Saturday, 28 September 2013

Confessions of a Hop-Head

I confess.  I am a hop-head.

I have been a malt-monster and a sour-puss for quite some time, and I have enjoyed many a hoppier product too, but this summer it truly happened.

You see, this summer I had some amazing, high IBU APAs, IPAs, and DIPAs regularly (Hill Farmstead Edward, Abner, and Ephraim, Dieu du Ciel Morality, Heady Topper, Central City Red Racer, Amsterdam Boneshaker, Left Field 6-4-3 Double IPA, Great Lakes Robohop, Stone Ruination, Firestone Walker Union Jack, etc, etc).  Yeah, I also bought and got deliveries of many an imperial stout and sour too, but they are just getting better with time while those hop-centric brews deteriorate by the day.

Thus, I spent my summer drinking these while they were best, while they were fresh.

And this is how it hit me: I have both a cupboard and a cellar full of beer (plus a few in the fridge) - seriously I have lots of beer - but I am out of IPAs and I look around and think, "Shit, I have nothing to drink!"

Sure, I could pick up Le Castor Yakima IPA easily enough (a solid enough beer) or Dieu du Ciel's Penombre (Black IPA) as what I'd deem the best of my current, not seasonal, options here, but that high end.  Oh man, that high end.  There is much in Ontario to the West of me, much in Vermont to the South, but right here, right now, it sure feels dry.

Again, I realize the extent of it with my anticipation for the pending seasonal bottle release of Dieu du Ciel's Morality.  And I realize, that though I have beers I would say I prefer overall - numerous sours and imperial stouts, and a few others - those are specialty beers.  For me, though I remain a malt-monster and a sour-puss, even the best of these beer styles need the right day, the right mood, the right temperature, but even if I'd rank some (not too many) beers higher, I could drink Morality or Edward or Union Jack or Ruination any day, any time.

These have become, for me, everyday beers.  Beers I wish I could always have on hand - fresh - for that beer on a Saturday night at home... for any Saturday night at home.

DDC: make Morality a regular product, or even, Dunham make your hoppy Pils a regular product.  Either of these could eternally tide a fella over in these hard times!  I mean, I may still love my maltiness and acidity, but truly, I am a confessed hop-head in withdrawal.  Donations gladly accepted! ;)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Beer Bloggers, Bullshit and Belittlement

I have been pondering writing this for a while; in fact I have pondered writing it many times in response to many different posts.

Recently, someone from the UK wrote a piece broadly calling Americans uninformed, unjustly snobby beer drinkers with no sense of history, no idea of a good beer, and no palate.

(Conversely, I have twice overheard at bars this exact same line: "They don't make any good beer in England.")

Bloggers jumped at the chance to fight back - many attacking this writers' criticism of American love for Cantillon in the process - and mud was slung in all directions.  Some old friends felt insulted, others just carried on, aggrieved by the offense so perceived.

I had a response I could have written; one perhaps unlike the others that could both acknowledge the realities in this guy's critique while denouncing its extremes, but then it occurred to me: why should I?

Why had anyone engaged?  The answer, quite neatly is because it drove their hits.  On blogs I regularly read, I found stories of this beer-blog-mimicry-of-classic-hip-hop-beef on three, while on two I found link amalgamation threads pointing to pieces in the debate.  Readers (myself included) flocked to these sites like morons flock to Fox News, while the effect is the same: it starts with bashing someone else (as if to acquire and express some sort of masculine superiority) while it continues with chest thrusting, finger wagging, know-it-all, and (worst of all) retaliatory attacks which abound.

It's all fun and games, it stokes our passions, ("How could he insult _____, that beer is always in my cellar!"), but it resembles Fox News in making conflict where there need not be any and bears more than a passing similarity to how true beer snobs (in contrast to geeks) berate the macro lager drinkers among us.  It drives up our readership...

