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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.

  • Dubbel for the Game of Thrones fans

    Are you a fan of “Game of Thrones?” What about beer? You’re a fan of both? Cooperstown, New York’s Ommegang Brewery obtained the rights to brewing “Game of Thrones”-inspired beer back in 2013 with a Iron Throne Belgian Blonde Ale. Ever since Iron Throne was introduced, GoT and beer fans have been demanding for more.
  • Terry's Chocolate Orange -- in a bottle

    My friends and family know me as a picky eater, but not so much as a picky beer drinker. I don’t like being forced to try new foods that I know I won’t like, because my stomach will just force it back up. I remember going to Minot back in the ’90s and my parents would always end up buying Tootsie Pops.
  • Scotch ale is sweet

    I’m not an Innis & Gunn snob or anything like that, even though I have reviewed several of their beers over the past year. When a brewery releases several different beers in “limited edition,” “special cask” and “barrelmaster release,” those are words that really intrigue me. So I must try them! Scotland’s Innis & Gunn now has a new limited release — the Barrel Master’s Reserve, a Scotch ale matured in specially selected 18-year-old Highland whisky casks. The sound of that to me sounds like Scotchy Scotchy Scotch!
  • I see a bright 2015 on tap for beer

    It’s already 2015 — it’s crazy how fast time flies. I’ve been writing the First Draught here in the Brandon Sun for almost a year now, and I can’t believe how much the beer scene has changed.
  • Barroom Blitzen

    Rudolph may have gotten all the attention on Christmas Eve, but Blitzen was there to help, too. In fact, the folks over at Vancouver’s Steamworks Brewery created the Blitzen Belgian Tripel ale as a tribute to Blitzen the reindeer ... somewhat.
  • Appleton Estates tour tells story of rum

    I’m a beer columnist and generally don’t drink any other sort of alcoholic beverages such as wine, ciders or other spirits. However, when you visit another part of the world, sometimes beer isn’t the most popular alcoholic beverage like it is here in Canada. A lot of it has to do with resources available in a region. Seeing that Manitoba is plentiful in barley and wheat, a lot of which is used in beer and whisky, we tend to see a million different varieties of beers and whiskies here. In Jamaica, they have to import barley from Canada and the European Union, so they rely on sugar cane, which is one of their largest resources. Sugar cane can’t be malted to make a traditional beer, so it ends up going into making rums and liqueurs. I’m not a rum fan, but seeing I was in the neighbourhood, I just had to make a visit to the Appleton Estates rum factory in rural Jamaica. At US$25 per person for a tour, it’s quite a bit more expensive than going on a beer tour, as the most I’ve ever paid for a beer tour was $0.00. However, seeing that Appleton Estates is one of the largest rum manufacturers on the planet, I was willing to cough up the money just so I could say I’d been there. When you arrive, there’s a rum sampling station, a large bar and dining room and a store where you can buy Appleton’s products. Since I opted for a tour, I was told to wait in the dining room where I was immediately greeted and served some of Appleton’s homemade rum punch, a delicious blend of tropical Jamaican fruits and a good amount of rum to give it a bit of a kick. Our tour guide Peter was passionate about the distillery, teaching us about its history. Before electricity was introduced to the island, the distillery would rely on donkeys pulling on a grinding station to turn freshly harvested sugar cane into a liquid that would eventually be fermented and turned into molasses.
  • Unknown cream ale proves familiar

    It’s rare for me to walk into the Liquor Mart and see a beer from a brewery I’ve never heard of before. For the most part, I’m pretty educated on the Canadian and American beer scenes. I’m familiar with the major and not so major players all over North America. But there comes a time when a beer is launched that I’ve never heard of before — by a brewery I’ve never heard before. Most of you have likely been in this situation before, seeing as there are simply too many varieties of beer to try.
  • Old Foghorn Barleywine Ale always a winter treat

    Every winter I look forward to the various barley wines that pop up in time for the 40 C windchills. It’s hard to find barley wines in Manitoba, so I tend to send friends in Quebec and Vancouver some money to pick up some of North America’s best there.
  • Beer fads -- the good, the bad and the brewery

    I’ve been around the Canadian beer industry long enough to see a lot of fads and trends come and go — caffeinated beer, beer specially brewed below 0 C, and more recently, beer made to taste like anything BUT beer. Labatt popularized the “beer that’s actually a cooler” with Bud Light Lime back in 2009, and has since raked in the millions with that cooler, along with spinoff products such as Bud Lime Straw-ber-rita and a whole series of fruity-cooler-ritas.
  • Five gift ideas for 'Beermas'

    It’s that time of year again, when it gets dark early, the cold winds howl and chill us for days on end and we all spend a bunch of money we don’t have for one day — yes, Christmas ... or Festivus ... or simply, Beermas. Every year I find that there are more unique gifts coming out for the beer geek and geekette — items ranging from rare seasonal winter beers aged in oak barrels, to flavour infusers, to special glassware for specific styles of beer, to gift sets that include a “free” glass or bottle opener, to homemade beer coozies.
  • Kriek open a mort Subité

    The awesome thing about beer is that no two styles of beer are exactly the same. In fact, in theory no two beers are the same. For the most part, aside from the Bavarian purity laws, there’s really nothing out there dictating what can or cannot be in a beer.
  • Bring out the maple

    The nights are now getting darker earlier. It’s getting chillier and soon the first permanent snowfall of the winter will be hitting Westman. Don’t worry — it will only last six to eight months! While we wait out this winter, it’s time to bring out the hoodies, the mitts and toques and savour some darker ales as the weather gets colder.
  • Das München!

