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An article by Noah Forrest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le Castor: Saison Rayée

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

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

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

Brasserie du Bas-Canada – Papillon de Nuit 3 am

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

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

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

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

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

Avand-Garde – Pilsner Funky

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

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

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

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

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

Microbrasserie 4 Origines – Caffiend

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

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

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

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

Brasserie Dunham – No Gogosse

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

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

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

Microbrasserie La Memphré – Rhus Typhina

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An article by Noah Forrest

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

2343 – Grätzer du Vignoble

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

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

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

343 – Grätzer du Verger

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

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

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

343 – Grätzer de Mer

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

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

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

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

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

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double Los Tabarnacos – Double Milkshake IPA

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

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

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

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

Papillon de Nuit – American Barleywine

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

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

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

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

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

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

No Gogosse

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

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

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

Mroczny Pan BBA

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

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

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

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

Ginnungagap

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

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

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

Berlue Rose

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

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

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

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

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

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Back in January of this year I barely knew who Brasserie du Bas-Canada was. Their unlabeled bottles with simple tags hanging from the neck were starting to show up on social media, but I wasn’t quite paying attention yet. As far as I knew, they were just another one of the many new breweries starting to surface.

That was, until last April when a friend showed up at my house holding a massive crowler wrapped in some amazing can art. It was Bas-Canada’s Los Tabarnacos – their Milkshake IPA. Now, as you might know, I’m not a fan of lactose in my IPAs. However, after taking a sip, I was instantly interested in what this up and coming brewery was doing. The beer was exceptionally bright, round, and nutty – easily the best of the style that I’ve tasted. From then on, as this Gatineau-based brewery’s distribution broadened, and so did my desire to pick up their beers as they dropped every week.

Almost every time I cracked open a can, I was impressed with what this young brewery was creating. As much as I like hazy New England IPAs, the intense turbid hop burn and lack of balance can sometimes turn me off of it’s it’s not executed perfectly. That’s one thing that I appreciate about Bas-Canada – their IPAs are as soft as they are juicy and intense. What they are doing is simply impressive.

In order to really dive into what this brewery is about, I got in contact with Bas-Canada’s co-owner and brewer Gabriel Girard Bernier to ask him some questions.

Can you tell me a bit about how Brasserie du Bas-Canada got started? Has business changed substantially after your caning distribution began and widened?

We both have a homebrewing background. We started to work seriously on the brewery project at the end of 2015 and we opened last November – so we are still a very young brewery. We started distribution with 950ml cans in January and we moved to 473ml cans in May-June. Our business model changed a bit since we started canning, and we brewed a lot more beer than we initially planned. We are currently brewing the amount of beer that we had planned for our 3rd year.

A lot of breweries in Quebec are catching up to the US with regard to hops, but Bas-Canada seems to be one of the only places in Quebec at the cutting edge of the hop game (or at least doing it very well). Is staying ahead of the trends part of your vision, or have things just played out that way?

It’s a tough question. Brewing IPA’s was part of our plan and our vision because we love IPA’s. However, for the first year, I was thinking of brewing more classic Belgian styles and developing a small barrel aging program. Honestly, we never thought we would have this type of demand for our hoppy beers. Our plans were to be flexible and experiment with different things in the first year. So, we changed our production strategy to focus more on hoppy beers. We are still doing a lot of experimentation though. For example, we haven’t put any Double IPAs in 473ml cans. We are canning just a part of our production. Experimentation is something easier with a tasting room.

Winter will be upon us soon enough. Can you give us a sneak peak into what you’ll be producing during the colder months? Should we expect some big imperial stouts and barleywines, or will you still be concentrating on more hoppy sessionble offerings like usual?

We will release a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout and a rye and bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine in a couple weeks in very small quantities. We are also planning to brew a couple of Imperial Stouts with different adjuncts in the new months. Part of it will go into barrels. We will continue to brew our series of IPA’s called HYPA, and are planning to add at least a Double IPA. We are also planning to do a special can release for our first anniversary with 3 or 4 new beers.

What’s the future looking like for Brasserie du Bas-Canada. I noticed that you have some oak barrels, are there any plans for wild barrel-aged sours? What’s going to be the main focus of your barrel program?

We are planning to do some barrel-aged beers in wine barrels, but it will be on a very small scale. We have to work with a very small space. We will be working to constantly improve our hoppy beers, trying new techniques, new processes and new ingredients. We are also in the planning stages of training with other breweries to improve our knowledge and techniques. We are also adding some equipment to increase our production volume.

Alright then, let’s dive into some of these amazing cans!

