Bottle Shop & Tasting Room at Brasserie Harricana 

So funny enough, I was working on my previous post on Brasserie Harricana beer when I noticed that Noah – the always eloquent and taker of the beautiful black background photos of Beerism had just published a post about these new barrel aged beers from Harricana.

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He reviews in his trademark style both the green label and pink label releases, it was serendipitous that I was in the midst of drinking some of this stuff myself.

At the end of his post he mentioned that there was the launch of Harricana’s bottle shop this past Saturday at 1 pm. He must-have prime connections that my hermit ass must not to have such advance info.  I hopped at the chance to scope it out and I am much grateful to the man that I did.

First of all, if you haven’t been the the Brasserie itself, what are you waiting for. The room is beautiful, the contrast of modern and colder elements (the marble, the bars, the gold accents) against the more rustic ones (the pink leather chairs,  the wood, the vintage accents). The beer selection is varied and is also offered in smaller pours, the food and service top tier. It’s great and unpretentious.

The tasting room/bottle shop is upstairs from the bar, accessed from the pink door on the side of the building at 7205 St-Urbain.

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Guided by the heady smells of fermentation…or the signs, one takes the stairs up to a bright and airy space. The first corner houses a bottle fridge, a growler filling station & this also doubles as a cash.

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Yes I said growler station! Last year Quebec finally adopted legislation concerning the sale of beer on tap. Alas its bogged down in the usual simplicity/innovation cramping red tape this province is famous for. Nonetheless it’s a first step and still  great news for consumers and producers alike.

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Currently they offer 950ml growlers, the deposit is 4$ and the beers on tap will be priced between 10-14$. They had 6 selections available when I passed by (A blonde, Scotch ale, a stout with fruits and a sour beer with wild herbs, you can check the Brasserie’s Facebook page for updates)

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The rest of the room is taken up fair variety  of different types of barrels of fermenting beer, storage for upcoming and current stock and a ping pong-table, that got some action from some staff members and friends.

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On the day of my visit the charming proprietor Marie-Pier Veilleux was pouring tastes of the 3 current iterations of the 7205 series (I reviewed .001 here) , they also had a few pink label beers for sale (69 and 343) and some merch (bottle openers and glasses, more to come according to staff)

They mentioned that for the moment they plan to keep the shop open until 7pm, unlike the pub downstairs it’s cash or credit only so be prepared. It’s a great addition to their business and a way to offer tastings sessions and events without crowding the bar downstairs.

I hate to gush on like a fanboy about anything but I must profess my love for Harricana, if you’re a whisky fan the parallel I can make is that their ethos remind me a lot of the early days of Bruichladdich. Solid production chops with the will the experiment and try unconventional techniques to achieve their results and a branding and marketing that eschews a lot of the trappings of their respective genres (the salmon pink color that ties everything together reminds of the Laddie’s aqua color scheme) I look forward to what they will bring out next.

7205 St-Urbain 2nd floor, 7/7, 3-7pm

*growler shot credit is from the Harricana Facebook page, same with logo

Franck

Brasserie Harricana 7205.001

Last week was a rather weird one, I twice ended up losing whole swaths of tasting notes and drafts for a couple of blog posts I had been working on. Now I know, have a back-up! Write it down they say! I usually do both of those things it just turns out I had reworked these drafts from their written versions as I though the originals weren’t that good.

Moving on, last week on my lunch hour I randomly popped into Dépanneur Peluso’s new digs on Beaubien, this new space is very nice, with a pretty wide selection. Lo and behold I snapped to attention when I saw a new release by Brasserie Harricana. I will have to make a separate post/rant on the intensity of my love for this brewery/pub, let’s just say I’ve got a crush.

This one’s from their new green label (7205 named in honor of the address of their new tasting room…more to come) of ephemeral, experimental barrel aged beers, limited and never to be repeated.

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It turns out. 001 was one that I had sampled during Chambly beer fest, I had enjoyed it but was absolutely smitten by a crisp refreshing rye beer that day (#56 American Rye Session) and therefore didn’t spend as much time on it. 001 clocks in at 8% abv. it is a vatting of 3 different beers it’s composed of 50% strong wheat beer, 25% mixed fermentation Witbier and 25% Belgian double. All aged in red & white wine casks with Brettanomyces, they we’re then re-fermented with a large quantity of blackberries.

Ok you with me so far, it seems convoluted but it’s very much keeping in line with the style of barrel aged blending that is rising in popularity (in North America at least).

You’ll have to excuse me as I am pulling my tasting notes from memory but this was a distinct enough beer for me to remember the impression it left on me.

The nose has a good presence of wet grains, damp oak and some sharpness, the funk is not over present and the fruit/berry seems to have transformed into a feeling of crushed grapes.

The palate: is immediately sharp, the acidity and tannins are present but not overpowering, when that damp funk mixes with the blackberries, it taste almost like blackcurrants. The finish is super short but then it returns with a bit of spice, pepper and a feeling of drinking Malbec.

