Beerism’s Bottle Guide to Brasserie Dunham’s 2015 Fall Bottle Release Party

This Saturday, October 10th, Brasserie Dunham will be having yet another epic bottle release! As usual, it will take place at their sexy brewpub in the beautiful town of Dunham, Quebec (eastern townships of Montreal). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Go!

Brasserie Dunham October Bottle Release

  • When: October 10th 2015
  • Time: 12:00 noon
  • Where: 3809, rue Principale, Dunham, Qc
  • Purchase tickets here
  • Reserve your bottles to go here

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If you are unfamiliar with Brasserie Dunham, or their impressive bottle releases, I’ve written several articles that discuss many of the bottles that have made their way into my hands over the years. Click here to check them out.

For the purpose of this article, I’ve been fortunate enough to procure five of their eight brand new bottles, which will only be available for purchase at the upcoming party (some select stores will carry them as well). I’m honoured to power through them in order give you my thoughts!

The use of brett and acidifying bacteria is taking Quebec by storm. All kinds of variations are popping up, including a multitude of berliner weisses, brett saisons, “lambic” styles, and other hybrids. It’s exciting, and personally, I love it. However, I wanted to remind everyone (and myself) that with the exception of a few breweries (like Trou du Diable), Dunham was one of the first in this province to really start experimenting with these processes, and especially with brett in particular.

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In many ways Dunham trained my pallet on what brett is and tastes like. They helped me fall in love with its explosively fruity esters and peculiar funky phenols. Before Dunham’s plethora of brett hybrids and blends, the only limited experience I had was with lambics. They are unimaginably amazing, but are often harder to find the brett profile, at least for a newb whose not too experienced with having his mouth attacked by lactic sourness.

As usual, the line up of beers available next Saturday is impressive. From a brett fermented fruit IPA to a 5 sour beer blend, and a beer made with mushroons (what!?), Dunham is pushing the limits more and more with their blending experiments, barrel aging, and brett mastering . So sit back, relax, and read up on five bottles that you can go buy on the 10th. Let’s get started!

La Tropicale IPA

Tropical IPA logo

La Tropicale IPA.
100% brett claussenii.
Fermented with guava, mango, passion fruit and tangerine.
Dry-hop with Mosaic & T.N.T.
6,2% ABV
64 IBU

Bottle art by Joël Alarie

La Tropicale IPA pours out a beautiful golden orange colour with some bright yellow highlights. It has a perfect head resting on top, which never really dissipates. The brett profile is subtle, with some earthy phenols and nice fruity esters. However, it’s hard to distinguish between them and the mountain of fruit added to this beer. It’s spicy and floral, with a hard to describe fresh fruit juice thing happening.

Tropical IPA

It’s very tangy, with some sourness, and I’m not sure if it’s from some acidifying bacteria or from the fruit added. That being said, It’s nice and dry, with a lingering resinous bitter flavour profile from the hops and a tannic bitterness from the brett phenols as well. There are similarities here to Leo’s breakfast IPA (Guava and Tea infused IPA from Dunham), but the brett makes this a far dryer beer. There is a vanilla like quality here that’s hard to pin point, but perhaps it’s the passion fruit? The tangerine certainly comes through the most in flavour, but the other fruit essences all play a roll as well.

Overall, this is a tart, tangy and bordering on sour beer, with some serious hop resins and a great dry phenolic finish. It resonates on your palate with the essence of tropical fruit, lingering there, alongside the bitterness, adding a floral like quality to this very original, and pretty damn delicious beer.

If you are a big fan of Leo’s, then buy a bunch. If not, this might not be your thing.

Red Sashes 2015

Red Sashes Logo

Red Sashes 2015
Rye Wine
Barrel aged with brett
11% ABV
125 IBU
Bottle art by Alexandre Lafleur

Red Sashes 2015 pours out like murky red motor oil. As it hits the glass, a thick and foamy beige head slowly emerges, never truly disappearing. It smells like raisins and figs, mixed with sugar pie and lots of subtle fruity berry-like brett esters. There is a slight cinnamon and clove thing as well, mixed in with all the dried fruit, giving a real autumn feel to the whole thing. The nose has far less of the aromatic, hop components if compared to last years batch, although there are some. I’m also getting wine soaked oak and a slight medicinal, almost cherry cough syrup thing, but it’s not off putting in the least. In fact, this is an extremely inviting nose. I feel like I could keep my face in this glass for hours.

Wow, I had forgotten how much of a huge, unbelievably massive body this beer has. It is easily the thickest beer I’ve ever drank. It’s slightly sweet, but certainly the driest vintage so far. The brett and 125Ibu’s blast away the sugars, leaving a sticky but seriously dry finish.

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It’s very fruity up front, with tons of dried fruits, like raisins, dates, and prunes. However there are lots of juicy and ripe stone fruits as well – especially plums and cherries. There are loads of toasted and cooked sugars, like maple “tire sur neige” mixed with brown sugar and tamarind candy. However, the mouth shattering hop bitterness echoes pithy grapefruit citrus rinds on your tongue for hours. The brett isn’t in your face, but it’s phenols help dry the beer even more, especially when coupled with the oak and wine tannins.

The 11% is completely masked by the hop bitterness, body, and residual sugars. Previous vintages of this beer had their ups and down, some slightly too sweet and some lacking carbonation. However, I really feel like they hit gold with this one. The slightly amped IBU and the brett really keep those sugars in check, while the barrel and the rye add so much complexity. This beer will spike your blood sugar, but you’d never even know it.