But, it doesn't accomplish anything.  As when one tells their macro beer drinking friends that they drink shit doesn't bring them around, but showing them might, discussion and sharing of beers might actually bring people around or *gasp* show us that even their opinion might have some ideas that can inform our own.  They, our berated nemeses, might actually be able to teach us something new.

In reality, bashing, bullshitting, bragging, and chest-pounding makes us sound like the knuckle-dragging neanderthals the non-beer world thinks we are.

I, for one, refuse to participate.  So go get your hits for selling the news of the spectacular and I'll just keep writing about beer, rather than why "you're" wrong.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Singles Night Fundraiser: Craft Beer and Crafts Night

I often like the kitchen sink additions to my beer, and, heck, I always love craft beer, crafts (especially if craft beer related or done while drinking craft beer), charitable endeavours, great events, and knowing people are getting to hook up (over craft beer especially).

Yes, all of these come together in this Toronto event worthy of promotion.  Sunday September 29 at 7:15 pm sees an event at Betty's on King that brings all of these things together.  The event is a singles event with craft beer consumption alongside craft-making, while all serving as a fun fundraiser for Art City in St. James Town

If interested, note the details below and be sure to RSVP of your planned attendance!  Feel free to spread the good word... to singles!  It is a good way to spread craft beer, crafts, and charity under the motivating factors of meeting someone new, drinking great beer, and doing your part to alleviate the ails of our damaged world (while drowning your sorrows!)

EVENT:  Craft Beer + Crafts Night (Open to all singles!)

WHY:  Fundraiser for Art City in St. James Town (Charity providing free and accessible art programs to the children and youth of St. James Town) 

WHAT:  Schmooze and drink a wide variety of craft beers (or other drinks of your choice) with other awesome singles while working on fun craft projects to the beat of the right music to get your creative juices flowing!

WHEN:  Sunday, September 29, 2013, 7:15 p.m.

WHERE:   Betty’s (Upstairs Party Room) at 240 King Street East

COST:  $20 covers admission and crafts ($15 of which goes directly to the charity, $5 towards craft supplies, all extra supplies at the end of the night will be donated to the charity).  Beer not included in price.
Cost for students/seniors/under-employed:  $15


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Zwanze Day/Dieu du Ciel 15th Anniversary Party: The Insanity of Beers, Lines, Palate-Killers and ABVs!

Sometimes I wonder whether I should spend more time writing about everyday beers but, like many a beer geek and many, if not all, of my readers I get moved most by the extremes encountered.

This past Saturday (September 14th) marked not only Sour Beer Day, but also Cantillon's annual Zwanze Day and, Montreal host-bar Dieu du Ciel's 15th Anniversary, and fantastic extremes were everywhere to be found!

The lineups (literal, draught list, and bottle list) were beyond impressive!  Knowing how fast the Zwanze would sell meant me and my crew arrived at 11:30 am, well in advance of the 3pm open, and found ourselves with merely two people ahead of us in line.  Our wait was worthwhile though, since the 3-photo stitched panorama below shows the line just before open; a line that would see Zwanze AND the second Cantillon keg (Iris) sell out before the last person in this line ordered their first beer at nearly 6 pm:
At least there was a 3rd Cantillon keg (Kriek), for I didn't fully realize we'd return to the back of a 2+ hour line for our second round, exposing our folly for not having ordered more than 2 drinks each in the first place.  Thus, while we were blessed to get Zwanze, by the time of our return for a second round, not only was the Zwanze finished (as expected), but the Iris had been both tapped and tapped out, and the Kriek was just being tapped giving us two out of three Cantillon's but no chance for the Iris - while I realize that many there likewise had no chance at the Zwanze (or perhaps the Kriek).  Just insane!  With approximately 5oz samples and 30L kegs, this means that somewhere over 400 Cantillon orders were filled before I got my second round - this should give some idea of the madness (which coupled with any understanding of just how small DDC is, should explain well the nature of the day!)

