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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 BeerCrank.ca.

  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- Flatlanders good place to find rare beers

    This year’s edition of Flatlanders Beer Festival is taking place next weekend at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg. Tickets start at $42.95 and are available at Winnipeg Liquor Marts and likely at the event as well. This year’s festival will include 95 booths and more than 375 beers from most of the Manitoba breweries as well as many breweries from all over the world. The beers I’m looking forward to trying most are the one-off beers by Winnipeg’s breweries, but also some of the rarities that I just can’t get in Brandon such as Brasserie Dunham and Le Corsaire out of Quebec, as well as Revelation Ales out of Minnesota.
  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- When you can't get growlers, Tropic Like It's Hop

    Last week, MBLL announced that they will ceasing the Liquor Mart growler bar program as of July 1. The program was launched back in October 2014 with great fanfare. The idea of being able to get incredibly fresh, temperature controlled beer in 1.89-litre jugs at an affordable price was an awesome idea. Not only that, the selection rotated every so often so there was always something new to try out, so one week you might have an IPA, Radler, Lager and another Lager on tap, the next week might feature a Stout, Belgian Wheat Ale, Milkshake IPA and a Blonde Ale.
  • Welcoming spring with a Belgian-style Witbier

    This is just a reminder that the Brandon Beer Festival is taking place Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at the Victoria Inn Ballroom. Tickets are likely sold out by now but it doesn’t hurt to visit your local MLCC location to see if they happen to have any left. Last I checked, the Corral Centre LC had seven tickets left, but it’s likely closer to zero by now. If you aren’t able to go to Brandon Beer Festival this year, I’ll be discussing my “best of show” picks in the next edition of First Draught in two weeks.
  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- So much has changed over last five years

    I feel like I should be typing this in a tuxedo, as this week marks the fifth anniversary of First Draught! It really doesn’t feel like it was five years ago this week when I did my initial review, a review of New Zealand Steinlager lager, a full-on recommendation from a former 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart employee (now managing the Sobeys West End Liquor Mart Express). I’ve reviewed hundreds of beers in that time, complained about the obvious perimeteritis we receive from MBLL to the point that I’ve likely made a few enemies, and even missed out on substantial beer releases all because of releases not making it to Brandon. On the flip side, I’ve had times where I had the honour to visit my favourite brewery on the planet, Unibroue … followed by a trip to RateBeer.com’s No. 1-rated brewery on the planet, Hill Farmstead in Vermont.
  • Imperial Stout packs a punch

    I can’t believe this is the final First Draught of 2018! While this year may not have been as prolific for new breweries opening in Manitoba, we saw Devil May Care, Kilter, Nonsuch and Winnipeg Brew Werks open up, offering a wide variety of beer options ranging from German Pilsners to New England IPAs, and even a beer brewed in honour of Brandon University’s 50th anniversary!
  • Barn Hammer's latest gives off wintry vibe

    In last week’s edition of First Draught, I reviewed a Winter Warmer by Granville Island — Lions’ Winter Ale, likely the most popular beer of the style in all of Canada. This week, I’m taking a look at a local Winter Warmer, Fur Trader Winter Ale by Barn Hammer Brewing out of Winnipeg. Fur Trader is the first Barn Hammer seasonal ale to ever make it to Brandon since they started selling here only a few months ago. Fur Trader is described as having notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla, and that it has a subtle dose of warming spices to keep the cold away. I absolutely enjoy Barn Hammer’s beers, so I’m expecting this to be just as good as their main releases.
  • Winnipeg's Oxus Brewing offers tropical IPA

    The trend of juicy, cloudy, overly tropical New England IPAs was heating up three years ago in Vermont and Massachusetts and ended up becoming a style that nearly every brewery on the continent ended up brewing. In Manitoba alone, at least eight of Manitoba’s breweries have dabbled with the overly juicy hopped style of ale.
  • Half Pints Brewing offers some of the best craft brew

    The craft brewery boom only started two and a half years ago here in Manitoba but there was one brewery that has been brewing some of the best beer Canada has to offer since 2006 — Half Pints Brewing. I’ve been a big fan of their beer ever since I first tried their “Little Scrapper IPA” back in 2007 or 2008. I was the first “hoppy” India Pale Ale that I ever enjoyed.
  • Pivo Pils a crisp, light pilsner

    Rating: 3.5/5 Pints … use graphic  
  • Fruity Unibroue ale compliments harvest season

