Last week was an exciting one at Winterlong with lots of barrel work. We had as much fun filling and emptying barrels as we did individually naming each one. This marks the return of some beers we release once a year as well as something completely new and exciting. Here’s a recap of what went down.
Alex's barrel transfer plan.
After four months of conditioning in bourbon-soaked barrels (aka Huey, Dewey, and Louie), TERROR Oak-Aged Russian Imperial Stout was moved to the brite tank for carbonation and packaging last Friday. It’s lusciously smooth with notes of dark chocolate, roast, molasses, toffee, vanilla and toasted oak. It’s now available in bottles at our Tasting Room and should be on Liquor Store shelves in a couple weeks.
TERROR’s un-oaked counterpart, EREBUS, named after the Franklin Expeditions other ill-fated shipwreck, will be joining the bottle line up at the end of the month.
Terror now in bottles.
While Terror left its barrel home, another heavy hitter, DIVINE INTERVENTION Belgian Tripel, took residence in freshly emptied Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels (introducing, Alvin, Theodore and Simon). We typically age this beer even longer in barrels, around 8-10 months. We still have a few cases of the 2018 iteration, if you can’t wait to taste this next batch.
If you're interested in seeing what this beer tastes like before it goes into the barrels, we have a couple kegs with just 'simply' DIVINE, on tap while supplies last. At 10.5%, this huge beer boasts classic Belgian-yeast aromas of spice and fruit, with a candy-like sweetness that leads to a dry finish. Sorry no growler fills on this one.
It truly is Divine!
With our simple company philosophy of 'brewing the beer we want to drink', we’ve finally taken the plunge and are putting some ‘funk’ (aka Brettanomyces or Brett) into two new beers.
Brett let me introduce you to Winterlong!
For our first experimentation with this so called ‘wild’ yeast, we’ve brewed two base beers, a double IPA and a saison. After primary fermentation, both beers were transferred to their own respective red wine barrels (enter T-Boz, Left Eye, Chilli + Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA). We then pitched the same Brett strain into each beer to see how it manifests in these two styles. We’ll be sampling the barrels every few months until the yeast is done its work and we have the desired flavour profile. Then it’ll be dry hopping time and packaging.
Now we wait!
Lastly, we are so grateful that we get to do what we do and wouldn’t be here without all of you and our awesome team! We will continue to improve the beer we know you want to drink and explore the beer styles that excite us. Cheers to another great year at Winterlong.
You haven’t heard from us for a while as we’ve been busy little elves working away at getting beer out the door and ready for the busy December holiday season. Happy to say we have our bottles back on liquor store shelves and you’ll find more Winterlong beer on tap around the city. Check out the latest locations Wayfarer Oyster House, Cruzair, Epic Pizza, Mount Sima and soon Earls!
Elf Central Witbier
Our latest beer release, Elf Central (4.5%), has hit the taps as of yesterday. A portion of the proceeds from growler and crowler fills will be going to the Whitehorse Firefighters Charitable Society’s Share the Spirit Yukon, a campaign that raises funds for families in need this Christmas season. ‘Elf Central’ happens to be the name of their Share the Spirit headquarters. We will be donating $2 from every large growler fill and $1 from small growler/crowler fill. A great reason to come give it a try.
It is a refreshing, lightly spiced, Belgian wheat beer brewed with coriander and cardamom, along with a witbier yeast. Other than at the Tasting Room you will be able to find it soon on tap also at the Wayferer Oyster House and the Dirty Northern.
Moonbase Freedom New England IPA
We were inspired to try out some new recipe ideas after our recent beer pilgrimage to New England this fall. Our latest creation, Moonbase Freedom New England IPA, features a different yeast and malt bill than our normal hazy offerings, with Vermont Ale Yeast and Maris Otter malt. Of course, we also wanted to play around with a new hop variety, so we added Strata to the mix of Mosaic and Galaxy. It is tasting great out of the fermenter and should be ready for the masses by late next week.
Guilt Trip Barleywine
Next week we’ll have our annual release of our Guilt Trip Barleywine. Just like Christmas, this beer comes once a year and is revered by hop heads and malty-beer lovers alike. Enjoyed fresh, this beer features a huge dry hop blast of Galaxy, Simcoe, Amarillo and Columbus. As the beer ages the hoppyness subsides and gives way to malty flavours of toffee, raisin and prune. The bottle release will roll out next week (likely Dec 11) and we may put a keg on when there’s a tap open.
At this year’s Yukon Beer Festival we are looking forward to releasing our first ever collaboration brew.
Collaboration brews seem so commonplace for craft breweries down south, but for us being so far north it’s not as easy to collaborate on beers with other breweries. It’s something we’ve had on our bucket list, as what could be more fun than getting a bunch of brewers together to come up with a recipe and have a fun day of brewing and drinking beer together.
To mark the 5th anniversary of the Yukon Beer Festival the festival organizers encouraged us to work on a special collaboration beer with an outside brewery. We jumped at the chance! Category 12 Brewing from Victoria, BC was a brewery at the top of our list to work with since we had met the founders, Michael and Karen Kuzyk, last year when they served at the Yukon Beer Festival. We also love every Category 12 beer we've ever tried.
Michael agreed to work with us and we discussed over email on potential brews and flew him up last month. With Michael having a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry he offered up some options for yeasts to use. We decided to go with something new to us, a Kveik yeast. We took inspiration from Kveik’s Norwegian roots and started researching Norwegian farmhouse ales. We found that many recipes incorporate juniper branches in the brew and we just so happen to have an abundance of juniper in our neighborhood and liked the Yukon-foraged twist we could add to the collaboration. We also had several pounds of spruce tips left over that would go nicely with the juniper.
The star of the show, the Kveik yeast brought up in Michael's suitcase.
Harvesting juniper branches from the local Sima neighbourhood.
Prepping the Spruce Tips.
Michael arrived by plane on a Friday night with his suitcase bursting at the seams with containers of yeast and freshly canned Category 12 Juicy Data IPA (thanks Michael)! The next day we awoke bright and early and met Alex and Kevin (our brewers) at the brewery along with our friend Sean (contributing spruce tips and delicious homebrew). We had soaked a few pounds of juniper branches in our brew water over night but found we wanted a bit more juniper influence so added some more to the boil along with the spruce tips. The malt bill was kept simple with 50/50 pilsner to 2-row barley. Hops were added only for bittering during the boil to let the yeast and locally foraged ingredient take center stage.
Coffee quickly turned to beer followed by BBQ burgers and more beer as the afternoon wore on. We finished off the day with a hike up on Mount McIntyre to soak in the fall colours and dinner at Woodcutter's Blanket.
All hands on deck! You can't just stand around and drink beer, all day!
Adding the finishing touch, the yeast.
A cool thing about Kveik yeast is that it can ferment at really high temperatures and be done within a few days. Most of our beers are fermented at 19-21°C but we pitched the yeast around 25°C and were going to let it free rise up to a max of 35°C. In typical Kveik yeast fashion the fermentation took off by the next morning. It was almost too vigorous that a lot of the yeast might have got pushed up and out of the fermenter! After that it was a sluggish finish to a final gravity we could be content with (not quite as low as we were targeting). Such is life when you are working with a new beast.
Superpowered fermentation leads to a big mess on the brewery floor.
All in all it was a fun brew day all together and the beer turned out great and unlike anything we have made before. The Kveik shines in the beers aroma and flavour with a light spicyness and juicy orange and apple cider character. The spruce blends nicely with the Kveik yeast flavours, while the juniper shows up as an herbal dryness towards the end of the sip.
Get the first taste of Norse Code Norwegian Farmhouse Ale (7.5%) at the Yukon Beer Festival this Friday and Saturday night. After that it will be available at the brewery on draught.
We have quite the exicting beer release line up for September and October. Mark your calendars!
It is that time of year again when our last Spruce Tip Seasonal Pale Ale of the 2018 will be released. For you crazy spruce heads out there, you won't want to miss the release date of Thursday, September 13th. We have 45 cases of bottles and lots on draught for you to celebrate this unique beer. Then it's a long winter until we're able to pick more fresh tips in Spring 2019.
With the return of darker nights, we're bringing back our Nightshade Black IPA! This beer has been out of rotation for several months but was one of the beers in our regular line up in our early years and a favourite for many. Roasty and hoppy all in one, we're looking forward to putting a few of these back over the next few months. It will be available in bottles and on tap starting Thursday, September 13th.
We've got a brand, spanking new beer coming out this weekend (Saturday, September 15). A Double New England Style IPA with rye malt. It's big and bad, with one of the thickest mashes we've ever encountered. The mash tun was stuffed to the brim with 2-row barley, malted rye, flaked rye and oats. We loaded it with Citra and Denali hop pellets and Vic Secret lupulin powder.
At the end of August, we tried our hands at our first fresh hop beer. Fresh Cascade hops were picked the night before at Northwest Hop Farms in Chilliwack and sent up on Air North the next morning. We threw these green beauties into a special rye pale ale. This beer will be ready for sampling on tap hopefully sometime next week!
We're doing our first collaboration brew this weekend, with Michael from Category 12 Brewing out of Victoria, BC. We met Michael and his wife Karen back at the Yukon Beer Festival last fall and have kept in touch ever since. Michael is a mad scientist when it comes to brewing, with a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry, so he's offered to bring up a cool yeast for us to use. Stay tuned for more info on this brew and be sure to get your tickets for the 5th Annual Yukon Beer Festival where it will be released!
Our next barrel-aged beer release will be our Divine Intervention Tripel, aged many months in Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon barrels. It will be ready late September.
We are currently on our last keg of Surfer Rosa Gose in the Tasting Room and are already sold out of bottles. But we'll be brewing up a batch of dry-hopped kettle sour soon. It will likely be released during the Yukon Beer Festival mid-October.
With fall here, we'll be bringing back our Firebean Rye Coffee Porter as well as Log Splitter Smoked Porter. Look for these in late-October/November.