I was honored yet again by Dunham this year ahead of their fall release coming up next week, by an invitation to a preview tasting! I had the opportunity to try some of their concoctions ahead of their release and I am here to share with you some of my thoughts. Dunham has always been on the forefront of wild ales and saisons out of Quebec, and most of what was tasted during the evening were styles that Dunham does best! So I brought along my camera, a note book and a pencil, yes I am very old school I write my notes out by hand! Writing with a lead pencil on paper whilst tasting beer has an almost Ernest Hemingway feel to it. It makes it seem like drinking copious amounts of alcohol is okay because you are writing out some genius work. But really I’m just writing some analytical notes about my subject which is itself alcohol. Damn, and here I thought I was Ernest Hemingway…. well the writing may have failed but Dunham’s beers sure did not!
American Pale Ale || ABV: %5 || IBU: –
This beer is a hopped pale ale fermented with wild yeasts, so you could say its a mash up between an American Pale Ale and a Wild Ale. Created in honor of graphic novelist Michel Rabagliati and adorned with a label created by the legend himself. The beer includes Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy, it’s as if Dunham went inside my head and asked what are your four favorite hops. Now, this beer is fermented in wild yeast, so its not like a fruity hop explosion like you maybe thinking. It is more delicate with the hops infused with the funk and bretts. As Simon said “This is thirst quenching but in the Dunham way.” This beer definitely has a funk and a bold bitterness to it. The funk is a bit more quiet, but it will develop in coming weeks or months. For me it is not a style I really prefer, I don’t enjoy the mash between wild and pale ale so much in general. Although the No Tahoma was one for the books! In any case this beer is still delicately crafted with quality like all of Dunham’s solid beers.
Viti Vini Vici – Cuvée de Coussergues
Sour/Wild Ale || ABV: %5.6 || IBU: 18
“I came I saw I conquered.”
Not only does this beer have a nice ring to the name, it is also leaves your taste buds ringing! This is a new line of beer Dunham is introducing to showcase some of the winemakers of the region. They utilize a saison rustique base for the most part and then co-ferment it with grapes from the winery then aged in wine barrels. Each release will be different grapes from a different winery. Although they are not using the wine barrels from the winery itself, they hope to one day! Which would make for an even greater homage of the winery! The aroma of this beer reminds me a lot of Assemblage No. 1 with an added bold wine quality but more delicate. To taste it is very funk forward but also very balanced. How can a beer be funk forward and be balanced? Heck if I know, but the funk comes in boldly and then mellows away balancing itself with the rest of the woody, earthy, and wine flavours. It is very light and easy to drink and has a great funk with rustic notes on the finish.
Grisettonausore à l’Argousier
Sour/Wild Ale || ABV: %5.1 || IBU: 76
Grisette is a style I am really learning to love, they are like saisons but more dry on the finish. I don’t like when it is too dry, but a nice touch of dryness can make the finish that much more enjoyable for me. This is a collaboration with Cheval Blanc, utilizing a weizen yeast during mid fermentation and aged in wine barrels. The barrels don’t bring out too much of the wood characters, but rather create a very light layer on top. On the nose it explodes with great fruity saison kicks. And on taste it has an amazing fruity, funk and just that minor touch of woody earthyness. It also does present a very light tartness to it. This beer was an absolute delight.
Saison Cassis Reserve Brandy
Saison/Farmhouse Ale || ABV: %6.5 || IBU: –
This beer is Saison Cassis Reserve aged in Brandy barrels. They took the same batch of Saison Cassis Reserve and aged it in two different barrels. I find this version to be far more superior than the Tokai barrel aged. The aroma does hit you in the face with some booziness along with some fruit backing. Taste is fruity and not boozy like the nose suggested. Has a bit of a burn going down, but the balance of flavours is on point. It isn’t like a regular Saison Cassis which to me felt a lot more fruity and sour. The barrels have really developed the beer, but also have toned down the fruity sour attack. It is not too acidic and there is a minor funk dancing around as well with a minor yeast profile.
Saison Cassis Reserve Tokai
Saison/Farmhouse Ale || ABV: %6.5 || IBU: –
Wasn’t too much of a fan of this version. In general I prefer the traditional Saison Cassis Reserve. The nose has a souryness bolder than the brandy, but in general a very quiet aroma. To taste it has a bit off an earthy character to it but very minor. For me its not doing much and there is a slight odd taste on the finish. The fruits and funk are not balancing out well either for me. Very tame overall, but it may develop a bit more overtime, this tasting took place almost three weeks before the release. What I did enjoy about this beer, is that it is a bit more sour and slightly tart in comparison to the Saison Cassis Reserve Brandy.
Oro Zuur #3
Sour/Wild Ale || ABV: %5.5 || IBU: 5
This is version 3 of the Oro Zuur series. The first was showcasing Mosaic hops and the second was showcasing Amarillo hops. This third variant is once again showcasing Mosaic hops with a few minor tweaks. The taste isn’t too bold, it’s very mild sour, mild fruity, with a backbone of tartness. Very light and easy to drink and no yeastyness to taste. But overall very dull and quiet as compared to the first batch with Mosaic. It is less sour and tanic, which I am actually missing. It is not too fruity, not too bold, not too in your face but a great balance of all the flavours. Has a bit more earthy funkiness than B1 or B2. For me B1 was sour/tart/fruity, B2 was sour/fruity/yeasty, and B3 is sour/fruity/funky. I prefer batch 1 is comparison but still a enjoyable beer!
Berliner Dragon Weisse
Berliner Weisse || ABV: %6|| IBU: 76
“DRAGON, DRAGON, not lizard, I don’t do that tongue thing”
This beer to me was the highlight of the evening! This beers powers are beyond our mortal imaginations. So far I have seen their Berliner Weisse with Melon and Mango, but this one utilizes some rye, with ageing in oak barrels with dragon fruits! Aroma has an earthy rusticness to it with a minor fruity kick. There is something interesting about the aroma that is hard to pinpoint, but interesting in a very good way. To taste it has a great fruity sour and a minor yeasty start. Sour and tart, just like I like it! The sour and tartness sticks around for a while and the actual flavours for the dragon are spot on! It is safe to say Mushu would be proud of this beer. Unfortunately it isn’t travel size for your convenience, but a 750ml of this would gladly go straight to my belly, tantalizing my taste buds as it goes down.
The event will be taking place on May 13, 2017 at the Brewery in Dunham, Quebec. You can pre order your bottles here and more information about the event can be found here. Pre ordering your bottles is the easiest way to go! There is also a great selection of their beers on tap during the release as well as some solid food! Dunham always makes their releases an extravagant event which shouldn’t be missed! Till next time and hopefully ill see you at the event!
Words + Photography by Hopcitizen