Front-page brews Nonsuch’s gonzo grape ale is a bold type of beer to celebrate Free Press’s 150th anniversary

There’s been plenty brewing in conjunction with the Free Press’ 150th anniversary: deep dives into the archives, reflections on the last century-and-a-half in the pages of the paper and online, a community cookbook (Homemade, by Free Press food and drinks writer Eva Wasney), a fall supper and even more to come.

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There’s been plenty brewing in conjunction with the Free Press’ 150th anniversary: deep dives into the archives, reflections on the last century-and-a-half in the pages of the paper and online, a community cookbook (Homemade, by Free Press food and drinks writer Eva Wasney), a fall supper and even more to come.

In that spirit, the Free Press partnered with Nonsuch Brewing Co. to create After Deadline, a limited-release, small-batch beer commemorating 150 years of working in the community to report on stories that matter to Manitobans. The finished product is an Italian grape ale — a saison/farmhouse ale infused with Pinot Grigio.

Event Preview

Sips and Snacks + Brew Box

● Tuesday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m.

● Nonsuch Brewing Co., 125 Pacific Ave.

In celebration of the launch of After Deadline, the Free Press and Nonsuch are teaming up for a special evening of beer and food in Nonsuch’s beautiful tap room at 125 Pacific Ave. A riff on the Free Press’ virtual Brew Box tastings, this live and in-person event will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 18, starting at 8 p.m., where Free Press drinks writer Ben Sigurdson will talk all things beer with Christian Lepp of Nonsuch.

The evening will feature three appetizers, each paired with a different Nonsuch beer, including After Deadline. Tickets start at $54.06 and include all sips and snacks; a take-home Brew Box package can be added to your order for $38.15, which will include a 750ml bottle of After Deadline and a commemorative branded glass. A very limited number of leftover Brew Box packages will be available for sale from Nonsuch after the event.

For tickets and more information, visit

In the same way the Free Press has taken a rich history of reporting in the province and brought it into the modern era, Nonsuch marries Belgian brewing styles and traditions with a decidedly contemporary approach. In the brewery, that effort is led by head brewer Mark Borowski.

Like many brewers working in Manitoba, Borowski got his start at home — in his case, about 12 years ago.

“I was a stay-at-home dad for my twin boys. They’re great kids, but I started going a little stir crazy,” he says. “I started brewing when they were almost one year old; I needed a hobby of some sort.”

His first brew was a honey brown beer. “It turned out very nice — that’s when I really started getting excited about (brewing),” he says.

Soon after, Borowski joined the Manitoba Brew Bombers, a collection of local hobbyists that has produced plenty of talent; many members have gone on to brew commercially at local craft breweries such as Oxus, Torque, Sookram’s and more.

Borowski’s work started garnering the attention of his peers and beer judges; he started entering homebrew competitions and winning awards. His ales soon caught the attention of fellow Brew Bomber Matthew Sabourin.

“He really liked my sour beers, my Flanders reds and all those funky Belgian-style beers,” Borowski says.

Borowski and Sabourin were among the partners who would go on to launch Nonsuch Brewing Co., brewing first out of Barn Hammer Brewing Co.’s Wall Street facility before landing in their own space at 125 Pacific Ave. (the old Peg Beer Co. site) in 2018. After initially offering up its take on Belgian-style brews packaged in 750-ml bottles, Nonsuch has expanded its offerings, added canned beers and even started up an offshoot, Vessel Beer, that focuses on hoppier, newer styles and more experimental beers.

Nonsuch was the perfect partner for crafting a beer to commemorate the Free Press’ 150th anniversary — the brewery is innovative while embracing local history, and delivers high-quality beer in sharp packaging.

It has also collaborated on beers with other Manitoba cultural institutions including Brandon College (the BU50 anniversary ale), the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (the Moonlight Vienna lager) and Cercle Molière (the La Molière craft pilsner). Nonsuch was also just announced as the official beer partner of Festival du Voyageur, for whom it’ll be making a heck of a lot of helles for the annual winter carnival.


