BEER REVIEW: 2 CROWS BREWERY, Halifax, Nova Scotia

For a brewery that is not even 1 ½ years old, 2 Crows has become a well-received brewery in the world of barrel-aged sours. The husband and wife team, Mark & Kelly Huizink along with brewer Jeremy Taylor opened in late January of 2017 with an impressive line up of unique beers and already were prepping themselves with a foedre ( a large wooden barrel for long term fermentation or aging) for future beers. Their first foedre-aged release was in July of 2017. The “Magic Touch” Golden ale was one of five beers released in honour of their one year anniversary.

LUNDY DALE

“MAGIC TOUCH”

STYLE: Foedre – aged golden ale

ABV: 6.8% IBU: 22 SRM: 4.4 OG: 1.056 FG: 1.004

This golden ale captures two hot trends in beer these days: wood aging and brettanomyces wild yeast fermentation.  This ale pours hazy gold, with a white, frothy and creamy head that lingers for pretty much the entire duration of drinking. The nose is an intriguing combination of fruit (grapefruit/tropical) and spicy/funky brett, but it isn’t cursed with the unpleasant hospital/used bandaid (or worse) characteristics that can happen with brett. There’s a strong, fresh, citrus undercurrent to the palate, balanced by slightly sour, bretty notes, but they are quite subtle. According to their website they used brett claussenii, a strain that is subtle in terms of brett funk and known for producing pineapple notes. The body is medium, and the higher alcohol is not very noticeable. It finishes dry and clean. What is not evident, however, is significant wood influence. A foedre is a large oak barrel. The one used for this beer is an old one that used to contain Calvados (French apple brandy). It had been used for beer a couple times before this. They don’t use it to add oak character, but because it maintains the wild yeast/bacteria population after making a beer with those cultures. Who knows what will come out of that foedre next?

CRAIG PINHEY

One of the all-too-common sins in the beer world these days is the release of Brettanomyces-affected beers too early, since such brews require months to condition properly, without which they become simply odd-smelling ales. Magic Touch, I’m pleased to note, is not such a sinner, with a lovely complexity integrated into the aroma of this hazy golden beer: Imagine a perfumey bowl of slightly overripe fruit – mandarin oranges, peaches and pears – coupled with slightly musty wood and accents of hay and black pepper. On the palate, that aforementioned wood comes across a trifle too foecrefully, but gets support and moderation from a mildly tart peach, apricot and orange fruitiness and considerable peppery spice, all of which starts lightly sweet and dries to a mildly bitter and, yes, woody finish. I suspect that the strong wood notes are due to the youth of the foeder (large wooden tun) in which this has been conditioned, and that will ease as more brews make their way through the barrel, resulting in even better Magic Touches to come.

STEPHEN BEAUMONT