13 Best Hops to Brew With, According to Goose Island Brewmaster, Brett Porter

Brett Porter, brewmaster at Goose Island, presented on hops sourcing in a time of shortage.

Goose Island Brewmaster, Brett Porter lists his favorite hops at the Mondial de la bière Master Classes.

At Mondial de la bière, an annual beer festival known around the world as one of the most prominent in North America (held for the 23rd year in Montreal at the Palais de Congres June 8-12, 2016), a new initiative was introduced to festival-goers this year: the Master Classes.

Launched in partnership with Goose Island Beer Co. and targeted to industry professionals (along with avid homebrewers and connoisseurs), the new feature brought three  world-famous brewers to classroom settings to share their insights into different aspects of the brewing business: Yvan De Baets, Brasserie de la Senne; Leonardo Di Vincenzo, Birra Del Borgo; and Brett Porter, Goose Island brewmaster, who led a session on hops sourcing in a time of shortage, an issue which many craft breweries are facing today.

Along with filling in audience members on his history in the beer industry—which spans 28 years between Bunces Brewery in England, Portland and Deschutes breweries in Oregon, and the past six years at Goose Island—Porter stressed the importance of seeking out and cultivating relationships with hops farmers. In his experience, he said, hop growers are the most “open, welcoming and happy people” in the world, and knowing the right people to call will invariably lead to hops-sourcing success. Toward the end of the session, Porter shared a list of his favorite hops to brew with, along with (in most cases) the farms he works with to acquire them.
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Brewery to Watch: Brasserie Dunham

Brasserie Dunham bottle lineup at Mondial de la bière 2016.

Simon Gaudreault, co-owner of Brasserie Dunham, with a bottle lineup at Mondial de la bière 2016.

Among the 536 beers and 586 total beverages offered by more than 85 breweries present at the 23rd Mondial de la biere in Montreal, none stood more than those of Brasserie Dunham (Dunham Brewery), a microbrewery specializing in farmhouse style and wild ales located about an hour southeast of Montreal.

The brewery first caught our eye (along with our nostrils and tastebuds) at Les Terrasses Flaveurs, a beer and caprices tasting organized by Quebec-based beer and gastronomy expert, author and speaker, Philippe Wouters. The pairing experience was organized in stations, the second of which paired caprices from Au Petit Extra  with two of Brasserie Dunham’s expert creations:

First Pairing:  Spring roll with mango, ginger and tempeh, paired with Brasserie Dunham Saison Fleurs Sauvages.

This spring roll was the best either of us have ever had in our lives—no, seriously. Nothing like the greasy, crispy cylinder stuffed with cabbage and carrot that we’re used to. Refined yet approachable, this roll was fresh, delicate and grease-free, prepared more like a maki with miniature rice noodles in place of the rice and a moist,  translucent rice paper skin in place of the seaweed. The best part was the fresh ginger, first enveloped within the spring roll’s fragrant folds, then bursting to life on the tongue with that quintessential ginger zing. (We weren’t the only ones talking about this roll all weekend.)

The Saison Fleurs Sauvages label. Each bottle label is designed by a different local artist. Image via brasseriedunham.com.

The Saison Fleurs Sauvages bottle label; each beer label at Brasserie Dunham is designed by a different local artist. Image via brasseriedunham.com.

Saison Fleurs Sauvages, or saison with wild flowers (6% ABV), was a perfect pairing, equally fragrant and refined at its delicate core, with its own set of unique nuances. According to Dunham co-owner, Simon Gaudreault (who is also an accomplished wine sommelier and writer), the saison includes three types of wild flowers: raspberry (little white flowers that grow with the berry); elderflower (also little and white, often used in herbal remedies and recently, in craft beers); and berce flowers, for which he nor I could find an English translation.

Second Pairing:  Dark malt bread with smoked salmon “nuggets,” paired with Brasserie Dunham Assemblage #1.

