Shout at the Devil and the Devil will Shout Back

Ask any beer drinker about Le Trou du Diable (The Devil’s Hole) and they will regale with fond memories of drinking a great beer from Shawinigan, Quebec.  Ask any geologist about Le Trou du Diable and they will likely regale with fond memories of drinking a great beer from Shawinigan, Quebec while peeing in a cave of the same name.

In 2006, a bunch of friends decided to do the best thing grown men could do, open a brewery.  The fellas from the devil’s hole ambitiously set out to create world-class beer without being world-class pricks about it.  Ten years later and numerous awards from across the globe, they are still humble and still great friends.

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Le Trou du Diable labels are just as beautiful as the contents

Nearly as famous as the brewery, a well-reputed politician by the name Jean Chretien began to frequent the brewery after retiring from some important job of some kind.  Known for his sense of humour, the brewery approached the honorable Mr. Chretien about bestowing his likeness on a bottle and recreating the famous Shawinigan Handshake, replacing protester Bill Clennett with the devil himself.  Any resemblance of the devil and Le Trou du Diable President Isaac Tremblay is purely coincidental I’m told.

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Shawinigan Handshake with the Devil

Today, the brewery is proudly expanding production, including a much more substantial barrel-aging program.  Keeping true to their fun-loving spirit, they host some incredible live music performances at their brewpub.  Last year they collaborated with hard rock badass mother f*ckers Dance Laury Dance to create a beer made with real unicorn blood.

Their lineup includes several year-round beers, seasonals, some exclusive specialties and divine creations from the barrel.  Check out Canada’s favourite beer, Saison du Tracteur a dry, peppery saison perfect for all occasions.

Nearly any style you can think of has been made by the devil and many styles that nobody has thought of!

 

 

 

Gluten-free and delicious? Pas de problème!

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Glutenberg Imperial Sotolon rum barrel-aged beer

According to the Canadian Celiac Association,  it is estimated that 1 in 133 people in Canada are affected by Celiac disease. However, nearly six times as many people are affected by gluten-sensitivity or have chosen to live a reduced-gluten lifestyle.  The gluten-free market is estimated to be as much as 12% of the population in studies.  It is difficult to find a restaurant that does not offer gluten-free options in Canada.  From finest gourmet dining to beloved Canadian chains, everyone wants to cater to this rapidly growing market.

This disease causes a protein called gluten to attack the inner walls of the small intestine, which results in an inability to properly digest other important nutrients.  Gluten is found in wheat and barley which are key ingredients in producing beer.  According to the World Health Organization, gluten-free is defined as any food containing less than 20 PPM(Part Per Million).  Personal sensitivity varies form person to person, but reactions can occur after ingesting less than 20 PPM.

Since barley is one of four key ingredients in beer, this used to eliminate beer from a gluten-free diet.  Beer makers wanting to offer gluten-free beer use buckwheat, millet, sorghum, brown rice, corn, quinoa, sorghum and other ingredients to give beer the body and necessary sugars created by gluten-laiden grains.  Other create “gluten-free” beer using barley grains then extracting the gluten through a refining process which leaves the beer under 20 PPM, but not truly gluten-free, rather very very low gluten.

 

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Brasserie Sans-Gluten (Glutenberg) was born in Montreal, Quebec after founder Julien Niquet was gluten intolerant and could no longer enjoy his favourite beers.  He didn’t like the gluten-free beers on the market.  Some were not truly gluten-free and most just didn’t taste very good.  Sorghum was one of the most commonly used grain replacements however, sorghum tends to have a gummy mouthfeel and can have an unpleasant medicinal taste to it.  Glutenberg then set out to make the best tasting gluten-free beer anywhere.  They ended up making some of the world’s best tasting beers, period.

As the only 100% independantly-owned Canadian brewery making gluten-free beer with 0.00 PPM of gluten, Glutenberg has set themselves above the field.  Now, the most award-winning and best selling gluten-free beer in the country, they make a beer for everyone.  Their top selling blonde is the most approachable for any beer drinker.  The rest of the year-round lineup include the IPA, Red Ale, American Pale Ale, and the new kid in the gang is a belgian-style witbier simply called ‘blanche/white’.  Yes, they make a gluten-free wheat beer!

Glutenberg have since partnered up with renowned sommelier and author François Chartier to create the Série Gastronomie which pushes the perceived boundaries of what beer can be while remaining gluten-free.

So yes, “gluten-free and delicious” are words you can add to your vocabulary today!

 

 

Phillips Brewing 13 Knots in a Hangman’s Noose (with Hop Drop)

Welcome back readers, I must apologize for my absence however it was all in the name of beer.  I was away studying for my Certified Cicerone exam, which I wrote yesterday.  It will take weeks to learn whether or not I was successful, but I felt pretty good about it.

That glass looks thirsty

That glass looks thirsty

     Today we’re having a look at Phillips 13th anniversary beer, 13 Knots in a Hangman’s Noose with Hop Drop.  The name alone seems to take nearly thirteen years to say it.  In their thirteen year history, Phillips were arguably a major amplifier in Victoria’s craft beer scene and it is undeniable how innovative they have been.  This product is such a brilliant example of that innovation.  You see, Phillips have been brewing an anniversary beer with an ABV to match their age for a number of years now.  However, last year they hit a bit of a snag.  Brewer’s pay a tax to the Federal government known as the Federal Excise Tax, at a rate of 3.122 cents per liter of beer under 12% alcohol by volume.  Anything 12% ABV and above is taxed as a spirit at 11.676 cents per liter.  So essentially a brewer’s tax costs are quadrupled if they release a beer at 12% or more, which is why last year Phillips anniversary beer was precisely 11.9%.  A brewer from Phillips swore to me that this was an accurate number and not just made up for the taxman.

     So what do you do for your thirteenth anniversary and keep the taxman at bay?  Simple, you start your own distilling company, make a 29% ABV hop elixir and add it in a cute little airplane mickey as a free gift (just like at Christmas) which when added to the beer makes it exactly 13% alcohol by volume.  100% Legit, 100% Legal, 100% Brilliant.

     Now, I’m sure you’re saying “As much as I love learning about taxes, is it any good?”.  Yes!  It’s quite crisp and not surprisingly boozy, with a full-body mouthfeel, and it is as bitter as an internet troll.  If you’ve ever chewed a hop cone (I don’t recommend it), you’ll get some of the idea of bitterness I’m talking about.  There’s a bit of pie crust in the malts (if you can find them), surrounded by Pacific Northwest hop goodness, pine tree resin, cedar sawdust, and stamp glue (in a good way).

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Hops dropped.  You can see how much heavier the beer is than elixir.

The elixir is quite light relative to the beer so I recommend pouring 1/2 a glass before adding the elixir, then topping up with beer.  Drink your glass down a few inches and keep topping up until your bottle is empty to enjoy the elixir properly.

Well done on the beer to Matt Phillips and all the brewers and staff at Phillips.  Happy Anniversary!

 

ABV: 11.9 + Hop Drop = 13.0

IBU: Undeclared, but ALOT.

My Rating: 4.5/5

 

Crux Fermentation Project Better Off Red

Crux Fermentation Project Better Off Red (Barrel-aged Flanders Red)

Crux Fermentation Project Better Off Red (Barrel-aged Flanders Red)

I visited the Crux Fermentation Project a few months ago at their brewery in Bend, Oregon. This was my first exposure to their beer, so I simply ordered a flight of tasters and got down to business. By the way, a flight/fleet/sampler can be a regional term but all are acceptable terms to order a group of small tasters of beer. Any how, the beer…

I dove into the beer…Pilsner, Saison, Scotch Ale, IPA, Belgian Dark Strong Ale, Imperial Stout…I was running out of liver. I couldn’t believe that style after style they were knocking it out of the park. Then I learned that their Brewmaster was formerly the Brewmaster at Deschutes for several years and things began to make sense. I thought that I was in heaven, and then I was introduced to their “Banished” series. Banished are a select few of their regular brews that had been sent to live in various barrels for awhile.

So here we are with a Flanders Red from the Banished series. First nose and my salivary glands began to flow like an English Bulldog.  On the palate it wasn’t nearly as tart as I was expecting.  It seems banishment calmed it down a bit, perhaps it should be called solitary confinement.  

 

ABV: 7.0

IBU: 18

My Rating: 4.0/5

Beer/Food pairing: Mandarin Thai Yellowfin Tuna with Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

First off, the picture is terrible , but I was trying to rush so I could enjoy the food and beer.

The zesty citrus flavours in the dish worked well with the sweet orange peel in the beer, while the Chainbreakers coriander played off the herbal spices in the Asian sauce. The hops were battling the spicy heat, but a draw was declared by both sides and everybody went happily across the palate into the great stomach.

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Deschutes Brewing Co’s Big Red

Only available at Deschutes Brewery and Brewpubs, Big Red is their Cinder Cone red ale imperialized, and aged in Cabernet and Syrah casks for six months. This bottle was given to me by the wonderful staff at the brewery after some great chats about beer and a social faux pas made by yours truly (I’m sure Gary Fish new where to buy beer in Eugene). Although this is wax-sealed, I wouldn’t recommend aging it for too long as the fruity hops really make it pop on top of the subtle barrel tannins. Bread crumbs and dried apricots seem to hide the 9.3% ABV very well.

And yes dear readers, coffee bike beer repeat is back.

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Shmaltz Brewing Company He’Brew R.I.P.A on Rye

Schmaltz He'Brew RIPA on Rye.  L'Chaim!

Schmaltz He’Brew RIPA on Rye. L’Chaim!

 

Rye.  Until recently it seemed like the forgotten grain, but now it’s everywhere.  It can be a bit tricky to brew with as it has no husk and can gum up a mash tun like a dried up cement mixer but it’s worth the effort.

One of the first things I need to mention about this beer is the value.  At 10% ABV, a $10 price point would be reasonable, but this was barrel-aged, dry-hopped and is just plain delicious.

This beer has so much going on it’s hard to decided where to begin.  Jam-packed with the big American hops that give it tons of fruitiness, without the pine tar of most American IIPA’s.  But you’ll hardly notice the Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo and Cascade hops when that massive pack of rye gets in your olfactory.  The rye dominates the malt bill, which dominates this beer over some sour yeast notes.  I can’t honestly ascertain if there are sour yeasts in this because it is so complex but my tongue tells me there are and it certainly would make sense that this beer would grab some wild yeast from the barrels.

Amarillo fruitiness, Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar chips, I’ll state the obvious and say rye bread but not just any rye bread, the heavy dark stuff than can be used to beat someone…you know…a good old fashioned Winnipeg Rye bread that don’t take no shit from no one.  As well, there’s some figs, toffee, toasted sourdough bread crust, and a nose of the sawdust from my father’s bandsaw.

 

ABV: 10

SRM: 18

My Rating: 5/5