saturday to enjoy all things wild and delicious.
Most of the time when we think about the illustrious wild yeast genus brettanomyces (or brett for short), we picture sours, lambic, American wild ales, brett IPAs, or maybe bretted saisons. Basically, we think of beers that are dry, or hoppy, or tart, or sour, but generally rather drinkable. However, brett can really be used in any beer, and today, I want to talk about Sutton Brouërie‘s big bretted beers that came out just in time to say goodbye to winter. As well, I’d like to talk about the latest Sutton Brouerie and The Wild Shack collaborative barrel-aged sour called Sutton Goes Wild 2, which also dropped recently.
For those unaware, brettanomyces is a genus of wild yeast strains that aggressively attenuates the beer that it ferments (making it dry). It often creates a “funky” aromatic profile that can be described as dusty and earthy, and is often compared to farmhouse aromas of horse blanket, goat or dusty old books – depending on the style.
Sutton Brouerie uses brett in every single one of their beers. They generally use it as a primary fermenting yeast as opposed to a secondary fermenting yeast. What this means for the layman is that the brett “funk” is generally more restrained in their beers, while still carrying the beautifully dry and fruity flavours that the yeast can impart.
As I was mentioning, Sutton released several big beers recently. There was a bretted imperial stout, a brett barleywine and then the same imperial stout aged in Ardbeg Scotch barrels before being bottled. Generally speaking, these styles are not brewed with brett, however I have the utmost faith that Pat (head brewer and co-owner) will do something special.
If you’re not familiar with The Wild Shack, they are a Montreal-based brewing duo that has collaborated with many breweries in Quebec and Ontario. They specialize in everything wild – and in my eyes – they are brewing some of the best sour beer in the province. Once again, they got with Pat and created a sequel to the highly acclaimed barrel-aged sour called Sutton Goes Wild – and I’m excited to try it. Let’s get started.
Imperial Brett Stout
To begin, let’s crack open the non-barrel aged Imperial Brett Stout. It pours out luscious and thick. It’s pitch black. The nose is a rich mix of dark-roasted espresso beans and loads of chocolatey goodness. A light fruitiness comes through as well, giving that signature Sutton brett ester profile that I just adore. There is a charred-sugar quality here as well.
Oh man, the body is luscious and lovely. It’s silky and extremely creamy as you take each sip. There is an ashiness as well, but not too much so, and it works well with the fudgy and rich chocolate presence. Some blackberry and dark cherry comes through as it warms, but it’s minimal.
Despite the big malt base, this is exceptionally dry, with a clean finish that echoes roasted malts, bitter espresso and some subtle brett fruitiness. The alcohol is super well hidden, but there is a slight astringency in the finish that gets more intense as it warms. This is a solid RIS indeed.
Imperial Brett Stout (Ardbeg Scotch Barrel-Aged)
Let’s move onto the barrel-aged version. This beer was aged in Ardbeg Scotch barrels from the Islay region, which are known for their intense peat-forward flavour profiles. I expect some serious smoke on this one.
The nose is a rich mix of dark-roasted malts, backed by some very apparent peaty scotch smokiness. Some chocolatey aromatics mixed with the campfire, which rounds things out nicely.
The palate is rich and robust, carrying a luscious mouthfeel and perfect carbonation for the style. Like the nose, the peaty scotch is the star here, lending an ashy, freshly stomped-out campfire flavour to go alongside the stout attributes.
This beer is dry, but there is just enough maltiness to balance the slightly astringent barrel characteristics that lend an almost chemical component to the finish. There is a lingering hop bitterness to go alongside everything, leaving a relatively clean finish. You certainly need to enjoy smokey beers to like this, but if you do, it’s a treat for sure.
Brett Barley Wine
Although this isn’t actually the first bretted barleywine I’ve had, it’s certainly not a sub-style of beer that’s particularly common. The nose begins with some bright hoppy aromas, providing citrus and pine. Slight estery fruitiness come through as well, alongside some subtle spicy phenols and a touch of caramel.
Up front this is rather bitter and intense. There is an unexpected hoppy punch, lending floral and piney notes to the flavour profile. It’s quite dry, but there is enough sweet maltiness to balance the lingering bitter finish. It’s not particularly caramel focused like most barleywines, and instead displays more of a bright fruitiness and some slight clovey phenols
Apple, pear and grapefruit make up the fruit profile with some piney lingering resins. As it warms, overripe stone fruits emerge, with plums and peaches coming through. Overall, this wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it was an interesting and tasty take on a barleywine.
