An article by Noah Forrest
As someone with an extremely young family, I simply don’t have much time to do anything recreational anymore. On the weekends, I used to decide between going out and partying, or staying in to relax. Now I need to decide between showering or eating, as I don’t have time for both. Don’t get me wrong, as much as things are often more stressful and tiring, life is far more fulfilling now and endlessly joyful. One thing I’d love to start doing is learning to brew beer. However, as much as I’d like to start, if I don’t have time to poop, I don’t have time for brewing.
So what can I do to fill the gap? Well, the easiest thing I’ve discovered is to live vicariously through my friends who brew, and then sample (or steal) a lot of their bottles. However, today I specifically I want to talk about “The Wild Shack.“
The Wild Shack is the brainchild of two extremely good friends of mine, Remi Galipeau and Maxime Dallaire. These two hetero life-mates live together in the east end of downtown Montreal and have recently gone full throttle into the home brewing scene, pumping out win after win. Both are amazing fellas in their own way. Remi is a fireball of intensity, whose passion for all things beer is so strong that he had “hop head” tattooed across his knuckles. He is brutally honest and sometimes intimidating, but his giant heart gets in the way of any aggression that he spits in your general direction. Max, who is basically on the opposite end of the “in your face” spectrum, is a far more reserved and calm guy, whose subtlety and gentle demeanor (coupled with sharp, lovable wit) lend the perfect balance to their sensual beer bromance.
This yin & yang relationship translates into their products (or offspring) as well. They only brew forward thinking offerings that have intense and complex flavours, but carry a balanced and nuanced subtlety as well. There is nothing generic happening at The Wild Shack. We have all been friends for a few years now, and I like to think that our communal palates (alongside our other good friend Derek, the Maltytasker), have grown and evolved together. This is one of the main reasons why The Wild Shack excites me so much. They are basically brewing all the exact things that I would want to brew, and they are doing it really well (especially considering they are essentially brewing newbs).
I have four of their beers in front of me today, and I’d like to tell you about all of them. Each beer has a foreword by Max and Remi, followed by my review. Let’s get started.
“The Pineapple from Outer space: This was our idea for a perfect summer beer – the perfect fruity thirst quencher. So we decided to go with a really simple pale ale grain bill (2-row, Vienna, wheat) and added a tiny bit of Victory malt to add a little “cookie” side to it. We fermented it until it was really dry (1.006) in order to cut the sweetness of the fruit, and we used 100% Galaxy hops to make it even more tropical/pineapple to the core – even down to the bitterness, which comes out fruity. We wanted the hop addition to be more aromatic rather than bitter, as the dryness of the beer would already make the bitterness that much more apparent and we didn’t want a bitter bomb. We ended up putting the pineapple just like a dryhop, during secondary. We added three whole pineapples for a twenty liter batch, for one week. The name is a simple reminder of what’s in it: Pineapple from Outer space = pineapple and galaxy.”
I thought this was a great concept, but I was really unsure about what to expect exactly. Let’s see! It pours out a foggy yellow orange. There is a big pillowy white head on this thing that never goes anywhere, like a thick cloud, protecting the pineapple nectar underneath. It’s got a big hoppy nose, with all kinds of beautiful Galaxy hops busting up into my nasal cavity. Tropical fruits like mango, and of course, pineapple lead the way, alongside some minor phenolic yeast.
It starts with a big hoppy burst of fruit, but is quickly demolished by an aggressive hop bitterness that cuts through everything. The tang from the pineapple adds a slightly tart sourness that works nicely alongside the galaxy hop profile. Even though The Wild Shack is all about dry beers (which I am too), I thought this might carry a certain cloying sweetness from the fruit. However, I should have had faith. This is bone dry and only carries the beautiful essence of the fruit and not those pesky sugars. That being said, the fruit is apparent yet subtle, and doesn’t get in the way of the bold hop profile or the nice and light, easy drinking body. My only critique would be the “home brew” yeast presence that exists in many home brew operations. I loved this beer, far more than I thought I would. I think the Wild Shack needs to get this going again in the summer months.
