Five From Half Pints

Last fall, I got word of a new brewery starting up out in Winnipeg called Half Pints Brewing. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to the announcement. I mean, it’s always good to hear about a new micro starting up, especially in Canada. But since the odds of ever seeing Half Pints beers available in Ontario are next to none, my reaction was basically “oh, that’s nice, maybe I’ll try some of their stuff if I ever make it out to Winnipeg”.

But then I learned that the president and brewmaster of Half Pints was David Rudge, a man who is semi-legendary amongst Canadian craft brew fans. Mind you, most of us had never actually tried any of his beers, but we’d heard fantastic things about the stuff he did at Bushwakker Brewpub in Regina, Saskatchewan from those who were lucky enough to visit the pub. So I knew that I needed to get my hands on some bottles of his Half Pints offerings.

Luckily, I was able to find someone from Winnipeg on RateBeer who was willing to do a trade, and back in December, I got a nice big box packed with a bomber each of five Half Pints beers along with a few other goodies. I’ve made a point of sharing them at several different tastings and get-togethers over the last couple of months, and now that I’ve finally tried ’em all, here’s what I thought:

Bulldog Amber Ale
Orange-amber colour with a small white head. The aroma holds some very nice woody hops, well balanced by some slightly grainy malt. Body is a bit light, but OK for the style. Once in the mouth, it proves to be a nice, simple, clean, balanced UK style ale with a well-hopped finish. A fantastic session ale – if the LCBO carried this (hint, hint!), it would be a regular in my fridge.

Little Scrapper IPA
Maybe all of the Double IPAs I’ve drunk have caused me to build up some hop resistance, ’cause I didn’t find this nearly as hoppy as the description on the label promised. Oh, no doubt that there was a healthy amount in there – some great notes of orange rind and pine resin in both the aroma and flavour proved that – but I actually found it to be quite well balanced. Another one that I could drink a lot of if given the chance.

Oktoberfest Lager
I’ve generally found Oktoberfest beers to be pretty boring, but after having this, I think it’s because most of the ones I’ve tried have just been mediocre beers, regardless of the style. It has a slightly hazy copper-amber colour with a medium head, and a quite malty aroma with sweet caramel and some interesting earthy/leafy notes. The flavour starts quite sweet, develops some bready notes in the middle, and finishes fairly dry with a hint of cocoa.

Stir Stick Stout
A coffee stout made with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe?!? Dude, I am SO there! Very dark brown colour with ruby hints and a couple of fingers of off-white foam. Nice aroma – very roasty with a good hit of coffee, some light woodiness and a bit of chocolate. This body is thin, which is the beer’s one main weakness. Thankfully, the flavour makes up for it – good roasted malt and coffee notes off the top, sweet in the middle, and a well bittered finish. With a bit more body, this would be a fantastic stout. As it stands, it’s just a very good one.

Sweet Nikki Brown
Brown ales are a much maligned style – somewhat deservedly, as most of them are boring as hell. But when they’re done well, they’re a real treat. This particular example pours a dark ruby-brown with a good sized mocha head. The aroma is great, with lots of sweet roasted malt, cereal (specifically, Honeycomb cereal), and herbal hops, all well-balanced. The flavour is roasty and nutty off the top, with a slightly watery middle, but a nice bitterness in the finish that makes up for it.

So, a big thumbs up on this first quintet from Half Pints. I have a standing order in with my new trading buddy for any of David’s future releases, and there are already four more waiting to be shipped – a winter seasonal Burly Wine, and the “Holy Trinity” series of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit – plus a couple more planned for the next few months. I expect you’ll see another Half Pints post here soon enough.

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