There always seem to be some sort of developments on the local drinks front, particularly when it comes to craft beer.
Over the last year I’ve been checking in with Low Life Barrel House’s progress as it builds its brewery at 398 Daly St. N., just off Pembina Hwy. Low Life began brewing out of Barn Hammer’s Wall St. facility, and is hoping to have its paperwork/inspections approved and sorted in the next week or so, meaning it could be pouring pints in their gorgeous new taproom, complete with 13 large oak foeders for aging their beer, as early as this coming week. It’s also aiming to add a patio as (if?) the weather improves.
Watch for a big feature on Low Life’s progress in the 49.8 section of the Free Press, coming soon.
Little Brown Jug is going to be a busy brewery this summer. In addition to stocking the beer tent at this year’s Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Exchange District brewery is also producing Queer Beer for the return of the Pride Winnipeg festival, which takes runs from May 27-June 5.
Previously brewed for the fest by Half Pints, this year’s Queer Beer is an easy-drinking lager that saw members of Pride Winnipeg’s organizing committee provide input on the final flavour profile, which features two types of hops. It’s available from Little Brown Jug’s taproom (at 336 William Ave.) now, will roll out to beer vendors and Liquor Marts this coming week, and will be available at beer gardens and other fine food and drink establishments throughout the festival. LBJ is also planning on revamping and extending the patio that’s adjacent to its taproom.
For more on the Queer Beer, see littlebrownjug.ca; to read more about this year’s Pride Winnipeg festival, which also features the national Fierté Canada Pride Festival on June 4 and 5, see pridewinnipeg.com.
A pair of local beers brewed with the aim of directing proceeds towards humanitarian efforts in Ukraine have seen brisk sales.
Eight local breweries banded together to create the Red Eyes American red ale, brewed at Torque Brewing’s King Edward St. facility as part of the Brew for Ukraine, which saw brewers around the globe making recipes from Lviv’s Pravda Brewing. Proceeds from that beer benefit the Pravda Brewing Humanitarian Relief Fund; while the beer is sold out at Torque, it’s still available at select beer vendors, and the Liquor Marts website lists it as "coming soon."
One Great City, one of the eight breweries who helped brew the Red Eyes, has also released the Slava Ukraine Cranberry Peppercorn Sour as part of the Brew for Ukraine campaign, with all proceeds from the beer also benefiting relief efforts. The Slava Ukraine is now sold out at its Madison Square taproom, but select beer vendors have it in stock.
Some of the country’s best beer palates will descend on Winnipeg in mid-May to judge the Prairie Beer Awards, taking place May 12-15.
Breweries and contract brewers from Manitoba and Saskatchewan have until April 30 to submit their beer, cider, mead or "other brewery made beverages" (seltzer, kombucha, etc.) to the competition, which will be held at Torque’s King Edward St. facility, where the hardware will also be doled out on June 4.
I’ve been invited to judge at a couple local beer competitions in my time, and it’s as thorough a process as any I’ve ever seen — more thorough, in fact, than most wine judging, with categories for practically every different style of lager and ale that you could imagine. To learn more about the competition, see wfp.to/prairiebeer.
Stuck for something to do this weekend? There may still be time to get in on a pair of virtual wine tastings hosted by Jones & Company Wine Merchants that will celebrate all things Malbec — the South American country’s flagship red wine grape.
The Two Sides of Malbec tasting takes place tonight at 5:30 p.m., and will feature a pair of Malbecs tasted side by side in a virtual session led by one of Jones & Co.’s educators. Tomorrow’s virtual event features a pair of Malbecs from Argentine producer Pascual Toso, and also takes place at 5:30 p.m.
Each of the tastings is $45 and includes both wines as well as access to the virtual tastings. For info and to register, see wfp.to/jonesmalbec.
Drinks of the week
One Great City Slava Ukraine Cranberry Peppercorn Sour (Winnipeg — $4.29/473ml cans, select beer vendors)
Medium pink in colour and hazy, this kettle sour is brewed with cranberry and pink peppercorns, and aromatically offers grapefruit, saline, gooseberry and cranberry notes with just a hint of pepper. It’s mainly dry and light-bodied, with moderate acidity and that saline note bringing a vibrant component to the grapefruit, cranberry and subtle pepper flavours, with underlying fresh malty notes showing well. Good intensity and raciness — enjoy as the snow melts while helping out a good cause. 3.5/5
Pelee Island 2019 Lola Cabernet Franc Rosé (South Islands, Ont. — $16.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Bright orange-pink in colour, this dry rosé from the southernmost winemaking region in Ontario offers fresh strawberry, peach, watermelon candy and floral aromas. It’s medium-bodied and mainly dry, offering fresh strawberry and peach flavours along with strawberry and raspberry candy, medium acidity and a crisp, clean finish. A good match for salads, grilled pork or chicken, salmon dishes or charcuterie. 3.5/5
Adega de Monçào 2021 Vinho Verde (Vinho Verde, Portugal — around $17, private wine stores)
Made entirely from the Alvarinho grape in northern Portugal, this white wine is very pale straw in colour, with bright lime zest, lemon, green apple, green peach and chalky notes. It’s light-bodied and mainly dry, with subtle spritz that lift the citrus, green apple and chalky notes complemented by zippy acidity. It’s lean, focused and fresh, with just 11 per cent alcohol and those bubbles keeping things lively and fun. Picked up at La Boutique del Vino. 4/5
Post House 2019 Black Mail Merlot (Stellenbosch, South Africa — $22.42, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Named after a mysterious mailbox near Area 51 in Nevada, this South African red is deep purplish-red in appearance, offering plenty of plum, blackberry, vanilla, spice and hints of blueberry and leather. It’s a dry, full-bodied red, with the dark berry and plum flavours coming with a dark chocolate and mocha note, medium tannins and a dash of vanilla on the finish thanks to two years in oak barrels. Drinking well now, but has enough structure to be put away for 4-7 years. Nice deep fruit but plenty of structure too. 4.5/5
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.