Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/10/2018 (1078 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
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.
I was incredibly giddy to see a locally hopped beer on tap as Devil May Care Brewing had a beer on tap called Wet Hop Canadian Summer featuring fresh hops from Prairie Mountain Hops out of Boissevain. Wet Hop Canadian Summer was something like 9.0 per cent ABV but it was incredibly smooth and citrusy to the point that I wanted a growler fill of it. Sure.. I could have gotten a growler fill of it, but I was in a rush.
Stone Angel also featured a great beer by Kilter Brewing — a New England-style juicy IPA called Juicii #3. Stone Angel themselves had a nice mild Belgian Dubbel Ale called Saint Bernie, with a light caramel sweetness and a light amount of bitterness to it. Not long after arriving at the brewery, one of the co-owners ("Irish Paul") said to me "Cody, it took you damn long enough to come by the brewery," but in my defence - I’m never in Winnipeg, ever.
Going back, you would have seen me mentioning that Devil May Care has a beer featuring hops from right here in South Western Manitoba. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing the beer in Brandon, but if you are looking for a locally hopped beer, you can find Boissevain’s Prairie Mountain Hops in Half Pints’ Fresh Hopped Harvest Ale at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart. I’ve sampled the beer a few times and it’s a nice amber ale with a moderate hop presence and a citrus presence, very smooth aftertaste. $7.10 per 976mL fill, $12.70 per 1.89L fill.
The last thing about hops — we may have incredibly bitter and cold winters but Western Manitoba may be one of the best places in the world to grow hops. There are strains of hops that grow in the wild all over Manitoba, but we also have three hop farms within an houri-sh of Brandon — Prairie Mountain Hops out of Boissevain, Farmery hop field out of Arden, and JGL Shepherd Farms out of Moosomin, which has recently harvested a good crop of hops for my favourite Saskatoon brewery, 9 Mile Legacy.
I would love to do a review of a locally hopped beer featuring local malt this week but unfortunately it’s something that’s still hard to combine together after all these years, even with Manitoba being one of the top malt grain regions in the world.
This week I decided on (Molson) Granville Island’s West Coast Farmhouse Saison. Saisons exist to refresh farmers during the long harvest/seeding seasons, and many farmers here in Westman don’t know when their harvest will ever be completed after all the snow and rain we’ve received since September. I know most farmers would prefer a rye (possibly distilled out of Gimli) rather than a saison after the harvest season is over, but there’s got to be a couple farmers that still appreciate a nice citrus-focused ale instead.
Granville Island’s West Coast Farmhouse Saison is going to be the THIRD Saison I’ve had from the brewery since 2012, but it’s hopefully going to have something different from the two others that will make me want to buy this again.
This West Coast Saison pours a mildly cloudy golden ale with a very light amount of transparency in the glass. There’s a moderate amount of carbonation and a frothy white head on top that diminishes to a bit of glass lacing at the end.
The aroma of the Saison makes me think that this may be one of Granville’s former beers as it has a classic old-school Saison presence to it, but I’ll give them the doubt that this isn’t the same Saison recipe that I’ve sampled over the years. I’m getting notes of an incredible sweetness of what I expect is Belgian candi sugar and bubble gum, followed by a decent yeastiness to give it a bit of a sourdough breadiness.
Notes of lemon, and a moderate hop presence that reminds me a bit of a blend of tea meets Sorachi Ace hops (herbal hop aroma with a bit of a citrus presence, a bit of a dill-like profile to it).. which if you haven’t experienced yourself.. you’re going to be wondering what the heck you just smelled as well!
The first thing I noticed when tasting the beer is how creamy this beer is, which isn’t something I’d expect out of a Belgian Saison. This Saison has notes of Belgian yeast and Belgian candi sugar that give off a rich sweet flavour with a bit of a bubble gum presence. I’m thinking that this very bottle is a batch of yeast soup because every sip I’m getting from this beer is a thick, sweet, creamy, bubble gummy ale with a light grainy bite to it. I feel that my bottle may be the last bit of whatever batch Granville Island was brewing, so for me — it’s tasty.. but I don’t find it tastes like an actual Belgian style Saison because of the over-abundance of hefty yeastiness.
Granville Island’s West Coast Farmhouse Saison is available for $6.45 per 650 mL bottle. If you aren’t able to find Granville’s Saison, you can now see their now-cousin brewery Le Trou du Diable’s La Saison du Tracteur Saison for $5.23 per 600 mL bottle at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart.