First off, I’d like to thank the folks over at Rotary-Rotaract of Brandon for inviting me to last weekend’s third annual Brandon Beer Festival.
It was an absolute blast and I had a delightful time serving Amsterdam’s Boneshaker India Pale Ale to people who wanted to try new beers — some loved it, some detested it (and nearly gagged) and heck — some even asked for it served at room temperature.
The fact that Westman beer drinkers are wanting to try something new shows me that we really do love our beer.
Secondly, in last week’s edition of Last Draught, I asked for some musical beer ideas, and here’s some I collected off Twitter in the past few days.
~ @Gramiq starts out the conversation with "What about the Witbeerthans?" in honour of the Weakerthans, as well as muttering something about "Remy Shandy", "Ale-ing Jennings" and "the Waking Eis-bock".
~ @Beerideas from Winnipeg had lots of ideas up his sleeve, including "Fred Penner’s Pilsner", "Snow’s Strong Scotch Ale", "Big Sugar Sweet Stout", "Bock Naked Lagers", "Sierra Noble Hopped IPA", "Sarah McLager" and "I can’t believe we didn’t think of Nickelbock!"
~ I already suggested Bockman-Turner Overryed last week, but Regina’s @flatlandbeer suggested a "Takin’ Care of Pilsner" beer.
~ @cgnoto suggested "Our Lazy Yeast" (Our Lady Peace) and "The Pee Party" (The Tea Party).
~ and Brandon-Souris’ own @LarryMaguireMP suggested "April Wine Cider".
Thanks for all your hilariously awesome musical influenced beer ideas — maybe one day, some of these will come to life!
That said, did you know that a "100th Meridian" beer exists, produced by Mill Street Brewing as tribute to the song by the Tragically Hip? The beer features only barley grown west of the 100th Meridian — if you didn’t know, the western edges of Brandon sit right on the meridian — where the great plains begin. Oh, and since Tragically Hip has to be mentioned, @ByronSatellite suggests a Tragically Hip-themed beer called "Tragically Wit."
At this past weekend’s beer festival, I noticed that — as expected — the typical beer drinker is still overly afraid about the taste of hops. I don’t blame them, as hops in beer can make a beverage incredibly bitter and hard to swallow, so many beer drinkers stayed away completely from the hop-filled booths.
I did see a lot of beer drinkers want to try something new and unique, gravitating towards the beers that had the funky names or were something different.
One of the beers that was getting a serious amount of business throughout the entire event was Prison Break Breakout Pilsner from Double Trouble Brewery in Toronto. It is aimed towards the standard Canadian lager crowd but with a twist — Prison Break is a pilsner brewed with Canadian malted barley, aged for 30 days to give it the perfect aromatic and flavourful balancing for the beer drinker’s taste buds.
Prison Break is a step above the standard Canadian prairie pilsner we see here in Manitoba — it ain’t no Old Style or Labatt Blue. It does pour like your standard Canadian pilsner but it gives off a nice thick soapy creamy head on top. As the glass slowly gets drunk, the foam latches onto the side of the glass, making it look like post-modern beer-influenced art work.
The aroma gives off a light, yet grassy scent of hops, giving it a pale ale aroma, with notes of fresh-cut grass, a light amount of lemon and even a hint of bubble gum
Now for the flavour, it’s certainly more bitter than the standard Canadian pilsners out there. Its grassy-forward hoppiness leaves a grassy aftertaste, with smacks of light lemon citrus and a crisp, light and smooth pilsner flavour. There’s no trace of corn or chemicals. This is what a pilsner is supposed to taste like — pure, something you would have on the patio at the farm in the summer time. Really irresistible.
Prison Break Breakout Pilsner is available at Liquor Marts in Brandon, Russell and Virden for $3.11 per 473mL and has five per cent ABV. I gave this beer a three out of five pints.
Next up — Hops & Robbers.
In no time, Hops & Robbers turned Double Trouble Brewing from a small upstart to one of Ontario’s biggest up-and-coming breweries.
Their beers have a hard time staying on the shelves in Brandon as guys and gals who love a nice canned IPA know that Hops & Robbers is a great treat at any time. It’s your typical Canadian microbrewed India Pale Ale, just under 6 per cent ABV with a liberal amount of West Coast hops — perfect pleasure on a Friday evening.
Hops & Robbers pours like your standard honey brown ale, with a caramel and honey-like colour to it — but this beer has a thick doughy head on top.
For the aroma, it’s a lighter India Pale Ale than the typical Canadian pale ales nowadays. Its scent of grassy hops gives it a fresh-cut grass aroma, while Cascade hops that give it the standard bitterness add a deep pine "in the woods" aroma. Mix in a bit of malted caramel and you’re left with a nice sweet balance.
Hops & Robbers also has a great amount of breadiness, so it reminds me of a bit of a fresh-baked sourdough loaf — yum.
The taste of Hops & Robbers differs from batch to batch as the guys over at Double Trouble make it in small batches. Sometimes you get a very bitter batch of IPA, other times a sweet malty IPA with a hint of hops.
This particular batch is a good blend of hops and malt — a nice grassy hop that isn’t overly bitter, reminiscent of a pale ale.
But then there’s the Cascade hops, coming down the line like a freight train, smashing your taste buds with bitter pine hops and leaving a metallic and bitter aftertaste long after your last slug.
The flip side to this, the sweet caramel malt coming from lightly toasted barley grain, makes up for the bitter hops. It will remind you of a British-style India Pale Ale.
Hops & Robbers is easily one of my favourite IPAs. You can find it for $3.11/473mL can at Liquor Marts in Brandon, Russell and Virden. I gave this beer a three and a half out of five pints.