Tag Archives: Beau’s

Wrapped up in Mumme bier

This past weekend, my son and I had the good sense to work our way through the Beau’s 2016 Oktoberfest Mix Pack. Although the Vienna Lager was my favourite (such a nice one), I was most intrigued by Return of the Mumme.

vienna-lager
Beau’s Vienna-style Lager, from the 2016 Oktoberfest Mix Pack

A few years ago, when I started developing an interest in historical brewing, I came across Mom (or Mum, or Mumme) as a style once popular in The Netherlands and England.

Originally from Brunswick (Braunschweig), in the German state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), it’s a style of ale that most likely dates back to the 14th century. The earliest known record, from 1390, refers to Mumm being provided for a local feast.

Predictably, the style not only varied from one brewer to the next, but also evolved over time. The traits that seemed to be consistent however, were its dark brown appearance, the addition of hops, and a sugary, malt-forward character, sometimes to the point of being syrupy sweet. Old German records speak of a lovely and pure beer, suggesting no additives. English records, as well as later German ones, list off different ingredients being added, from spices like cloves, cardamon or cinnamon, to more surprising additions like birch, pine, beans or even eggs.

Mumme beer became the city’s most lucrative export, which was a pretty big deal considering Brunswick was part of the Hanseatic League, a network of European cities that largely controlled trade across the continent. To be the chief export of such a major trading centre is testimony to mumme’s massive popularity in other regions. Making that even more interesting, Brunswick isn’t a port city. The beer would have to very durable to survive being carted in barrels over some 200 kilometres of rough road before being loaded onto ships. Eventually it would travel as far as the Caribbean and India.

1893-double-strength-ship-mumme
An 1893 ad for Ship Mumme, brewed stronger for long voyages to distant ports. The Nettelbeck brewery (1492) is the oldest surviving producer of the style. 

In England, which had its own robust brewing community, Mom imports from Brunswick were banned for a few years to give locals a chance to sell their own interpretations of the style without the inconvenience of the genuine product competing in the same market. In the 17th century there were even dedicated Mom Houses in London. There’s speculation that what was produced in Brunswick was the more pure style, whereas the English brewers were sold false recipes with plenty of additives.

Brunswick beer would have taken on some of its barrel’s characteristics on the journey to England as well, which would explain why the English palate would have expected more ingredients than simply malt, water and hops.

mum-making-of-mum-1811b
An 1811 English recipe for Mum, from witteklaviervier.nl

Here’s where we jump ahead to Beau’s Return of the Mumme. The Vankleek Hill crew are a rather clever bunch and seem to put a good amount of thought into pretty much everything. Mumme translates to “disguise” or “wrap up” in German. The mummy on the label is more than simply a play on the word mumme.

mixpack
Beau’s Oktoberfest Mix Pack, 2016

True to what I’ve been able to learn out about the style, Beau’s version is quite a dark pour, rich and malty, and does contain hops (which is not a given with Beau’s). They’ve chosen to go with a more playful interpretation of the style, adding “organic black tea from India, Sri Lankan cloves and a blend of Egyptian spices including caraway seed, marjoram and thyme.” Thankfully, no eggs.

Admittedly, I didn’t spend much time trying to figure out all the aromas and flavours. This was more about sharing beer with my son than dissecting a style that isn’t clearly defined in the first place. What I did notice was a metallic bite to its malty, burnt caramel body, a sweet molasses-like aftertaste, and a soy sauce quality that lingered. After reading Return of the Mumme shares characteristics of a modern Altbier, that makes sense. I often find myself describing Alts in a similar manner.

This weekend I’ll be in Düsseldorf, specifically because I’m curious to try Altbier in its native environment. I won’t make it to Brunswick, as I’m cycling and my schedule doesn’t allow for it, but I’ve already started looking for craft beer shops where I hope to find a vessel or two of Braunschweiger Mumme.

Beau’s Oktoberfest Mix Pack is in stores now. Beau’s Oktoberfest (the epic party) runs this weekend in Vankleek Hill, Ontario.

Beau’s All Natural Maddaddamite’s NooBroo

Beau's All Natural Maddaddamite's NooBroo
Beau’s All Natural Maddaddamite’s NooBroo

Inspired by the Margaret Atwood MaddAddam trilogy, Beau’s All Natural MaddAddamites NooBroo Gruit (5.2%) is an unhopped ale, infused herbs and berries.

I prefer some of Beau’s earlier gruits, like St. Luke’s Verse (really tasty) and Bog Water (not bad at all), just as I liked Atwood’s first offering in the trilogy, Oryx & Crake (fantastic!) better than Year of the Flood (it was okay) and MaddAddam (I wanted the pigoons to take out the insufferable, long-winded Toby, from about page 10).

