Sunday, 15 April 2012

27 Beers Before Lunch and Still Coherent: Bienvenue au Quebec!

I love those days with a family trip to places like the Atwater Market that turn into pre-lunch beer tastings.  Yes, I have had 27 different beers today... before lunch... but they were basically all 1 oz samples, so it isn't really as bad as it sounds!

This weekend, La Fromagerie Atwater welcomed me to town with a Quebec craft brewery tasting (at the price of 3 x 1 oz samples for $1).  I made some friends with local reps and GL (the blogger for http://buglersbeerblog.wordpress.com/ which lists local weekly beer specials - usually of poor macro-lagers, but I noticed a few McAuslan and Unibroue products on there I should buy on sale!)

Between those and the dozens of others I have tasted while lacking time recently, I will simply note some of the best of late (mostly from my new home in la belle province) so as not to (immensely) overburden the post and readers!

The absolute best of late is... surprise, surprise... an imperial stout.  This one brewed by Simple Malt (or Brasseurs Illimites).  This stellar 8.1% ABV, 61 IBU offering is very, very good, pouring a deep, dark oil brown with moderate head and retention that has but a slight, yet smooth/attractive lace.  Aroma-wise, it is more chocolate-centric, while the taste brings in deeper coffee/mocha alongside the chocolate (that creeps in as sips progress).  A nice creamy mouthfeel would only be complemented by a nitro tap.  My only critiques are the slightly too light body and the negligible head, but it is otherwise remarkably enjoyable!  Is it my favourite imperial stout?  Nope.  Is it phenomenal, especially considering its relatively lower price than some?  Hell, yes!  Buy one, you won't be disappointed!  Grade: A

To continue, with the recent 'best-of' porters, stouts, and imperial stouts in my tastings, I offer the following, all of which I have recently discovered:
1) Phillips Brewing The Hammer Imperial Stout which has a biscuity aroma and flavour, and which is sweeter than most imperial stouts, but it grows on you and smooths out with additional sips. Grade: B+
2) Nogne-O Imperial Stout (9% ABV and 75 IBU) which pours a midnight black with excellent head and retention that aerate a very rich chocolate/cocoa nose with dry coffee flavour alongside thick, yet creamy/smooth body.  A very, very nice product.  Grade: A-/A
3) Le Bilboquet's La Corriveau (an extra stout, but not imperial).  This is roasty on the nose, with biscuits and Choco-coffee hints, while being slightly sweet on the tongue and creamy, if a bit lighter bodied than desired, though it would be great on nitro-tap.  Grade: B+
4) Pit Caribou La Gaspésienne Robust Porter is a very nice, sweet yet nutty and creamy, yet full bodied  porter that is strong and waring, but not boozy and feels like a session beer, even if it isn't! Grade: A-
5) Yukon Brewing's Midnight Sun Espresso Stout is a very nice, very coffee-rich, creamy, drinkable stout that is awell balanced insofar as it is a touch sweet despite its coffee bitterness, yet leaves you sufficiently dry  A great beer!  Grade: A-

Red and Brown Ales:
1) Brasseurs de Montreal's Black Watch is an excellent American brown ale that is both nutty and chewy.  I promise to drink one again soon without company and without tasting numerous others so I can offer some nuance to this excellent first impression.  Grade: A
2) Brasseurs de Montreal make my A-list in this category again with their London Ruby (Red Ale) which is sweet and smooth, medium bodied and creamy.  It is a bit fruity and nutty, with no hints of hops.  Again, I promise to spend more time with another soon and report back in more detail.  Grade: A-
3) Finally, for this category, Nouvelle France's Messègere Red Ale is worth a mention as a very good gluten-free ale, even if not as good as some of my favourites.  Brewed with rice and buckwheat instead of barley, this beer is unique in design and flavour (especially since few gluten-free beers are red ales).  It does, indeed, have a woodsy flavour that is unusual but good (if not legendary).  Rating it is odd, since it is slightly different than typical style descriptors such hat it is not a unbelievable red, but it is a remarkable gluten-free ale as the best of its kind I have as yet consumed.

Pale Ales/IPAs:
1) Rogue Double Dead Guy.  I had this beer after many on a social occasion, but I enjoyed it far more than the original insofar as it had a nice spiciness to it that was unique and pleasant.  Grade: B+/A-
2) Mt. Begbie Nasty Habit IPA is a bit more PA than IPA, but is nice with a moderate balance for the style and offering both aromatics and flavours of more pine than citrus.  A fairly light body.  Grade: B+
3) Archibald La Chipie has a semi-sweet honeyish nose, with a slightly dry taste that comes in a balanced manner with little lingering dryness.  Sort of like a staple Mill Street Tankhouse to me, which has been a go-to beer, so quite pleasant if not award winning.  Grade: B+/A-
4) Archibald makes the list again with La Ciboire IPA.  Unlike La Chipie, this one brings a greater hop-punch alongside a quite nice, lingering, dry pine flavour and a sparkling mouthfeel.  Grade: B+/A-
5) L'Alchimiste India Pale Ale is a balanced and mild, if citrusy dry, beer.  It is perhaps a bit less extreme than many US IPAs, but it is more flavourful than many English examples and suits more moderate drinking tastes.  It is not remarkable, per se, but it is good and could sway a fence-sitter!  Grade: B+

Abbey Ales:
Microbrasserie Charlevoix's Dominus Vobiscum Tripel is the sole beer in this category and, though I don't typically enjoy tripels as much as the darker Belgian styles (dubbels, quads), it is worth the hype indeed, offering excellent pear aromas alongside sweaty yeast and a fine lingering flavour.  A very, very good tripel.  Though I'd still have a dubbel or quad more often, it tops many Belgian pales.  Grade: A-

Witbier:
As I am not usually much of a fan of this style, it is high praise indeed for Les Brasseurs de Montreal, indeed, to say that I enjoyed their La Belge Van Derbull, which shows the best of the style, bringing out yeasty/fruity aromas and flavours more exemplary of abbey beers than witbiers.  Perhaps not fully to style, but maybe that's why I think it's better!  Grade: B+ 

Recently, I have also had the following for the first time and can say more on any if desired, though I liked those above more.  Just let me know if you wish me to say more on any of them:
L'Assoiffé Dubbel
Garrison Irish Red Ale
Augustijn Brune
Brasseurs du Monde L'Assoiffé
Dieu di Ciel Corne du Diable
Chi (Brasseurs du Montreal)
La Barberie Rousse Bitter
St. Barnabé Colborne
Les Trois Mousquetaires Pale Ale Américaine
Les Trois Mousquetaires Sticke Alt
Les Trois Mousquetaires Maibock
Les Trois Mousquetaires Kellerbier
Dieu du Ciel Derniere Volanté
Nouvelle France Messègere Millet
Nouvelle France Ambrée de Sarrasin
Brasseurs de Montreal Griffintown Montrealaise
Archibald La Brise du Lac
Archibald La Matante
Brasserie Dunham IPA Anglaise
Brasserie Dunham Black IPA
Pit Caribou La Bonne Aventure Rousse
L'Alchimiste Eisbock
L'Alchimiste Imperial Stout
Bierbrier Pale Ale
Brasseurs du Monde Rousse
La Tour à Bières La Noire de Saint Antoine Stout
Aecht Schlenterla Rauchbier
Griffon Ale Rousse
Tord-Vis Maple Strong Beer

Til next time... cheers!

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