Assemblage #5

Assemblage#5 logo

Assemblage #5
Gouden Meyer (Belgian ale with Meyer lemon) aged in Chardonay Barrels +
Cyclope Alpha (IPA) aged in White wine barrels with Brett +
Troika (Session White Farmhouse IPA) aged in white wine barrels.
6.6% ABV
Bottle art by Marc Bell

Assemblage #5 pours out a bright glowing orange colour with an ample yet reserved head resting on top. The nose wafts tons of dank and musty brett funk, followed by some apricots and freshly cut pineapple. An abundance of brett fruitiness immerses itself alongside the hoppy aromatics, creating a fruit salad of complexity. Floral citrus rinds, papaya, and a whole bonanza of tropical smells start coming out as the head dissipates and the dust settles. It’s further complimented by some robust wine soaked oak, providing a vinous complexity, making this nose quite brilliant overall.

Assemblage 5

The mouthfeel is robust, with a light but creamy body that carries that tingling effervescence one only gets from bottle fermentation. Like the nose, this is exceptionally fruity, with lots of brett esters and loads of hop goodness. The brett profile is spot on with a drying character that compliments a rather intence bitterness. There is a beautiful hop profile that dances alongside the dusty brett phenols. The two marry perfectly, and some vinous oaked components add even more depth, creating a beer that speaks to my taste buds more than most. Although the intense flavours attack your senses, it is still rather delicate and goes down easily, almost feeling on the lighter side. However, it never tastes watery. At first, it was difficult to place the Meyer lemon, but over time it starts to emerge in the long and dry bitter finish, with lemon rinds echoing the beautifully floral and aromatic nature of the fruit. This may just be my favorite Assemblage to date. Congrats guys, this is amazing!

Jane Doe – Assemblage Hors-Série #2

Hors series #2

Jane Doe
Assemblage Hors-Série #2
Blend of five different beers all aged for a year in oak barrels.
Barrel aged version of Kekriek with lactobacillus +
Propolis with lactobacillus +
English IPA with Brett +
Session IPA Rakau +
Blend of Saison Rustique & wit à l’argousier (Belgian lightly sour wit brewed with spelt and seabuckthorn fruit)
5.6% ABV
Bottle art by Jacinthe Loranger

Hors Serie #2 pours out a murky reddish dark orange colour, with a small head that sticks around. There are lots of cherries and oak up front, with a slightly sweet, cooked sugar type thing. This is followed by some really earthy hops and a slight acidic edge, which doesn’t stand out that much, but adds complexity to this quite interesting nose. I had to dig deep to find the brett components, as they are certainly not prevalent here, and only an afterthought to all the other aromatic complexities happening here.

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This is an interesting beer to say the least. At first I get the cherries from Kekriek, but then shortly after, I detect lots of big earth hops with a strikingly bitter finish. Some sweet essences also play a role here, with cooked caramel and brown sugar coming out to battle the bitterness. I’m really enjoying this, but I’m having a hard time placing everything. It tastes something like a wine barrel aged malty IPA with cherries. I say “malty,” but it’s not sweet, just robust considering the ABV, and the finish is extremely dry.

It’s quite vinous, and the oak tannins really compliment that earthy hoppiness quite well when coupled with a pretty robust mouthfeel. This is rather complex, and it’s the only one of the bunch where I didn’t know what the blend was ahead of time. I presumed an IPA was part of the mix, and I knew about the Kekriek component, but otherwise I was drinking blind. I was actually a lot of fun, trying to figure out all the pieces to the puzzle. However, I could only wait for so long before messaging Sébastien (owner) to find out what was in the blend.

This one certainly wins as most interesting of the bottles this year. It’s like a rubix cube of flavours. Although not my favorite of the bunch by a longshot, it did have me thinking and analyzing the most, which gains points for sure.

Jane Doe – Assemblage Hors-Série #3

Hors#3

Jane Doe
Assemblage Hors-Série #3
Kekriek (Cherry beer) aged in red Wine barrels with lactobacillus +
English IPA brett aged in red wine barrels +
Experimental brett porter aged in red wine barrels
6%ABV
bottle art by Theo Ellsworth

Hors Serie #3 pours out a dark amber maroon red. It’s quite beautiful, really. The nose begins with a powerful sour cherry presences and some very minimal ascedic notes, which makes it reminiscent of a Flanders red. That being said, the brett profile brings in more complexity, adding dank, dusty notes followed lots of oak and wine.

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Upon first sip, there are many layers to this divine beverage. It’s quite acidic up front, with loads of cherry pie flavours mixed in with some bretty funk. However, quickly after that the porter component comes in, lending just a tiny amount of coco and mocha roast to the whole thing. Despite the sweet cherry flavour, the finish is bone dry, with a nice bitter brett phenol finish. There is a hop bitterness here, but it’s not the star of the show, and only lends an additional drying component to the whole thing.

Although being complex and multi layered, this blend also feels clean and not muddled by too many layers. It begins with that big cherry component, followed by a slight dark roasted coffee thing, some balsamic notes, and then the whole thing goes down incredibly smooth with a present but reserved acidity and a dry brett profile.

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Well that’s it for now. Besides the five beers I just spoke about, there are only three other new releases that you can buy on Saturday (Orange Flanders Red and two new wild beers made with Chanterelles & sweet potatoes). I’ll try and get my thoughts on those two out to you in the coming months, but until then, maybe you should just go and pick them up!

If I were to say that Brasserie Dunham is the only brewery in Quebec making experimental barrel aged blends, I would be exaggerating. More and more breweries are doing incredible and interesting things these days with brett, acidifying bacteria, and barrel aging. However, what I will say is that the number of amazing, high quality wild BA beer blends that Dunham releases twice a year is staggering and unmatched by a long shot. The Dunham release parties are the two events of the year I most look forward to. There is just so much damn deliciousness.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Jasen Pierre-Claude Gaouette

 

 

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