Flying Monkeys – City and Colour Imperial Maple Wheat


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2013-07-16 18.12.41As the sun slowly sets on a hot Montreal summer day, I pull out my headphones and bottle opener. It’s time to unwind with the melodic tunes of City and Colour and the velvety smooth maple notes of Flying Monkeys Imperial Maple Wheat ale. A collaboration between Dallas Green of City and Colour and the brewers at the Flying Monkeys craft brewery. Where normal is weird and in the case of this beer, exotic is delicious.

Part of Flying Monkeys treble clef series comes their second collaboration beer. A large Imperial Maple Wheat extra strong beer. Brewed with Ontario Maple Syrup, fair-trade organic bourbon vanilla pods, wheat, malted barley, yeast and water.., and music.

Gracefully cursed / I thirst. Luscious. Viscous. Voluptuous. Melodic. A brew with its own emotional strength in an often over-looked style. The North American Imperial Wheat Ale is akin to a barley wine, but the wheat lends a silken mouth feel and lingering finish. At 11.5% ABC, this sweet and big-hearted Imperial Maple Wheat Ale is meant to be shared.

I finally cracked open this beautiful and mysterious ale from Flying Monkeys. A bottle that has been sitting in my fridge for way too long asking to be leisurely imbibed. I turned on the latest City and Colour album to enjoy with my ears while my tongue does the dancing.

Appearance: Off the top I think it needs to be noted that the packaging is absolutely beautiful. From the outer box containing the large 750mL bomber to the bottle itself. I’m a firm believer that we taste as much with our tongue as our eyes and nose. It’s why we put so much emphasis on the look of the beer in the glass. Before even making it’s way into the glass I’m transfixed by what is to come.

This beer is a clear, brilliant ruby red when held up into the sun and a deep dark mahogany otherwise. It pours with a finger of a slightly brown slick head which will dissipate quickly into a thin layer. Not much alcohol legs to notice but it leaves a beautiful sparkling lacing on your glass with nice micro bubbles. When held up to the sun it just simply sparkles.

Aroma: Sweet, tart maple smell. The smell that is familiar with a true maple ale. The maple really jumps out at you and fills the surrounding area with a natural maple syrup bouquet. There’s also more of a maltier than wheat aroma and a bit of vanilla as well. Behind all of that is the hint of alcohol. I would expect it at 11.5% ABV. As the beer warms it becomes a bit more woody and alcoholic.

Taste: First thing you notice is how smooth this beer is on your lips. It is velvety. It silks over your tongue. Maple and vanilla notes all the way. Alcohol hotness at the end and a lingering tart flavour akin to maple ales. Very sweet and sugary like a maple syrup but with enough of balance at the end to round it out. It feels sticky on the lips and glass. A boozy porto like taste at the end as this warms up making this a delightful dessert beer.

Overall: I’ve never had a maple beer that tastes on point like this. I’ve had a few that tasted too artificial or too cloying without the higher alcohol to round it out. Flying Monkeys knows what type of beer they have here. A high alcohol, slow, moody, sipper. Definitely a beer to share with friends after a light dinner. I understand how this can be a bit too sweet for some or too high in alcohol for others, but in the right environment I think anyone can slowly enjoy a half pint. It’s an interesting beer that would fit well in any cellar for the right occasion and I’m curious if this will age well after a year.

2013-07-10 17.52.57At first I was a bit confused about the timing of the release and thought it would be a better spring or late fall beer. I started drinking this before dinner which might have been a mistake since it was so hot and humid outside. As the sun dipped and the air cooled the intention become apparent. Have this beer at sunset as the air begins to cool. Pour into a tulip or snifter and sit back in your chair. Relax. Sip. Share with friends. Enjoy.

This is a limited edition brew that probably won’t last long. I would recommend the drive to a local LCBO or the brewery to pick one up if you can. Flying Monkeys is located at 107 Dunlop Street East, Barrie Ontario Canada, L4M 1A6.

Disclosure: Flying Monkeys provided a free bottle for me to taste


Flying Monkeys/City and Colour collab beer.


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2013-07-10 17.53.25I was lucky to get a bottle of the Flying Monkey’s Craft Brewery and City and Colour collaboration beer. It’s a high-alcohol Imperial Maple Wheat Ale brewed with maple syrup and infused with organic Bourbon vanilla pods and it is a big! Clocking in at 11.5% ABV, this is definitely a beer to share among friends. The beer is part of a special music and beer collaboration project from Flying Monkey’s which started last year with a Barenaked Ladies collaboration.

Peter Chiodo, Flying Monkeys Founder and brewer, is thrilled City and Colour wanted to be part of their collaboration project. “We had a great time coming up with the recipe. Craft beer aficionados and City and Colour fans alike are going to love this beer!” City and Colour and the Flying Monkeys’ brewers hit upon a little-tried, voluptuous beer style for the calm laziness of summer…

“We created the beer recipe in spring when the sap was running and local maple syrup farms were rocking. We’d wanted to use these great maple flavours for a while,” said Chiodo. “Dallas Green is a native son of St. Catharine’s, so the maple added the perfect touch of Ontario to this beer.”

I believe we taste with our eyes and nose as much as with our tongue so I’ll be spinning up the latest City and Colour album “The Hurry And The Harm” and cracking open this collaboration beer next week for review. Quite frankly, I am excited to try this. Maple syrup is not often used in brewing and when it is the outcome is not always great. In the meantime, you can try to pick this up at your local LCBO or at the brewery itself located in Barrie Ontario.


Schoune – L’Érabière


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ABV: 4.5%
SERVING: 341mL Bottle

While I was planning on brewing my homebrew maple ale, I saw this in the depanneur and I was enticed to give it a shot. There isn’t a whole lot of information on their website regarding the beer. Schoune is a very hands on brewery, their slogan being “De la terre à la bière”.

The website is a bit outdated with the description of the beer, listing their maple beer as a 5%ABV but my bottle was 4.5%.

Appearance:
This pours with a large frothy head that dissipates quickly. It is a kind of brown or amber colour in the light. It is very good looking beer that resembles maple syrup. There is a lot of carbonation bubbles pouring off the bottom of the glass. It is a bit cloudy as well.

Aroma:
This beer has a great aroma. There is a sweet and maple aroma mixed with a bit of sour lemon. A bit of a strange and unexpected aroma but it is inviting. No hops noted and it is very sugary.

Taste:
The taste is even more strange and unexpected. Right away you are hit with a lambic like sour flavour.The sourness is cut with a little sweetness but it is not sugary like candy. It has a slick feel in my mouth with lots of carbonation which washes away the flavours quickly. Not bitter at all and very dry and earthy at the end with some woody notes (most likely from the maple syrup). The sour sits on the tongue but doesn’t linger at the end. It is very light and refreshing all things considered.

Overall:
This is a very intriguing beer. What was expected was an overwhelmingly sweet maple ale that ended up being more sour like a lambic than anything else. Maybe I am drinking a bad or an old batch. Not sure as there is no date on the bottles. I definitely want to try this again just to make sure I wasn’t drinking an old or off batch. Otherwise, the beer is interesting and surprisingly nicely refreshing. The carbonation cuts the sourness nicely and it’s relatively light. However you can’t sit and down and drink too much of this without the sour taste getting to you. In fact, I find it hard to finish a full glass of this sometimes and with my 6-pack I think I ended up dumping the last few mouth fulls.

So I guess I’m torn. I would cautiously recommend this. If you’re interested in trying something unique then you should pick up a six pack. Otherwise you might want to stay away from it if the thought of a sour beer doesn’t sound good.


Maple Cream Ale


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I do not know exactly why it took so long for me to brew up my next batch of beer. I guess I wanted to wait to see how the pumpkin beer was received. Then I suppose the winter holidays came and went pretty quickly, filled with days of shopping and drinking said pumpkin beer. As I got to the end of my supply of homebrew, I quickly ealized that I didn’t have another batch to replace it with.

Which taught me a very important lesson about timing homebrews: Always have one fermenting in the pipeline.

I was thinking about the beer though. I wanted to go a bit seasonal again to celebrate the melting of the snow and one of Quebec’s greatest staples, maple syrup. If I wanted to get the beer ready for March (and not two months after the season like my pumpkin beer) I would have to start soon.

It’s easy to get lost in research and the science of homebrewing but at a certain point you just have to go for it. After looking up recipes suitable for maple syrup and how the syrup reacts with the yeast and what flavours it imparts I got my ingredients and hit the ground running (or boiling). So I present to you my Maple Cream Ale.

Read the rest of this entry »


Homebrew Process: Day 0


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The process begins with a thought, an idea, for the perfect beer. Something good. Something different. Before any of the real heavy lifting, since I am relatively new to homebrewing, I will take that idea to the internet to nurture and grow it.

This time my idea is to brew with maple syrup. Spring is around the corner and in Quebec it is the perfect time of the year to indulge in lots of maple at a Cabane à Sucre. There are a lot of questions to ask when brewing with maple and I have no idea how to properly use it.

The first place I will look for answers is the forums at homebrewtalk.com. Pretty much any questions you might have about brewing will already be answered. A quick search of their forums or wiki will get you a good portion of the information you need or at the very least a good starting point for deeper investigation. Also, Google is always your friend.

There will be a lot of information out there. In my case, there are many different opinions on using maple syrup. Some say it doesn’t add any flavour, some say it does. Then there are different times to use it in the process. Boiling it will add a dry woody flavour. Adding too much will dry out the beer and up the alcohol content. Some books add maple during fermentation. Some people use it to prime their bottles (and then you have to make the proper calculations). There are also different grades of maple (and then Canada has different grades than the labels in America).

That’s a lot of information to process. Which is why I won’t jump in head first. I probably won’t decide how to use maple properly until brew day.

Here’s what I know so far about using maple syrup.

  • Adding it to the boil will produce a dry woody flavour.
  • Adding it to the fermentation will help retain more maple flavour. However there is a risk of contamination and halting the yeast productivity. If you don’t use a fresh bottle of maple then you should boil it with water to sanitize before adding it. Remember that the yeast will eat the sugar and it won’t be that classic sweet taste you’re expecting.
  • I’ve read some warnings of botulism cultivating in home made maple syrup but using bought syrup from a can or bottle should be fine.
  • Using maple to prime your bottles will retain the sweet smooth taste. But you have to calculate the amount properly or you risk messing up your carbonation.
  • You will have to use a lot of maple syrup to maintain a taste which can be expensive. Although, in my opinion, taste is arbitrary to individuals so you have no idea what is the ‘right’ amount of ‘taste’ is unless you try it.
  • There are different grades of syrup. Using a higher grade (lighter) will give you more fermentable sugars while using a lower grade with more “impurities” will contain less pure sugar but will have more flavour. Using cooking grade maple will probably be the best bet if your goal is to create flavour in your beer and not higher alcohol content.
  • Keep reading tomorrow when I begin to craft the recipe.