Beerism’s pre-guide to Brasserie Dunham’s 4th b-day bottle release party!

Once again, the gods are smiling upon Quebec. That’s right, Brasserie Dunham is having another Anniversary Bottle release party on May 16th 2015; check out the details here and here.

It’s hard to believe that this brewery is only four years old. Their ability to pump out a diverse range of inventive and innovative beers, coupled with their extensive barrel-aging program, gives the impression that they have been doing this as a team for a very, very long time. At every new release party, the list of available bottles gets larger, and Dunham’s creativity seems to be flourishing. They are creating experimental blends and flavour combinations that this province (and in some cases, the world) has never seen.

Dunham Hat

This year, there will be a whopping 17 different bottles that you can leave with! Included are many new and previously released creations. For example; Imperial Black IPA aged in tequila barrels, Saison Cassis, Rye ESB Brett, Petite Mort (Imperial Stout aged in Armagnac, Cognac and brandy barrels), and many many more! Check out the full list of bottles.

Just as it was at the last few parties, you can purchase a ticket online, which allows to reserve your bottles ahead of time (You can also prepay, or simply purchase on site). This ticket is 10$, but you get a free beer ticket and a free Brasserie Dunham glass – as these two things are worth more than 10$, it’s a no-brainer. The tap list for the event is also epic, so check it out here.

I’ve written several pieces on Brasserie Dunham, their parties, and the town in general. If you want more info, you can peruse through the following articles:

Without sounding like a broken record, if you are in the greater Montreal area (or not!), and you’re into buying amazingly creative beer, then you should definitely attend. Sadly I will not be attending this year as I am moving into our new house, so please drink a beer (or ten) for me. That being said, I was very fortunate to get my hands on some advanced bottles, which allows me to provide all you wonderful readers with a preview of some of the fresh beers coming your way on May 16th.

Jane Doe

Jane Doe – Assemblage Hors-Serie Numero 1

Jane Doe is one of the most interesting and complex blends that I have ever heard of. It combines four different beers, all of which have spent some quality time in barrels!

  1. English IPA with brettanomyces and aged in red wine barrels
  2. Propolis (specialty grain blanche/saison hybrid. Brewed with rye, wheat and oat & a small amount of fall honey) aged in white wine barrels
  3. Saison Framboise (saison fermented with real raspberries) aged in white wine barrels
  4. Helles smoked lager with pu’er tea and brettanomyces, aged is white wine barrels

Jane Doe 2Let’s try this madness!

It pours out a slightly foggy amber-orange colour with a magnificently thick, cloud-like head. The nose is beautiful, with loads of raspberries, coupled with some extremely earthy and dusty Brett funk. It smells of cherries too, although the beer contains none (one of the only things it doesn’t contain!). There are acidic elements as well, mixed with oak and some tart wine tannins. I love this nose!

The flavours are interesting, very interesting. You get the smoke right off the bat, followed by a tart dry edge that finishes with a complimentary lingering fruitiness. The raspberries are less apparent than they were on the nose. The body is light, and quite refreshing; a real contender for the scorching heat to come. As it opens and warms, the oak comes alive quite a lot, adding some nice dank-basement funk. Also, once your palate adjusts to the smoke component, it becomes a mere afterthought, and melds into the other flavours quite beautifully. As it opens, the red fruits start to come out as well, lending some minimal sweetness to go alongside the drying musty Brett flavours. Of all the wine barrel aged Brett beers I’ve had from Dunham, this one is the most vinous. It creates a tangy acidic edge, resembling a dry Chardonnay – as opposed to the aggressive sourness one gets from lactobacillus.

Like many of the Dunham Brett beers, this is beautifully dry, and incredibly easy to drink. The potent raspberry essence you get on the nose makes for a sensational fruity experience before every sip. This leads you into many complex flavours alongside a dry & musty tangy tannic finish.


Le Cerbère (Projet B-side)

Le Cerbère is a Vermont inspired saison that has been aged in white wine barrels. It is a collaboration with Microbrasserie Vox Populi (gypsy brewer Etienne Turcotte), who previously used Dunham’s facilities to brew a delicious Simcoe hopped Belgian Tripel.

It pours out an extremely foggy yellow-orange colour. There are lots of musty and earthy funk, followed by tart and sour aromas which give off a pretty strong lemon aura. It certainly smells of lactic acid, alongside a tad bit of wine and some oak (although minimal).

CerbèreOh yeah, plenty of sourness here, more than usual for Dunham, but nothing too aggressive either. There are lots of lots of citrus accents – especially lemon. It’s very dank and musty, with a light yet creamy low-carbonation mouth feel. In one way this makes it easy to gorge on, but on the other hand I have to say it leaves me pining for more tongue-prickling effervescence. The finish is tart, and leaves a lingering funky microflora flavour on your palate. It’s got that great earthy and musty acidic nose (being very reminiscent of Hill Farmstead), which makes it so enjoyable to drink while inhaling this intoxicating aroma upon each sip. The finish is so nice and dry, leaving a tangy musty flavour film on the back of my tongue.

My only criticism on this one is the carbonation. I’d personally like more effervescence, as without it, it can give the beer the impression of being a tad watery (this could simply be that my early released bottle wasn’t done fermenting). That being said, it still has carbonation, just not to the degree that most other Dunham saisons tend to carry. And I’m still loving this beer. There is this amazing earthy, fermented funk that lingers on the palate; it mixes well with the soft lemony acidic edge, leaving a long grapefruit bitter-sour finish on the palate. It goes down incredibly well – the 750ml just didn’t seem like enough beer. I want more!

Saison Pinnacle Réserve

Pinnacle reserveSaison Pinnacle dropped for the first time a year ago at Dunham’s 3rd anniversary party. It’s a sort of Saison/IPA hybrid, brewed with Citra, Simcoe, Sylva, and Topaz hops. It’s fruity, floral, and simply delicious. About 6 months later, at the next bottle release, Saison Pinnacle “Réserve” was released, which blew everyone’s minds, including the previously non-converted Dunhamites (that’s right, I just made that up). It’s the same beer, except that it has been aged in Pinot noir barrels, Cabernet Sauvignon (Demi-Muid) barrels, and re-fermented with brettanomyces.  It’ll be available again on the 16th – so buy one!

It pours out a bright glowing orange colour, with surprising clarity. The nose is exceptionally fruity. The hops, the Brett and the wine all come together to create a fruit basket of oranges, papayas, lemons, mangoes, and berries. It is dusty, but the Brett funk is slightly restrained in this one.

Like the nose, this is fruit-forward all the way, with tons of mango and general tropical delightfulness. It is quite vinous, leaving tangy bitter tannins on your tongue, and the hop bitterness follows shortly for a nice complex finish. As it warms, the oak really comes through, adding woody complexities to go alongside that massive tropical fruit thing that’s going on. The wine works well against the hops, resulting in a mango wonderland. This beer is delicate, but also quite bold, caressing and thrusting itself onto your palate at the same time. This just may be Dunham’s best beer.

“Balance” is a bit of a buzz word when describing beer (or anything palatable, really), but this one really hits the nail on the head. It’s hard to tell where one element begins and the other ends. The oak, the wine, the brett, and the bold American hops; they all work in tandem, creating something really special. It also helps that the beer itself is gorgeous.

After having tasted these latest offerings, it is clear that Dunham is amping up their game a bit. Jane Doe is a delicately complex masterpiece, forged by the creative blending minds of brewers who have clearly found their blending-stride. I feel like Le Cerbère (and LTM’s Saison Brett) will assist in ushering in a new wave of Saison sub-styles into the Quebec beer scene. Hill Farmstead’s local microflora is a staple to their brewery, and known worldwide by beer geeks. It was only a matter of time until us Quebecers, who live so close, would start doing similar things. Although not a brand new offering, Pinnacle Reserve has won the hearts of Quebec beer geeks since its inception back in October. It is complex, delicate and simple all at once. This is just a small percentage of the beers that are available on the 16th of May, so go buy your ticket and treat yourself to these delectable wonders.

An article by Noah Forrest

As I mentioned, amongst the new and exciting barrel aged beers being released, there are also many sexy specimens returning once again; including “Saison Réserve” and “Assemblage #1.” In a previous article, “Beerism Does Brasserie Dunham’s Infamous Bottle Release Party Blends,” I wrote about these two amazing beers. If you didn’t read it the first time, check out the re-hash:

Saison Réserve (Saison Rustique/Leo’s Breakfast IPA)

IMG_20140923_085545Saison Réserve is a Saison/IPA blend. However, Leo’s Breakfast IPA is certainly not a typical version of the style, given the addition of tea and guava purée. Also, Saison Rustique is quite hoppy and bitter for a saison, so we should see lots of dry bitterness in the finish, mixed with some nice fruity complexities. It pours out a beautiful clear golden orange colour with a thick & foamy, gorgeous head. The aroma begins with a bouquet of musty yeast, with lots of earthiness and funk. As the head starts to dissipate slightly, tart apple juice starts to emerge, with fruity Saison yeast esters lingering in the backdrop. There are also pear and citrus fruits, mixed with some spices as well – light cinnamon and clove. There are nice aromatic hops in here as well, but they are not the star of the show by any means.

The mouthfeel is extremely effervescent, with all kinds of wonderful tart flavours dancing on my tongue. It’s very bitter, lending an even dryer finish to this already extremely dusty & dry beer. It has a very yeast forward flavour profile, with a lot of dust and earthiness, mixed with some fruity components. I’m actually getting the tea on this, more than the previous batch I had. There are less apples than on the nose, rather it contains more tropical fruits, likely from the hops and the guava. There is not too much going on in the oaky vanilla spectrum, but there is a light rubber-like wood complexity happening for sure. As it warms, the fruit come alive that much more, with lots of pears with strawberries. This beer is a beautiful thing.

Assemblage #1 (Saison Propolis/American Pale Ale)

IMG_20140924_093358I’ve had Assmblage #1 a couple of times at this point and I’m always impressed; it’s quite delicate, but the hop bitterness gives it some balls (if that makes sense). Saison Propolis is round, spicy and delicious, while the American Pale Ale is very aromatic, with citrus fruits leading the way. The blend is the perfect marriage, and the Brettanomyces, wine, and oak make it even better. Similar to the Saison Réserve, it pours out a clear, glowing orange colour with a puffy & sexy head.  The nose starts with lots of oak, mixed with a musty & funky yeast forward presence. Spices start to emerge, with some woody cinnamon and allspice. It is quite vinous, showcasing big green grape aromas, alongside some tropical fruit from the hops and some fruity yeast esters as well.

On the flavour front, it’s very tart and zesty, with lots of grapefruit. It’s quite fruity indeed; the American hops really come through. The oak is there as well, with a woody vanilla finish, mixed with a bracing, lingering bitterness. It’s just wonderful. I’m getting lot’s of scrumptious Saison yeast esters, mixed with dust, and funky barnyard flavours from the Brett. The Brett and hops really help dry the shit out of this thing. It’s certainly not sour, but tart and very tangy, and when mixed with the hop bitterness, it reminds me a bit of chewing on orange zest.