An article by Noah Forrest.
Innovation when it comes to craft beer can come in all different forms. It can mean continuing to perfect that clean Pilsner you’re working on by adopting new methods, or it can mean discovering a new wild yeast strain from the wildflowers growing behind your brewery. It can also mean throwing unconventional ingredients like marshmallows, tea, or obscure fruit into your beers to try and come up with something new. Whatever your innovation is, it’s always fun to see breweries come up with new methods or ideas for their beers.
Microbrasserie 4 Origines opened their doors in April 2018, and are located on the eastern tip of Point-St-Charles (southwest Montreal). At the time, they were one of the first breweries on the island that not only had a tap room, but were also able to sell bottles and cans to go on the premises.
Every brewery has a particular approach to what they produce. Some keep it simple, delivering nothing but modern classics, while others push the limits on trends – and some do some kind of combination of the two, carrying a hazy double IPA alongside a nondescript “Rousse”. 4 Origines, however, is a bit harder to classify. Their approach has always been innovative, but not along the lines of attacking ultra trending styles like an endless stream of NEIPA’s or crazy fruited sours. Nor are they taking the wild fermented approach, with Brett in everything, or saisons galore. Instead, they are almost “classic” with an edge, delivering beers that feel rooted in solid styles, but often with unconventional adjuncts – especially tea infusion. Hell, they even did an IPA with Fuzzy Peaches candy. One thing they carry throughout all of their releases however, is a really solid execution. So even if I might not always be excited by a particular style they are dropping, I’m always impressed and usually ultimately fall in love with the end result.
4 Origines just release a new line of one-ff beers called “Innovation”. I had a quick interview with CEO and co-owner Michael D’Ornellas about this new series and where they want to take it.
1. You’ve created a new line of beers entitled “Innovation”, what sparked this new series and what does innovation in beer mean to you?
When we started the brewery, we set out to hold four values, and what we call today “pillars”, above all else in our culture: education, innovation, collaboration and community. We educate customers every day in our taproom, whether through conversation or physical tours of our facility; we collaborate time after time with other artisans; we engage the community often, support charity initiatives and share in their support of local businesses; so naturally, we decided to innovate by brewing new and alternative beers available on site only. To be blunt, rather than make a label and push a name for a beer that we want to alter, improve and research, we figured a name that respected that idea would do better.
2. Can you tell me a bit about the first three beers in this series? What were the ideas behind their inception?
Pale Ale #1 | We were looking to combine our passion for accessible, easy drinking and quality ales with the trends behind hazy beers. It represents a fun initiative for us to continue our quest for balance but supply what our customers and industry leaders deem to be a good hazy and hoppy brew. Our Session Milkshake IPA, as unique as it is in character and style, is actually another attempt to push past our standard hoping doses. As it says in our Taproom, it’s a collaboration with one of our own brewers, Nicolas Fleury, as a joke and tribute to the fact that a beer was dry-hopped, with the wrong hops. While it is funny, it’s a tribute because we were able to run with the change and make it work, while learning in the process. Finally, our Golden Ale speaks to our love for coffee and its repeated use in our brewing process. We tried to imagine a blind tasting, in which you might confuse a golden coloured ale to a rich stout because of its aromatics and flavours. Did we achieve our result? You tell me, that’s why it’s called the Innovation series.
3. What can we expect in the future for “innovation”? We we see any wild yeast, high ABV, or event barrel aging in the near future?
All I can say is, more hops, extra-strong beers, many new and exciting fermentations, which may or may not involve wood (but most likely involve wood), also more hops.
You can expect us to start pushing the boundaries that we’ve been trying to define.
Let’s dig in!
Hazy Pale Ale
The first in the new series is Hazy Pale Ale #1. The nose is straight orange juice, with zesty and bright aromatics coming through strong. Lots of candied lemon and a general “Five Alive” citrus punch hits you. Up front this is dry, carrying a hefty bitterness for the style, but also keeping everything in balance. There is a rich body here, which complements the whole thing. Again, orange at the front, with pithy grapefruit rinds and citrus everything against a tropical backdrop.
This IPA was almost 5 weeks old when I drank it, and was holding up well. I would have liked to try it fresher, but doesn’t appear to have dropped off.
Next up is the Milkshake Session. The nose launches lots of bright tropical fruits, with grapefruit, pineapple, orange, and papaya at the front. A super light on the palate, with a nice hop tang, delivering pineapple brightness the most. Grapefruit bitterness cleans out the finish, with some light hop funk and an almost candy-like citrus quality.
Milkshake Session is insanely drinkable, carrying a slightly augmented body from the lactose and just a touch of stickiness. It’s dry as a bone though. Tasty stuff.
Last up is Golden Stout. I haven’t had a ton of these golden/blonde/white stouts, but this one, by a landslide, smells the most like an actual stout. The nose is coffee through the roof, which presents aromatics that match the roasted grain of a stout perfectly. It’s nutty as well, with hints of caramel, chocolate, and some earthiness.
The palate matches, delivering something that has stout-like elements, but is truly its own thing. Lots of coffee comes through, carrying nutty and chocolate layers, alongside some gentle fruit-like acidity. Caramel and toasted sugars lend compliment to layers of earthy coffee beans and some apparent, but impressively restrained bitterness. In many ways having this level of coffee in a beer with lighter roasted malts really brings out the subtitles of the beans. This beer is dry, but carries a lovely richness that provides just the right amount of sweetness. It’s fun and very enjoyable.
Being able to have the freedom to create small batch one-off beers can be a great way for breweries to experiment and try new things. 4 Origines has been producing consistent and well crafted offerings since they opened. I’m excited to see more from this new more agile approach to creating. I’ll certainly be watching.
An Article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest