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First Draught

About Cody Lobreau:

Cody Lobreau is a Brandon-based 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. You can catch his blog over at

  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- Steamworks' red ale worthy of hero worship

    Last week, Prairie Firehouse teamed up with Beau’s All Natural Brewing to do a one-night, six-course, six-beer event featuring some amazing dishes by chef Rebekah and team paired up with some interesting beers by Beau’s All Natural Brewing out of Vankleek Hill, Ont. I’m a picky eater, so I gave the dishes I wouldn’t want to eat to my friend Patrick, but I found a lot of dishes that I absolutely loved! Each dish paired well with every specially selected Beau’s beer offering. At the event, I was mostly around people who I knew — a malt barley farmer, Patrick, a home brewer, and a local hop farmer, I was in good company! From the people I didn’t know I heard raving comments about the food and the beer — that’s always a good thing!
  • First Draught -- Alcoholic root beer not for soda fans

    Brandon restaurant Prairie Firehouse has teamed up with Ontario organic brewery Beau’s All Natural for a six-course beer and food pairing on Feb. 22. The dinner will be featuring special organic beers by Beau’s paired up with dishes specially crafted by Prairie Firehouse that match up perfectly with each beer. Proceeds from the event go to Brandon’s Food for Thought Program. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased at Prairie Firehouse. Speaking of Beau’s All Natural Brewing, Beau’s own Halcyon Barrel House was rated as the fourth best new brewery in the world, according to the folks over at If a small-town rural Ontario barrel-aged brewery can make it onto’s best new brewery list — it’s possible to see a Prairie brewery on that same list in a few years from now! Halcyon’s Infinity Mirror Brett IPA is now available in Manitoba, but only at the Quality Inn beer store in Winnipeg. I’m hoping to see a beer vendor here in Brandon bring this non-MLCC release beer to beer geeks here in Brandon, but I’m doubtful … so ask your favourite beer vendor to bring their beer in!
  • First Draught -- Can't say enough good things about Glutenberg

    There was a time when I believed there would never be such a thing as a good gluten-free beer available all over Manitoba, but there are now several options available through Glutenberg out of Quebec and Mongozo out of Belgium. I was lucky enough to check out the Glutenberg Brewery back in June thanks to having a friend who was brewing at Glutenberg’s sister brewery. At Glutenberg I saw massive sacks of buckwheat and other various non-gluten grains being used to brew their beer.
  • First Draught -- Burly Wine a holiday delight for brew lovers

    Though Winnipeg’s Nonsuch Brewing may not have a brick and mortar brewery up and running yet, that hasn’t stopped them from releasing their first beer. Nonsuch is currently brewing out of Barn Hammer Brewing and had their first bottle release party a few weeks back. Their first offering is a Belgian-style Saison that tops out at 8.4 per cent ABV. It’s a sweet, yeasty and slightly barnyardy ale that Belgian beer fanatics will absolutely love.
  • First Draught -- Make mine a delicious dubbel

    I went to a bottle share at my Dutch friend Yost’s place back in the summer, I brought a few beers including Unibroue 17 and a couple IPAs, while Yost took beers out of his beer cellar from his trips to Belgium. One of the beers he was sampling was Corsendonk Pater Dubbel Ale. I love trying Belgian dubbels that I can’t get here in Manitoba, so I was absolutely excited that day. Fast forward three months later — I was visiting the 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart and noticed a few new random beers, two of them happened to be products by Corsendonk! The delicious Pater Dubbel Ale just happened to be one of the beers brought to Manitoba, the other being a Belgian tripel.
  • First Draught -- Shrugging Doctor cider appealing

    Tis the season to buy beer gifts … Fa la la la la la la la! The first advent calendar of the year, the International beer advent will be coming out today at select Liquor Marts at 9 a.m., mainly at the Dauphin, 10th & Victoria and South End Brandon Liquor Marts. The International advent calendar tends to be the one calendar that people want this year, but unfortunately each location only gets a few of them each year.
  • First Draught -- Kicking off stout season with flavourful Sasquatch

