Monday, December 28, 2015

Le Trèfle Noir Brewery

One of the most impressive breweries that we encountered at La Soirée des Brasseurs in Shawinigan, QC in August of 2015 was Le Trèfle Noir, from the copper mining town of Rouyn-Noranda. "Noranda" is a contraction of Northern Canada and it lays directly in between the bottom of Hudson Bay and Toronto, 380 north of Canada's largest city. The northern most east-west highway in North America passes through it. So, to say that it's out of the way... yeah, just a bit.

Le Trèfle Noir, which translates as The Black Clover, started as a brewpub in July 2009 -- the first brewpub in their county of Abitibi-Témiscamingue -- and eventually opened an additional production brewery, not unlike Dieu du Ciel and Trou du Diable. Using about $125,000 of governmental economical development grant money, the brewery underwent an expansion in the summer of 2015.

Before co-owner and head brewer Alexandre Groulx graduated from Siebel in 2008, he spent about a decade honing his brewing skills as an amateur brewer. He served as a brewer for three years at the Montréal-based MacAuslan Brewery, where he made primarily English style ales.

Alexandre is excited to be working on a system small enough to experiment with all kinds of styles and techniques. One of our favorite beers at La Soirée was his Berliner Weisse made with cassis. He said that a local farmer ended up with a huge surplus last season and gave him some cassis to play around with, just as he finished brewing a Berliner Weisse that he felt was too dry. Alexandre decided to see what happened when he added in the cassis. The result was a pink hued, tart, refreshing beer with a wonderful black current flavor!

Their flagship beer is Le Trèfle Noir Stout, which is their biggest seller. They make an imperial stout aged six months in bourbon barrels which is also popular, as well as IPA, DIPA, Belgian Double, wheat beer, Belgian Saison, Scotch Ale, and others, including seasonals and one-off brews. Alexandre told us that he wants to exlore a bit with Bret fermentation.  Hear all the details in the podcast!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Trou du Diable's Quality Control

What started out some years back as an informal private gathering of Quebec craft brewers has morphed into a full-fledged day-long beer fest, showcasing and celebrating some of the best small breweries in La Belle Provence -- La Soirée des Brasseurs. The fest takes place in downtown Shawinigan and is hosted by that town's brewpub and separate production brewery, Le Trou du Diable. There will be more info about the festival and the brewers who attended the most recent Soirée in future posts.

While at the Soirée, which took place on Saturday Aug. 8, 2015, we met with Marylou Trudel, a microbiologist and professor of microbiology, who serves as the Quality Control manager for Le Trou du Diable. She also happens to be the sister of André Trudel, the brewer.

B.R., André, and Marylou.
A lot of what Marylou does for the brewery revolves around the mysterious little creatures that turn sugar into alcohol. She's responsible for propagating and maintaining 12 unique yeast strains, and protecting the beer from wild yeast and bacterial infections.

Marylou began working with the brewery in 2012 and is a major force in ensuring consistency and high quality of the suds that flow out of Shawinigan. Her favorite TDD beer currently is Apocalypso - a white IPA with Calypso hops - which is fermented with the San Diego Super Yeast strain, her favorite yeast.

Listen to the podcast for more about Marylou's work, and what she finds to be the most challenging yeast strain to work with!

B.R. visiting Alex of Les Trois Mousquetaires.
Fred, the brewer at the TDD brewpub.
Stephane, the chief at Dieu du Ciel.

Isaac, one of the head honchos, at TDD, at the brewpub.

Cantillon and poutine, almost as good as tater tots and champagne -- no, actually better!

The only non-Canadian brewery at the Soirée.
Well, if you're only going to have one, might as well be this one!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mal du Pays brewer Eric Brown of Brooklyn Brewery

Eric Brown was homesick. The Kentucky son longed for the blue grass, charred oak, and pastoral comforts of his Old Kentucky Home, all while climbing the ladder from the packaging line into the cellar as a Cellarman at the Brooklyn Brewery. (The packaging line is apparently in the sub-basement.)
Actually, the beer finished out at closer to 4.5% ABV, which was more in line with the traditional style.
So he brought the Kentucky to Williamsburg.
Brewmaster Garrett introduces Eric.
As the most recent inductee of the Worshipful Company of Brewers, a program that gives the capable brewing staff at Brooklyn Brewery a chance to create their own recipe, Eric chose to brew an old, nearly forgotten, and seldom brewed style of American beer called a Kentucky Common.
The man of the sour hour.
The Kentucky Common bears some similarity to the California Common, whereas a lager yeast is employed to ferment the wort a bit warmer, more in line with ale yeast temperatures. There is also an element of sourness, though it's not settled if, historically, the sourness was an intentional characteristic. It could well be that re-used cooperage provided an unintended inoculation of some souring agents. In this brew, half the batch was kettle-soured with a dose of lacto, and then blended with the other half to achieve a perfect balance.
Tim never bores of pours and pours.
Eric, a former Culinary Institute of America student and devoted home brewer, went to one of his old homebrew recipes to create Mal du Pays (meaning, roughly, homesickness), using 2-row, some 6-row, and some rye malt, along with flaked maize in the mash.  He also used sorghum molasses to help bring the color from pale gold to a deep dark brown, a hue similar to that of a Porter.

Having tasted the beer at the release and also six weeks later, it has developed from a relatively clean, mildly sour dark lager, into a beer that simultaneously has gotten more edgy with sourness, while more mellow with roundness. It's a wonderful creation, and is an example of how the Brooklyn Brewery has continued to remain interesting, compelling, and relevant, while growing with the flagship offerings on an international scale.
Garrett, Eric, and Steve Hindy.
You would do yourself a service to try this rare and delightful hybrid -- an anachronistic American lager -- if they still have a pint left in the tasting room at the Brooklyn Brewery. But if it's gone, maybe you'll have to settle for a 2011 Black Chocolate Stout, also recently seen on offer on the taps.

It's not a proper meeting of the Company without some fancy cheese.
B.R. knows where the kick ass parties are!