Thursday, 19 January 2012

Another Imperial Stout and a Classic Spiced Witbier

Two beers to offer a few thoughts on: Grand River Brewing's Russian Gun Imperial Stout and Dieu du Ciel's highly praised spiced witbier Rosée d'Hibiscus.

First, Grand River's take on the imperial stout style.  As is to be expected, this beer pours a thick, deep, dark brown with a nice light brown head, though the body is perhaps slightly less thick than anticipated.  Its head is only moderately thick with fair retention at best, but excellent lace that rings the glass throughout.  Aromas of coffee, chocolate, and deep, smoky, roasted malts meet the nose.  Flavor-wise, it is similar, with a coffee bitterness that is extended by a long, dry, hoppy finish.  Medium-bodied (and here, perhaps lighter than anticipated) and slightly tingly on the tongue, but warming while slightly astringent.  A nice beer and, while not the best imperial stout on the planet, it is assuredly enjoyable enough. Grade: B+

Dieu du Ciel beers are often worth their high praise and it was with both anticipation and trepidation that I embarked on the consumption of their Rosée d'Hibiscus that had been waiting for me!

And why was I so ambivalent?  Well, it is from a great brewery, is highly praised, is considered to both exemplify the style and expand it by being bottle-conditioned, adding spices, and an aromatic flavouring of hibiscus flowers that make it unique... yet, I do not really enjoy witbiers.

So, from this place of ambivalence, I can offer the following:

This is one remarkable witbier!  The body is a very odd, almost glowing pink/orange in colour, while cloudy with thin particulate matter (unfiltered wheat and bottle-conditioned yeast).  It pours a fizzy, auditory white head with moderate retention and negligible lacing that allows for requisite aromas of bananas, spices, and just a hint of the hibiscus esters.  The flavor is balanced, mostly like a standard wit and not overpowered with hibiscus, spices, or the bottled yeast that makes this beer unique.  It is, appropriately, quite fizzy on the tongue and pleasurable enough to consume.  Nice for a witbier, but for me it is just that... A witbier.  That said, it is the best of the style (and the only of its unique variation on the style) that I have ever had, so if you like witbiers, this is clearly an A+, though for me, it is more like a B- not because it's bad but because, as good as it is, I'd probably prefer a mediocre ale of about 16 different styles before I'd order another witbier.  Glad I had one, now back to my usual tastes!

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