Tomorrow a new collaboration beer is released upon the populace of Saskatchewan. The newly formed Saskatchewan Craft Brewers Association (SCBA), whose membership are the real all-grain breweries in the province, will be releasing their first collaborative beer. Every member of the SCBA – currently 13 strong – participated in the design and brewing of the beer at Swift Current’s Black Bridge Brewing.
The beer is being called Saskatchewan Multigrain Pale Ale. Their bumpf says it is made with a mix of Saskatchewan barley, wheat, rye and oats. They also proclaim it is unfiltered. Intriguing enough.
How did I get my hands on a beer a day before it is officially released? Good question. Let’s just say for once I got a scoop. (More accurately, the SCBA shipped me some cans to try.)
After letting the beer rest for a few days to eliminate travel shock, I gave it a try this week.
It pours dark straw and is deeply hazy. It builds a decent white head that fairly quickly drops into a thin layer with some attractive lacing along the glass. The aroma is TOTALLY a New England Pale Ale character. I get a big sweet citrus fruit, including lemon, orange, grapefruit and passion fruit. It also offers a sweet meadow honey, a light graininess and a background fruity ester.
In the taste the start shares a big fruitiness. There is both citrus and other fruit. The citrus displays orange and grapefruit and the other fruit remind me of apricot and fresh mango. A soft grainy malt kicks in in the middle. I find it is a hybrid of a soft wheat grain with a rye edge. There is also a silky note to the middle as well. In the finish, the fruit comes back, adding a Five Alive character with a moderately hoppy linger and more citrus fruit. The mouthfeel has a silky texture that is alluring.
A fascinating beer. There is a lot going on in this beer but it still finds a way to come across as remarkably drinkable. The big fruitiness keeps it accessible, but also intrigues my beer geek side. I think my favourite aspect is the malt bill which combines the grainy smoothness of wheat with a sharp edge of rye only to be countered by a subtle silkiness from the oats. I will admit to being skeptical of all those grains in one beer, but it comes across well, likely because they also paid attention to the hop additions to create another dimension.
The fruity hop character, reminiscent of the New England style, is very attractive and will fool many unsuspecting drinkers into thinking this is more of a fruit beer than what it is. The malt, in contrast, quietly does what it promises to do, offer a mix of grainy notes to create a subtle complexity.
If I were to have a critique of this beer it is that I wouldn’t mind a touch more bitterness perception in the finish. Don’t know what the IBUs are, but I want a bit more hop in the linger to remind me this is still a pale ale. That may not be what they were going for but I think it would add an interesting third rail to really bring this beer home. Not asking for a lot, just enough to bring out another dimension.
This beer clearly shows the 13 SCBA members mean business. They could have opted for a blonde ale, porter or standard IPA. Instead they busted out the creativity and did a beer that is multiple things. It is a New England Pale, but is more than that, adding rye and wheat to the mix to shake things up.
The beer will be available at member breweries across the province as well as in SLGA stores and select pubs. Alas, no plans to ship to Alberta or Manitoba. So if you live in Alberta you either have to beg your Saskatchewan relatives or offer me a decent bribe for one of my remaining cans.
A good start for the nascent SCBA. I hope they do another collaboration next year. Can’t wait to see what they pick.