This beer walks such a tightrope, the sharpness and tannins are well balanced, the secondary fermentation with the berries provides a necessary respite from the dank cellar notes of the wild yeasts. The oak and the fruits combine to make something akin to wine, if it wasn’t the presence of the grains reminding you that this is beer. A blend that has immense crossover appeal, I would be curious to pair this beer with food. The brewers and blenders at Harricana have a very skilled touch with these fruit and grape adjuncts as is demonstrated in many of their other products.

Grade: A

Funky Legacy/Dieu Du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté

Ok beer review #3 and another polarizing choice. So yeah, brettanomyces… the wild yeast that causes reviewers to say the word funk more than James Brown did. Let’s go with the musical analogy for a little longer.

Rick, Bootsy and James

Funk/psychadelia can be a powerful weapon in the right hands, think of someone like Bootsy Collins, who embodied that Motown groove and then just took off to outer space with it.  Then you can hand the funk down to someone else and get something like Stu Hamm. Ok no offense to Stu Hamm, he is a phenomenal player, it’s just too steeped in comfort and forced for me.

I feel that way about my experiences with Brett. In the right hands you get really special beers where there is integration and balance with just enough strange, to get your mind guessing.

On the other hand we have this beer.

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Nose: Bad charcuterie, moist gym bag, salami, the hops smell like a ganja fiend. Moldy lemon slices also a floral musky scent.

Mouth: spicy, strange and sharp. Grapefruit, curdled milk, astringent citrus pith.

This is an interesting experience, not something I could see myself consuming with any regularity. Again I’m not Brett-phobic, I just don’t get enough wow overall to wade through the tang of that dank funk.

Grade: C+

I have a theory some of the more successful brett beers are ones that have been blended with a mix of new and old batches or refermented with fruits. It removes some of the uncertainty in the result.

Franck

That’s how it gose / Trou du Diable’s Willow Gose

More beer chronicles…One of the defining characteristics of the “craft” scene is the willingness to experiment. There is a joyful feeling in the discovery of something new or unusual that is sure to become your new favourite. For some though all this brouhaha can be quite unsettling. 

I am quick to embrace new ideas in food or spirits, I like learning about the thought process behind things, the mechanics of creativity. That said, at times when a certain fashion dominates the scene (superhops, Brett, lactic fermentation) it can feel like you’ve lost your bearings, things start to feel unfamiliar and confusing. I often find myself slackjawed with decision fatigue in front of beer shelves these days.

Thankfully beer is a fairly affordable vice and so it’s perhaps best to jump in and be daring. Grab that label that catches your eye or that ridiculous named concoction. You might be surprised. 

I am still inexperienced when it comes to Gose as a beer style, I have tried a few but don’t have any familiar reference points. Almost like a Berliner Weisse in composition, the salinity (whether naturally occurring or not) is a defining characteristic of this beer.

Nose: malty, grassy, there is something slightly floral, a wee bit of apricots. 

Palate: pleasing fruits, bitterness and grains dance together. Like an orange creamsicle but with rich malt and lemon zing. Sharp and crystalline, the salinity is well balanced. There is a an edge, a little like passion fruit and lemon. 

The finish is a bit short, the lactic tang and pleasant bitterness keeps the grains from being too heavy and makes it thirst quenching. 

B+

Franck

You’re One In a Melon/ Brasserie Dunham’s Berliner Melon Weisse 

This summer took a long time to settle in, it made up for the delay by providing us with crushing humidity, hot nights and unpredictable storms that annoy more than provide respite. 

This heat has fueled my desire for something that I can crush and still have the willpower to do the dishes before going to bed…adult life *sigh*.
I’ve started dipping my toes back into the beer scene since I’ve had a cracking few this winter (Harricana 138 call me, I can’t stop thinking about you). 

In order to add some variety I’ll throw in a few beer reviews. I am by no means an expert, my reviews are unlikely to make you swoon with anticipation and delight.

Enter Berliner Melon Weisse. I was trolling some stores for the limited release of Dunham’s Berliner passion Weisse to no avail (after reading an empassionned review by Noah @ Beerism) but I did come across this funky yellow labeled stable mate and the price was right for this cheapskate that is 8$.

The beer pours out with a light body, a bit cloudy but a  pretty chunky foam.

Nose: Immediately lemon, unripe melon, some hay and a mild amount of funk. The nose isn’t all that expressive.

Palate: Oh that baby is sour, homemade OJ and lemonade, a bit of hoppy sharpness, I’m not getting much melon. It’s very dry and the finish drops off a cliff at the end.

Infinitely refreshing, would probably make a good beer cocktail (ah sacrilege!) I dig some of these low alcohol beers. I want beer but I don’t want to feel like I ate an entire loaf of bread.

B- 

Franck