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An article by Noah Forrest

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.

Grisette Tropicale

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).

My friends at the BAOS podcast/vlog recently interviewed Michaël and Elaura from Maltstrom. You can listen to the full audio podcast here, or watch the abridged video right here.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

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.

  • May 26th 2018
  • 11:00-18:00
  • 3809 Rue Principale, Dunham, QC
  • Further Details right here.

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.

Funk Siberian

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.

Assemblage #8

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.

L’Écchymose (bourbon)

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.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An Article by Noah Forrest

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.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

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

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.

Col Roulé

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

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.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

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.

Funk Land

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

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

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.

Lullaby

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An article by Noah Forrest

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.

An article by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Microbrasserie Ras L’Bock hit the Quebec beer scene in 2015. This charismatic bunch is located Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, which is about 3 and a half hours north west of Montreal. Self-proclaimed as having La Plus Belle Terrasse au QC, Ras L’Bock appears to be a place of beer, music, and general partying antics.

I’ve been hearing good things about their beers for a long time now, but somehow I’ve never had the chance to try anything that they’ve put out. Although they get distribution, the beers are certainly more limited if compared to most. Ras L’Bock has a few staple beers – their American IPA and Milk Stout for example – however, they already have a rather extensive barrel program, where they often release both funky mixed-fermentation styles as well as luscious spirit barrel-aged beers.

Although having never actually set foot in Ras L’Bock, their social media presence certainly screams good times. They look like a bunch who don’t take things too seriously, and are rather party focused, while still pumping out solid, complex beer-styles. This is an approach that has likely been influenced by the trailblazing brewing veterans Le Trou du Diable, who also give off that hip party-focused vibe without any pretentiousness.

The folks at Ras L’Bock sent me several bottles to review, and here are a few of them.

La Solution

La Solution is Ras L’Bock’s flagship American IPA. The nose is juicy, carrying a bright mix of citrus and stone fruits. It’s dank and grassy as well, with the perfect balance of hop funk and bright zesty goodness.

The palate comes through with a big west coast profile, delivering that quintessential crushing bitterness in the finish. Bright citrus, holding grapefruit at the front, punches the palate with a pithy and tangy linger.

The malt base is rather apparent as well, but doesn’t hold a big caramel presence, and instead is quite fruity, carrying some rich peach and nectarine sweetness. La Solution is a bit of a west coast meets east coast thing, with the west certainly dominating here. Great beer, and especially so given the haze-crazed climate we currently live in.

God Brett America

God Brett America is a sour brett IPA. The nose is a bright mix of citrus and strawberry, with lots of grassy hop funk. Acidic compounds are very apparent, and there is a clear lactic bacteria compound smell that I’m not big on – like wet towels and overripe fruit.

It’s less apparent on the palate, which delivers a mild acidity, alongside lots of rich fruits and a tangy bitterness in the finish. It’s very dank all around. Overripe strawberries mix with dank hop funk and a fresh cut wheat finish. This is really drinkable but I am not really a fan. There are too many layers that I just don’t like.

Señor Cacao

Señor Cacao is a milk stout brewed with, well, cacao. The nose is a mix of dark roasted coffee, milk chocolate, vanilla, and some cakey breadiness. It actually smells like Whoppers (malted milk balls).

On the palate the body is pretty impressive. It’s a a touch slick and luscious, while somehow also feeling light and thin. Lots of coffee flavours mix with vanilla and a sticky sweetness from the lactose, which lingers through the finish.

It’s actually pretty clean overall. The finish isn’t bitter in the least, but it still comes off pretty dry and without too much of that cloying sweetness. I’m not partial to milk-stouts, but I like this. If you like to ride the lactose dragon, this is solid and I’d recommend it.

Vieux Champion – Scotch Barrel-Aged

View Champion is a Scotch Ale brewed with maple syrup that was aged in bourbon barrels. Then they took the beer and aged it in scotch barrels. The nose is a mix of caramel, cherries and oak. I’m not getting much scotch, and I’m actually getting a lot of fruity esters that are very brett-like. It’s not an off-putting nose, but certainly not what I expecting from a scotch barrel-aged Scotch ale.

On the palate there are again lots of fruity notes, with cherry at the front. Maple syrup, raisins, dates and caramel are most prominent. There is a lingering sweetness from the syrup, which makes it kind of cloying, but it does round out in the finish.

Overall, this isn’t for me. The maple syrup makes it too sweet without enough tannic bitterness to contrast. The barrel is sadly not very apparent, either the scotch or bourbon maple addition, and there is a odd yeast estery element that I’m not digging. That said, just because it’s not for me doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it!

Juteuse

Juteuse is a White IPA. The nose begins with a bright and juicy citrus mix, coupled with some zesty yeast esters. Big phenolic aromatics come through next, carrying ample clove and cardomon layers with it. The nose is juicy, but very “Belgian” forward.

The palate matches, with spiciness at the front, delivering a plethora of rich clove and general Belgian phenolic flavours. The body drinks like an NE IPA, carrying a chalky, robust mouthfeel that makes it rather creamy on the way down. Stone fruits come next, with mangos and some peaches mainly.

I’d say that this is a successful take on a cross between a Belgian IPA and a New England IPA. It’s pretty juicy and rich, but with that quintessential Belgian character as well.

Katyusha – Scotch Barrel-Aged

Katyusha is Ras L’Bock’s imperial stout aged in scotch barrels. The nose carries a huge blast of barrel, launching massive vanilla, oak and rich scotch at my senses. Wow, so much barrel. Caramel, coffee, butterscotch and some doughy aromatics come through as well, making the whole thing very inviting.

The palate matches, once again delivering massive barrel complexity. Loads of oak and vanilla pound the flavour spectrum, alongside some breadiness that has an almond cake-like component – and some creme brûlée.

Although there are some coffee and dark chocolate elements, it’s not as apparent as your typical imperial stout. Instead, there is more brown sugar and caramel essences, lending compliment to some very apparent scotch complexities.

As well, there isn’t much of that rich fudgy chocolateyness, and instead drinks rather easily for 11.9%. This isn’t a bad thing, and in fact I find this beer really interesting. It manages to have a huge barrel profile while being drinkable and not too sharp given the high abv. That said, it does come off a bit thin and has me pining for some rich lusciousness.

Once the kids get older and I have more time (and money), I need to drive around Quebec and finally visit all these fantastic breweries that I write about. Ras L’Bock will certainly be high on the list as their pub looks pretty amazing, and seems like a lot of fun. In the meantime I’ll just need to pick up their bottles here and there and enjoy them from home. Which for the moment, is just fine with me.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Microbrasserie Riverbend is a brewery based out of Alma, QC (about 5hrs from Montreal). The brewery has been on the scene for about three years now and exclusively can all of their beers with a wide Quebec distribution.

I tried a hand-full of their offerings a couple years back and honestly, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Or, at least not enough to keep buying their beers. That’s one of the problems with having a rich and diverse list of breweries to choose from on any given day. One needs to pick and choose from those that have left a particularly impressionable mark on you, otherwise you need to be rich, and perhaps drunk all the time.

All that to say, when the folks at Riverbend contacted me about their can release a few months back, I was happy to review their beers as it gave me a chance to see how the products might have evolved over time. I apologize as this post is a little late to the party, but you might be able to find these sitting on shelves around town. Or if you are in or around Alma, they still have some for sale.

So, back in November Riverbend released these small-batch barrel-aged cans with a limited distribution. Included were three beers, each quite interesting a unique. Two of the three were Imperial Pale Ales, however each was aged in a different barrel; one aged in a barrel previously containing Vin Passerillé and the other in a Mistelle de Poire barrel. Lastly, there was an Imperial Stout, aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with a secondary brett fermentation. Let’s dive right in here. 

Imperial Pale ale – Mistelle de Poir

First we have an Imperial Pale Ale, aged in a single barrel that contained Mistelle de Poire. Mistelle (or vin de liqueur) is a fruit-wine that’s fortified with something like brandy or eau de vie. The resulting higher alcohol content restricts most of the yeasts from multiplying, allowing for a lot of residual sugar during fermentation. Mistelle de Poire is a pear version of vin de liqueur. 

The nose is a rich oak bomb, followed by some subtle fruity hops. Pear, apple and light cherry come through next, providing a nice rich compliment to the big vinous barrel layers. 

The palate is similar, with a massive oak presence. There is a robust caramel malt base, which is subsequently cut down by some dry tannins from the wood. The pear comes through for sure, carrying luscious fruitiness and a slightly astringent, spirit-like ethanol burn.

Pear, ripe apple and some liqueur-like sweetness make up the profile, but the finish is very dry and pretty clean considering – without an aggressive bitterness. The hops are there, but subtle and more on an afterthought. This beer is an odd one. I like it, but it comes off a bit too boozy.

Imperial Stout – Cabernet Sauvignon – Brettanomyces

As mentioned earlier, this is an imperial stout aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with a secondary fermentation using brettanomyces. 

It pours out like beautiful motor oil. The aromas are rich, beginning with dark-roasted espresso beans, followed by black cherry and some dark chocolate. Vinous notes come through as well, lending a tannic character to the aromatic experience.

