We recently had the opportunity to chat with Patrice Godin, brewmaster and owner of Acadie-Broue, a New Brunswick nanobrewery well-known for churning out excellent beers of both Belgian and German styles (for an overview on Patrice and Acadie-Broue we did in May, 2012, click here). Patrice brews small batches at a time – all of his beers are available exclusively at the Laundromat Espresso Bar (a.k.a. Marky’s) in Moncton – and is now winding down for the coming months, as with his current setup it isn’t possible to brew in the cold temperatures of winter. Luckily for all of us, he has just had two new beers approved by ANBL for release at Marky’s!
(Warning: The following beer information is slightly technical, and some information may be appreciated by homebrewers and serious beer geeks only)
The first beer that was recently approved is called “Valdrague Weizen”, a wheat beer brewed in the classic German Hefeweizen style. Patrice says that he has always been a big fan of this style of beer, and has been disappointed in what’s available in the Atlantic provinces. After sampling an excellent example of the style from Toronto brewery Denison’s, Patrice was inspired to create another well-brewed Hefeweizen himself.
Hefeweizen is a beer style that classically has a seemingly-simple recipe, usually consisting of wheat malt and Pilsner malt at a 1:1 ratio (in Germany, there is an ancient law that states that a beer labelled as a Hefeweizen must contain at LEAST 50% wheat malt). Patrice followed this direction, and brewed two batches, lightly hopping each with the “noble hop” varieties of Saaz and Hallertauer. For fermentation, he chose Wyeast’s 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen, a yeast strain from the oldest still-operating brewery in the world, the Weihenstephan brewery in Germany. Fermented cool at about 17 Celsius, the first batch was very tasty, but lacking slightly in the clove character well-known in the style. With the second batch, Patrice added a classic ferulic rest to the brewing process, which resulted in a better balance between the clove and the expected banana notes.
A little background on how the beer was named, Valdrague is the Acadien word for “willy-nilly”. Patrice describes the beer as very cloudy (on par for the style); at first glance, it appears the beer was brewed quickly and carelessly, or “willy-nilly”. The name also has a nod to its German roots, as the initials “VW” refer to the German automobile company, Volkswagen. Coming in at 15 IBUs and an ABV of 5%, the five kegs of Valdrague Weizen should be available at Marky’s sometime this week.
Moving back to his main passion, Belgian-style beers, Patrice will also be releasing a beer in the sour category, a Straight (Unblended) Lambic, or technically a “Lambic-Style” beer since it was brewed outside the Senne Valley of Belgium. This is a beer style that is also pale and wheat-based, but different compared to other wheat beers in that it is sour, acidic… and still, or flat. When Lambics of different ages are blended, the resulting beer is called a Gueuze, which is similar in flavor and aroma to Lambic, but ends up being a highly-carbonated beer. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a brewery in Atlantic Canada has released a Lambic-style beer, which makes this particular release extra-special!
Patrice has a 5-gallon wooden barrel that he has used for fermenting other beers in the past. Barrels are well-known in the brewing world for imparting their own character into a beer, while at the same time taking in new yeast and bacteria from beers that have been in contact with them. When Patrice took his first stab at the Lambic style, he fermented the beer in the barrel with only the wild yeast Brettanomyces, and a souring bacteria, Lactobacillus. After racking the beer out of the barrel, he left the resulting “cake” – the slurry containing the yeast and bacteria – and brewed and fermented another batch in the barrel. This time, he noticed some sour character developing in the beer after only 10 days; the beer continued to gain complexity very quickly. Patrice continued to let the beer mature and condition for another 6 months, before submitting it to the ANBL, where it was recently approved for sale in New Brunswick.
This beer is named “Zirable”, the Acadien word for “It’s gross”. When naming this beer, Patrice was taking an anti-marketing approach… we’re sure this is the case, as we can’t imagine this beer is anything other than the OPPOSITE of gross! It has an alcohol content of 5% ABV, and is described by Patrice as being sour and acidic, but not overwhelmingly so, with lots of “woody flavors” due to the small barrel size (and therefore more contact with the beer). Patrice plans on giving the beer a bit more time to condition, so look for Zirable at Marky’s sometime in early-to-mid 2014. There will only be ONE keg of this beer available, so stay tuned to Acadie-Broue’s and Marky’s Facebook pages to find out exactly when it will be tapped!
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited about these beers! Ok, I’m excited about most beers, but still, they sound great, and if we go by Patrice’s usual track record with what he brews at Acadie-Broue, we won’t be disappointed!
Note: There will be a French version of this article posted tomorrow morning.