An article by Noah Forrest
It seems like just recently that I was reading about Brasserie Harricana opening their doors for the first time. But in reality it was four years ago! The brewery has come a long way in that time. They have always had a flair for eclectic beer styles and combinations, using interesting adjuncts and even some fortification. However (in my opinion) they really tightened up and truly upped their game when Francis Richer took the helm as head brewer a couple years back, introducing such beers as the wild 7205 series, and some other exceptional creations.
This coming weekend, Brasserie Harricana will be throwing their 4th anniversary party! There will be 44 beers on tap, and they will also be launching three new barrel-aged bottles to take home.
- Brasserie Harricana | 4e anniversaire!
- Saturday, December 22nd 2018
- 12:00PM – 3:00AM
- 95 rue Jean-Talon O, Montreal, Quebec
- Details right here
What I would like to do today is dive into the three brand-new bottles being launched this Saturday. And I have to say, these beers are ballsy. Not because they are big, bad-ass monsters, but instead because (to me) they are rather daring and obscure creations that don’t fall within the parameters of the usual fair one finds at a bottle release. This is one of the reasons I appreciate Brasserie Harricana. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as excited as everyone else over the latest hazy juice can or gigantic stout, but if everyone chased the same styles, boredom would ensue.
They are releasing three different wild barrel-aged Grätzers. What the hell is a Grätzer? Well, it’s a Polish beer, brewed with oak-smoked wheat malts. It’s known for being an easy-drinking, refreshing beer that has a noticeable smoke and hop character without being overly aggressive, or too “meaty”. And Richer being Richer, he created three versions of this one beer, each barrel-aged with brett and different adjuncts: one with Sangiovese grapes, one with Apple must and one with Dulse (seaweed) and Salicornia (also known as samphire – a salty herb that grows near the ocean). Holy Umami!
Let’s get started.
2343 – Grätzer du Vignoble
Grätzer du Vignoble is a wine-barrel aged Grätzer, with added Sangiovese grapes. The nose begins with that now quintessential Harricana flora funk, followed by lots of fruity notes: berries, grape skins, pear flesh, and so on. The nose finishes with an ample but balanced smokiness, lending an interesting compliment to all the aromatics.
As expected on the palate, it starts off tart, dry and very tannic. That said, it’s not leaving my mouth feeling like sand paper as some of their previous tannin-bombs have done in the past. Still dry AF though.
The profile matches the aromatics, delivering lots of red fruits, like cherry and strawberry, but it’s mostly vinous grapes that are apparent. It has a crisp drinkable character, despite the complexity found here. The smoke is certainly a big part of this, but it’s very well balanced, and not in your face by any means. I’m pretty sensitive to peaty beers (often not a fan), but I like what the smoke adds to this beer. Delicious stuff.
343 – Grätzer du Verger
Grätzer du Verger is a wine-barrel aged Grätzer with the addition of apple must. The nose launches lovely barrel character, holding subtle vinous notes, lots of oak, and a gentle funk. Cider and fresh pear flesh mixes with a well-blended oakey smokiness.
It’s more tart than the Sangiovese version, carrying a bright acidity and an zesty mouth-puckering tang. The apple notes are pretty apparent, but are cut by a tannic and dry finish, with echoes of smoked wheat malts. The smoke is even more subtle in this one, and is once again rather complimentary and well integrated.
Overall, this fruity, grainy, tart, and smokey beer is an awesome complex crusher. Damn tasty.
343 – Grätzer de Mer
Grätzer de Mer is our last beer to examine in this series – and Is easily the most bizarre. It’s a wine-barrel aged Grätzer with dulse and samphire added. As I mentioned earlier, dulse is a type seaweed and samphire is a salty herb that grows along the ocean. This, coupled with the smoke, should provide a very intense umami experience. Let’s do it.
The nose on this one is something. Just like the previous two, there is an awesome barrel character and floral funk. This is mixed with white fruits, lemon, and lots of seaweed.
On the palate, the ‘walking down the beach’ seaweed funk is more restrained than on the nose. Just like the Verger however, the acidity seems more pronounced, holding layers of tart apple, lemon and lots of tannins. The samphire adds a saltiness, giving it a gose vibe, while I suspect the dulse is responsible for the seaweed, umami-bomb going off in my mouth. I like this, but it’s likely not something for everyone – you definitely have to be into “ocean” flavours.
So there you have it, three brand new Brasserie Harricana bottles that are dropping this weekend at their anniversary party. Once again, the details are right here.
It’s always a pleasure diving into one of Richer’s latest creations. They are always well thought-out and executed. Brasserie Harricana is doing something original and modern in a way that a mango milkshake IPA is not, which – to me at least – is very refreshing and important. Keep doing what your doing!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest