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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.

  • Tyskie an overly sweet Polish brew

    It’s been a long time since I had a beer from Poland. In fact, the last Polish beer I ever had was Black Boss Porter, a rich, roasty, heavy porter that was not only affordable but made Guinness look like swill. Unfortunately MLCC stopped carrying the porter two or three years back. I tend to stay away from beers from eastern Europe because the selection we get here in Manitoba is minimal and generally are only imports that are made at breweries owned by AB InBev, SABMiller or MolsonCoors — rarely the craft beers that truly show off a region.
  • Check out these root beers ... that really are beers

    During the North Dakota State Fair a few years back, one of my parents’ friends told me to check out Mac’s Hardware in Minot because it boasted one of the largest soda selections in the entire United States. Who would think that a hardware store, of all places, would have a large soda selection, but sure enough they had a large display of more than 100 different sodas from all over the world.
  • Pop the cork on Manitoba's booming craft beer industry

    I’ve been writing about beer on and off since 2005 just as a way to cope with my boring life. I remember thinking that it would be awesome if a brewery that made great beer (sans Fort Garry) opened in Manitoba. The following year, Half Pints opened up on Keewatin Avenue in Winnipeg and soon later moved to Roseberry Street in the city’s St. James neighbourhood. Last week, Half Pints celebrated their 10th anniversary with an invite-only party (to which I wasn’t invited). Since 2006, Half Pints remained the “newest” brewery in Manitoba ... that is until Barn Hammer opened back in July.
  • Trio of non-alcoholic beers put to the test

    The most common request I get from people around Westman is that I should review Bud Light. Most of the time people are joking because it’s the top selling beer in the region. However, a recent request I’ve been getting from a few people is that I should do a review of a non-alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beers are likely going to be the next trend with the big multinational breweries ever since Labatt introduced Budweiser Prohibition earlier this summer.
  • Beau's organic brew hits Brandon

    Beau’s All Natural Brewing has finally arrived in Brandon! If you aren’t familiar with Beau’s, they are a family owned brewery based out of the small town of Vankleek Hill, Ont., located an hour southeast of Ottawa. It’s Canada’s largest organic brewery and as of this spring, they gave their employees ownership of the operation.
  • Drink Deep and savour Scout Rye IPA

    If you’re as big of a growler/howler fan as I am, then you will be excited to hear that Manitoba’s third and newest brewery Barn Hammer will be having a tap takeover at growler bars at Liquor Marts throughout Manitoba. If you haven’t had the experience of seeing a tap takeover before, as tap takeovers are foreign to Manitoba beer drinkers, it’s essentially an event where all the beer taps at a pub, bar or in this case. The LC will be limited to draught from one brewery. The event is expected to be taking place on Wednesday, July 27, but things could change if the 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart gets in their beer much later than the Winnipeg locations, or if the Liquor Mart waits until all the current draught is sold before they change the kegs over to the Barn Hammer draught. Out of the four beers being featured, I’m expecting the selection will include their Le Sneak Belgique Witbier, Grandpa’s Sweater Oatmeal Stout, 7th Stab Red Ale and hopefully Saturday Night Lumberjack Double IPA, or else it will be their Lousy Beatnik Kölsch. I hope Barn Hammer becomes a regular stocked beer here in Brandon and eventually we see pubs and restaurants around town serving the beer.
  • A Brick beer in paradise

    If you like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain ... if cheeseburger is paradise, medium rare with mustard’d be nice! If you’ve ever checked out a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant, you’ve likely seen Landshark, Margaritaville’s go-to lager. Now it’s available in Canada at your local Liquor Mart.
  • A taste of England in West Coast IPA

    In last week’s edition of First Draught, I briefly discussed my favourite new Manitoban beers that I sampled at Flatlander’s Beer Festival. Around the same time as Flatlander’s, Barn Hammer Brewing announced that they kegged their first batch of beer. Since then, they have been providing restaurants around Winnipeg with fresh-from-the-tank beer on a regular basis. Not only that — they have their beer available in growler form at Quality Beer Store at Pembina and Grant Avenues in Winnipeg for more than a week now.
  • Delirium duo packs potent, pleasing punch

    Last week was the 14th annual Flatlander’s Beer Festival in Winnipeg — Manitoba’s largest beer festival — and it featured a host of new breweries, including Barn Hammer, Torque, One Great City, Nonsuch and Brazen Hall. That’s five new breweries and that doesn’t take into account the many others that are planning to open up in the next year. My “best of show” for all the new brewery beers I tried was Brasserie Nonsuch’s saison. When I asked about it, they told me that they were tired of the same old saisons so they created one for those who aren’t big fans of the ever common “barnyard funk” taste.
  • Golden ale celebrates 'Star Trek'

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Star Trek” franchise, so to celebrate the occasion, the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada Post came out with commemorative coins and stamps to honour the original 1960s TV show. The moment that sites like Reddit and Gizmodo started spreading the news, two of my Trekkie friends in the States were asking me to buy them the coins and stamps — even though the mint sells to Americans.
  • Quebec beers shine at Montreal festival

    Last week was Festival Mondial de la bière in Montreal and being the beer geek I am, I went. Some of you are saying, “But Cody, you’ve written about your trips to Montreal several times already!” Yeah, I have but this time it’s all about the festival. My original intent was to showcase the top beers at Mondial that you can find in Manitoba, but honestly, Central City’s Red Racer IPA doesn’t need any more publicity at this point. It’s almost always sold out at local Liquor Marts and vendors, and not only that, the Red Racer we get in Manitoba is several months fresher than the stuff they get in Quebec.
  • Beer With No Name primed for the patio

    Last week, the second edition of Coast to Coaster launched at select Liquor Marts and beer vendors to show off some of the best beers Canada has to offer — especially beers never before seen in Manitoba. Last year, they did a large advertising blitz, making sure that everyone knew about the event. This year, the MLCC kept it fairly quiet for the most part, not really promoting it before it even began.
  • U.S. craft beers face off

    In last week’s edition of First Draught, I reviewed PEI Brewing’s Vic Park Pale Ale. It was so popular that the beer sold out only an hour or so after Liquor Mart opened for the morning on Friday! Not only that, Vic Park Pale Ale won gold in Session IPA category at the Canadian Brewing Awards this past weekend in Vancouver. Half Pints also won gold in the German-style Kölsch category for their St. James Pale Ale. Cheers to all the breweries that entered their beers for the event.
  • Tropical delight from P.E.I.

    The past month has been crazy for new beer releases in Manitoba. Some great American beers, such as Deschutes Fresh Squeezed Hop IPA and Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, plus two beers by up-and-coming B.C. brewery Fuggles & Warlock, have made it difficult to sample every new brew that’s hit the shelves.
  • Booze-infused iced teas to look for

    In the past several weeks I’ve checked out the beer scenes in Regina and Minot and one thing I noticed is that craft sodas are becoming a thing. Not only that, but boozy sodas are becoming incredibly popular. Breweries are making boozy and non-boozy versions of root beer, ginger ale and other various drinks. I feel that malt-based alcoholic root beers will become more of the norm in the next five years.
  • Warm weather renews call for Red Racer

    In the past six weeks, one of the most common questions I’ve received about beer here in Westman is, “Where in the world is Red Racer?” Central City Brewing’s popular IPA has been missing from store shelves for more than a month now. You will be happy to learn that it’s back in stock — but in incredibly limited quantities. By the time you read this, all three Liquor Marts (plus the Liquor Mart Express) may be sold out. The Keystone Motor Inn vendor may have some in their beer can fridge.
  • Eldorado IPA perfect for patio

    I feel that 2016 beer trends are pushing towards Belgian-style farmhouse saisons and incredibly tart/sour beers that taste more like a wine than a beer, but one trend that doesn’t seem to be dying down is the classic India pale ale. One of the biggest complaints I get from local beer drinkers is that too many breweries have their own IPAs and that they’re always too bitter. The trend for overly bitter IPAs is currently on the decline so instead we are seeing more releases of IPAs brewed with one strain of hop to show off the characteristics of what the hop is supposed to smell/taste like in a beer.
  • Winning the battle of wits