“Seagal’s Above the Law: We have this tendency to “funk” or “sour” everything, and we love saisons. But it was time to restrain ourselves for once and ferment something more classic, in the Belgian style of a Saison. However, we couldn’t make it too classic, it’s just not our style, so we decided to give it a nice hoppy kick. We still wanted something aggressive on the phenolic, spicy side of Belgian yeast, but helped by a small rye portion, rounded by the sweetness of some specialty malt like Vienna and Munich, and then some wheat for the mouthfeel, while still showing the impact of mono hopping. And this is what started our Steven Seagal inspired series. We intend to do all the “Seagals” with the same yeast and grain bill, but with a different hop each time, related to one of his movies. This one being Galaxy (yeah, we got too much Galaxy so we did 3 mono hop Galaxy in a matter of weeks, hehe!). It is a bit darker in color without being anywhere sweet or torrefied. We did watch the movie (Above the Law) while brewing it, cause you know, it’s Steven Fucking Seagal!”
I love a classic Saison, and I love hoppy additions, so I’m expecting gold here. It pours out an amber orange colour – it’s on the darker side for a saison. The nose starts with floral and phenolic yeast, followed by all kinds of sexy fruity esters. Hops play a role alongside the musty and spicey phenols, adding a zesty, piney hops with that juicy Galaxy punch.
Although fruity from hops, the yeast presence is at the forefront here. The carbonation is perfect, with a nice frothy head that lasts until the last drop. It has a dry, sharp, and resinous hop bitterness coupled with lots of phenolic dryness in the finish. It’s rather spicy as well, with a clove and cardamon thing, mixed in with earthy complexities that contrast the juicy hop addition quite well. It’s certainly a saison on the maltier side, but not sweet in the least.
Above the Law is not overly complex, or delicate either. However, this isn’t a bad thing. Everything works, and works well! Basically, it’s a saison with balls, and it’s particularly great for cutting through fatty foods. I’d drink a lot of this stuff.
“Thulsa Doom Double IPA: We wanted an over the top fruity and aromatic DIPA, so thanks to our friend Maxime Cloutier, we used Conan yeast that had been cultured from a Heady Topper can because it shows a lot of fruity/apricot character. The grain bill was a bit of specialty malt and consisted of mainly pale malt (2-row, marris otter), a not too sweet, not so dry grain bill. A huge dryhop and late hop additions gave it this not too aggressive bitterness alongside a really aromatic and citrus-y flavour profile. The hops that were used were Waimea for bitterness and Mosaic, Citra, and Falconers Flight 7c’s for aromatics and dry hopping (and we dry hopped a shit-ton). The name is a shoutout to Conan the Barbarian, as we used the Conan yeast – Thulsa Doom being the name of the evil character in the movie.”
“ShemAle: Again, our love of aromatic hops and funk brought you this one – the best of the two worlds. The idea was to ferment this IPA 100% with Brettanomyces and mono hop it. Claussenii was the perfect choice in our mind, as it has a more fruity, pineapple character. So again, the first hop that came to mind was Galaxy for its pineapple/passion fruit forward aromas. It all blended so well, without being over the top fruity or funky, even if we didn’t bitter it that much (65IBU on 6.2% ABV). The rye malt we used to cut it a bit really works as far as taste goes, it adds to the bitterness, and to the finish, without comprising any aromatics. There was a huge dryhop and lots of late additions in this one as well. So why the ShemAle name? You know, hops and funk… Titties and balls… best of the two worlds, an old but still well used joke between us and our friends.”
Hoppy Brett beers are basically my favourite thing right now. There is just something about the combination of juicy hop flavours and fruity Bretty yeast esters. It does it to me every time. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this Brett IPA.
ShemAle pours out a sexy looking, foggy yellow orange colour. The nose is a juicy fruit bomb explosion of Galaxy hops and Brett esters. It’s got that wonderful phenolic dusk funk thing, but nothing over the top. It smells of lemon candies and mango juice, with some juicy pineapple aromatics, and zesty citrus peel.
Like all their beers, this is beautifully dry, but with such a massive fruitiness that you are almost tricked into thinking that you are drinking juice (or sugar free juice anyways). The bitterness is on point, helping to keep any sweetness in check. The dusty and earthy Brett phenols help keep the fruit forward complexities subdued, lending an additional dryness to the beer as a whole. There is almost an herbal quality here as well, with a grand spiciness that’s hard to describe.
The musty finish has such a potent phenolic presence, that alongside the hop bitterness, it demolishes and virtually destroys all remnants of the gigantic fruit bomb that immediately preceded it. You’re left with a clean, but musty finish that scrapes all the juice off your tongue.
So as you can see, these guys aren’t messing around. They jumped in with both feet, and are highly motivated in creating quality beers with an interesting and modern take. I encourage you to reach out to them on their Facebook page in order to get some samples. You won’t regret it. I certainly didn’t.
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest