Sunday, 16 June 2013

For the Lager Drinkers, Plus a Nod to a Great "Macro" Craft Beer

Happy Father's Day!

And now for something (not so) completely different... I will review a couple of excellent (Quebec) lagers and also a Macro-owned craft beer marvel recently purchased at the LCBO in Ontario.

Those who know me and those who read me are probably either acutely aware or sub-conscously observant of my general avoidance of pale lagers.  It's not so much that I dislike them (all), but rather that I rarely like them anywhere near as much as almost any other beer style and, hence, there are always more to try in styles I greatly prefer.

I have learned something valuable, however.  A beer in a style you don't typically enjoy from an excellent brewer is usually much better than your favourite style(s) from a terrible brewer (or even a mediocre one).  This may seem obvious, but choosing "imperial stout" over "pilsner" seems like a no-brainer for me... until I consider this important additional piece of information.

Thus, I have to give a dual nod to Brasserie Dunham, whose continual high standards led me to try both Dunham Pils and their Snowy Spring Royal Pilsner (brewed in collaboration with Andres Kissmeyer).  These are easily the two best pilsners I have ever had and Dunham, as always, deserves its praise.

The Pils (5.4%) is currently available in bottles at finer beer stores in Quebec (or at the brewery or some excellent draught pubs around the province) and pours a cloudy yellow with a nice grassy aroma.  It is quickly and fully drying, but nowhere near bitter or astringent, rather I would call it simply enticing.  Grade: A

The Snowy Spring (6.7% ABV) is currently on tap at Vices et Versa and available who knows where else, but is hopefully going to be bottled as was their last collaboration.  This is similar to the Pils but seems amped up all-around, with typical but more inviting grassy notes and hints of floral, earthy hops. The taste dries up faster and more deeply with a piney hops linger that almost makes me want to call this an India Pale Pilsner!  Though not excessively carbonated, it is tingly nonetheless with a medium body and is a pleasure to imbibe, indeed!  Grade: A+

In a slightly related vein, related in the sense of beers I normally don't consume, I am torn about the purchase of Goose Island by AB-InBev - one of the big three macro beer companies (owners of the B - Budweiser - in BMC).  The feared drop in quality seems not to have happened and though I'd almost always rather support smaller breweries, this means Goose Island products are beginning to show up at the LCBO.

Amongst these is the highly respected saison called, simply, Sofie.  Sofie (6.5% ABV) was the first of these super-hyped Goose Island beers I managed to get my hands on... and despite the hype, Sofie impresses admirably!  Sofie pous a clear yellow with an explosive, audible, white head, though with only slight retention and thin lace.  The nose is lightly tart with fermenting fruit aromas, while the taste complexity is noteworthy.  The tongue picks up citrus rind notes up front preceding a dry white wine and vanilla-oaky finish.  There is just a hint of lactic acidity and barnyard funk, but this is just slight and complements its flavourful complexity.  Medium-bodied and lively on the tongue, this is a delightful beer and I must grab more and cellar a few as it promises improvement/evolution for up to 5 years!  Grade: A+

Cheers, Dads!


  1. I got me a Sofie and a Matilde.

    1. And? I gotta get more Sofie's... one to age at least and gotta try Matilda

  2. I liked the Sofie significantly more than the Matilda.
    Also, did not like Iron Throne at all.

    1. I doubt I'd like it either, but would like to try it... can you grab me one?

    2. Iron Throne that is (as Matilda will be available still for sure!)