Sutton Goes Wild 2
This is now the second collaboration between The Wild Shack and Brouërie Sutton. Sutton Goes Wild 2 is a sour beer, barrel-fermented and then aged for 10 months in Chardonnay barrels. Additionally, Sutton’s Session IPA was blended into the beer, making up 25% of the beer’s overall volume.
The nose is a bright mix of fruity acidic aromatics mixed with a hoppy citrus punch. Mango, grapefruit, papaya and some floral notes meet a spicy oak presence.
The palate matches, with subtle acidic tang, balanced against a light but present hoppiness. Lemon, grapefruit and lots of tangerine make up the fruit profile, with hints of stone fruits in the finish.
Everything is balanced here. It’s sour, but not bracingly so, and the barrel provides just the right amount of oak. There is a brett profile, but it’s not overly dusty or funky per se. As it warms, the vinous components come alive. As well, some light acetic notes start becoming apparent – which I’m normally not a fan of – but they are very subtle and actually work with the whole flavour profile. Great Stuff!
Every time I get my hands on bottles from Brouërie Sutton, I’m always so excited to dive right in. Pat’s ability to wield brett in so many directions from a flavour perspective is truly amazing. It was a ton of fun to try these big and burly beer styles after having gone through wild yeast fermentation, and we’ll just have to see what comes next.
If you want to try more beers from Brouërie Sutton, they have a good distribution around Quebec. Ask you local beer depanneur about it. However, I highly recommend taking a trip to Sutton and visiting the Auberge itself – you won’t regret it.
The folks at Microbrasserie La Memphré have been busy over the last few months, delivering several brand new beers to the public as well as some returning classics.
This Magog-based brewery is a must visit if you find yourself in Quebec’s eastern townships. The stand alone brewery and restaurant has a quaint and cozy vibe, while also being a spot to drink several pints and have a good time.
There are always plenty of beers to try when visiting La Memphré. However, if you’re not able to make it out to the townships, several times a year they bottle different offerings and distribute them throughout the province.
I’ve written about the bottled beers from La Memphré several times now, and I’m always impressed with their ability to be both extremely approachable yet multi-layered and complex at the same time. How do you make a bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale so damn drinkable? Well, they managed to do it, and they did it well.
Today I’m going to talk about a few different beers, and as I mentioned above, some are brand new and several are returning.
Double Menton is a double IPA that made a triumphant canned return recently. I was very excited to revisit it in its new format. The nose is a bright mix of zesty citrus, with some tropical undertones. Some pine and general juiciness comes through as well.
The palate matches, with an incredible balance. Upon my first sip, I was expecting a bit more punch. However, instead of being disappointed over not getting that turbid intensity, I’m impressed with it’s subtlety.
Virtually no alcohol is present, and it drinks smooth and easy. Tropical fruits meet lots of citrus and general orange tang, with a clean feeling that flows super well. It’s impressively dry, but not too bitter. Delicious.
Ralph Merry 2017
Ralph Merry dropped for the first time in 2016. It’s a bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ale, and people (including myself) fell in love with it. Let’s hope the 2017 edition is just as lovely.
The nose is a huge bourbon blast of vanilla, mixed with some rich caramel, toasted grains, oak, and maple sugar. The palate starts with a big luscious body, followed by some sweet essences of brown sugar and taffy. That said, it’s exceptionally dry and drinkable.
Light dates and figs come through, alongside several vanilla-focused bourbon layers. The finish is quite bitter and slightly tannic, carrying a ethanol spirit-like astringency that cuts through any sweetness.
As expected, the balance is on point, with just enough barrel to counter the rich flavour profile. Ralph Merry 2016 was an amazing treat, and this batch is as well.
I believe this is Col Roulé’s third time being bottled. It’s a coffee-infused Porter, and I remember really enjoying it the last time I had the chance to try one.
The nose is all coffee, with some dark chocolate and light cherry in the finish. Doughy malts lend some sweetness, but this smells dry and drinkable.
The palate matches, with a heavy coffee profile, while still balanced and very drinkable. There is almost a schwartzbier lager drinkability to this. That said, the body is still nice, and a bit slick.
Coffee, mocha, and a slight yeast presence make up the general flavour profile, with a rich but easy drinkability that makes it go down smooth. This yeast flavour is a bit hard to describe, but it’s certainly there, and I don’t love it. As well, it’s a bit too carbonated for my tastes, which distracts from the rest of the beers profile. These reasons make me prefer the previous batch, but it’s still enjoyable, easy drinking, coffee rich Porter.
