December 9, 2018

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Now on tap: a new, local craft-brew pilsner

The local craft beer news just keeps coming and it’s all good: new breweries, new collaborations, new packaging, anniversaries and the return of another beer festival.

The biggest news is the arrival of a new brewery on the local scene. Winnipeg Brew Werks is the project of Darren and Zoe Wanless; if the former name sounds familiar, it’s because Darren Wanless had expressed interest in opening a brew pub on Portage Avenue way back in 2013, in the space that had until that time been home to 4Play Sports Bar (across from BellMTS Place).

But communication broke down and he walked away from the conditional lease late that year.

Winnipeg Brew Werks recently announced via social media that their first beer, a German-style pilsner, will hit the market in early August.

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The local craft beer news just keeps coming and it’s all good: new breweries, new collaborations, new packaging, anniversaries and the return of another beer festival.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files</p><p>Darren Wanless is one of the individuals behind the newest brewery on the local scene: Winnipeg Brew Werks.</p>

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

Darren Wanless is one of the individuals behind the newest brewery on the local scene: Winnipeg Brew Werks.

The biggest news is the arrival of a new brewery on the local scene. Winnipeg Brew Werks is the project of Darren and Zoe Wanless; if the former name sounds familiar, it’s because Darren Wanless had expressed interest in opening a brew pub on Portage Avenue way back in 2013, in the space that had until that time been home to 4Play Sports Bar (across from BellMTS Place).

But communication broke down and he walked away from the conditional lease late that year.

Winnipeg Brew Werks recently announced via social media that their first beer, a German-style pilsner, will hit the market in early August.

Under the guidance of brewmaster Bernhard Wieland (formerly of Lake of the Woods Brewing Co., Half Pints and most recently Little Brown Jug), the pilsner is being made at Torque’s brewing facility.

Winnipeg Brew Werks has yet to announce a bricks-and-mortar location.


Torque, meanwhile, recently announced a collaboration they’ve undertaken with Minnesota’s Surly Brewing. The Callahan is a rye IPA that clocks in at a solid 55 International Bittering Units (IBU) and should be available in cans and kegs throughout the city soon.

The project was brewed for the World Masters Ultimate Club Championships taking place in Winnipeg from July 29 to Aug. 4.

The beer is available in Torque’s tap room (830 King Edward St.) and should be more widely available soon.


Speaking of cans, Little Brown Jug has their canning line up and running and is offering their 1919 Belgian Pale Ale in single 473-milliltre cans.

This means they’ll be available beyond the brewery (336 William Ave.), local taps and beer vendor/Liquor Marts growler bars.

They’re also rolling out an eight-pack of the 473-ml cans for those who are a little thirstier.


 

In honour of Half Pints Breing Co.'s' 12th anniversary, chef Kelly Cattani is creating a five-course to be paired with special brews, all of which will be served in Half Pints' tank room on Thursdsay, Aug. 9. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

In honour of Half Pints Breing Co.'s' 12th anniversary, chef Kelly Cattani is creating a five-course to be paired with special brews, all of which will be served in Half Pints' tank room on Thursdsay, Aug. 9. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The granddaddy of local craft breweries is celebrating 12 years of business in Winnipeg with new brews, a special dinner and more.

Since 2006, Half Pints Brewing Co. (550 Roseberry St.) has been one of the leaders of the local craft-beer brewing scene.

They’re celebrating their 12th anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 11, with festivities similar to last year’s event — a parking-lot beer garden, games, food trucks, special new brews and a sundown screening of the John Candy classic Uncle Buck. Admission is five bucks.

This year they’re also putting on a special five-course dinner (with beer pairings, of course) at the brewery, featuring food by chef Kelly Cattani and Bluestone Cottage, a new catering venture she’s spearheading.

The dinner takes place Thursday, Aug. 9; tickets are $100 and can be purchased at halfpintsdinner.eventbrite.ca.


Still need more reasons to hoist a cold one and toast local/craft beer?

Fort Gibraltar (866 rue Saint Joseph) is playing host to the second annual Winnipeg Beer Festival on Sunday, Aug. 12.

The festival will feature a dozen local breweries — as well as Capital K distillery — and is in support of the KIDS Initiative. The Winnipeg Beer Festival runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 12; for more information and tickets (which are $45 plus taxes/fees), visit winnipegbeerfestival.com.

uncorked@mts.net @bensigurdson

 

Wines of the week

Well, after all that beer talk, why not taste a few red wines?

Viña Chocalan 2015 "Vitrum" Pinot Noir (San Antonio Valley, Chile — $23.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)

This Pinot Noir comes from Chilean vineyards located just five kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, and the maritime breezes from the water play a huge impact in the area’s cooler-climate leanings. Aromatically, the Vitrum brings bright cherry, red licorice, mushroom, cola and blackberry notes. On the light-plus bodied palate you’ll never mistake this for funkier French Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region, but that’s OK — the ripe red-berry and cherry flavours show well just the way they are, with slight herbal notes and just a bit of heat from the 14 per cent alcohol on the finish. Consider this a good Pinot for grilled fare. ★★★ 1/2

Santini Frères/Vin Noé 2016 "Les Monthieux" (Beaujolais Lantignié, France – around $28, private wine stores)

This collaborative effort made from the Gamay grape comes from a tiny sub-region of Beaujolais, and brings intense aromatics of earth, raspberry, dried cranberry, violets and a smell I can only describe as "Nonsuch" — the lacquer and woody notes you smell when visiting the replica ship at the Manitoba Museum. (In a good way, I swear.)

It’s light-bodied and vibrant, with tart raspberry flavours working well with leafy, cherry-candy and earthy, mocha notes.

There’s some decent grip on the finish here thanks to modest tannins, while the alcohol’s a very modest 12 per cent. It’s a bit off the beaten track for more timid wine drinkers, but chill this down for 15 minutes and it’s a fair bit of fun. Available at Kenaston Wine Market and Ellement Wine and Spirits. ★★★★

 

Wakefield 2016 Estate Label Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley, Australia — $19.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)

While this South Australian wine region — about 140 kilometres north of the capital, Adelaide — is best-known for its Riesling, there’s plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon (and Shiraz, of course) grown there. This Cab offers attractive blackberry, eucalyptus, blueberry, cassis and leather aromas. It’s a rich and ripe medium-plus bodied red, with brambly, almost-jammy blackberry and cassis flavours working well with the underlying leafy/eucalyptus and peppery notes. Tannins are quite mild and manageable, making this is solid wine for anything from burgers to steaks to fajitas. ★★★

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson
Literary editor, drinks writer

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

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