Booze events to help beat the winter blahs
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If the late January doldrums have you feeling like you’re going a bit bonkers, fear not — there are plenty of wine, beer and spirits events taking place over the next couple of months that just might help you beat the deep winter blahs…
A little splash of summer might be just what the doctor ordered, and Sookram’s Brewing Co. (479 Warsaw Ave.) is providing it today from 2-11 p.m. at their Summer in Winter Party. They’re pouring tropical-flavoured casks, offering up a couple of new test batches and there’ll be tacos by the Brizzy Boys and music by DJ Stop.
Meanwhile the tropical-themed tap room over at Kilter Brewing Co. (450 Rue Deschambault) will be bringing the laughs on Jan. 31 starting at 7 p.m. as they present Kilter Comedii, hosted by Jaydin Pommer and featuring a number of local comics. Tickets are $10 and are available at wfp.to/Sf3.
On Feb. 7, The Winehouse (1600 Kenaston Blvd.) will be hosting a workshop highlighting southern France, with eight wines being featured and tasted either on their own or side by side. Tickets are $45 and are available online at wfp.to/Sfh.
Sticking with France, Kenaston Wine Market (1855A Grant Ave.) is holding the KWM in Paris Wine Walkabout on Feb. 13 starting at 7 p.m. The $65 admission gets you in the door to wander about the store and sample a range of wines from France in a range of styles and colours. For tickets, visit wfp.to/SfD.
Want to learn how to shuck an oyster? The Pourium (formerly De Luca Fine Wines, 942 Portage Ave.) is bringing in the kitchen crew from Sous Sol for an oyster-shucking demo as well as food-and-wine pairing on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. The event includes three wines, four oysters to shuck and a shucker of your own to take home. Tickets are $79 and are available online at wfp.to/SfG.
If you’ve been curious about checking out some of the celebrity-branded tipples in our market (think Wayne Gretzky, Martha Stewart, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Manitoba Liquor Marts are hosting a Sipping with the Stars tasting at their Grant Park location (1120 Grant Ave.) on Feb. 23 from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available at wfp.to/Sf7.
The crew over at One Sixteen (116 Sherbrook St.) are turning their attention to whisky on March 1 and 2 as they host global whisky ambassador James Neil, who will guide guests through a range of drams from Scotland, Ireland, Japan and the U.S. There are two seatings each night (6-8 p.m. and 8:30-10:30 p.m.), and tickets for each are $78.75 and include some paired snacks from the Two Hands kitchen; to register and for more info see wfp.to/SfH.
Last and anything but least, the Winnipeg Whisky Festival takes place March 3 and 4 at the Fairmont Winnipeg, and will feature over 250 products — mainly whiskies, but some other spirited treats as well — from all corners of the globe. Tickets start at $256.16 and include all pours, a buffet and a commemorative whisky glass and are available at wfp.to/Sf1.
Beers of the week
Trans Canada Brewing Co. Cranberry Mandarin Ginger Sour (Winnipeg — $4.44/473ml cans, brewery, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)
Deep gold and slightly hazy in appearance, the latest addition to Trans Canada’s County Sour series brings loads of ripe, mouthwatering citrus and spice aromatically. It’s light-bodied, dry and quite tart, with the ginger and cranberry flavours working quite well with an almost-saline note and the splash of mandarin fleshing things out. A modest 4.3 per cent alcohol, but plenty intense. 4/5
Kilter Brewing Co. Sea Breeze Cocktail Pale Ale (Winnipeg — $4.50/473ml cans, brewery, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)
This pale ale features the addition of cranberry, grapefruit and aromatic bitters; it’s medium gold and hazy in appearance, and delivers the citrus notes with a hit of fresh malt, sea salt, tart red berry and herbal notes. It’s light-plus bodied and off-dry, bringing bright citrus and berry flavours, while the bitters add bite before the 4.8 per cent finish. Tasty. 3.5/5
FullGeek Brew Lab Drone Honey Brown Ale (Winnipeg — $3.99/473ml cans, Stone Angel, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)
Medium chestnut in colour with an off-white head, this honey-infused brown ale offers floral and slightly sweet aromas as well as fresh malt and hints of spice and caramel. It’s mainly dry and medium-bodied and a touch viscous, and the honey and malt notes work well together without ever getting overly sweet. Hops are moderate before the five per cent alcohol finish. Well done. 4/5
Stone Angel Brewing Co. Union Station Vanilla Porter (Winnipeg — $4.20/473ml cans, brewery, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)
There’s a dried fruit note that comes with subtle vanilla, malt and dark chocolate notes on the nose of this cola-brown brew. Medium-bodied and mainly dry, the malt and dried fruit notes come with a nuttiness, while the vanilla and chocolate linger in the background with the modest bitterness and an approachable five per cent alcohol. A solid pub-style porter. 3/5
Good Neighbour Brewing Co. Iced Coffee Milk Stout (Winnipeg — $4.60/473ml cans, Oxus Brewing, One Sixteen, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)
This deep brown stout contains coffee, milk sugar and Tahitian vanilla, and brings all of the above aromatically, as well as a hit of chocolate. It’s medium-bodied and slightly sweet, with the vanilla and coffee working very well with the roasted malt component, very little bitterness and a decent kick on the finish (it’s 6.5 per cent alcohol). 3.5/5
Sookram’s Brewing Co. Déjà Vu Doppelbock (Winnipeg — $4.85/473ml cans, brewery, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)
Deep amber/copper in colour and with a beige head, this doppelbock brings delightful doughy, malt, cola, dried fruit and underlying chocolate notes on the nose. It’s medium-plus bodied and with some sweetness, with the malty notes full throttle along with complex dried fruit, bread dough and almost-balsamic elements, low bitterness and a very warm 8.3 per cent alcohol on the finish. A stellar slow sipper for cold nights. 4.5/5
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.