FIRST DRAUGHT — Grand Slam a stout worth craving this summer

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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.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/08/2018 (1478 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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.

It’s still summer, but I’ve been craving stouts a bit lately — not just any stouts, but mostly boozy Imperial Stouts, creamy Milk Stouts and breakfasty Oatmeal Stouts. I was in Jamaica back in December 2014 and I found that the local stouts were absolutely amazing in the scorching hot Jamaican heat.

To most people, the thought of drinking a dark, heavy beer on a hot 30 C day is the opposite of a good idea, but some stouts taste like heaven after swimming for over half an hour. If you’re ever in Jamaica, Guinness Extra Foreign Stout and Dragon Spitfire Imperial Stout are absolutely worth trying … move over, Red Stripe!

Every spring, Half Pints releases an Oatmeal Stout called Grand Slam. While the label has a drawing of a baseball player hitting a home run grand slam, but for me all I can think of is a hearty breakfast on a day off from work. Grand Slam is brewed with Manitoba-grown naked oats, cacao nibs, coffee and Tahitian vanilla.

I think that this year’s batch of Grand Slam arrived in Brandon back in March or April, but thankfully stouts can age really well over a long period of time. Pouring Grand Slam into a glass, the appearance is completely opaque with a dark coffee-like appearance to it. The beer’s head has a creamy, yet burnt caramel appearance that morphs into a cookie dough beige once the beer settles.

Grand Slam’s aroma is rich, heavy, sweet and delightful. My first impression is the aroma of the cocoa nibs, giving off a rich chocolatey presence to it. There’s also a very light roasted malt presence that gives off a light coffee-like presence to it, but not as much as most craft stouts on the market. There’s a mild amount of vanilla to it, and a light oaty cereal presence once in a while.

The oatmeal in this oatmeal stout pop out big time in the flavour — the first thing that comes to my mind about the taste is chocolatey oatmeal cookies. The roasted malt presence that I didn’t really get much of in the aroma is finally making its way into the taste profile as it’s giving off a rich, roasted coffee taste with a hint of smoke to it. The addition of vanilla to this beer is absolutely worth it as it gives off a nice sweetness that reminds me of many of the barrel-aged stouts I’ve sampled over the years but without the intense booziness you get from oak barrels. Lastly, there’s a good amount of a coffee bitterness for the aftertaste.

Even after this review I feel like most people won’t find a stout appealing on a hot day, but I know that this oatmeal stout hit the right spot for me. The beer’s combination of oats, cacao nibs and Tahitian vanilla make this a great stout worthy of any season. Like the St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, I have a few bottles of this beer aging for a few years now, and once winter hits I’ll be giving them a try to see how they’ve aged, but usually they only get better with age.

You can find this at the Corral Centre and South End Liquor Marts for $8.31 per 650-ml bottle. 7.0 per cent ABV/75 IBU.

Rating: 4/5 Pints

Speaking of beers that get better with age, Half Pints’ Burly Wine (Barley Wine) from 2017 is still available at Liquor Marts (South End, 10th and Victoria) for $10.95 per 650-ml bottle. I recommend saving a bottle or two for the winter. It’s my favourite wintertime beer — it’s perfect with long nights, cold howling winds and the dreams of summer returning.

» 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.

» BeerCrank.ca

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