The end of August: temperatures start dropping, kids get ready to go back to school and beer lovers in Winnipeg start getting excited. Sept. 5 and 6 mark the return of the Flatlander's Beer Festival to the Winnipeg Convention Centre, where many an ale and lager will be sampled by Winnipeg hop-heads.
Presented by the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation and with Manitoba Liquor Marts as the presenting sponsor, the festival is in its 11th year. And while it's much smaller than, say, the Winnipeg Wine Festival, Flatlander's is just as fun and a fantastic chance to taste a wide range of brews while supporting a worthy cause.
The complete list of beers being poured is up at www.flatlandersbeerfest.com. Of note is the large Canadian presence -- British Columbia is best-represented, followed by Ontario. And while it's nice to see so many Canadian brews included, I wish there was some better representation of other areas of the world.
Case and point: There are as many Ontario beers being poured as there are American and Belgian beers combined. Factor in that two of the American beers are Bud Light Chelada and Budweiser Chelada (yes, the company makes two versions of their pre-mixed beer and Clamato in a can), you can see the selection beyond our borders leaves a bit to be desired.
On a more positive note, Winnipeg's three breweries will be on hand pouring their wares, including first-time pourers Farmery Estate Brewery, who will have their premium lager on hand for tasting.
And both Fort Garry Brewing Co. and Half Pints Brewing Co. will debut new brews, some of which will be exclusive at Flatlander's. Fort Garry will be sampling the Hugh Hefnerweizen, a wheat ale, the Ginger Ale and the Black Forest Stout.
Half Pints, meanwhile, will pour their popular St. James Pale Ale as well as a few special treats: a dry-hopped Bulldog Amber Ale, a cask-conditioned chocolate milk stout and a cask-conditioned Humulus Ludicrous double IPA -- a variation on their very popular (and very hoppy) seasonal beer released last weekend. The latter beers will be tapped from a cask on-site each night.
Also on hand will be Portage Ave. BrewWorks & Kitchen, the brew pub slated to open across from the MTS Centre later this year. They won't be pouring, but will talk to beer lovers about the space, the beer they plan on making and more.
Among the new-to-us brews are AC/DC beer (France -- and yes, named after the band), âphémère Cerise (Quebec), Howe Sound Devil's Elbow IPA (B.C.), Big Rock Life of Chai spiced ale (Alberta), Rochefort 6 and Rodenbach vintage 2009 (both Belgium), among others. The Kenaston Crossing, St. Vital, Portage & Burnell and Grant Park Liquor Marts will each get some of the new beers after the festival.
Tickets are available at Manitoba Liquor Marts or via Ticketmaster by phone or via their website at www.ticketmaster.ca.