Porter Fumé Bourbon
This bourbon barrel-aged smoked Porter is actually a collaboration between La Memphré and Boreale’s amazing head brewer Gabriel Dulong. When I heard this was happening, I knew I needed to get my hands on a bottle. The nose is a rich mix of caramel, leather, vanilla, light smoke, and some barrel.
The palate matches, starting with light chocolate and espresso roast flavours that lend accent to some nice caramelization. The smoked malts are very subtle (as I like them), just adding a hint of peaty complexity. The oak provides some tannins in the finish, further drying out this already highly attenuated porter.
The bourbon adds a pleasant vanilla layer to the whole thing, as well as a slight ethanol astringency – but don’t get me wrong, this drinks more like a 6% beer, rather than its 8.5%.
It’s totally crushable, but still incredibly creamy, slick and smooth. If you’re looking for a luscious bourbon bomb, this ain’t it. Its subtlety wrapped in drinkability, while still being layered and complex. Great beer.
Rhus Typhina is a saison brewed with sumac. The addition of the fruit should impart a lightly tart and lemony component to the beer.
The nose is a great mix of spicy yeast phenols, carrying light clove and lots of floral honey notes. It’s a touch earthy with rich fruity sumac aromatics also playing a role here.
The palate is subtle. Sweet honey notes mix with a nice light tannic tartness in the finish. This has a great classic saison profile, with the sumac adding some additional complexity to the beer as a whole. It’s wonderfully dry, but still feel full and round. It’s also very clean and goes down super easily (like all of La Memphré’s beers). The sumac adds a hard-to-describe fruitiness to the whole thing, kind of like lemon rinds, but extremely subtle and a bit herbal. This is a delicious, fun beer.
La Memphré continues to pump out deliciousness. What always impresses me the most is their knack for taking an experimental angle with a beer, but making it approachable and easy drinking. If you see their stuff in the shelves, I always recommend picking it up.
Back in November 2016, I was fortunate to get my hands on a slew of bottles from Half Hours on Earth. This small brewery from Seaforth Ontario was creating beautifully tart farmhouse ales, and they simply blew me away.
Since then, Half Hours has gone from a relatively obscure brewery to a household name in the Ontario and Quebec beer-geek scene. This is largely due to the fact that HHoE took advantage of home beer delivery early on in the game, which allows you to simply go online and order whatever you’d like – and it will be shipped to your door (Ontario addresses only). This, and of course because they are brewing hot fire.
As I mentioned, HHoE specializes in tart farmhouse ales. I wrote an extensive article a couple of years ago outlining several of their offerings. I’ve been waiting patiently since then for their barrel program to come into fruition, and today, I want to tell you about their first five barrel-aged beers ever released (including a collaboration with Montreal’s own The Wild Shack). However, before that, I had a chance to speak with Kyle Teichert (brewer and co-owner) to ask him some question about the brewery’s progression over the last few years.
When we last spoke you were just beginning to use barrels in some of your blends. Since then, you’ve released barrel-fermented beers, and now you have several barrel-aged beers under your belt. Can you tell me a bit about the evolution of your barrel program and where you want it to go?
“The initial barrel fermented beers were a fun way to introduce some barrel character to a few of our quicker turnaround sours, which at the same time extracted a lot of the character from the barrel so that the next use would be a bit more neutral for aging. Whenever we get new barrels in, we like to do a quick fermentation in them, then after they’re typically at a good stage for longer barrel aging. Which is where we’re at now with a lot of our barrels.
Our plan from the beginning was to get to the point where we could be regularly releasing aged sours. Starting out it wasn’t feasible for us on our barely existent budget. But since opening we’ve been acquiring barrels a few at a time and finding any bit of space for them in our tiny brewery. Our plan now is basically to fit as much oak into our building as we possibly can. We have more ideas for barrels right now than the time and space required for them. We’re doing the best that we can at the moment, but ideally we’d be filling barrels much more often!”
The Wild Shack is becoming a bit of a phenomenon around Montreal. What was it like to collaborate and brew with them? How did you come to decide on the specifics behind Missing Link?
“It was great! Max & Remi are very talented brewers! We hadn’t actually tried any of their beer until the day of the collaboration, but we could tell beforehand that we were on the same page with the styles and focus of the beers we both make. Unfortunately Max could not make it to the brew day, so we hope we can one day collab again with everyone there!
