Last week I had the opportunity to hang with Renaud Gouin and Shawn Duriez from Avant-Garde Artisans Brasseurs for a meeting, a tour and a tasting, ahead of their release of the New Wave Milkshake IPA and Avant-Garde’s 1 year anniversary this weekend! Details below! What I thought would be a more mellow night, coincidentally turned into a spectacle of laughs, beers, and some delivery pizza. Although I arrived home 3 hours later than expected my wife was already half asleep so I did not get the immediate lashing I so deserved. I blame Renaud and Shawn for that, although they were respectful of my returning home, asking if I was good to stay longer as they cracked one bottle after another. So the blame truly falls on the beer, laughs and all round great time. Fine! I admit it, it was my fault, give me good company, great beer and some laughs and ill go with the moment! Good thing the wife doesn’t read the blog, sorry Renaud and Shawn, in her eyes the fault is still yours! Jokes aside, I was greeted with smiles and warm hearts as soon as I walked into the brewery. There is always something special about the moment you step into a brewery, the air smells so beautiful, it’s hard to put into words. The yeast, the grains, the hops all converge into a spectacle of aromas, hustling and bustling through your senses.
Warning: some profanity may follow, uncensored where necessary, otherwise you can see the icon * indicating that I am swearing out of my f******* a**. My grandma used to wash my mouth with soap when I’d swear, but did I learn? I think not! FUCK it.
When I first began to explore the craft beer scene in Quebec my main focus was fixated on finding a great local IPA, because an IPA in the craft beer industry is probably the most consumed style, and well dammit, I fucking love my IPAs. Typical Californian, psh. So the first few IPAs I tested out were Le Castor Yakima, Dieu Du Ciel Moralite and Jukebox Distorsion. Jukebox brewery is Renaud Gouin’s hoppy baby. His focus with this brewery was to create hoppy american IPAs and similar styles. When I started to see this trend of the Milkshake IPA, the new thing for 2017 in craft beer, not only did I dance around like a child, I also read up on it. And with some great excitement was ready to seek these out. Why you ask? Because I have a sugar tooth and I love IPAs. How does one satisfy both needs? Make a FUCKING milkshake IPA, hot damn! Milkshake IPA what the f*** you ask? Well every year there are newer beer styles emerging from the creative brains of brewers. And the Milkshake IPA has gained popularity since Omnipollo/Tired Hands released a Milkshake IPA in March of 2015. The history and origins of this style are yet to be researched, but the popularity of this style started there and well today, it is on the rise. And this is one style that I am stoked about (remember when your English teacher used to say don’t start a sentence with “And”, well fuck it.)
So back to this extravagant beer style. What is a Milkshake IPA? Well it is an IPA, so of course it’s hoppy as shit, but the difference is the addition of lactose sugars and sometimes even vanilla to create a more thick, milky and sweet beer, that well for all intensive purposes resembles a milkshake. So consensus, count me in! I was going to say give the dog a bone, but then I checked what that actually means, Urban Dictionary. So shag a dirty bird, well… if this Milkshake IPA is a dirty bird I’m game like Lionel Richie All Night Long. Here is some more information about the New Wave Milkshake IPA from Jukebox, hitting shelves in stores by Wednesday!
Jukebox New Wave
Milkshake IPA || ABV: 6.1% || IBU: 50
Bottled: April 3, 2017 || Drank: April 5, 2017
First to have this beer and honored to talk about it! Thanks Renaud and Shawn for spreading the love my way. The aroma is spectacular, I’m get a crazy fruity kick, almost like orange julep with hops on steroids and a crazy hazy appearance. The taste right of the bat is super creamy, milky and juicy. Very light, mellow and easy to drink with not much bitterness taking over. The bitterness is masked by the amazing creamy milkiness and the mouth feel on this beautiful bastard is incredible and the texture settles amazing well on the palate. The lacing left behind is a thing of beauty. Throw in a scoop of vanilla ice cream? Why not!
