Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment or drop me a line. Cheers! - Bethany

Monday, March 04, 2013

Beer? Don't mind if I do

What's in my fridge tonight?
I've got good friends who know me really well. My otherwise crusty Monday morning was made infinitely better by the kind gesture of a colleague. During a stop at Beau's on the weekend, he remembered how much I enjoyed the Oiseau de Nuit while at Winterbrewed (Feb 17), and bought me a bottle.

Will wonders never cease?

Speaking of Winterbrewed, Hubby and I took in the Saturday evening's line-up of beers and music down on Sparks Street. We were lucky enough to miss the hour-long line-ups of the afternoon; getting a sample from any of the dozen-or-so vendors was a breeze.

The solid beats pumped out from behind Beau's massive pop-up ice bar had me pulling a Silent Bob while I waited for my first pour. The smell of premium poutine from Spud's wafted over the crowds to tease my olfactory nerves. The clear, dark sky was dotted with constellations on an otherwise perfect night. But bloody hell it was cold.

Beau's All Natural Oiseau de Nuit is a gruit (pronounced "groot", the Dutch word for dregs, and the Middle English term gruta, a "coarse meal", which is also connected to "grout", which I find particularly interesting.) Sweet, slightly mealy texture, with a vegetal undercurrent of pumpkin and a warm mix of spice. 

Beyond the Pale Make'r Dark, a cask-conditioned imperial stout aged in a bourbon barrel. At 10.5% abv, this stuff will knock you on yer arse, for sure. I only had a three-ounce serving and felt quite warm and fuzzy after that. Who needs hot beer when you've got that on hand? It was thick, solid black, slightly bitter and redolent with coffee, licorice and a nutty aftertaste.

St-Ambroise √Črable had a tempting nose of classic sugar-shack taffy-on-snow. I was disappointed that very little of that maple-goodness followed through on the palate, though. Same went for HogsBack's much-anticipated Aporkalypse Now, its bacon-infused oatmeal stout. The aromas were more enticing than the flavours. Still, they were both fun to try, and definitely drew in the crowds with their unique twist on the standard hops-n-barley beverage.

Should Winterbrewed return for a second year, I will plan for a daytime outing. And pray for less windchill. Until then, my preference dips towards the summer version of this craft beer celebration (which is scheduled for August 9-17, with a two-day outdoor festival running on the weekend.)

As if all that wasn't enjoyable enough, I have been cordially invited by Katy Watts to join a crew of craft-beer-loving women at the first meeting of the Ottawa chapter of Barley's Angels, on Tuesday, April 2, at Kichesippi Brewery. To join the group or find out more, visit www.barleysangelsottawa.ca, follow on Twittter (@BarleysAngelsOT) or request to be added to the Facebook group. Watch this space for a re-cap of the first meeting - it's gonna be grand!

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