Review: 30 Cent Black IPA

BrewerPit Caribou and Le Castor
Brewed in: Anse-a-Beaufils, QC
Percentage: 7%
FoundBroue Haha

Two of my favourite French Canadian breweries combine to create this black IPA. The name is owed to the combination of the breweries’ names of caribou (a quarter) and beaver (a nickel) which, added together, is worth 30 cents. Coincidentally, that’s also the bottle’s return value, so it’s like a free beer!

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This adorably decorated bottle contains a midnight black with almost quickly fading beige head and a faint amber glow along the edges that catches in my beer-inspecting headlamp. On the nose is exotic aromatic hops noting of pineapple and mango: Unexpected. The taste is again sweet upfront before a little bitter tease and an acidic dark coffee finish. I wouldn’t have assumed the sweet floral arrangement and dark bitters would have worked but sweet baby Bonhomme it does! It’s nice when a beer takes you on a roller coaster of complexity that leaves you both thrilled and exhausted by the end.

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Review: Lost Train

BrewerDominion City Brewing Co.
Brewed in: Ottawa, ON
Percentage: 5.5%
FoundDominion City Brewing Co.

The beer pours coal black with a beige head that immediately fade to a subtle ring. A deep roasted malt bouquet is accented with darts of chocolate and coffee deliciousness. Strong bodied brew with a crisp delivery of black coffee and a dry finish. An exceptional sessionable stout and another winner from DCBC.

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The name of the brew comes from one of the Capital’s greatest mysteries – the lost underground beer train of LeBreton Flats. Henry Brading opened Ottawa’s first brewery in 1865. Through consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, Brading’s beer empire passed into the hands of Edward Plunkett Taylor and grew, eventually occupying several buildings throughout Ottawa.  Rumour had it that an underground train transported the golden nectar from the brew house to the warehouse. The brewery was closed in the 1960s and the former structure was demolished in the 1980s. Years later, city workers discovered the train deep beneath Ottawa. I’m sure someone will eventually unearth this historical treasure; I can’t wait to ride those rails.

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Brahts N’ Brahs – Sausage Making Was The Next Logical Step

During my last mash rest, I was putting my feet up and having a homebrew, and my thoughts began to wander. I felt content – having gone from brewing kits to good, all-grain beer, to working as a brewer in just a few years. And yet a sneaky little bastard of a thought crept across my mind – What else can I make from scratch?” 

Sausage – the next logical step.

There is a shared trait in all people who enjoy craft beer, or who brew their own. It is a inherent curiosity – a commitment to the idea that there are always new flavours to be discovered, and new ways to experience old favourites. The idea of combining a fantastical assortment of ingredients and cramming them into a vessel like a mad scientist describes both past times perfectly. Sausage makers, like brewers, are typically generous hosts and very good at sharing with their fellow brahs.

5 lbs of Glorious Pork Shoulder

5 lbs of Glorious Pork Shoulder

Without getting in too deep (there are better places to learn this than here)- sausage making requires very affordable cuts of meat, a meat grinder/ food processor (or ground meat if you’re a poser) and a sausage stuffer. I rock and roll with the Kitchenaid Stand Mixer units, and they do the job beautifully. You take good meat, grind it, mix with spices and herbs, and stuff it into natural casings. If you meet someone who uses artificial casings, go back in time and never meet them because that is gross. Here’s the whole process in a nutshell:

1 – Cut meat and wash casings  2 – Chill meat  3 – Grind  4 – Season  5 – Stuff
6 – Enjoy

Grinding it out

Grinding it out

Sausage not only pairs well with beer (Oktoberfest right?!?) , and is amazing cooked in beer, but in it’s creation it also shares many of the principles of making great beer. Preparation, attention to detail, and sanitation are the keys to success. Prep your meat and clean your gear the night before, and you’ve already started on the right foot. Pick a good recipe (Anything from Bruce AidellsComplete Sausage Book or the warlocks at ManBque is amazing) that isn’t unnecessarily complicated. As in making beer, each ingredient you choose must serve a purpose, and not just be for showing off. Bourbon sausages, I’m looking at you.

