The Artisanal Beer Club of Newfoundland, run by Tom Beckett and Mike Buhler, began in 2011. Their goal is to allow Newfoundland and Labrador residents access to a greater selection of craft beer than the NLC currently provides. The two men seek out great craft beer breweries, and offer their 800+ members the opportunity to try these beers not available in Newfoundland. It is really a win-win for the breweries and members, who would never normally be able to connect. Please check our profile on them from December for some more background, and how to join if you live in Newfoundland.
I was recently in St. John’s, and luckily my visit was during a beer tasting put on by Mike and Tom at the Quidi Vidi Brewery (beautiful location in Quidi Vidi Village, a few minutes East of downtown St. John’s). They were pouring beers from Charlevoix, which came in as part of their second offering of beer to the club (their first was Dieu du Ciel!, and third that just closed was Flying Monkeys).
Over 80 people were in attendance, and were greeted at the door by Tom (who writes “Beckett on Wine” for the NLC Occasions Magazine), who let us know the plan for the evening, and started us off with a ticket for a Quidi Vidi beer. QV’s new British IPA had recently been launched, so this was the first time many of us had the chance to try it. A solid British-style IPA with lots of earthy hop character, a great way to start the evening.
As we went to our seats, we found a great Roast Beef sandwich to help clean our palates between beers, and the wonderful Beer Evaluation Sheet, as created by Mirella Amato, a Master Cicerone. Mike encouraged us to fill out as much or as little as we liked on the sheet, and use it to help pick out the aromas, flavours and feelings we were getting from the different beers we’d be tasting.
Over the course of the next two hours, Mike (whose website is Beerthief.ca), a Certified Beer Server himself (and going for his Certified Cicerone distinction), lead us through the tasting of four different beers from Charlevoix. We tasted their Dominus Vobiscum Double, Triple, their Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout, and Dominus Vobiscum Hibernus.
My notes from the evening:
Double: 8%, copper in colour. Dark fruit (fig/raisin) on the nose, nice carbonation level, finishing with a bit of heat.
Triple: 9%, golden. Some hops on the nose, with more alcohol heat and carbonation.
Vache Folle Imperial Stout: 9%, dark brown. Lots of roast in this one, as well as a bit of sweetness from the lactose. Tons of chocolate in there too!
Hibernus: 10%, light brown. The aroma on this beer is very berry-like (I got blueberry), thanks to the hard working yeast. At 10%, this would not be confused with a blueberry wheat beer, but it does make for an easy-drinking big beer. I can see this beer developing and aging quite nicely over a few years in the cellar.
Cheers to the Newfoundland Beer group! I’d encourage all Newfoundlanders to sign up (send an email to Tom with your details, including the NL Liquor store closest to you) to hear the latest news as it’s released.
(Editor’s Note: It was originally reported that Mike Buhler is a Certified Cicerone. Mike is a Certified Beer Server, and will be taking his Certified Cicerone exam soon)