It was pretty well implied that we’d be doing something sour/funky together, it was Remi who first suggested the idea of adding the long pepper. We were unfamiliar with them, so of course we were interested! We talked yeasts, lacto, and brett strains beforehand. Then it was, I believe, a couple weeks prior to the brew day when we landed some Syrah barrels at the brewery, that was pretty much a given that we’d be using one. We developed a simple grain bill on the brew day, and discussed fruiting with the nectarines (as well as adding some of the pits). I think we had both anticipated this being a quicker turnaround sour. But after it was in the barrel, it just kept tasting better and better (barrel character & brett complexity) with each sample. Here we are a year later and we’re very glad for the wait. Can’t wait to do it again sometime.”
Half Hours on Earth has started to gain a larger following as time goes on. More and more people are starting to realize just how spectacular and original the beers you produce really are. If the hype eventually starts getting out of hand, would you consider expanding? What’s the future for Half Hours?
“We are unaware of any hype, if it’s out there, we don’t see anything getting out of hand really. There are no line ups for releases, we don’t have limits, and it’s very difficult to miss out on any of our beer if you visit our website once per week. It’s certainly a unique situation we’re in (given our location) as we do focus a lot on our online sales. And when customers do make the drive to visit and pick-up an order, it’s rarely rushed or crowded in the retail area, so we have time to let them sample and chat about the beer.
I guess that brings us to the future of the brewery. We’d love to have a tap room eventually, but I don’t think our current facility could allow for it. We always have an eye out for commercial property that could make a great tap room. And it would be great for people to have another reason to stop and stay longer, rather than grabbing their beer to go. But adding tap sales would also require a bit of an expansion no doubt. We’re really just operating day to day and going with whatever comes up, farmhouse-style.”
Well, if I wasn’t excited to dive right into these barrel-aged monsters before, I most certainly am now! Let’s begin.
Missing Link (The Wild Shack Collab)
Let’s begin with Missing Link as it’s the beer I’m most excited to dive into. As mentioned, Missing Link was brewed in collaboration with the Boys from The Wild Shack. It’s a sour ale brewed with Indian long pepper, aged in Syrah wine barrels and re-fermented with nectarines.
It pours our a slightly opaque bright orange colour with some bustling effervescence. A thick white foamy cap rests atop the beer, seemingly unchanged for the whole drinking experience.
The nose begins with a bright mix of nectarine juiciness and light oak spiciness. The long pepper perfectly compliment the fruit, providing that hard to describe oily and fragrant funk that in-itself carries a certain fruitiness. If you are unfamiliar with Indian long pepper, (for me) they share a similar aroma to white peppercorns. The wild phenolic yeast funk also adds further layers to this nose, completing a trinity of aromatic brilliance – pepper funk, nectarine juiciness, and bretty barrel dustiness.
The palate – wow, where to start here. Okay, so first-off the nectarines are very prominent and are certainly the star of this beer, but you don’t feel like you’re drinking a giant jammy sour. It’s bright, fresh and juicy, but it finishes perfectly dry. The wine barrel notes are there, but not extremely apparent, acting more as an afterthought, lending a subtle tannic tang in the finish with some light oaky vanilla notes. The long pepper is – for me – the really icing on the cake. As I mentioned when talking about the nose, the pepper has this almost bizarre funk to it, and when you mix that with the brett-induced phenols – which themselves carry a dusty and musty funk – AND the bright juicy sweetness of the fruit, a certain melding of flavours comes through, in the best possible way.
The acidity is actually quite restrained if compared to the usual HHoE and Wild Shack sours. Instead, it’s a far more balanced and accessible beer that goes down extremely smooth, carrying a creamy body and perfect carbonation. The barrel and Syrah grapes add a certain tannic tang, lending to the dryness and overall fruit profile. This is easily the best things I’ve drank so far this year, and it will be hard to surpass.
This latest edition of Funkland is a Merlot barrel-fermented young farmhouse ale, dry hopped and then blended with a golden sour aged eighteen months in Chardonnay barrels.The nose is a dusty and funky brett bomb, delivering all kinds of musty basement and old books to my senses. All this is mixed with fruity accents, like apple, pear, and some cantaloupe. I’m getting acetic notes as well, lending light balsamic to the aromatics.
Like the nose, it’s fruity up front, but with a bit more juiciness all around – tropical fruits mixed with apple and pears. The acidity is also apparent, but rather balanced overall, and the barrel is present as well, lending oak tannins and spicy notes to the mix. The finish is long, dry and sour, providing a lingering tartness and subtle fruity hop notes. As mentioned on the nose, there are some light acetic components as well, which add a subtle white balsamic tang in the finish.
