Friday, March 11, 2011

Beau's Knows II - Bog Water, Treading Water & Winter Brewed

Part II of my Beau's Notes:
Treading Water at left, Bog Water at right

Bog Water
Beau's All Natural Brewery 
Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada
6.6% Alc.

Notes: Bog Water has a sort of clove-ish smell slightly reminiscent of some homebrew. This did not pan out as a significant flavour as I continued to drink. Instead, liquorice and pepper leapt up. So did a kind of Dr. Pepper small and taste. There was a tang drawn out, I suspect, from the darker malts used here. Mouthwatering, slightly puckering but not sour. This beer was like a spice rack or a market stall: cinnamon, cool melon flavours and pumpkin pie flavours were rounded out by the tastes of s’mores(graham cracker, toasted marshmallow and chocolate in case you have never been camping before) and ginger that picked up as the glass drained.

What made this beer interesting is that it is an unusual style known as gruit. Gruit has a medieval-era pedigree. Back then, depending on the time and region in Europe, no hops were used to give brews bitterness, aroma or flavour. Instead a blend of herbs and spices was used. Gruit was the name for the spice and herb blend brewers employed, but nowadays it is easier to simply call the beer itself gruit.

The herb used here in known as Bog Myrtle or Sweet Gale. I’ll be honest, this beer is not for everyone. In fact, it was more of a curiosity for me since I don’t get to have Beau’s (let alone gruits) very often. I like spiced beers but I also think there is a reason that bog myrtle isn’t a common ingredient anymore. If you want to know what beer was like before the renaissance then give it a try. I commend them for making this brew. It is an interesting adventure in alcohol, but not a place I’d visit again soon.

Treading Water
Beau's All Natural Brewery 
Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada
??% Alc.

I also tried Treading Water, which is a blend of Lug Tread and Bog Water. If you are curious, yet the Bog reference puts you off or you want to drink beer from a time when drawings weren’t hilariously flat, this is the way to go. You will have the reassuring bitterness there to balance the beer out in a way we are more accustomed to. Yet you can still experience the bog flavours.

Like the Bog Water this beer was cloudy, but less so. No worries there, just an observation. This blend played up the malt notes more alongside the bitterness of the hops from the Lug Tread. Blending the beers brought out the sweetness in the Bog Water`s dark malts. It also lightened up the body which made for a better delivery vehicle for the spice flavours. Of course, these were muted in comparison to the original, and tempered by the hops, but that was likely the whole point in blending the two together. I’d never call you a wuss for not trying Bog Water (at least not to your face) but I do understand how one could be curious about it, yet not sufficiently tempted to try it. This blend fills that gap. If Bog Water drops you directly into the Medieval Times to fend for yourself (good luck you as a sword-less peasant), Treading Water is a kind of sanitized guided tour that will keep you safe while still being able to say “I was there”.

Winter Brewed
Beau's All Natural Brewery 
Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada
5% Alc.

Finally we come to my favourite beer of the evening. This is a coffee-infused beer made in partnership with Bridgehead, a fair trade coffee company.

There is enough coffee beers out there to break the back of Juan Valdez’s donkey if it tried to carry them all. Many are worth a try but this one is much better than average. The use of the coffee flavour here is on the mocha and coffee-cake side. Extremely roasty and aromatic—it reminds me of walking into a coffee shop that roasts its own beans 

The coffee and bitterness mix to give a sort of bitter cocoa powder effect. I liked how they went with the roast aroma notes of the coffee instead of the “this-beer-tastes-kinda-like-coffee” effect that is sometimes the extent of the marriage between bean and brew. The coffee and beer definitely consummated their marriage.
At this point, my notetaking had to stop in order to seize an interview opportunity. Jerry, a gregarious Beau’s rep, was coming my way as he was making a point of talking to everyone at Gambrinus. If you haven’t already I suggest you listen to hear more about Beau’s and why this visit to Gambrinus was special.

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