    Back in early 2004, I was still a big fan of your typical Canadian pale lagers/pilsners such as Canadian, Kokanee and Moosehead — and frankly, I enjoyed them a lot. However, there was a part of me that wanted to try something new. Up came witbiers!
  • A taste of Regina's booming beer scene

    Last week I went to Regina with my buddy Ben to check out the beer scene there. While Manitoba’s craft beer scene is about to explode this summer with up to four new breweries or brewpubs in the works, Saskatchewan’s scene has been booming for a few years now. First off, Bushwakker Brewpub is regarded as one of the top brewpubs in the world, according to RateBeer.com — which is quite something in itself, but not that much of a surprise seeing that Half Pints owner and brewmaster Dave Rudge was the brewmaster at Bushwakker’s for several years before starting up his own brewery in Winnipeg 10 years ago. Bushwakker’s most popular tradition is their annual Blackberry Mead which is released every December.
  • Pull up to a fresh Fat Tug IPA

    Last week, I discussed how to find the freshest IPAs — which can be difficult as fresh IPAs are rare in Manitoba. This week, I found an IPA that’s fresh enough that I just have to feature it! Fat Tug IPA, from Driftwood Brewing in Victoria, B.C., was highly regarded by my hop snob buddies in Vancouver as being THE top IPA in all of Canada back in 2012. So, of course, I tried it and was underwhelmed. But hype does that to anything you enjoy.
  • How to hunt for a fresh IPA in Manitoba

    A few weeks ago I was discussing the freshness of India pale ales here in Manitoba. You all know that I’m a big fan of hoppy, citrusy, floral IPAs, so I love to savour on all the new IPAs that hit the market as nearly every brewery on the planet has at least one or two IPAs in their portfolio. The biggest downside of IPAs is that because the breweries are using fresh hop flowers commercially grown as locally as Portage la Prairie, and as far away as New Zealand, once the IPA is brewed and bottled or canned, it has a ticking expiration date.
  • Maple ale puts spring in your step

    Spring is here(ish) and that means that down east, the maple syrup farmers from Ontario to Nova Scotia are tapping trees to turn liquid gold sap into heavenly maple syrup. After living in Quebec for brief stints over the years, I try to avoid faux-syrups like Aunt Jemima’s and “table syrup” when having pancakes, crêpes or waffles. Once you’ve had tire sur neige (maple syrup taffy on snow ice-pops), you will never go back to the generic corn syrup pancake syrups ever again!
  • Half Pints' Temps Noir one of the best

    Ever since Gimli's Crown Royal Northern Harvest won the award of “World’s Best Whisky” according to a spirits author out of the U.K., Northern Harvest has sold out almost immediately at almost every Liquor Mart. Is it the world’s best whisky in my opinion? No, Lot 40 Rye Whisky out of Ontario is even better, but with this being Manitoba and all, it’s great to see a made-in-Manitoba product selling off the shelves the second they arrive to stores.
  • Peppery brew best left to the intrepid

    It’s one of my favourite times of the year again. The time of winter when a bunch of new beers make their way to the MLCC and beer vendors! Among the new releases, Molson has released a John H.R. Molson & Bros 1908 Pale Ale — brewed according to the brewmaster’s recipes dating back to 1908 and using hops from Oregon, Canada and the U.K. to give it a light bitterness reminiscent to beers savoured back in 1908.
  • Espresso add takes away from original

    I’m finding that beer styles are changing at a rapid place, and with that we are seeing breweries innovating by adding weird or interesting ingredients just to keep up with the trends. My favourite style of wheat ales, the saison, has went from a citrusy, lemony and overly carbonated sister of Belgian witbiers (Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Hoegaarden, Rickard’s White) to an over carbonated citrusy wheaty ale with a great deal of weird barnyard musky aromas.
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