Monday, 19 November 2012

Alike and Unlike Juxtaposition: Drinking a Grande Noirceur and a Peché Mortel Simultaneously

Tonight I set out on a two-beer-mission that led to three typos in this sentence already (as they are 9% and 9.5% ABV beers and I always drink rated beers quickly - faster than I'd like!)

Being a publicly professed lover of all things beers Dieu du Ciel, and no less an outed fan of imperial stouts, I couldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.  That is, a few days past, an as-yet-unseen Dieu du Ciel beer came to my attention at my local dealer's Metro: a Grande Noirceur Imperial Stout (the 9%er).  For obvious reasons, I picked up a few (a few to drink, a few to age and drink eventually), especially since bottled oddities of DDC brews seem to come and go while being much more frequently gone.

After doing my personal review of the Grande Noirceur (trans. The Great Darkness recalling the Duplessis era of Quebec history which is reflected in name and label image, seen below), in which I commented on parallels to Peché, I did a web search to learn the availability of this fantastic beer only to discover (unsurprisingly) that this is allegedly the base for Peché.  [Correction: alleged is the operative word here, as the brewer has tweeted to me that this isn't so and that they are distinct recipes!  I got this information from several comments on beeradvocate AND ratebeer, as well as a stand-alone web page - hopefully this correction will end the rumours I have inadvertently participated in - which was why I used allegedly just in case!]

Thus, rather than simply post my review of the Grande Noirceur, I thought I may as well drink them alongside one another and add the comparison.  I will begin, however, with my original thoughts on le Grande Noirceur (which evolve in direct contrast):

This beer is about as black as promised and, like all good imperial stouts, is an experience in extremes.  The dark body is capped by a creamy and lacy mocha head of decent retention.  The aroma is dominated by bitter cocoa and coffee as expressed by a deeply roasted malt, with a faint hint of dry, nearly stale nuts.  The taste, however, loses everything except the cocoa, but gains in that immensely, before a finely drying, earthy and lightly piney hops finish.  To the mouth, this delicious beer offers a sticky feeling to a full body, with appropriate warmth alongside just a hint of its strength.  All in all, I loved this beer and drinking it made me question whether I liked it more than a (bottled) Peché Mortel.  Grade: A/A+

Here are my original thoughts from my first Peché, first posted here (with additional and even greater praise for the Nitrogen-tapped version here):

To begin, let me just say that this beer is bold in every way, but also deserving of the very high praise it has received!  Into the glass, this mortal sin pours a jet black that seems almost thick and creamy, resembling motor oil in more than color but, fear not, not in consumptive appreciation!  An excellent foamy, yet creamy brown/mocha head with superb retention and a good lace arises.  Indeed, this beer offers an excellent head that allows deep expression of the aromas, which are dominated by bold, deeply roasted coffee notes with hints of stout malts exemplified by oats, though these are very negligible in contrast to the overwhelming coffee aroma that would be near indistinguishable from a freshly brewed espresso.  On the tongue, this delicious, but bold, strong (9.5% ABV), and bitter beer begins with light oak and oat notes, though these are quickly eradicated by the bitter drying of extremely strong coffee flavours that entirely mask the alcohol.  Some chocolate alongside hoppy dryness is discernible if considered explicitly, but everything is muted by the force of the bittering coffee.  Everything one would expect from the style.  Quintessential.  Not for everyone, but near perfect for those who'd like it! Grade: A

Now, in direct juxtaposition, the differences are exposed while the similarities are simultaneously intensified.  As evidenced by the photo below, the Grande Noirceur offers a darker head - more befitting of the mocha description - whereas the Peché should perhaps be called tan in contrast.  Both are bold and extreme beers in their own right, but with back-and-forth sips (before finishing the Grande first then the Peché) it becomes obvious that the Peché is like an amped-up, more extreme version of this very dry, very bitter, yet very delicious masterpiece of brewing.  In this sense, the Peché offers a longer lasting dry finish with an earthier lingering boldness and obvious espresso bitterness (that is obviously more extreme to both nose and tongue), though it becomes less observable as it warms.  After a sip of the Peché, the Noirceur seems comparatively tame, though both mellow as the sips go on and as one grows accustomed to their extremes.

In a nutshell, both are truly wonderful marvels and choosing would be impossible, though the Grande Noirceur caters to the milder moods of extreme decisions and desires, while the Peché is a no-holds-barred assault on the senses.  If you almost like Peché, try a GN if/while you can find one.  If you truly love Peché, I am sure you too will like its base this other DDC imperial stout.

And, on that note, let me re-evaluate my original A rating for a Peché, and give it a borderline A/A+.  If I should somehow only have access to one beer for the rest of my days, neither of these would disappoint me.


  1. Replies
    1. What is? My post? Drinking both side-by-side? That I can get both around the corner from my home right now (and Peche always)?