If you’re just getting into Atwood, Blind Assassin, Alias Grace and Oryx & Crake are my three faves. Cat’s Eye and The Handmaid’s Tale are also excellent. I’d take a pass on The Edible Woman, Life Before Man and Robber Bride.

Oh, and NooBroo is now available at the LCBO. A portion of each sale goes to nature conservancy.

Cooking With Beer

I’m always amazed by people that think vegans can’t drink beer. In addition to digesting fermented malt juice, vegans can also beat up NHLers, survive tsunamis, seduce women with their sweet bass vocals, (occasionally) share a bed with the future most-powerful-person-in-the-world and be the most badass dude in Hollywood.

Tsunami survivor Petra Němcová
Tsunami survivor Petra Němcová

In Southern California, where craft brewers and animal lovers abound, there’s even a vegan craft beer and food festival.

Despite being full-on veg for more than a decade I’ve never had a problem drinking my favourite beverage. I gave up on Guinness, but that was no great loss with St. Ambroise‘s Oatmeal Stout already in regular supply. Milk stouts, honey ales and obviously anything that has bacon is off limits, but I have a lot more difficulty finding new beer, than vegan beer.

Being a vegan generally means cooking for yourself from time to time, and for me beer has increasingly become a key ingredient. The results have been far better than I expected from my simple self. I’ve never been very creative in the kitchen, usually more concerned with making portions large enough to spread over several meals. Recently though, flavour has been inspiring me to be more experimental.

Crusty weizen bread, gingerbread porter muffins, IIPA mustard and smoky maple beer nuts
Crusty weizen bread, gingerbread porter muffins, IIPA mustard and smoky maple beer nuts

Two things I was told before I began:

    1. Never cook with a beer you don’t enjoy.
    2. Cooking intensifies the flavours found in the beer (which is why #1 is so important)

I started with bread, which worked so well – dense and chewy goodness inside a solid, rocky crust – that I’ve stopped buying loaves (my beer bread is actually better the second and third day, when it’s reheated in the toaster oven). At the time Black Creek Historic Brewery was producing Dray Horse Ale; a brown ale that had a very bready flavour. It was a natural.

From there I moved on to pancakes with Amsterdam Oranje Weisse. A wheat beer made sense as a complement to the recipe’s flour. What I didn’t expect was how much of the bright citrus flavour would come through. Again, it was a great success.

Over time I switched things up. Jalapeño, rosemary and black pepper are now regular additions to my bread and sometimes I’ll use all-purpose flour in place of whole wheat flour, ergo, I’ll use a beer with a lighter malt bill (Hacker-Pschorr Weiss is excellent).

Pancakes made with St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale
Pancakes made with St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale

For pancakes, which are now a weekly tradition, I switch it up between the Oranje Weisse (when it’s in season), KLB Raspberry Wheat and St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat – my wife’s favourite. A couple weeks ago I had no fruit beer so I used Side Launch Wheat, with its estery (fruity) character, and tossed in some freshly pummeled blueberries. It was delicious. Another time, while making breakfast in someone else’s kitchen, I had to make do with whatever beer was in their fridge and subbed in Beau’s All Natural Smokin’ Banana Peels. It contains no actual banana (or peels), but its distinctive flavour still came through.

Mostly I’m sticking to recipes I find online or in the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook (David Ort, Whitecap Books), and making adjustments to either suit my vegan lifestyle or replace something the LCBO might not have in stock.

Smoky Maple Framboise almonds
Smoky Maple Framboise almonds

Knowing your way around beer helps. My first attempt at making beer nuts (from the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook) could have been thwarted by the fact there wasn’t a rauchbier to be found within miles of my downtown Toronto home. Having had Church Key‘s and Aecht Schlenkerla‘s smoked beers on several occasions, I knew how dominant the smokiness was, so when I decided to substitute the elusive rauchbier with fruit beer I opted for Amsterdam Framboise. It’s brewed with actual raspberries (not syrup) giving it a more intense flavour. Had I picked something more subtle I likely would have had to use more than the prescribed 4 tsp, probably making a reduction before combining it with the other ingredients.

All of these recipes have been ridiculously easy, using a few, fairly common ingredients and involving minimal prep time. Other dead simple wins from the craft beer cookbook include sesame ginger edamame with a stout base, mustard made from an IIPA and wild beer vinegar (one ingredient!).

Sesame-ginger edamame
Sesame ginger edamame, swimming in Beau’s All Natural Matt’s Sleepy Time Stout
Wild Beer Vinegar
Wild Beer Vinegar, made with Amsterdam Boneshaker IIPA
IIPA Stout
IIPA Stout, made with the same can of Amsterdam Boneshaker

To be honest, not everything has gone well. My attempt at drunken vegan grilled cheese was a two-time failure. I’ve abandoned that one. There will be no photos.

Vegan jalapeno-chipotle mac'n'cheese
Vegan jalapeno-chipotle mac’n’cheese

But cheesy vegan dishes can still be made better with beer. Once, to make the sauce for my vegan mac’n’cheese, I added a flat bottle of jalapeño beer in place of water for  some added kick. After some time in the oven I topped the cheesy macaroni with fresh jalapeño, green onion and chipotle chili powder for a spicy, beery dish that still makes my mouth water when I think about it. If jalapeño beer was easier to come by in Ontario, this would be a regular treat.

The most impressive result from my new found appreciation for beer cuisine was also the most involved. Vegan chocolate cheesecake, made with Sawdust City‘s Bloody Long Dark Voyage to Uranus (a raspberry imperial stout), was a two-day mission incorporating about a dozen ingredients, a couple electronic devices and plenty of dishes. Still, so worth it.

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake
Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake with Sawdust City’s Bloody Long Dark Voyage to Uranus (Rasperry Imperial Stout)

I wish there were more resources online to explain why certain beers work with the foods I want to prepare. I’m going mostly by intuition at this point, so if someone can point me to places to learn more, I’d sure appreciate it.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for all the websites that at least offer recipes. Good beer and veganism have both made my life better. The more ways I can find to bring the two together, the more I can help other vegans find a place in an industry that generally doesn’t recognize them.

TASTE FIRST: Beau’s Siduri

I’m trying to imagine what an uninitiated beer drinker would think if they picked up a bottle of Beau’s Siduri. Not knowing the term saison, they would see a white pepper whatever-the-heck-a-saison-is?, aged in red, ice wine barrels. Sounds quite pleasant until researching saison a bit further and coming across descriptors like “funky,” “earthy” and “barnyard.” At $10.00, that bottle is sitting on the shelf a bit longer.

Beau's Siduri white pepper saison, aged in red ice wine barrels
Beau’s Siduri white pepper saison, aged in red ice wine barrels

For me, Siduri (10.2%) delivered on all of its packaged promises. Aesthetically, from the wrapping to the label and right inside to its contents, it’s purrrdy. A tight, white head capped its hazy, golden orange body and stuck around for a generous amount of time.

Aromas like the sourness of boiled lemons, freshness of orange peel, zing of cloves, mustiness of horse stalls and the mysterious fruitiness of cherry chapstick were strongest.

Sipping it over the next hour I was surprised to find the white pepper and the red ice wine flavours were both pretty easy to pick out of the sea of dank, tangy, spicy citrus.

Another interesting feature of the beer was the offsetting effects of what I assume were the tannins from the red ice wine. Whereas a saison is normally a very refreshing, clean style, Siduri also gets up into your cheeks and clings to your gums if you give it a chance to settle. It’s an interesting mouthfeel.

Reading back my own description I’m not sure I’d sell any newbies on the virtues of this rather complex $10.00 bottle, but it’s one I would happily spend more evenings with. This isn’t something you want to finish quickly to get to the next. This is a patient beer that pairs beautifully with a long, slow sunset or an old thriller on Netflix.

TASTE FIRST: Beau’s Sargon

At the time I uncapped my first two of Beau’s 2014 barrel-aged series, I had no regrets. Gilgamesh – an old ale aged in rum barrels, soft in texture with a dark, fruity sweetness – and the Chardonnay-aged wheat wine, Ashnan, with its more syrupy-sweet edge, were both highly satisfying. I shared them with a couple friends (a couple sips stolen by my wife) over a winning round of Cards Against Humanity. It was a good night.

These are two of the more interesting Canadian beers I’ve consumed that also taste really, really, really quite good. Other beaver-worshipping brewers whip up world class representations of classic styles, while dozens more create experimental batches that compel a drinker to sit up and take note. But these… these are truly a special leap into the unknown. This is throwing curd cheese and brown sauce on fries for the first time and coming up poutine.

The few that have added their reviews to ratebeer.com weren’t quite so enthusiastic, but I stand by my initial impressions. My only regret about opening those first two bottles when I did was not allowing myself a chance to do more fulsome assessments.

Last night I flipped the cap off the third in my quartet, and tumbled Sargon into a tulip glass (Siduri, a white pepper saison, has a Ken Burns / Netflix date with me tonight), and took some notes:

Beau's Sargon ginger beer, aged in rum barrels
Beau’s Sargon ginger beer, aged in rum barrels

Sargon is described as a strong ginger beer (6.0%) aged in rum barrels, inspired by the classic ginger beer and rum cocktail known as Dark & Stormy. Brewed with an organic grain bill of barley and rye, it pours a honeyed-red base, capped by a thick, rocky head reminiscent of lightly buttered meringue.