As the Free Press drinks writer and an avid fan of local craft beer, I wanted to do more than just give my two cents on a Nonsuch/Free Press beer — I wanted to help make it.

Since the craft-beer boom hit Manitoba in around 2015, the idea of working on a brew had been kicking around in the back of my mind, and After Deadline offered the perfect opportunity to follow the process from grain to glass.

So in late July, I headed over to Nonsuch’s Pacific Avenue facility to lend a hand in making After Deadline. Well, half of it anyway — Borowski already had one of two 300-litre batches that will make up the finished product fermenting in another tank.

(If you were at the Free Press fall supper on Oct. 1, your sneak peek of After Deadline was from this initial brew. The last step of the entire process, before bottling, is combining the two batches into one.)

The base of After Deadline is made up of Belgian two-row, pale and wheat malts, which were crushed and then dumped into a large vessel called a mash tun by Borowski and myself.

Reverse-osmosis water was then piped in before we added brewing salts (calcium chloride and gypsum). The enzymatic process sees the starches in the grain converted to sugars, which are eventually converted into alcohol during fermentation by the yeast — but that’s later in the process.

After about 45 minutes of heating up the mash, the water/grain mixture (called wort) was recirculated, bringing the gunk that had fallen to the bottom of the tank back to the top.

After a bit more time, the hot wort was transferred to the kettle, where Pearl, Saaz and nugget hops were added prior to the boil, which took 90 minutes.

While the boil was happening, Borowski and I took the bladders of Pinot Grigio concentrate — the kind you’d use for home winemaking – and poured it into the fermentation tank. From there, the wort in the kettle was flash cooled before being transferred to the fermentation tank by hose. I added yeast, Borowski closed the tank, and for the most part, that was it.

From there it was mainly a matter of waiting for fermentation to take place — the process that sees the yeast convert the sugars (in this case from both the wort and the wine juice) into alcohol.

For After Deadline, this took weeks; the addition of the Pinot Grigio juice, which contains sugar of its own, meant there was more sugar to be converted to alcohol than your typical brew.

The result is a higher alcohol level in After Deadline than you’d see in most beers — in this case just north of 11 per cent.

All told, the brew day took about six hours in total. The fermentation process started on the brew day and, as of this writing (Oct. 6), is pretty much finished.

If it hasn’t already happened, bottling and labelling should take place any day now; After Deadline will be available (in very limited quantities) in 750ml bottles, with label art done by the Nonsuch crew and Free Press digital designer Alex Richards.


So, ingredients, processing and packing aside, what does After Deadline taste like? Well, it’s not a beer to be cracked open and slugged back after mowing the lawn or while watching the Big Game. Because of the higher alcohol content, it’s more akin to a nice bottle of wine to be shared — savoured with friends while poring over the news of the day, perhaps.

Flavour-wise it delivers plenty of pear and apple flavours commonly found in Pinot Grigio, with lovely malt and spice notes typically found in a saison and with an underlying (but subtle) hoppy component. Like a well-written but fiery op-ed,

After Deadline is a style of beer that may not appeal to every palate, but can be appreciated for the obvious craftsmanship that went into it. (Full disclosure: this budding brewer thinks it’s quite delicious.)

In terms of food pairing, After Deadline is a remarkably versatile brew that drinks beautifully on its own or would work well with anything from Christmas dinner to scallops to sushi. Because of the higher alcohol content, it can also be cellared for 18-24 months, over which time it should mellow out a bit.

Big thanks to the entire Nonsuch Brewing Co. crew for their expertise, and very special thanks to head brewer Mark Borowski for letting me help with the grunt work (inadvertently slopping spent grain all over the brewery floor in the process). Mark was endlessly patient, answering all my questions throughout the brew day.

Twitter: @bensigurdson

Ben Sigurdson

Ben Sigurdson
Literary editor, drinks writer

Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.

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