I wasn’t huge into this one, but I do have trouble with vinegar notes in general in beer.
Blue Thunder began as a golden sour ale. It was then aged in Syrah barrels and re-fermented with a huge amount of blueberries. The nose is a beautiful mix of rich wine soaked oak, carrying a luscious and vinous complexity alongside some vanilla accents. Blueberry pie aroma comes through next, with a bit of earthy funk at the end.
The palate matches, providing robust and tannic red wine essence at the front, followed by a balanced but apparent acidity. The fruit is present, but understated in a way that actually works brilliantly, lending just enough jammy blueberry goodness to balance the wine-soaked oak. It’s extremely dry, but still feels rounded by the fruit. The tannic wine presence is intense, but everything really works brilliantly. Blueberries don’t always blow me away in beer, but this is divine. Wow!
Affection is a spelt farmhouse ale, brewed with sage and rosemary, then aged in Chardonnay barrels for seven months. The nose starts with lots of herbal notes, carrying sage at the front followed by light piney rosemary aromatics. Some tangy lemon notes come through as well, with light oak and subtle Brett funk.
The palate is a bit more restrained in the herbal department if compared to the nose, but it’s still the focal point here. Lots of citrus meets a spicy, almost gruit-like base, carrying lots of rosemary in the finish. The herbal notes are balanced and work really well with the pretty aggressive acidity. Sage brings an almost cinnamon-like flavour that works very well against the spicy oak layers. There are some light floral honey notes as well, and a refined tannic barrel presence that cuts everything dry. Overall, Affection is balanced, complex, and quite drinkable. Delicious stuff.
Have you ever wondered if you could die from a hangover? Well, I had some time on Saturday morning to ponder this, as I hovered over my toilet bowl. The night before I attended the 2018 edition of La Cuvée d’hiver 2018 – and I think had a pretty good time?
It’s now Monday morning (three days later) and as I write this my abdomen feels like I did 9000 sit-ups over the weekend. Did I work out? No, this is from all the violent heaving-induced body spasms that occurred through most of Saturday morning. I’m okay though, I think. But now I remember why I don’t leave the house.
Did I not eat enough? Did I not drink enough water? Maybe, but it was more likely becasue of the obscene amount of Goddamn beer I consumed over the five hours I was there. That said, at least it was really fucking good goddamn beer.
For those unaware, La Cuvée d’hiver is a yearly beer event that takes place on the same weekend as Nuit-Blanche (Montreal’s all-nighter event). It started on Thursday this past week and ran through to Saturday night. It’s an event that feels much more like an actual party, rather than a bunch of beer-geek neck-beards ticking off bottles on untapped. The venue is in the basement of beautiful church in the southwest of Montreal, and there is live music to tantalize the patrons through their beer tasting. I don’t remember any of this though. I remember sounds, but whether or not they formed some kind of melody, I really couldn’t tell you. I’m sure it was great though.
Oddly however, I do remember the most important part of the event – the beers. As I’ve made pretty abundantly clear, I tried A LOT of things on Friday night. I adored re-visiting beers like Saison Espinay and Aronia from Auval, as well as Dunham’s Funk Royal and Riverbend’s sauvignon barrel aged imperial stout. I also loved attacking Péché bourbon on tap and sucking back on Brasserie Haricanna’s new 7205.005 . However these (and many others) are beers that I’ve covered at length on the blog already. So I’m going to concentrate on the stuff I got to try for the first time.
When first arriving I had the chance to chat with the guys behind the new contract brewery Matera Brasseurs Tonneliers. I sampled all their current offerings, but particularly enjoyed their imperial stout, which is brewed with bourbon barrel-aged coffee, a process new to Quebec. Microbrasserie La Memphré is a favourite of mine and for the event they had a full line-up of beers on tap. The amazing Paul and Dan were pouring most of the evening and they certainly were a big part of my inevitable demise. I particularly liked the NEIPA, but honestly everything they do is solid.
As well, Boréale was there showcasing their contemporary offerings. I definitely indulged in both their delicious IPAs (several times), but also tried their new imperial stout and barleywine which were pretty tasty. I’d like to revisit though, you know, when not in the process of having a palate coma.
Overall La Cuvée is a ton of fun. The tight space, live music, and amazing volunteer staff sort of force you into party mode, but at least you get to indulge in beers that are amazing. However, I will say that you might want to take it slower than I did, unless you particularly enjoy spending time in your bathroom.