    The beer social networking and rating website Untappd released their list of the top (non-American) international sports venues with the highest amount of beer consumption. Surprisingly, three of the top five venues were Canadian, but what was even more surprising is that Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place was ranked as the stadium with the fifth-most beer checkins in the entire world.
  • First Draught -- Fuller's Organic Honeydew Ale is sweet, naturally

    This week, the beer is all about honey! Honey has been a part of beer for centuries now: macro breweries like Sleeman have their Honey Brown Ale, while many smaller craft breweries will actually make their own meads out of honey! Half Pints created an amazing white honey mead called Sweet Heidrun, which at 10.5 per-cent ABV, which was incredibly heavenly, sweet, syrupy, and may never be available in Brandon at this point. I’ve been looking for a good honey-based beer rather than a mead for the last little while — I’ve tried Unibroue’s Lune de Miel but it is currently out of season, as well I’ve tried Little Brown Jug’s honey-based Golden Ale, but it was lacking the honey, and wasn’t available in Westman yet ... So, I needed to go out and find a honey-forward beer that’s worth savouring post-harvest.
  • First Draught -- Westman hops production jumps

    Here’s a quick update on Manitoba’s newest breweries: Stone Angel Brewing is now officially open as of last week at 1875 Pembina Ave. in Winnipeg. Their taproom is open Wednesday through Sunday if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. Oxus Brewing at 1180 Sanford St. in Winnipeg will be opening in the near future, right near Torque Brewing and Polo Park. Trans Canada Brewing will also be opening soon in the provincial capital, at 1290 Kenaston Blvd. (at Rothwell Road), only a block from Fort Garry Brewing and a short walk from Ikea. As for new up-and-coming breweries outside Winnipeg, unfortunately there’s no news yet. It’s still crazy to think that only a year and a half ago there were two breweries operating in Manitoba, now there are more than a dozen. There hasn’t been this many breweries in Manitoba since the 1960s, and it’s absolutely great to see a brewery in western Manitoba (Farmery) operating for the first time since the 1930s.
  • First Draught -- Sip to the dark side with Black Galaxy

    I still remember the era of “Two Breweries” in Manitoba quite well — back before Farmery, Torque and One Great City ever existed. In those days, Manitoba only had Half Pints and Fort Garry, and while Fort Garry’s products were starting to get better at the time, Half Pints was regarded as the gem in a barren desert without craft beer. I remember when Half Pints used to have bottle launches once every few months where people would line up at the brewery’s doors extra early just so they would get the honour of being able to purchase a bottle of Burly Wine or whatever the newest release was, even in -40 C weather!
  • FIRST DRAUGHT: Red Horse gives something of a bumpy ride

    The only problem I have with the annual Coast to Coaster events that MLCC puts in is that there’s usually not many other beers introduced to Manitoba during the two months of the program. The program is absolutely amazing to the point that local beer vendors (including Keystone Motor Inn and Victoria Inn) and restaurants like the Dock on Princess are taking part in it. The event is now over and new beers are slowly starting to pop up as simply “new releases” rather than part of a festival — Vankleek Hill, Ontario’s Beau’s All Natural Brewing has a brand-new West Coast IPA called Full Time IPA that’s now available at the 10th Street and Victoria Avenue Liquor Mart for $5.30 per 600 ml bottle. Beau’s popular Lug Tread Lagered Ale is now available in four-355 ml packs at vendors in Manitoba for $9.95, I haven’t seen it yet in Brandon, but Keystone Motor Inn may be getting it soon.
  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- What you need to know about juicy IPAs

    I’ve received a lot of messages recently that go something like this: “Hey Cody, you’ve been talking a bit lately about ‘juicy IPAs’ lately, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. Could you give us some feedback what a juicy IPA is?” Well, of course I can!
  • First Draught -- Show patriotism with cross-Canada six-pack

    This week marks Canada’s 150th birthday and being the patriotic Canadian I am, I’m planning on drinking only Canadian beers this weekend. This week I wanted to do the Great Canadian 150 six-pack, which contains six beers and breweries from coast-to-coast that I believe helped define what made Canadian beer some of the best beer in the world. For the last several weeks, I’ve been thinking over what beers or breweries have influenced me to drink better beer over the past 10 years, so I’ve specially selected six beers that I believe that make the Great Canadian 150 six-pack and will be widely enjoyed by just about any craft beer drinker, from the lager fan to the beer geek.
  • First Draught -- Surly makes a fast and Furious debut

