It’s Grey Cup weekend and there are a lot of new treats available in time for the Sunday kickoff from local breweries and distilleries.
First off, Half Pints and Fort Garry Brewing teamed up to create a collaboration taster pack called the "Manitoba Social Pack," featuring the most popular beers by Half Pints and Fort Garry, as well as a joint Route 90 Vienna-style lager. This is the first time the two breweries have worked together to create a beer for public consumption.
You can find the Manitoba Social 12-pack for $22.74 at the South End and 10th and Victoria Liquor Marts in Brandon.
Fort Garry also released its latest version of Portage and Main IPA this week — the first India pale ale to use Manitoba hops to give it its earthy, hoppy aroma and flavour. This year’s version is more mellow than previous years but I believe it will sell out completely within a few weeks. You can also find it at South End and 10th and Victoria.
You have likely already heard that Crown Royal won the title of "World’s Best Whisky" for 2015 in the Whisky Bible. Gimli’s Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Whisky is a Canadian whisky that contains 90 per cent malted winter rye grain.
I haven’t had a chance to try the Northern Harvest yet as it is completely sold out provincewide, but talking to my whisky connoisseur friends, they were surprised how tasty it is.
In the coming days, you will see Northern Harvest rye back on shelves, and you may even see local restaurants and pubs starting to serve it. It’s great to see whisky distilled in our own province win such a prestigious award!
Speaking of rye, my favourite rye ale by Swift Current’s Black Bridge Brewing is surprisingly still in stock at the Keystone Motor Inn beer vendor. This sweet, nutty, caramelly brew with a hint of roastiness and a great balance of rye and amber ale.
Lastly, on to the review. This week’s theme will continue to be about … rye!
Double Trouble Brewing out of Guelph, Ont., has been one of my favourite up-and-coming Ontario breweries as they’ve consistently brought out solid products with great names and great labels, such as Hops & Robbers India Pale Ale and Prison Breakout Pilsner.
Their newest beer, Fire in the Rye Ale, is now available in Manitoba. It’s described as being unfiltered and containing the smouldering aroma of rye with the floral notes of centennial hops. Who doesn’t love a great rye? How about a RPA (rye pale ale)?
Fire in the Rye pours a medium heaviness with a hazy nutty brown appearance, a hint of floating sediment throughout the glass, a good amount of micro-carbonation and a yellow to beige creamy head on top.
The aroma certainly is reminiscent of rye — I’m getting a rich toasted grain scent followed by caramel, light amount of burnt wood chips, a slight peppery spiciness and last but not least, well-roasted grains.
The spiciness from the rye reminds me of your typical Canadian rye whisky, like Lot 40 by Corby Distillers, but don’t be fooled — even though this is a rye ale, you’re not going to smell or taste whisky in this beer as a lot of the notes we associate with whisky are from the barrel-aging process.
The flavour is very similar to the aroma as you get a moderately spicy, yet roasted rye graininess to it followed by a bit of sweet caramel.
To compare this to another style would be difficult, as the rye grain is what gives this beer the punch. It reminds me of an unfiltered red ale with moderate hop bitterness that gives off an earthy bite — but in all fairness, this is nothing like a red ale.
The closest thing I can compare this to is Unibroue Raftman, but wait ... that’s another rye ale! So all in all, I think this is more of an earthy ale than most on the market; it’s quite thick and almost chewy to the palate — perhaps from the rye sediment?
This is one of the more interesting beers I’ve tried here at First Draught. If you’re a rye connoisseur, this is certainly something I would suggest trying. You can find Double Trouble’s Fire in the Rye Ale at the 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart for $3.05 per 473ml can. It packs 6.1 per cent ABV.
• Pint Rating: 4 out of 5 pints
Cody Lobreau is a Canadian beer blogger who reviews every beer he can get his hands on as he believes that he should try every beer twice to get an understanding if it’s truly good or bad.