Tag Archives: Brick Brewery

Beer of the Week – Waterloo Wheat

This article was originally written in July 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in October 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after Taste T.O. was shut down and taken offline.

A decade or so ago, I tried my first wheat beer. It was Celis White, a Belgian-style witbier (white beer) created by Pierre Celis, the man who saved the style from extinction with his creation of Hoegaarden in 1966 (The “Since 1445” claim on the Hoegaarden label refers to when the town of Hoegaarden was founded, not when the beer was first brewed). After a series of acquisitions and mergers led to Hoegaarden being owned by the multinational beer monolith Interbrew, Celis retired, but soon returned with Celis White and other beers brewed in the unlikely location of Austin, Texas.

In 1997, Celis White came to Ontario in a version contract-brewed by Waterloo’s Brick Brewing. At the time, Brick was one of the most diverse breweries in Canada, with a line-up that included Brick brands such as Brick Premium Lager, Red Baron, and Waterloo Dark; the brands from the Algonquin, Conners and Laker breweries that they had purchased in the previous few years; and several international contract-brewed beers including Germany’s Henninger and Andechs Spezial Hell, Greece’s FIX Lager, and Celis White.

The intervening ten years saw Brick moving away from their eclectic craft brewing roots with the discontinuation of most of their interesting brands, including all of the foreign contract-brews. Their main portfolio was stripped down to a bunch of indistinguishable and undistinguished lagers, and they helped create the buck-a-beer trend with their Laker discount brand. Last year, however, they went back to their roots somewhat by killing off most of the main Brick line-up and replacing them with the higher quality J.R. Brickman series.

And now, Brick has come full circle with the introduction of Waterloo Wheat, a limited edition beer brewed to mark the 150th anniversary of the city of Waterloo that they describe as a Belgian-style witbier, although as I discovered, it’s not perfectly on-style.

It definitely looks the part, with a hazy golden-orange colour and a large snow-white head, and the aroma is pretty much on point, with light malt and wheat, and hints of citrus and spice from the orange peel and coriander used during the brewing. The body is quite creamy to start, but has a fairly crisp finish. But the flavour seems like a hybrid of a Belgian witbier and a German weissbier: it has the citrus and spice notes expected from a wit, but also a bit of the banana and yeast that’s typical of a weisse. The flavours are also a bit subdued, giving the beer a slightly watery character in the middle. It’s no Celis White, but it’s still a solid summer brew, and another step back in the right direction for Brick.

As mentioned above, Waterloo Wheat has been brewed in limited quantities, and is available on draught in several Waterloo bars and in bottles in LCBO outlets in the Kitchener-Waterloo area (LCBO 56762, $3.25/650 mL). While it was supposed to be available until August, sales have been strong since it’s introduction at the beginning of July, so any Torontonians hoping to try it out should plan a trip to the K-W area soon.

Beer of the Week – PC Blanche

This article was originally written in May 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in October 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after Taste T.O. was shut down and taken offline.

It probably goes without saying that I’m not a discount beer drinker. It’s not that I have a problem with the idea of saving money, but as someone who drinks beer in order to enjoy the aroma and flavour rather than to serve as an alcohol delivery mechanism (well – most of the time, anyway), I’ve found the few “buck-a-beers” that I’ve tried have generally failed to satisfy me.

However, while flipping through the latest President’s Choice Insider’s Report this past weekend, I came across a blurb for a new addition to the PC discount beer line-up: PC Blanche. Considering that every other beer in the PC portfolio is a knock-off of some macro-brewed lager or other, from Genuine Lager to Dry to Honey, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the idea of them tackling the decidedly non-mainstream Belgian witbier style.

I was also encouraged by the fact that Brick Brewing – the brewery that makes the PC beers under the alias Whitewater Brewing – was once the holder of the Canadian brewing rights for Celis White. The same Celis White that was created by Pierre Celis, the man who saved the witbier style from extinction when he founded Hoegaarden in 1966.

With all of that in mind, I set aside my snobbery and picked up some PC Blanche ($16.95/12 x 341 mL, $29.95/24 x 341 mL at The Beer Store), although even with the credentials mentioned above, I wasn’t expecting a lot. Which meant that I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

That’s not to suggest that the beer is the equal of Celis White, or Hoegaarden for that matter. But at least it is pretty close to style, which is more than can be said for some other low-rent attempts to emulate less common beer styles. It has the expected hazy-golden colour, which is evidence that it’s unfiltered as the label promises, and a moderate snow-white cap that dissipates quickly. The body is nice as well, very clean with a refreshing crispness. And the aroma and flavour have the notes expected from a wit – spice, citrus, yeast – although in a more subdued form than one would find in the higher-end versions.

So while it may not hold up to the classics of the style, it’s still a valiant attempt at offering something different to Ontario’s discount beer market. For the budget-minded beer drinker looking to try something more exotic than Wildcat and Bohemian, it’s a great choice, especially for the warm and sunny weekends ahead.