If you’ve had Crabbie’s or Melville’s, don’t expect this to be the same. Right from the first smell you’ll note the ginger is more subdued, with notes of black pepper, apple cider vinegar and honeysuckle coming through.

The sharp malt flavour is dominant, but very nicely dosed with ginger and cane sugar. Rum barrel remnants are subtle, but undoubtedly contribute to the menthol-like afterglow that creeps up into the nasal passage.

I didn’t love this one quite as much as the Gilgamesh or Ashnan, but neither was I remotely disappointed.

#BigRockManifestation

Hey Big Rock, I’m coming to see you next week and I’d like to introduce you to my friends.

Since my college days in Lethbridge, many, many pints ago, we’ve had a pretty solid relationship. Sure, we’ve seen less of each other since I moved to Toronto twelve years ago, but we’ve stayed in touch. Two, three times a year I’d come back to Calgary and we would share a table on the patio of the Ship & Anchor, belt out some tunes at Ducky’s or catch a game at Schanks. When my job took me to Red Deer, I took myself to The Rock because rumour had it you were hanging out at the bar under an assumed identity. I’m not positive that was you, but the conversation sure did seem familiar.

A few years ago I swung by your place to check out the Kasper Schultz. I see you’ve picked up some shiny new Nano gear from Specific Mechanical since then. Congrats! I’m pleased to see you’re still having fun conjuring your magic.

A few weeks ago I read a Herald article about how the company’s President recognizes the growth potential in Ontario. That Bob Sartor guy… he seems like a pretty sharp dude. You’ve got to like someone that encourages creativity, respects tradition and invests in being an industry leader.

As successful as you’ve been as a Regional Brewery, it’s inspiring to see you still take an active role in great causes like Unity Brew, and that you give social media props to the micros like Wild Rose, Brew Brothers and Alley Kat, which are also close to my heart. Your ongoing commitment to charity through The Eddies makes me proud to call you my friend.

People here in Toronto – they don’t know you like I do, but they do ask. I tell them about Ed McNally’s background in law and his successful court challenge on behalf of barley farmers. I tell them how your Brewmaster, Paul Gautreau, worked every position on the floor while building his impressive international brewing credentials. I tell them that if they’re ever lucky enough to get a McNally’s Extra on this side of the country they should invest in a good cigar to go with it. I speak of you often and I speak of you fondly.

Actually, that’s what I’m coming to see you about. When I’m sitting at the Town Crier, telling my neighbours about the beautiful combination of Fuggles (Old World) and Cascades (New World) that sets your IPA apart, they get it. If I could find SAAZ Republic on tap, I could also explain the subtle, peppery goodness that makes it distinct in the Canadian market and it would find plenty of fans here too. I want to talk to you about telling your story to more people out here.

image

This last year I’ve immersed myself in the industry. I’ve completed two of three levels towards my Prud’homme Beer Sommelier designation (the third to be completed this Spring), authored a slew of beer-related articles for The Toronto Standard and spent quite a bit of time on the road, getting acquainted with the beer scene in New York, Montreal, Belgium and The Netherlands. I’ve connected to the local industry, having made friends with publicans, beer writers, festival goers and other craft beer enthusiasts around these parts. They’re really good people here in Ontario. I know you would get on with them beautifully.

Beer drinkers here are awfully bright. They take pride in the contents of their glass. They love that Mill Street Organic is now 100% Canadian-sourced organic grain. Torontonians boast about Steam Whistle’s water conservation initiatives, which are both inspiring and good for the bottom line. They adore Beau’s – the first brewery in Canada to achieve B-Corp Status – for its all-natural approach to beer and benevolence.

Your own admirable initiatives – the barley and pea fields you’re planting, the customizable greenhouses for your hops, your generous festival sponsorships – would resonate with these good people.

I want to help, my friend. I’ve built a lot of goodwill on this side of the country. So can you.

I’ll be there next week. Please let me know a good time to stop by.

The Only Café

I promised Mess I wouldn’t do this: I wouldn’t neglect the blog once I got a new camera. 

Let’s call this a new beginning ahead of the new year, then.  I write well, but I can also take some damn fine photos, so 2014 will be a more visual representation of my encounters with beer and the people & places that also revere the beautiful drink.

Today, in the skate tracks of Toronto’s ice storm,  I wandered to The Only Café.  It’s not nearly local (for me), but it’s the kind of place I love for its cozy decor,  easy conversation, Gordon Lightfoot on vinyl and range of taps. Also, tasting flights are always a good idea.

You should be here.

image
Ice Storm

Continue reading The Only Café