Apart from the New Wave Milkshake IPA, many other beers were had as the night progressed. Focused on the Avant-Garde side of things in light of their one year anniversary coming up. Avant-Garde is the brain child of Renaud Gouin and Shawn Duriez which started a year ago. The brewing of both Avante-Garde and Jukebox are done at Oshlag Brasserie & Distillerie. The guys were awesome enough to crack open a special barrel aged magnum which they wanted to test the carbonation of ahead of the anniversary party and it was a spectacle which y’all are soon to hopefully get a chance to sip on. Apart from the barrel aged beers, few regulars were opened up including the Ippon and the collab with Harricana the Rousse 30. Both of which were enjoyed by yours truly. The Ippon in particular would pair well with a sushi dinner. Although I am no huge fan of lagers or ambers, these two really settled well with me especially the oak nibs on the rousse 30.
As the night wore on, more beers were opened and I was introduced to the wonderful world of Avant-Garde’s barrel aged program. Recently several months back Avant-Garde had a beer release which included imperial versions of their regular beers. But now they’ve stepped up the game even more by barrel ageing those beers. So Mr. Brown has matured to Dr. Brown.
Mr. Brown himself posing whilst hard at work
I would like to introduce the line up of Avant-Garde’s barrel aged beers properly, but the labeling was not yet completed. But I can definitely talk a bit about each one from the tasting which took place. Or shall I say I tasted, whilst Renaud and Shawn proceeded to get a little bit more than tipsy if you get my meaning.
Barrel 15 Prime // Barrel #15
Sour/Wild Ale || ABV: 7% || IBU: 18
This is the first sour/wild ale produced by Avant-Garde and it is a saison with different cultures added. The taste has a great earthyness that comes forward with a wonderful (sorry Lederman had to use it) lemon drop at the finish. Super funky and earthy but still easy to drink. This will be released in limited quantities at the event at Haricanna. And since Shawn loves his bling, he threw it out in a magnum sized bottled at 1.5 liters.
Saison || ABV: 10 || IBU: 43
The imperial funk is their Funk Et La Furie doubled and aged in tequila barrels. Tequila barrels are not as popular in barrel ageing world, but it does some solid wonders on this beer. This beer boasts some strong peppery, earthy flavours and has a bit of warmth to it. The tequila adds some interesting characters and as a beer on its own, it seems to support it well. However as we moved on to other beers, my opinion on this one changed a bit.
Brown Ale || ABV: 8.5% || IBU: 39
You got to give Shawn props for the reference here. So Dr. Brown is Mr. Brown doubled and aged in refined barrels of rye. It is about 80% rye and 20% bourbon. Who is Mr. Brown? Quentin Tarantino himself from the movie Reservoir Dogs, directed by Quentin Tarantino. I find Tarantino a master of storytelling who captures the importance of dialogue almost serene like. Tarantino as those who have appreciated his works, focuses his storytelling almost entirely through the dialogue. You miss one or two lines from Inglorious Bastards, trust me you’ve missed a lot! Just like the masterful beauty of dialogue used by Tarantino to convey his message and story, Shawn uses the masterful art of brewing to bring about this incredible brown ale. The aroma boasts the story of a tropical horizon exploding with coconuts, the rye balances supremely well with the flavours dancing about and brings about characters that are solidly on point! The style with the specific barrels are in line just as they should be. This was the highlight for my evening and I highly recommend this beer.
October En April
Barleywine || ABV: 9.5% || IBU: 57
This beer is a barley wine, British style, and aged in matured bourbon barrels. Aroma has that strong malty bourbon sweetness that is pretty apparent and bold. Taste has a nice sweetness to it but is not too overpowering on the palate. It does have a string of warmth and burn to it as well. I have always noticed that the bourbon barrel aged beers tend to be a bit harder to digest, and they tend to always have a burn to them. Not that they are not enjoyable, they most definitely are! Maybe for me it is a preference thing and it also depends on several other factors which play into the taste.
So there are my takes on what is to come from Avant-Garde this weekend! It is going to be a blast and you can be sure you will be buying and drinking some great brews made my some all around solid dudes!
Here are the details for the events:
1e Celebration at Harricana
April 15, 2017
6pm – 2am
Brasserie Harricana // 95 rue Jean-Talon O, Montreal, Quebec H2R 2W8
Avant Garde 1e Release Party
April 15, 2017
1pm – 5pm
Oshlag Brasserie & Distillerie // 2350 Dickson Rue, Montreal, Quebec H1N 3T1
Words + Photography by Hopcitizen