Coming from a brah with a belly full of beautiful sage and thyme pork country sausage, I encourage you to take the low-risk, high-reward step into making your own sausage. Your friends, family, and future attendees of barbeques will thank you. Grind on brahs.

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2014 – The Year in Beer

Well, 2014 is drawing to a close. We here at Brew Brahs are a reflective bunch, many of our meetings end in an emotional sharing session… We’d like to take a few moments and reflect upon this year of beer and how craft beer fared.

The brahs themselves fared well, although like every repentant craft beer drinker, we are resolving to getting into shape for 2015 and sweating out some of those hops (Note: Save exact line for next years post).

Without further ado, we present our version of the year in beer – enjoy brahs!

Favourite Beer of 2014

Sfitzpat - Was it the massive one-off Russian Imperial Stout? The barrel aged Quad? No. For me, the beer of the year goes to the beer that graced my fridge m,ore often than any other. And for this, I turn to Great Lakes’ Crazy Canuck. The dry, aromatic citrus notes of this pale ale drive me nuts every time. As if loving the beer wasn’t enough, they also re-branded the can with a stoic lumberjack and a tongue-in-cheek Canadiana blurb. Well done GLB – you continue to occupy my valuable fridge real estate.
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JcDuff - My beer of the year was also a GLB offering but I’m picking My Bitter Wife IPA, with honourable mention going to the super-drinkable Kilannan Altbier. Wife is tropical hoppy goodness with above average IBUs and ABV served in a bomber; all of which equated to the perfect balcony beer for me this Summer past. Several times I bought out the LCBO stock, fearful that no more Wife would be appearing on the shelves. Never a bad choice.
Favourite Brewery of 2014
JcDuff - Brewery of the year has to be Dominion City Brewing Company. They were generous enough to entertain our ridiculous interview back in the Summer (Bob Seger rules!!) but seeing the crew working at various beer events and at the brewery showed that they truly took customer service to heart and enjoyed what they were doing. Throw in the fact that they brew innovative and tasty treats such as Earl Grey Marmalade saison, Two Flags IPA and Galloping Hessian pumpkin ale and you’ve got a winning recipe. I’d dare to say these guys could be the hippest brewery in Ottawa since BTP.
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Sfitzpat - I’m going with Bellwoods. I started my year off with a Bellwoods visit – and some dynamite beer pairings with duck hearts and sausage. I find myself talking about this visit almost a full year later. I haven’t yet been disappointed with any beers I have from them, and am honoured to have their Cat Lady IPA poster grace my walls. With their upcoming expansion, Bellwoods has this brah salivating and excited about what’s to come.
Best Beer Experience of 2014
Sfitzpat - Going to have to go with Bellwoods again. After a Masters thesis defense, their food and beer brought me back to life. A honourable mention goes to Dominion City Brewing Company. who consistently welcome every visitor with enthusiasm, a witty remark, and great beer. I’ve never been happier that my parents live in the East end of Ottawa. What’s for dinner Mom? I’ll bring the beer.
JcDuff - Best beer experience for me was the Brewery Market (though Beau’s Oktoberfest, with their best beer and bands line-up, made this a difficult decision). The market was so simple – beer token table, brewery booths, a park and BBQ – but this simplicity allowed for more focus on the sweet sweet brews. It was a beer event with a tranquility to it; people standing around enjoying good beer and good conversation.
Beer News of 2014
Both Brahs - The absolute gas-pedaling the Beer Store has taken in the media and over social media this past year is probably the biggest industry news. The promotion of the fact TBS is foreign owned, their control over recycling, their control over restaurant pricing and so much more was eye-opening for many Ontarians. Through in the political ties, backroom deals and unconstitutional alcohol laws into the mix and you’ve got some fascinating stuff floating to the surface in 2014. While we’re rather indifferent to the dismantling of TBS, we are in favour of better access to better beer.
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Review: Texas Ranger

BrewerMikkeller
Brewed in: Copenhagen, Denmark
Percentage: 6.6%
Found: Collingwood, LCBO

IMG_6337Any beer named after Chuck Norris is a winner in my book, even before the first sip. This brew is 8-ball black with a thinning beige head. The nose is a perfect combination of roasted malts, dark chocolate and hot pepper heat. The transition from smooth stout to sharp hop bite to lingering heat is fantastic. When a spicy stout is done well, it’s a great beer.

If you’ve never had a Mikkeller brew before, it’s a fascinating story. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, former school teacher, gained accolades for the homebrew he and his partner were creating.  The pair, without their own brewing facilities, began brewing at established breweries. Bjergsø’s partner left the business in 2007, making him a lone “gypsy” or “phantom” brewer. Working with others in their facilitates has allowed Bjergsø to work at breakneck speed: his “brewery” produced 124 different beers in 2013. As if the tale wasn’t already fascinating enough, Bjergsø has a twin brother who operates Evil Twin Brewing.

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Reblog! Cartwright Springs Brewery Interview for Apt 613

Once again we teamed up with the good people over at Apt 613 for their Foodie Friday section. Here’s our interview with the soon-to-be Pakenham brewery, Cartwright Springs:

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Just shy of an hour west of Ottawa is the small community of Mississippi Mills, home to about 12,000 residents and soon to be home to 1 brand new brewery. Cartwright Springs Brewery, opening in 2015, is named after the fresh water spring the brewery sources locally to brew its beer. The CSBeer team currently consists of André Rieux, Eduardo Guerra and Hien Hoang. Right now, the brewery is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds so they can build a tasteful tasting bar. BrewBrahs.com had the chance to chat with the fellas behind the brewery and get the details on this campaign.

Brew Brahs: Water is a crucial ingredient in beer, tell us about the fresh water springs you’ve named your brewery after.

Andre: Finding the springs was actually a big deal for me.  I had shivers.  It was many months later that I actually was able to make beer with it. Best beer I ever made and it’s not because I got better at making beer overnight. I’d love to take credit for the success but I was finally using the right main ingredient.

The type of water sourced by different breweries is often best suited to certain beer styles, is there a specific style that will be taken to the next level by your quality H2O?


Andre
: Ottawa actually has good water for making beer and the breweries are able to make excellent beer with the city water.  I believe that our spring water is a bit of a luxury for us though.  We consider ourselves very lucky.  All our beers will be made with our spring water exclusively, following the same successful model as some other very famous and successful breweries like Beaus and Creemore. Oh… actually, we will have one or two beers that will not use water at all.  Our seasonal Maple Porter will be made exclusively with maple sap… Yah –  We’re not kidding! Great results, obviously limited quantities since the process of doing this is very labour intensive.

Tell us about the Kickstarter campaign you guys have launched. How can people get involved and what’s the end goal?


Andre
: Hien is the brains of this project.  He saw that people wanted to help.  It’s easy.  Go to our kickstarter campaign site, pick a cool reward that suits you and enjoy the pride in being part of our project.

Paint us a picture of what you have envisioned for this tasting space?

Eduardo: We’ll love to have a relaxing and inviting space where one can chill out and taste the different beers we offer… we envision a few chairs and couches with a coffee table, etc., a la Lodge style!!!

Andre:  Our tasting area will hopefully be able to blend in with the natural environment where the brewery is located.  Spring, stream, forest… The brewery is industrial but we would like the place where we welcome our guests to be comfortable and natural.

After watching your excellent video on the construction of the building, we have to ask, was there a flying drone involved in the filming!?

Eduardo: Absolutely! Master-pilot Hien is responsible for the trick-flying of the drone for the video and a few of the nice fly-bys that didn’t make it to the final cut. But he’d probably release those in the director’s cut version later!