    With rating graphic: 3.5/5 Pints I went to a wine festival for the very first time in my last weekend — the Brandon Wine Fest. While I felt a bit weirded out that I was going to a wine fest rather than Vine Lines’ Diane Nelson, I made sure to try as many different styles of wines that I could.
  • Collaboration worth a look

    One of my favourite things about the craft beer industry is when breweries team up to work on special collaboration beers. Recently, Torque teamed up with Minnesota’s Surly Brewing on a delicious Rye IPA called Callahan (available at Dauphin Liquor Mart), while last year Ontario’s Beau’s All Natural Brewing teamed up with a bunch of breweries across Canada for Canada’s 150 — including a collaboration with Half Pints for a beer brewed with rye bread called Killer Kvass.
  • Gloomy autumn is also fresh hop season

    It may be “Prairie Winter” with all the gloominess and cold weather we’ve been experiencing lately, but it’s fresh hop season! I was in Winnipeg with a good friend for a MBLL Oktoberfest put on by Beau’s All Natural Brewing at Regent Casino, featuring a lot of great breweries ranging from well.. yeah, Beau’s to Surly, and a good deal of international beers in the mix. During my visit to Winnipeg, we stopped at Stone Angel Brewery, which I feel should be a brewery in Neepawa rather than Winnipeg, as I think it might be named after the Margaret Lawrence book of the same name. Stone Angel is also home to two of the newest breweries in Manitoba — Devil May Care Brewing and Kilter Brewing.
  • Thanksgiving is short on pumpkin beer

    In this week’s edition of First Draught, I was preparing to review a pumpkin spiced ale. So, when I went to both the Corral Centre and 10th & Victoria Liquor Marts to pick up some pumpkin spiced beers, I was shocked to see that there were none in stock. Actually, there hasn’t been a single pumpkin spiced beer released to Liquor Marts in Brandon yet, which is odd considering we’re well into the “season” already. Usually we’ll see a pumpkin beer or two out by early September, but this year there hasn’t really been anything so far. Fort Garry’s Happy Jack, which is generally the first pumpkin beer to pop up on my radar every year, hasn’t even made its way to Brandon yet.
  • La Fin du Monde began my beer journey

    In this week’s edition of First Draught, I decided it was time to finally do a full review on the one beer that changed my life more than anything else. This week is all about one beer out of Quebec, a Belgian Tripel ale that at one time I thought tasted like hell, only to end up falling in love with it. This week is all about Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde. Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde is the entire reason why I write about beer. It was the second beer I ever reviewed on RateBeer.com, the first being Molson Canadian 6.0 Cold Shots. On Sept. 4, 2004, my rating of La Fin du Monde was simply: "I tried this beer back a few months ago hearing that Unibroue makes some of the best beer in Canada, it’s a high percentage beer, but I didn’t really like it, it has a really sweet taste which reminded me of black licorice. It’s easy to get drunk off this beer, but just not my cup of tea, or in this case, glass of beer. 1.9/5”
  • Check out these Oktoberfest beers

    Oktoberfest is becoming much more of a popular event here on the Prairies, so I’ve decided to review three beers from three breweries out of three provinces that happen to be brewing an Oktoberfest style lager or ale. I hope you enjoy the three selections I’ve specially chosen for my personal Oktoberfest. If not, maybe you’ll enjoy next week’s selection! •Beau’s All Natural Brewing’s Märzen Oktoberfest Lager (Vankleek Hill, Ont.) — This weekend marks the 10th annual Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill. I wish I was able to visit, but unfortunately I’ve done too many beercations this year, it seems.
  • Manitoba brewers unveil new beers

    I’ve been writing about beer for a few years now, and I’ve seen the local beer scene go from simply just Fort Garry and Half Pints to around 15 breweries! In this week’s column, I’m concentrating on two breweries that only started selling their beer in the past few weeks. First off, we have Winnipeg Brew Werks. I’ve talked about Winnipeg Brew Werks before — the owners of the brewery are Darren & Zoe Wanless and Bernie Wieland. Darren grew up in the Belmont and Wawanesa areas, while Bernie grew up in Brandon and Neepawa areas. Many of you will be familiar with Bernie’s work already as he created a lot of the beer recipes for Lake of the Woods Brewing out of Kenora, Ont., and Little Brown Jug (1919) out of Winnipeg.
  • First Draught -- Denali Single Hop IPA more bitter than tropical

    I just got back from Montreal only a few days ago and I’m absolutely exhausted after the trip. It was a great reason to try some of the latest and greatest breweries that were opening up in the region, while also visiting the first Foudres Unis beer festival by Brasserie Dunham, which took place 400 metres from the Vermont border and featured a bunch of the top breweries in the world. All in all, I sampled a lot of beer — not as much as I was hoping as I missed out on some Belgian sours, but I got to sample beers from places such as Vermont, Quebec (of course), B.C., Minnesota and Poland.
  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- Grand Slam a stout worth craving this summer

    The Winnipeg Beer Festival will take place at Fort Gibraltar in St. Boniface on Aug. 12. Unlike Flatlanders’ Beer Festival back in June, this festival only showcases breweries and distilleries from Manitoba. This is a great way to be able to try beers and spirits that are made in Manitoba by Manitobans. This year’s edition features 10 Manitoban breweries and one Manitoban distillery, Capital K Distillery. I won’t be going this year as I’ll be in Montreal during the event, but it will be a great way to meet the people who work hard creating Manitoba’s beers and spirits. Tickets are $45 and more information about the event can be found at WinnipegBeerFestival.com.
  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- Innis & Gunn goes tropical with Mangoes on the Run IPA

    Ten years ago, I was living in Quebec City to improve my horrible French and getting paid to improve it as much as I could. It was an awesome summer. I was already an annoying beer snob by then, but I turned into a poutine snob thanks to their local poutine chain Chez Ashton. In the three months I was there, I went to more concerts than just about any time in my life. I saw local bands such as Les Dales Hawerchuk, Winnipeg’s own The Weakerthans and even bands like Van Halen.
  • FIRST DRAUGHT -- Saison du Tracteur harvests rich medley of rye, barley, wheat

    July 12 marks the final session of beers for this year’s Coast to Coaster event at Manitoba Liquor Marts. In this final batch, Half Pints is releasing a beer in a can for the first time in their 12-year history (Codename: Ghost New England IPA), while we see some old Coast to Coaster breweries making an appearance again this year, including PEI’s Gahan Brewing and New Brunswick’s Picaroons Brewing. This year’s edition of Coast to Coaster showcased more of what was the emerging styles in the Canadian brewing industry more than anything. This year featured several New England IPAs, Milkshake IPAs and Sour Ales, all styles that would have made a beer drinker in Westman confused a few years ago. This year’s Coast to Coaster may have featured the best lineup I’ve seen yet. I feel that Flying Monkeys’ sweet and tropical Live Transmission Milkshake was pure desserty heaven, and I’m likely the one who bought the entire city’s supply of the beer without realizing it.
  • First Draught -- Malty, easy-to-drink Crafty Radler a refreshing option

    Judging by the weather lately, summer must be here, which means it’s Radler season! Over the past few years, Radlers have only gotten more popular with beer drinkers and even people who despise the taste of beer. A Radler is generally a 50/50 mixture of beer and grapefruit juice, but these days Radlers have expanded to lemonade and other types of juices. Radlers are generally only 2.5 to 3.5 per cent ABV, so they’re definitely thirst quenching on a hot summer day.
  • First Draught -- Lamp Lighter is the ideal brew to review in Cummings' honour

    I went on Facebook the other day and found out that Burton Cummings likely won’t be performing the national anthems at Bell MTS Place anytime soon as he got in a serious car accident in LA. To me, he is the personification of the typical Manitoban. So this week’s review is in honour of Brandon University honorary grad himself, Burton Cummings! I hope he gets better real soon. BTW — Go onto YouTube and type the words “The Guess Who Tonight Show” (without quotations), and you will be in for a treat that was done only a few weeks ago — a “Tonight Show” parody of “American Woman” by Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Bacon!
  • First Draught -- New craft brewery serves up tasty IPA

    I’m currently mourning the loss of my favourite India pale ale crystal glass I purchased at Hudson’s Bay for $9.99 back in 2014. As I was moving glasses around only moments before starting this review, my IPA glass fell and shattered into a million pieces at what seemed like 400 frames per second in slow-mo as I saw it happened. My gut sank and now I’m without an amazing IPA glass! If you’re lucky enough to have a nice beer glass (even the nice free ones with a case of your favourite beer), treat them well and don’t put them near the ledge of any table, ever!
  • 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 RateBeer.com. If a small-town rural Ontario barrel-aged brewery can make it onto RateBeer.com’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!
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