    Last week’s launch of growlers in Manitoba was a smashing success. On launch day alone, the 10th Street and Victoria Avenue Liquor Mart sold more than 70 growlers — that’s 132 litres of beer! One of the beers available at the growler launch was Fort Garry’s Das München Oktoberfest beer, the pride and joy of Fort Garry’s head brewer Matt Wolff. His German heritage makes him proud to experiment with German beers time and time again over the years, and that pride shows.
  • Growlers! Growlers! Growlers!

    A few months ago, the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Commission announced plans to allow the sale of growlers at breweries, beer vendors and Liquor Marts for general consumption. Growlers, you say?
  • Will the real IPA please stand up?

    For the past few years now, India Pale Ales have become one of the most common beer styles available in North America, to the point that nearly every microbrewery on the continent has its own variation on the style. What bothers me, however, is that we rarely see IPAs available at restaurants, lounges and pubs around Westman. Instead, upon visiting said establishments, when we ask for an India Pale Ale, we get a bottle or 16-ounce glass of Alexander Keith’s.
  • Flavourful and refreshing

    Last week, I had the honour of judging the second annual Pro/Am Brew Challenge put on by Half Pints Brewery and the Winnipeg Brew Bombers home-brewing club. The Pro/Am Challenge is a beer competition where home brewers and professional brewers alike send in their best beers with the hope of winning a gold, silver or bronze medal, bragging rights and some sweet swag to help them improve their brewing talents even further.
  • Are you the Anarchist or the Cascadian?

    Big Rock Brewery has just released their newest limited edition beers in a mixed six-pack called the Rad Trad series. The Rad Trad consists of three bottles of the Anarchist and three bottles of the Cascadian. The Anarchist is an India Brown Ale brewed with British hops, which give off an earthiness mixed with a nice sweet malt that’s regularly seen in British ales.
  • First Draught - The pumpkin spice for the rest of us

    This autumn marks the third year that Fort Garry Brewing has made a spiced pumpkin ale for those who truly enjoy autumn, those who briefly like the smell of cow manure being spread on farmers’ fields, the colder temperatures and nights getting dark before 8 p.m. Pumpkin-spiced beverages, such as lattés, are a sign of Thanksgiving, Halloween and imminent winter doom.
  • If you like sweet, you’ll like cider

    Aside from crabapple juice, I was never a fan of apple juice at all. However, crabapple juice had this unique sour taste to it that made apples seem cool and delicious. Cider is another apple product that, aside from one summer in 2005, I never really cared for. That summer, I was sick of Labatt 50, Molson Kick and Minhas Creek Lager and wanted something different — so I went to ciders.
  • Reminiscing about beers from yesteryear

    With the changing beer habits of the typical beer drinker, some beer styles go through several years of vast popularity only to crash and burn (see lime and iced tea flavoured beers). Remember Molson Kick and Labatt Shok? They were caffeinated beers aimed for the 18-25 crowd approximately a decade ago. They didn’t last long as various groups wanted the beers pulled for promoting “keeping the buzz going.”
  • Like a Rhine Stone Kölsch beer

    Last week I was checking my Facebook feed for any new beer news, as I usually do as soon as I wake up on one of my days off from work, and discovered that the founder of Big Rock Brewery, Ed McNally, had passed away. McNally was a pioneer in the Canadian craft beer industry when he created Big Rock back in 1985. While Ed was on his barley and cattle farm in southern Alberta, he read about the rebirth of the beer industry throughout the United States. Breweries there were starting to boom throughout the country, using the Bavarian purity laws or the best-sourced ingredients around.
  • Melville's ginger beer perfect ale for what ails ya

    As a child, I was never a fan of ginger ale. It was one of those icky, nasty sodas that I had no understanding why anyone would drink in the first place.
  • Hop Therapy

    So it’s humid out and your hair is getting all frizzy and you’re sweating bullets ... I prescribe for you 65CLs of Hop Therapy! This summer has been one of the most dramatic summers from Mother Nature in a long time. Just under a month ago, floodwaters that beat even the record 2011 flood hit Brandon, but thankfully kept business as usual for the most part. Outside of town folks weren’t as lucky.
  • This is pilsner country

    Here in Manitoba, we live in pilsner country. Not as in Molson’s Old Style Pilsner country (the beer with the bunny on it — that’s Saskatchewan), but as in Prairie pilsner country.
  • You too can now buy one of Manitoba's most expensive six-packs

    If you recall my bièrcation column back in April, I visited a lovely brewpub in Montreal called Dieu du Ciel, the pub had a long list of various styles of beers, staff who were not only well educated about their own beers but also could recommend a specific beer all from what sort of styles, flavours and body you wanted — something oaky, something chocolatey, something wheat, or even something light and fruity — the staff knew their beer as if they had a Bachelors in Beerology. Dieu du Ciel is not only one of the highest-rated brewpubs in the entire world, but they’re also one of the top rated breweries in the world as well. Every year at RateBeer.com, the site’s admins select the RateBeer’s best — the best beers, brewers, bottle shops and pubs in almost every country. Out of the top 10 “Best beers in Canada”, four of them are from Dieu du Ciel.
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