    In the number of years that I’ve been writing about beer, I’ve only ever been super excited about a few things — and beer excites me a lot. My personal tour of Unibroue in Chambly, Que., is definitely at the top of the list, while Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing coming to Manitoba is a close second. Surly Brewing is well regarded as one of the top breweries in the world. Until recently, Surly was conservative about sales and only sold beer within a short radius from the brewery. Last year, Surly expanded distribution into North Dakota (including Minot) and my beer geek buddies were wondering if that would eventually lead to the brewery coming to Canada.
  • ‘Berry’ tasty B.C. beer easy to drink

    Yesterday marked the beginning of the third annual Coast to Coaster event where a wide variety of interesting and unique beers from all over Canada are featured at Liquor Marts, beer vendors and bars/restaurants throughout the province. With this year marking Canada’s 150, I’m expecting some really interesting once-in-a-lifetime beers to come to Manitoba. The first batch includes IPA No. 2 by Collective Arts from Toronto, Robbie Scotch Ale by Farmery from Neepawa, and Raspberry Über Berliner Weisse by Nickel Brook Brewing out of Burlington, Ont.
  • Surly set to make debut; Torque revs up deliveries

    One of the top rated breweries in the United States, Surly Brewing out of Minnesota will be making its debut in Canada right here in Manitoba! On June 7, various Surly Brewing products will be featured on tap at Liquor Marts and beer vendor growler stations throughout the province.
  • Easy-to-drink Ont. wheat ale impresses

    I have a few friends who call me a beer snob, stating that I only drink the best of the best. Actually, I’m willing to try almost any beer as long as it doesn’t contain animal remains, clamato or anything weird like that. One of my friends who constantly calls me a “beer snob” is from Toronto — his favourite beer is Coors Light, especially in tall cans. At one point he called craft beer “hipster beer,” but one day he texted me stating that I really needed to try “this beer” because it was perfect for the patio — tasty, easy to drink and summer in a glass.
  • Saison Rustique tingly on the tongue

    One of my friends messaged me the other day criticizing my plans on going to Montreal next month for Mondial de la bière, stating that I need to stop going to Montreal all the time and start going to other cities. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or money to go to “Montreal all the time,” otherwise I would. And I’d go to other Canadian beer cities like Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver as well. It has been almost a year since I went to Montreal for Mondial, which was only one of the many highlights of the trip.
  • Three craft-brewed radlers that are worth cycling to

    In my June 19, 2015 edition of First Draught, I stated that radlers were “slowly gaining popularity in Canada.” Well, it’s at the point now where I’m dubbing 2017 “The Year of the Radler.” Radlers are becoming such a hot commodity that Liquor Marts and beer vendors are having a hard time keeping them in stock. As far as I can count so far, Labatt has three radlers available in Manitoba, including the Bud Light Radler, with possibly more to come through their Mill Street, Stanley Park or Goose Island operations. Radlers have been available in Manitoba for as long as I can remember, but I recall bypassing them completely because they were simply 50 per cent beer and 50 per cent grapefruit juice, and I’m not someone who generally cares about grapefruit juice. Radlers will always be the beer of choice for cyclists, but it’s also the beer of choice for those who want something refreshing, light and fruity at same time.
  • 'Crazy Cow' a sweet stout

    It sure may not feel like spring yet, but beer festival season is almost here. Flatlanders Beer Festival is taking place in Winnipeg on June 9 and 10. Seeing that last year’s edition of the festival was their best year yet with a sneak peek of a bunch of (then)
  • Trio of ales sure to please patio visitors

    It’s spring, but I’m finding that it’s just not quite patio weather yet. I’ve been craving beers on the patio for months now but the weather simply doesn’t want to co-operate. Just when you think it will be 20 C in a few days — wham, snow. This week, I’m bringing the patio to you by featuring three pineappley-themed ales that deserve a spot on the patio. Granville Island Lions Summer Ale — This beer is new to Manitoba and we’ve seen many wheat or citrusy ales from Molson’s craft subsidiary Granville Island before with Hey Day Hefeweizen, False Creek Raspberry Ale and more saisons than I can possibly count. Lions Summer Ale is a golden ale, brewed with pineapple and passionfruit juice. I was thinking that this was going to be a wheat ale but it’s all barley. The beer pours a lightly cloudy, golden-straw body with a moderate amount of frothy white head and a good amount of fizzy carbonation as I’m pouring the beer in the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of patios of the past. It has a heavy, yet summer-inspiring barley presence that has notes of lemon, grass, orange peel, pineapple and passionfruit. The taste is reminiscent of Great Western’s Original 16 Pale Ale as it’s crisp, light, incredibly grass- and grain-forward but there’s a lot of fruity zestiness that pops out in Lions Summer Ale. There is also a good deal of caramel from the barley malt, a hint of lemon and a good deal of pineapple and passionfruit. Unfortunately, the taste of pineapple and passionfruit give off a bit of an extract syrupiness to it, so I’m not too happy about that. The beer is easy to drink and screams patio in every sip. Don’t be surprised to see this on tap or in cans at a few places around Manitoba. You can find this exclusively at the 10th Street and Victoria Avenue Liquor Mart for $2.99 per 473 ml can. Pint rating: 3 1/2 pints out of 5.
  • 'TPB' lager straight outta Sunnyvale

    The sixth annual Brandon Beer Fest took place at the Imperial Ballroom in the Victoria Inn on Saturday. I’ve been writing about beer for well over a decade but the event, which was hosted by the Rotary Club of Brandon Sunset, was one of the best beer festivals I’ve been to. The festival had the largest turnout of Manitoba-based breweries yet, so people got to try new breweries like Torque and Little Brown Jug for the first time, and got to chat with the people who brew the actual beers! The folks over at Canada’s most popular organic brewery, Beau’s All Natural Brewing, needed someone to help pour their beer for a bit, so yours truly poured Strong Patrick Irish Red Ale and Lug Tread Lagered Ale for an hour, and I was impressed with how many people, who don’t traditionally drink red or dark ales, fell in love with their Irish red ale that night. I can’t wait until next year’s event because I can’t be the only person in Brandon who will influence beer tastes to change here in Westman.
  • Brandon's beer fest is here

    One final reminder that tomorrow is the annual Brandon Beer Festival! This year’s festival will be the best yet as the event will have presence from four Manitoba breweries — Farmery, Half Pints, Torque and Little Brown Jug — so you will get to try Manitoba’s best beers and get to chat with the people who make the beer as Torque and Little Brown Jug are sending their brewers to the event.
  • Beer blogger goes grape for Calif. Cabernet Sauvignon

    Ah! It’s been a while since I’ve had anything from California — a few months, actually! This is actually the first time trying out something out of the Sonoma County region. The Sonoma Valley region is a popular area for beer as they have over fifty breweries and brewpubs including the world famous Russian River Brewery, the maker of Pliny the Elder IPA which is regarded as one of the top 10 beers in the world! Did you know that Sonoma County is also home to some of the best wineries outside of Europe? Sonoma County has more than 400 wineries in that region alone thanks to the hot weather all year long, allowing for grapes to thrive. A winery that’s considered one of the best of the region, if not all of the United States, is William Hill Estate Winery out of Healdsburg, Calif. William Hill has been open since 1976 and is now owned by the folks over at E & J Gallo Winery, one of the largest wine making companies in the world.
  • Honey wheat ale keeps it light

    Last week I had an impromptu visit to Regina to check out Malty National Brewing for the second time. Malty National Brewing opened just under a year ago and has become one of Canada’s most exciting up-and-coming breweries. Unlike most breweries, they do everything by hand, whether it be loading the grain into the mash tun, stirring the grain with the water by or the removal of the grain. Most breweries would have machinery that would automatically do that, so it’s amazing to see a brewery doing brewing the old-fashioned way and making absolutely fabulous products!

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