Up front the palate matches. Lots of black cherry and serious espresso-like bitterness attack my palate. Ample dark fruits appear as well, carrying huge cherry and blackberry flavours. The finish is quite tannic and vinous, with a lingering bitterness that rests on your palate after each sip.

The body on this is luscious and thick, with some intense dark chocolate layers. The brett phenols are subtle, only adding light dustiness and loads of fruity esters – but also keeping things dry and drinkable. The balance here is on point and all the right notes are hit. I’m really impressed with this one.

Imperial Pale ale – Vin Passerillé

Vin Passerillé or (straw wine) is made from grapes that are dried in order to concentrate the sugars and ultimately make a sweeter wine. The process is often done by drying the grapes on mats of straw in the sun. This Imperial Pale Ale was aged in barrels that previously contained this wine. I’m curious how the richness of the fruit will lend character to the beer. I’m thinking there will be similarities to Sauternes barrel-aged beers. 

The nose carries a rich fruity presence all around. Stone fruits, like plum and peach mix with pears and lots of grapes. Loads of vanilla come through alongside vinous wine soaked oak, providing a rich tart edge to the aromas.

The palate matches, carrying a huge barrel-forward flavour profile that has a potent vanilla base. Candied fruits and marmalade provide a rich and robust sweetness. That said, nothing feels cloying as the whole thing is quickly cut down by the tangy oak tannins – drying the finish nicely.

There are subtle echoes of the hops that were likely at the front at some point, whereas now it’s an afterthought, providing hints of juicy citrus alongside all the stone fruits.

The vinous notes are intense in a good way, further helping dry things out while still adding more grape-forward fruitiness. Overall, this is rich, but balanced, and quite good. There is indeed a Sauternes-like thing going on. I’d recommend this beer.

Well, I have to say that these beers reshaped my impression of Microbrasserie Riverbend. Not that I had a particular negative view of their products, but I also wasn’t actively buying them by any means. The brett wine-barrel-aged imperial stout was legitimately delicious and rather innovative. I also very much enjoyed the Vin Passerillé Imperial Pale ale, and although the Mistelle de Poir wasn’t exactly to my tastes, it was still interesting to drink. If you see any of these lying around on shelves, you might want to pick them up.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

A couple of months ago, Brasserie Dunham announced that they will be hosting a spectacular beer event near the end of the summer. It’s called Foudres Unis. This event is a celebration for exceptional brewers and passionate beer lovers alike. The line-up of breweries is pretty earth shattering, including names like Cantillon, Bellwoods, The Bruery, Auval, Twin Sails, Hill Farmstead, Dieu du Ciel!, 4hands, and many, many more. 

The Event itself is on August 11th 2018 and will be held at ONEKA Organic Farm, located at 2 Chemin de la Poste-de-Boston, Frelighsburg, QC (about an hour and twenty minutes from Montreal, and about an 18 minute drive from Brasserie Dunham). There will be two 3.5Hr sessions; Session 1 will take place from 11:00 to 14:30, and Session 2 will take place from 16:30 to 20:00. The tickets for the event are 120$ plus tax for each session, however they include all of your drinks for the day. There will be restaurants on site as well as a Kombucha kiosk. More details here.

So how do we get tickets?

Well, here is the challenging part. You can get tickets starting tommorow, Feb 15th 2018, until March 4th 2018, but they have to be purchased in person at Brasserie Dunham’s boutique (3809 Rue Principale S, Dunham, Quebec). They will be opened from 12:00-21:00 both the 15th and 16th of February and then will return to their regular hours afterwards.

Why do we have to drive all the way to Dunham to get tickets?

Well, according to the good folks at Brasserie Dunham, because of the slew of amazing breweries being showcased, “…we have good reason to believe that people from everywhere will be interested. We want to make sure that local, passionate, motivated, and willing people are able to get tickets in the first place.”

It is certainly a long drive on a weekday, but the line-up for this event is epic to say the least. That said,if you need a bit more motivation to take the trip, Dunham is also hosting a small winter bottle release tomorrow (Feb 15th 2018). Four beers are dropping, (1) Hemen eta Han – collaboration with Naparbier, (2) Duel – collaboration with Microbrasserie À la Fût, (3) Viti Vini Vici Cuvée Hupin/Marler, and lastly (4) the latest version of Zonder Goblins Bourbon. Not only that, there are still bottles of killer barrel-aged beers like Pinacle Réserve Sauvignon Blanc and Funk Royal available to purchase.

I got my hands on a few of this bottles to review ahead of time. Check it out! 

Viti Vini Vici – Cuvée Hupin/Marler

This is the third edition of Viti Vini Vici, a series of bottles desinged to marry grapes and beer. This particular iteration is a saison brewed with freshly squeezed grapes (Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris) from the Pervenches vineyard in Farnham. It is also lightly hopped and NOT barrel-aged in order to keep the brightness of the fruit.