The caprice here was essentially a small piece of rye bread toast with a shmear of butter, lox-like smoked salmon pieces, and topping of dill-weed. Like fancy lox on a bagel with a hearty crunch, the fat of the butter and salt of the salmon were cut exquisitely by the funky, dry and bitter formulation of Assemblage 1.

Assemblage Numéro 1

Assemblage Numéro 1, a wild beer blend aged in Zinfandel barrels.

Assemblage 1 is a blend of American Pale Ale and saison with honey (or more accurately, propolis) aged in Zinfandel barrels with brettanomyces yeast. Read that again. It’s delicious! Funky, rustic, fruity, hoppy…it’s all there, and it’s truly special. According to the brewery, Assemblage 1 is the first “assembly” or blend in which the effect of the barrels transcends the two base beers. Voila.

Fun fact: Dunham brewery is located in Dunham, Quebec, not far from the U.S. border. As such, the brewery has done a few collaborations with American brewers—Hill Farmstead and Cambridge Brewing Co. among them. Trust me, you’ll want to keep your eye out for these guys.

They never stop experimenting, either: in fact, on May 22, 2016, Dunham released no fewer than 22 beers for an event Gaudreault described as a bottle release that was enhanced for its attendees with games, giveaways and other merriments meant to make waiting in line less miserable. Plus, the releases were all pre-order, so no one walked away empty handed.

I’ll close with this video created for the brewery last June : “Brasserie ze film” by Alex Chabot. (Disclaimer: it’s in French.)


Beer and Cheese Pairing Guidelines [Infographic]

There are a few places where the harmony of beer and cheese have been brought to my attention: at the Mondial de la Bière festival in Montreal, where trays of cheeses I’d never seen before sat casually beside rows of Quebec-brewed beer; at Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, Vt., where one can enjoy a plate of award-winning cheeses with a pint of award-winning Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale; and of course, in my own kitchen, where we regularly experiment with flavor combinations in our favorite foods and brews. (There are few last-minute lunches more satisfying than a gouda and sharp cheddar grilled cheese with a homebrewed American pale ale—I urge you to try it).

The practice of beer pairing can be applied to any food item or cuisine, but doing it with cheese has a history older than the swiss you’ll want to pair with a bock after reading this. For those new to the practice, this infographic from Visually* slices beer and cheese pairing into bite-sized guidelines that anyone can enjoy and experiment with.

Please do try this at home:

Beer and Cheese Pairing Guide

 *Beer & Cheese Pairing Guidelines was originally posted on the RedEnvelope blog, which apparently no longer exists.

Mondial de la Bière 2015: Montréal’s ‘World of Beer’ in Photos

On June 10 to 14, 2015, Mondial de la Bière celebrated its 22nd annual “World of Beer” Festival in Montréal, Canada. Located at the Palais des Congrès in the city’s downtown district, the festival joined together beer industry veterans, media personnel, tourists and local consumers for a five-day celebration of unique beers brewed in Canada and around the world.

A total of 85 breweries exhibited at the international expo, with 40 microbreweries from Quebec alone touting 226 new brews never before seen or tasted at the Mondial de la Bière. In all, 523 beers, meads and ciders were served, with beer alone comprising of 475 sample products.

As guests of Ale Street News, journalist-photographer team, Patrick Phillips and I took on the massive exhibition with vigor. Armed with our media bracelets, mugs and map of the festival’s indoor and outdoor floor plans, we captured as much as we could of the brewers, products and attendance on the show floor, the fine rare beers available in the VIP lounge, and the general essence of the final weekend on Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13.

Please enjoy the photo gallery below, showing our journey from our first day in VIP, our introduction to the main event, some standout brewers, beers and cheese, and an overall glimpse of the mind-opening, palate-expanding experience of Montréal beer.

Photos by Patrick Phillips. To view the slideshow, click the first image below and use the arrows to scroll.