Made Here By Us is an Earnest Collaboration Brew #BrewedAwakening
Collaboration beers are very trendy, whether they are different brewers working together, or beers brewed with non-brewery folks, for a cause. I’ve done a couple myself, and I want to do more (my cell is 506 647 8466 for any brewers interested ;).
The most recent version of note in Atlantic Canada is the Made Here By Us release, in support of Nova Scotia’s small brewery initiatives. This 5% alcohol, amber coloured, Belgian inspired ale was brewed at Tatamagouche Brewing Company in Nova Scotia, but with over 25 breweries represented on brew day. Odds are many of the brewers were just drinking beer and having fun, but that’s no matter. The cause is more important than who brewed what.
An earnest attempt was made to make this beer a true terroir beer, reflective of Nova Scotia. A big part of that was using malt from Horton Ridge, Nova Scotia’s organic floor malting operation just outside of Wolfville.
Another aspect was using local hops. They used Crystal hops from Tatamagouche’s hop farm in Malagash, as well as some Tettnang.
The final aspect of ‘local’ was yeast. This is a tricky one, since most breweries pitch purchased yeast cultures that give a specific aroma, flavour and dryness. Yeast is so important to beer, but most drinkers are oblivious about it… It is a main source of fruitiness, spiciness, body and complexity.
In the case of Made Here By Us, they used a wild yeast sourced from Big Spruce‘s beautiful property, in Nyanza, Cape Breton, isolated and grown up by Escarpment Labs in Guelph, Ontario. Big Spruce had already used this yeast, obtained from an eastern Canadian pin cherry on their farm, for their One Hundred beer (100% from Nova Scotia) in 2015.
What’s the result with Made Here By Us? They’ve brewed a fairly approachable, 5% alcohol beer, amber in colour, with a spicy nose that’s decidedly Belgian in character – it’s somewhat like a Dubbel, but not as dark or sweet as most. The body is medium, and the bitterness (although not listed on the can) is also medium, but it feels kind of high for the style, perhaps due to some astringency from grain bitterness. There aren’t many bitter Dubbels in Belgium. The finish is a combination of bitterness, grainy notes, and spicy, malty character.
This wild pincherry yeast is clearly in the same realm as many Belgian yeasts, in terms of the aromatics it produces, so it was an interesting choice. Made Here By Us is certainly complex, but does it reflect Nova Scotia’s terroir? Or, is it more a stab at a Belgian style brew?
Personally, I would have gone more the way of making something closer to what was brewed in Nova Scotia prior to the early 1900s, before prohibition temporarily “destroyed” brewing, resulting in decades of bland, relatively flavourless beer from the major breweries. Next year maybe they could try Porter or Stock Ale, or maybe a beer using local ingredients that would have been readily available back then, although I’m not a big fan of maple or spruce beer…
All this said, Made Here By Us is a relatively easy drinking, Belgian influenced amber ale. If local Nova Scotians take to this, it’s another of many recent steps towards the adoption of good, flavourful beer by average drinkers, and that’s always a good thing.