Historically, many communities had their own brewery to serve the local residents. Currently, there is certainly a movement in Ontario away from mass-produced beer and back to local. What kind of support have you received from the community?

Andre: Our community is very excited about having our brewery here. People are proud and they show it with overwhelming support!

Eduardo: The Mississippi Mills, Pakenham, Almonte, Arnprior, etc., have been great in supporting us from the get-go. This help has come from neighbours lending a hand, or lending tools, through the long process of building the brewery and it’s come from visitors just showing up to our doors and expressing how happy they are to have us there. It’s been great!

Can we get any details on this Chiflado beer?

Eduardo: Brew master Andre can tell you about this one :-)

Andre:  Haha… Yah… It’s a funny story actually.  I had communicated to Eduardo that we had enough of one thing in one text message. Then I sent him the shopping list in another text message.  Well, it seems that the first text stuck and so he only bought what we already had plenty of.  What do you do?  Well… try something new. The Chiflado turned out better than we expected and it taught us something that we can use for other recipes. The name means Crazy in Spanish:  The situation is the name.

What’s the team’s go-to brewing tune?

Eduardo: Any good beat with lots of bass to keep us going, we listen to Hot89.9 often.

Rapid fire! Pour a cold one and throw back the first answer that comes to mind. Annnnnnnd Go!

Favourite North American beer?
EduardoPump House’s Cadian Cream Ale – I’m drinking one now!

Favourite local brew?
Eduardo: Right this moment, I am thoroughly enjoying our own Cartwright Springs Brewery (CSB) APA, but before that, I was enjoying Cassel Brewery’s Hopper Car IPA.

Spiderman or Batman?
Eduardo: I don’t think either would make great drinking buddies, so Cat Woman!
Andre:   Whahaha… Eduardo… that’s so funny!

Food that pairs with any style of beer?
Eduardo: Tender, southern style BBQ ribs!

Perfect Winter beer?
Eduardo: Any Cream Ale or Stout.
Andre:  Our last Stout turned out nice with roasted coffee aromas. The kind of aromas that will still be perceived over the smoke of a nice roaring fire. That’s my pick.

Who has the best fashion sense in the brewery?
Eduardo: Hien, very GQ-ish!
Andre: It’s easy for Hien to dress nicer than us at the moment because we spend most of our time in construction clothing! The award, in my opinion, goes to Thuy, Jen and Celia. They are the super fashionable ladies that helped us at the Almonte Food and Drink show.  Our booth was super popular, not just because of our beer!  :)

And finally, when will you be opening your doors to the thirsty masses? Are there any events coming up that you’ll be pouring and mingling at?

Andre: We will make sure everyone who follows us via Facebook or our website knows about our next event. We hope to have a fun grand opening party early in spring.

Cheers and thank you to the gentlemen at Cartwright Springs Brewery for taking the time to chat! Don’t forget you can support their efforts here.

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Review: Two Flags IPA

BrewerDominion City Brewing Co.
Brewed in: Ottawa, ON
Percentage: 7%
FoundDominion City Brewing Co.

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If you haven’t sampled Ottawa’s DC/BC yet, you’re missing out. The brewery aims to brew tasty beer, while raising a pint to the history of Canada, paying homage to its British colonial past. When I first purchased this IPA, I was nervous: I love a good IPA and I liked the guys at the brewery, so I didn’t want to be disappointed. I wasn’t. What struck me about this IPA was its balance. Typically, North American IPAs are the liquid delivery of a t-shirt cannon packed with hops to the face. British-style IPAs tend to be more malt-forward and less fun. This beer manages to satisfy both styles with a strong malt foundation and flavourful hops.

This brew builds murky amber brown with a strong white bubbly head. The sweet sugary nose is countered with a sharp tropical fruit hop profile. The tasting card notes burnt sugar with pineapple and I would agree. Though it warns that the beer is assertively hoppy, the delivery is smooth and the balance is exceptional. This harmonious beer doesn’t overwhelm with hops nor does let the malts run the show. A new go-to beer for sure.

21/24

 

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