Los Tabarnacos

As I was mentioning, Los Tabarnacos was the first beer I had from Bas-Canada, and although being a self-proclaimed Milkshake IPA hater, I love this damn beer.

The nose is a bright and juicy mix of citrus and tropical fruits, showcasing clementines, sweet grapefruits and some papaya. Instead of vanilla, they use coconut, so there is a subtle nutty sweetness here as well.

The palate matches, delivering lots of big juicy hop layers, which are balanced by a subtle sweetness. Citrus and melon dominate, followed by some tingling hop burn and light chalkiness. The lactose is there, but barely detectable. One of the reasons I’m not a fan of lactose is that it adds an almost stale candy or icing sugar component that I just don’t like. Here, it’s simply providing a bit more viscosity in the body and a sweetness that is balanced perfectly with the hop profile. That said, it’s still extremely dry, with minimal bitterness. I hate myself for loving this beer so much.

Los Tabarnacos – Guava and vanilla

The second beer on our list is a Los Tabarnacos variant containing Guava and vanilla. The nose is bright and fruity, carrying rich guava and other tropical aromatics – like pineapple and papaya. Vanilla accents come through as well, mixed in with the fruit and hops.

The profile matches, but is more subtle than expected – while still delivering. I’m getting lots of guava, but not so much so that it ends up being fruit juice. The hop profile is still noticeable, but no where near their standard Milkshake. Just like the original, it’s dry enough, but the vanilla and the fruit addition creates a sweeter overall profile that isn’t as inviting as the OG. That said, this is still solid and enjoyable, I just don’t know if I’d go out out of my way to buy it again.

HYPA V

HYPA is a series of New England styled IPAs whose hops change based on the number. This is HYPA V, brewed with Mocaic and Simcoe. The nose is a passion-fruit tropical bonanza, mixed with fresh mango, ripe tangerine and general candied fruit. There are some unbelievable aromatics going on here.

The palate matches, delivering serious hop juiciness, with some orange and grapefruit being attacked by tropical pineapple, mango and passion-fruit. The body is rich, but not through the roof, and given the hazy intensity, there isn’t any accompanying hop burn, which at times can be a bit much.

HYPA is one of, if not my favourite NEIPA in Quebec. Truly amazing stuff. Each addition has subtle differences due to the changes of hops, but the overall profile is always similar and generally on point.

L’aspiration

When I saw that Bas-Canada was releasing a Pilsner, I was super excited. As much as I can enjoy contemporary hazy New England IPAs, the rise of the lager is here, and I’m at the front of the line waving my hands. Here we have L’aspiration.

The nose is soft but aromatic, displaying beautiful floral and herbal hops, alongside grainy malts that showcase honey and oats. It’s earthy, and a touch musty with some subtle citrus in the background.

The palate matches. A lot of honey and fresh grains meet big herbal hop layers. The finish is bitter and lingers with a certain resinous tang, but it is all very balanced and on the more traditional side of things. Overall this is a crushable and balanced beer – I love it.

Pertinax

Pertinax is a double IPA that seems to have dropped several times now, each with different hop profiles. This one is Mosaic, Amarillo and Simcoe. The nose is a rich and dank mix of tropical and citrusy hops. Loads of tangerine-forward Mosaic goodness hits my senses followed by a swift and shart zestiness. Overripe mango and bright clementine peels mix with hints of grassy funk.

Up front on the palate it’s beautifully tangy, holding a sweet to bitter ratio that works well. Just like the nose, the big orange notes come through the most, delivering all kinds of citrusy layers. As well, light tropical fruits come through, with ripe mango and some papaya. The 8% is a touch too pronounced, carrying a sharp ethanol finish. That said, it’s still balanced, and quite drinkable.

Matière

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An article by Noah Forrest

This past weekend was Foudre Unis. We survived.

If you are not aware, Foudre Unis 2018 was the first in a hopefully long series of beer festivals hosted by Brasserie Dunham (held about a ten minute drive from their brewery in a small eastern townships town called Frelighsburg).

The festival was a celebration that included breweries from all around the world, who were invited to come and pour their deliciousness. To attend, there was a 120$ (plus tax) flat fee that included unlimited pours within a 3.5 hour timeframe. There were two sessions, each selling out at 650 tickets per session. Again, we survived.

Many (if not most) of the breweries that attended were some of the most respected on the planet, including such names as Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Other Half, Jester King, and so on. There was also the cream of the crop from Quebec and several heavy hitters from the rest of Canada. What’s even more amazing is that many of these highly sought-after breweries didn’t just bring shelfies, and instead brought rare one-off creations, or harder to procure bottles.

The idea was epic, but the question still remained of whether the whole thing would be an amazing ground-breaking success, or simply become a giant shit-show? Would people become belligerent from the unlimited alcohol? Would all the rare lambic and hyped American haze sell out in seconds? Would it be too crowded? Would we be standing in line constantly, never being able to actually relax?With all these possible problems, and at 120$ per person, would it be worth it?

Well, in my opinion (and for every single person I talked to) it was most certainly worth it. From the moment we arrived, it was pretty clear that things would work out. The setup was essentially two giant tents in a picturesque open field, overlooking beautiful hills and valleys in the distance. One tent was dedicated to the brewers pouring their offerings, while the other had picnic tables where people could hang out to avoid the sun (and rain if the weather wasn’t agreeable).

I was at the front of the line – largely because my friends are bigger nerds than me. That said, it meant we were able to rush the Cantillon booth, guaranteeing a taste of some sweet sweet lambic. However, what’s amazing is that it didn’t matter. Yes, the Cantillon line had a good number of people in it at all times, but because of the fact that there was no money or tokens being exchanged, the wait times were almost non-existent. So, I was able to do Cantillon, Tilquin, Drie Fonteinen – and all the lambics – to my hearts desire.

Photo Credit: IllNote Studios

After victimizing my stomach into a state of acid reflux, I decided to move on, trying hoppy heavy hitters like Other half and Foam, then onto other great Québec breweries like Dieu du Ciel! and Auval – and of course Bellwoods out of Toronto.

One of the most amazing experiences of the day was being able to taste the beer I helped create from Sutton Brouerie, “Brett Never Sleeps,” a 100% brett Brut IPA. It will be hitting stores in the next few weeks. Keep a look out!

Three and a half hours isn’t necessarily a huge amount of time, but it’s probably just long enough before things can get messy. I wasn’t smashed and it didn’t seem like too many people were over the top drunk, either. The general vibe was relaxed and people just seemed excited to be there, and genuinely happy to be part of this amazing thing that was happening in front of us. The lines were quick, the pours were plentiful, and even Cantillon lasted over an hour before the kegs kicked. This was a momentous festival that I couldn’t recommend more. Congratulations Brasserie Dunham! And thank you!

If you are curious about the full list of offerings at the event, you can check out the list right here.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An Article by Noah Forrest

Gerald Comeau (a new Brut IPA from Brasserie du Bas-Canada and Flora Hall Brewing) was named after the man who’s been fighting inter-provincial Canadian alcohol restrictions for the last few years.

First and foremost, the idea was to brew an innovative collaborative IPA between two breweries that are very close in proximity but are actually located in difference provinces (one in Gatineau, Quebec and the other in Ottawa, Ontario). However, if the collaboration was brewed in just one location, only that one province would be able to taste it (given the archaic legal restrictions).

Instead, the two breweries decided to simultaneously brew the exact same beer at both breweries – an effort to cleverly distribute the beer in both provinces at once – perhaps as a symbol of the silly rules that restrict breweries from selling outside their given provinces. However, that’s not the only thing that makes this story interesting. The type of beer they chose to brew is something new to the scene, a Brut IPA.

This sub-style was created last November for the first time in San Francisco, but it has started to really blow up recently. The idea was to brew an extremely dry, clear, and aromatic IPA that carries a bright effervescence. Enzymes are added to the beer in order to help break down the sugars in a way that assists the yeast during fermentation. This gets the beer ultra dry. The name is a nod to champagnes that carry the name “Brut” to signify how dry they are.

Whether intentional or not, The style seems to be a response to the growing obsession with intense New England style IPAs and Milkshake IPAs that are extremely juicy, hazy, thick and sometimes sweet. I became quite interested in this new Brut style and actually helped brew one at Sutton Brouërie a few weeks ago. More on that that very soon.

First, I started with the Flora Hall version. The nose is dank and bright, with some candy-like zesty fruitiness. Guava, white grapes, and tangy wine aromatics come through as well. Up front on the palate it’s dry and crushable. The body is light and makes the beer incredibly easy to drink. As expected, the ethanol booziness comes through more given the lack of any sweet backdrop.

Lots of white wine-like grape flavours mix with tropical notes of papaya and passion fruit (although subtle). It’s extremely clean, but there is a lingering booziness to this that might be better if the ABV was scaled back. I love the tanginess from the Hallertau Blanc and, again, although the booze from the ethanol is aggressive, it does lend a sharp vinous character to the whole thing.

As for the Bas-Canada iteration, I get all the exact same notes, but I do find the booze-burn a little less pronounced and the mouthfeel seems a touch more robust. That said, I’m splitting hairs.

Overall my first Brut experience has been a positive one. I’m very excited to try all the other brewery’s takes on this emerging style.

An Article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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