It pours out a beautiful clear ruby-orange colour, almost looking a lot like carbonated Rosé. The nose wafts loads of dusty funk, mixed with tart vinous components. Red grapes and subtle berry notes add fruity layers that balance against the rich musty brett phenols. Stellar nose all around.

On the palate Cuvée Hupin/Marler is dry up front, but not particularly tannic. Instead, the beer is rounded and incredibly smooth. Lots of grape fruitiness comes through, carrying a luscious wine-rich profile, without the usual drying oak backdrop.

There is also a nice subtle hoppiness to this. Cherry comes through as well, while the brett provides lots of drying phenols, with dust and earth in the finish.

Saison du Pinacle Réserve – Sauvignon blanc

Pinacle Réserve is a Dunham classic. This particular batch showcases Sauvignon Blanc barrels as opposed to the usual Pinot Noir.

The nose is just spectacular, with stones fruits bursting forward, alongside some apple, white grapes, and lots of dusty brett funk.

On the palate it’s juicy and bright like the nose lets on, however there is a tannic oak presence that alongside the hop profile, creates a sharp bitterness in the finish.

Earthy and dusty flavours emerge in addition to some vanilla oakiness. As well, layers of white wine vinous notes and lots of rich and juicy stone fruits come through. The brett phenols dance brilliantly against its slick mouthfeel, leaving a pretty potent dryness that lingers.

Pinacle Réserve is truly one of the more impressive beers around. It’s the best of the best from Dunham, but perhaps also from all of Canada. And this new variant might even be better.

Le Quench du Soif “Réserve”

Quench de Soif is a collaboration between Brasserie Dunham and Twin Sails Brewing out of British Columbia. The name is a jab at all the American breweries who use french words in their names in order to come off sounding more sophisticated. It’s a wild IPA, carrying a hop profile inspired by the Vermont scene. This particular Réserve edition spent 6 months in Sauvignon Blanc barrels.

The nose is a bright and juicy mix of tropical fruits, including peaches, papaya, and light pineapple. Subtle vinous notes and spicy oak add more layers, while a light dustiness finishes off this beautifully aromatic beer.

The palate matches, carrying loads of fruit-filled complexities. The body is pretty slick and robust, carrying a nice clean and sweet maltiness – further complemented by rich fruity hop flavours. That said, any sweetness is cut by the brett phenols and tannic oak.

Although there are some hoppy layers, this is not as bright as the original product. Instead, there are wine-forward fruit layers that deliver white grapes and oak-forward vanilla notes. All is in balance. This does however, have an astringency in the finish that I’m not loving. Overall though, It’s solid.

Funk Royal

Funk Royal is Foudre barrel-aged sour brewed with plums. It pours of a bright coral amber colour with orange highlights. The nose is jammy and funky at the same time. Lots of rich plum aromatics burst forth, with zesty acidity and some earthy brett phenols.

Up front on the palate it’s both very sour and very tannic. The dryness here is intense, leaving a mouth puckering linger on your tongue after every sip.

Lots of bright plum acidity mixes with an earthy brett backing. The oak isn’t incredibly apparent, but still lends a certain character to the beer as a whole. Although rather sour, Funk Royal is also quite drinkable and balanced overall. I very much enjoyed this one.

Hemen eta Han

Hemen eta Han is a saison aged in used wine barrels for four months and then blended with a foudre-aged rye beer. It was brewed in collaboration with Naparbier.

The nose provides a lovely bretty funk, delivering dusty and earthy phenols that are mixed with vinous soaked oak. Loads of grapes meet hints of peach and general fruitiness, but the oak and brett is certainly the star of this nose.

The palate matches, delivering big vinous notes alongside a nice dry brett presence. There are lots of oak tannins to further dry things out, but the beer is balanced and round overall. It’s pretty much the quintessential Dunham BA brett beer. The rye adds a light pepperiness, complimented by a big silky body.

Grape skins come though in the finish, with light berry notes and some stone fruits. This is cut by an apparent but not aggressive bitterness that works with the tannins to really dry everything well. This is fantastic, I could drink a case of these.

Well there is is folks, if you’re willing to call in sick to work tomorrow and trek out to the gorgeous Eastern Townships, not only will you be able to purchase tickets to (likely) the greatest beer festival in Québec’s history, but you can also buy a shit-ton of amazing barrel-aged and generally exceptional beers to take home. I don’t think you have a choice here, just do it already.

Before going to get tickets for Foudres Unis, make sure to read through the event details in order to get up to speed on all the rules regarding the event.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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