A Preview of Brasserie Dunham’s May 2018 Bottle Release

An article by Noah Forrest

With the approaching summer weather just around the corner, it also means that the infamous Brasserie Dunham May bottle release party is arriving! And this year is as sexy as ever. This Saturday on May 26th, brasserie Dunham invites you to drive out to the eastern townships for an afternoon of amazing beer and plenty of bottles to go.

  • May 26th 2018
  • 11:00-18:00
  • 3809 Rue Principale, Dunham, QC
  • Further Details right here.

As usual, the lineup of available bottles is impressive. The 8th Hors Série (Jane doe) edition is dropping, as well as the 8th Assemblage. In addition, a Mosiac version of their barrel-aged and dry-hopped sour Oro Zuur will be available, and a remake of Assemblage #3 from several years back will be there. In terms of brand new titles, they have Funk Siberian (a barrel-aged sour with sea buckthorn), Bière de Foudre (a sour grisette/saison blend), and two versions of L’Écchymose(a blueberry, rosemary, cinnamon imperialstout with cacao), one aged in bourbon barrels, and the other in cider barrels from Quebec.

You can reserve your bottles ahead of time (which is recommended if you don’t want to miss out). It will cost you 10$, but you get a free glass to take home and that glass is filled with your beer of choice. If interested, you can reserve your bottles by clicking right here.

I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on several of the beers ahead of time so that I could give you my opinion on them! Let’s begin.

Jane Doe #8

Jane Doe (Assemblage Hors-Série) is a series of barrel-aged blends that always have a fruit component to them. This is the 8th in the series. Its base starts with a barrel-aged guava Berliner Weiss, which like most of the beers in this release, is blended with l’Orange de Dunham and a Foudre-aged rye Grisette.

The nose is a burst of acidic fruitiness, with guava, tangerine and some light melon at the front. Subtle vinous oak flavours meet some fuzzy peach candy. There is also a light bretty dustiness speckled in.

The palate begins with a punch of acidity, which is balanced against some amazing sweet fruitiness. Tons of juicy guava, clementine and some bitter orange rinds make up the juicy fruit profile. Yet, although fruity, the finish is bone dry from the acidity and oak tannins. It’s sour candies galore (orange jolly ranchers?), with peach and guava bursting forth.

Overall this is excellent, with everything in perfect balance. There is a nice clean aspect to the beer, while still being juicy, jammy, and very sour.

Funk Siberian

Dunham describes Funk Siberian as a the little sister to Funk Royal, a fantastic plum sour that they released earlier this year (I wrote about it here).

This beer is a Foudre fermented Grisette with the addition of sea buckthorn fruit. The nose is a bright acidic mix of sour citrus, passion fruit, spicy oak, and light brett funk. It’s crazy fruity and very inviting.

It’s just as sour as the nose let on, carrying a sharp acidity that quenches and attacks the palate upon each sip. The fruitiness is intense, but doesn’t overpower the beer. It’s tart, juicy and reminds me of passion fruit, ground cherries and currents. The barrel adds oak complexities, alongside some rather earthy layers from the fruit, and a light pepperiness from the rye.

It goes down pretty well considering the aggressive PH on this, and is perfect for the summer. That said, I find the acidity a touch aggressive for the base beer, but that’s just my preference.

Assemblage #8

This is the 8th edition of Assemblage, a series of wild and blended barrel-aged beers that Dunham has been putting out for some time now. This version consists of a Foudre fermented Grisette, Saison Orange, d’Orange de Dunham, and two year old barrel-aged No Tahoma. Let’s dig in.

The nose carries that quintessential Dunham Brett funk, with lots of dusty phenols and loads of vinous wine soaked oak. Apple flesh and fresh pear meet some tangy berries and citrus. It’s very inviting.

The palate matches. There is a present brett profile, lending some earthy layers. Next comes the barrels, adding a touch of oak, but mainly lots of rich and tannic wine remnants. There is a orange-focused citrus component here that provides a lingering grapefruit-like bitterness in the finish. This, combined with the tannic dryness, creates a pretty aggressive astringency. Grapefruit, orange, and tangerine are at the forefront of this beer and there is a slight acidity to the whole thing – that said, it’s subtle and hard to place.

There are a lot of interesting and downright delicious layers to this. I like the way the tangy bitterness creates this potent orange and grapefruit rind thing, but overall the beer is too bitter for my tastes, making it quite astringent.

L’Écchymose (bourbon)

There are two versions of L’Écchymose coming this weekend, one aged in Bourbon barrels, and the other was aged in a cider barrel from the Milton Cidery here in Quebec. It’s an imperial stout, made with blueberry, rosemary, cinnamon and cacao. Let’s dig in.

The nose begins with lots of herbal notes, lending cola-like aromatics the chocolate-forward stout profile. You get the cacao as well, with hints of fruit in the finish.

The palate matches, but is more subtle in the herbal department. Instead, I’m first hit with a big fudgy body carrying loads of chocolate. The blueberry is extremely subtle, adding hints of jammy fruitiness and acidity. The rosemary and cinnamon notes are there, but not so intense that it feels like a gruit.

There is an aggressive hop bitterness, and the bourbon barrel and cacao further dry things out, cutting through everything, leaving a lingering bitter finish.The alcohol is very well integrated and drinks really easily.

I was nervous about this one as I’m not huge into big adjunct stouts – but this works. Everything is there, but it’s all subtle and quite drinkable.

Bière de Foudre

Bière de Foudre is the first blend of beers from the two Dunham Foudres, a rye Grisette and a more classic Saison loaded with wheat.

The nose is mix of tart and sour candy, with peaches, mango and some grapefruit. Up front this beer is quite aggressively sour, carrying lots of under-ripe nectarine and clementine. It drinks well even given the acidity. As it opens, passion fruit starts to come out. Slight barrel notes come through as well, adding oak accents and lots of drying tannins.

It’s puckeringly tart, sour, and dry, while also being round and very, very fruity. It’s surprising there is no fruit element. Overall this is an impressively drinkable yet complex blend that would be perfect for the summer patio.

As usual, Dunham did an amazing job at creating innovative beers that push the envelope. It seems that this time around, they concentrated on a couple of particular beers to use in most of their blends, which provided a similarity across a lot of what they released. It was interesting to examine what these base beers brought to the overall blends – what worked and what didn’t.

If you’re interested, buy yourself a ticket (or attend without a ticket) and head out to Dunham this Saturday to enjoy all things wild and delicious.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest