If you read the end of last week’s Last Draught, you would have noticed that Winnipeg’s Fort Garry has released two new beers.
Raspberry Quencher is a sweet raspberry wheat ale, while Evil Goat Doppelbock is a stronger, maltier take on the popular Bock style — which by itself is a maltier, sweeter and stronger version of a German-style lager.
Raspberry Quencher was a bit of a surprise for me, seeing that Fort Garry — which is gradually becoming one of Western Canada’s best microbreweries — would create a sweet, fruity beer when it’s already overdone and in some cases, pretty unbeer-like (see Bud Lime Straw-ber-rita).
However, Fort Garry isn’t known for taking a shortcut and producing beers that aren’t up to beer geeks’ standards. Heck, whenever I see Portage & Main IPA at the liquor store, it taunts me — "Drink me, you know you want to! ... Manitoba hops ... I’m named after the most famous intersection in Canada ... Bobby Hull ... I’m an IPA!"
D’oh! Well, of course, when I saw Raspberry Quencher at the Liquor Mart, I just had to pick up a Portage & Main as well — but this week isn’t about that windy intersection of a beer.
With a weird name that reminds me of frozen fruit juice, the name Raspberry Quencher does make sense as this is a raspberry beer. It pours a light ruby red, and is quite an unfiltered wheat ale, which makes me happy because it’s much more similar to a Belgian-style wheat ale than a Canadian-style wheat lager like Big Rock Grasshopper.
Lightly fizzy, it has a nice amount of off-white foam to give it that "yes, this is a beer" look.
All in all, it’s a bit reminiscent of the raspberry ales of my past, such as Hoegaarden Rosée — and a real plus is it reminded me of raspberry jelly. The smell of puréed raspberries is welcoming, but a bit lighter than I expected. This smells like the kind of fruity wheat ale you would drink after a long day in the fields, or after a game of soccer.
The flavour is a bit dry, like a raspberry fruit wine, while notes of raspberries and a bit of a yeastiness give it a bit of a bite. A hint of apple juice and a bit of a light sour note kick in to keep you on your feet.
Considering the beer is only 4.5 per cent ABV and quite heavy in appearance, it’s incredibly easy drinking — certainly easier than those Straw-ber-ritas.
One thing I noticed was that I had a raspberry seed in my mouth when I was drinking the last of the beer’s yeasty and fruity sedimentary goodness — this isn’t a faux fruit syrup, this has real raspberries in it!
I recommend this beer for those who want a light, sweet yet great bodied wheat ale that won’t have an alcohol kick that’ll hit you hard while you’re golfing.
If you’re already a fan of wheat ales like Rickard’s White or Shock Top, you will certainly appreciate this wheat ale. No additions of extra raspberries needed.
The $2.96 per 473mL can is available at all three Liquor Marts in Brandon.
Up next, Evil Goat Doppelbock.
When Fort Garry was experimenting with craft beer for the first time back in 2011, the very first "new" beer introduced was Munich Eisbock, an ice beer brewed in such cold temperatures, it ends up freezing some of the beer. The beer that survives has a higher concentration of alcohol, giving it a stronger flavour and a real punch.
I was honestly surprised how decent it was, as the previous beer I tried by Fort Garry — Fort Gibraltar Premium Lager — was disappointing. Eisbock turned out to be pretty damned drinkable and the rest is history.
Now we have Evil Goat Doppelbock. At 8.5 per cent ABV, it’s not quite as strong as Munich Eisbock, which topped at 9.5 per cent, but 8.5 per cent is still pretty high.
I kept bugging Fort Garry’s brewmaster to make a beer called Bockman-Turner Overryed, a bock made with either rye malts, or aged in Canadian rye whisky barrels, but that didn’t happen, so Evil Goat is more than enough for a consolation prize.
If there was an award for a Manitoba beer with the best label artwork, Evil Goat would easily take the prize. I absolutely love the design — it reminds me of a heavy metal band logo meeting the most bad-assed possessed goat you’ve ever seen.
The body of Evil Goat pours a rich dark mahogany, with a bit of burnt caramel and close to no foam on top as it diminishes immediately, decently carbonated.
The aroma it gives off when it’s cold and fresh out of the fridge is a bit of an unpleasant plastic smell, but I found that leaving the can out to warm up for a few minutes gets rid of that problem quickly.
Scents of caramel and an incredibly welcoming sweetness remind me of sweet candy — and my mom’s angel food cake, something she only seems to bake at Christmas time when her whole family comes over (once every four years or more), or when poker night takes place at Chez Lobreau.
As for taste, Evil Goat is a very bittersweet bock, with notes of caramel and raisins. It’s a bit bready, and incredibly malty as most doppelbocks are malt forward. To top it off, there’s a bit of a bitterness coming from the bready notes and a bit of a light toasted malt flavour to it.
I seriously recommend chilling this beer for a few hours, but as I said, letting the can warm up for a bit to get rid of the plastic aroma.
Oh, a great beer glass will also help you enjoy the almost way too sweet doppelbock.
It’s powerful at 8.5 per cent ABV and only 25 IBU, which is a bit of a surprise as the bitterness is certainly more than that in my opinion.
To many, this will be a bit too much of a "meal in a can," as this is really a sipping beer. But if you love a good beer and a good wine, this is something you will have to try ASAP as I will be buying it all up.
Evil Goat is available at all three Brandon Liquor Marts (10th and Victoria, Corral Centre and next to Sobey’s South End) for $3.14 per 473mL can.
There are way too many new beers coming out right away, so here’s a quick list that hopefully we will see in the Wheat City soon.
Dieu du Ciel Aphrodisiaque Stout — My favourite stout on the planet is finally, finally — finally (can you sense my excitement?) coming to Manitoba. It’s a delicious vanilla stout that reminds me of a coffee stout mixed with the best vanilla ice cream around. It’s incredibly pricey at $28.59 per six-pack, especially since you can find it easily in Quebec for $9.99 or so, but I’ll be buying it.
Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’Hibiscus — Easily one of Dieu du Ciel’s most famous beers, this incredibly floral, lightly sweetened wheat ale has hibiscus flowers added during the brewing. Pricey again at $25.13 per six-pack.
Ommegang Game of Thrones’ Fire & Blood Red Ale — For those Game of Throne fans and fellow beer geeks, New York’s Ommegang has brought their second Game of Thrones beer to Manitoba. A red ale spiced with ancho chili peppers and rye malt, it’s going to be a spicy beer. Available at Brandon Liquor Marts for $10.95 per 750mL corked bottle.
Russell Hop Therapy Double India Pale Ale — $7.39 per 650mL bottle.
Okanagan Spring Cloudy Amber Ale — $11.55 per six-pack.
Steamworks’ Pale Ale and Pilsner — $3.25 per 473mL can.
Granville Island Robson Street Hefeweizen — $11.59 per six-pack.
Granville Island Shipload of Hops Imperial India Pale Ale — $6.10 per 650mL bottle.
Fernie Brewing Lone Wolf India Pale Ale — $6.25 per 650mL bottle.
Daniel Thwaites’ Crafty Dan 13 Guns American India Pale Ale — $3.45 per 330mL bottle.