Saturday, June 25, 2011

Visit with Flying Monkeys Craft Brewers at Gambrinus Bistro & Cafe

As the week was progressing and not wanting Ontario Craft Beer Week to get away from us, we decided that our next event to attend would be the "Meet and greet with Flying Monkeys Craft Brewers" at Gambrinus Bistro and Cafe in London, ON. For those of you who don't know Gambrinus, named after the Patron Saint of Brewers, it is the premier beer destination in London or Southwestern Ontario for that matter. Boasting an impressive several hundred beers on their menu.

Arriving shortly before 6:00pm (the official start of the event), we were hoping to get a few minutes to chat with
Peter Chiodo, founder and artisan brewer of Flying Monkeys. Very pleasantly surprised, he was able to give us quite a bit of his time to chat about the beers being sampled and the future of the brewery. But more of that to come later this summer.

With several "one-off's" on tap for the evening, including Alpha-fornication, the worlds hoppiest beer at a staggering 2500 IBU's (international bittering units), after our chat we were excited to start tasting.

We started the evening with "Slam Dunkel" a nicely
complex, and drinkable Munich Dunkel Lager, dark with herbal, coffee and almost cola type notes. Then a white and a red saison were tasted, also quite pleasant. Some of the bigger highlights would be the "Super Collider" Imperial Pale Ale, the Imperial Black Saison as well as trip through the mind of the mad scientist that is Peter, Alpha-fornication.

The Imperial IPA, Super Collider, was a dark ruby/brown in appearance and very hop forward, but with a pleasant earthiness to it. Floral and citrus notes added to the enjoyment of the 12% alcohol by volume (ABV) offering.

The Imperial Black Saison was probably my favorite beer of the
evening. With a staggering complexity of spice, dark fruits and a higher ABV than would be expected in a traditional Saison. These farmhouse ales were meant to be refreshing and nutritional supplements for farm hands during the harvest. The balance in flavour, sweetness and ABV was impressive. This definitely did not disappoint.

The final beer of the evening was the much hyped Alpha-fornication. As part of their "Everest Experiments" in brewing, this 13.3% ABV Imperial IPA or derivative of the style registers a staggering 2500 IBU's (many big IPA's such as Dogfish Heads
90 Minute IPA register 90 IBU's). This was something to be slightly affraid of. I was almost expecting the hoppiness to be too pungent on the nose to actually be drinkable. With a murky almost coffee with heavy cream colour and massive floral, citrus, pine and earthy notes, this was like taking a deep breath from a bag of hops but with some underlying sweetness. While murky in appearance with plenty of hop particles, this was a sipper, but not as bitter as expected. They added some sweetness after fermentation in order to provide some balance to the overall bitterness. This was definitely an experiment in the direction brewing can take you as you reach the outer limits of the art.

A very interesting note, several of these debut beers at Gambrinus for Ontario Craft Beer Week, were collaborations with General Manager (and super beer geek and aficionado), Adil Ahmed. The two have collaborated several times before with the beer consumer being the real winner here.

All in all, we tried some fantastic beers that pushed the boundaries of what brewing can be and got to speak one on one with the people behind Canada's most daring and interesting breweries.

Why can't every week be Ontario Craft Beer Week?
(Imperial Black Saison - left, Alpha-fornication - right)


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