I've previously expressed my wish that DDC would eliminate the brewing room in these cramped quarters (since they brew most things in St. Jerome now) in order to expand the seating area or would buy out a neighbour or expand upstairs, but in the absence of that, perhaps they could use an alternate venue for this great event.  Waiting 2+ hours in line for another round is just insane and in that time, those two Cantillon kegs tapped and dried, while MANY of the bottles on the special list sold out.  

Accordingly, on our next round(s), we over-stocked with greater forethought!

The crowding seemed even more extreme when it came to even getting to the bathroom, which resulted in something like doing the lambada with way too many strangers for someone not in bondage gear at an overbooked fetish night.

But the beer... oh my, the beer! Without further ado, let's turn to the reviews in three categories.  Beware: though I reviewed simply the top 16 beers I had (which I had a hard time narrowing down to even that due to the quality), this means 16 reviews of insane and insanely awesome beers follow the picture below of our table's first round.

1) Those beers that absolutely rocked my world:

  1. Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic (5% ABV): this was, hands down, the best fruit lambic I have ever had - quoted just before the taste and on many occasions I have said, "Fruit lambics that I have had tend to just downplay the sourness in favour of sweetened fruit notes. So don't fuck with my lambic and just leave it tart... but, of course, I have yet to have had a Cantillon fruit lambic, so that may change my mind," and indeed it has!  Wow!  Vinegary tart nose with some decent fresh cherry notes and just a hint of hay.  The taste starts just faintly wheaty-sweet for just the briefest of moments before one is blasted by an intensely acidic cherry tartness that puckers all who touch it to tongue, and the long-lasting, intense linger only allows this sourness to grow for a lengthy moment afterwards.  There is sufficient carbonation to spread this feel, but it isn't the most intensely carbonated lambic ever.  Just another marvel of Cantillon brewing!  Cantillon has shown me that when well-done, one is free to 'fuck with my lambic!'  Grade: A+
  2. Dieu du Ciel/The Alchemist Moralité (6.9% ABV Simcoe Dry-Hopped Cask IPA): I have waxed poetic of my deep and fond affection for this citrusy marvel many a time and I won't repeat myself here except to say, as good as this is to begin with, that creamy cask feel takes it from perfect to differently perfect!  Grade: A+

2) What would have rocked my world had it been any other day against lesser competition:

  1. Dieu du Ciel/New Belgium Lips of Faith - Heavenly Feijoa Tripel (9% ABV Tripel with Hibiscus Flowers and Feijoa): This excellent collaboration expressed a fairly sweaty nose with just hints of the hibiscus and a nicely dry, faintly apply-tart flavour with some dry fruitiness (is this the feijoa?).  Quite solidly carbonated and a touch sticky, this is a fine brew.  If not your standard tripel, it is more of a standard tripel than the Zwanze of the year (see below), though it is better - in my humble opinion - than many tripels that lack the depth of character this beer provides (though there are many style-norm standard tripels that still excel as well).  Grade: A
  2. Dieu du Ciel Pionnière (9.5% Double Black IPA): This rarely brewed marvel and highly sought after gem deserves its praise, wafting a solid citrus nose supported by mild toast notes.  Very piney flavours fill the mouth quickly, virtually bypassing the present malt-base that just briefly expresses some roasted coffee notes, as they assault the palate with a lingering and intensely dry finish.  The body is moderate, with a fair carbonation, while the warmth is entirely hidden from the senses, until the senses find themselves effectively hidden by this discernibly absent but effectively intoxicating intensity!  Grade: A
  3. Dieu du Ciel Solstice d'Hiver Réserve Spéciale (10.8% Bourbon Barrel-Aged American Barleywine): This rare marvel wafted a quite boldly oaked and bourbony vanilla nose, with just faint hints of the fruit and caramel underneath.  The aroma prepared me for a beer I expected to be quite hot, but flavourwise the booze was quite well-hidden as woodyness and fruity sweet raisin and plum notes came through sweetly.  The sweetness, however, was tempered as a decently dry earthy hops finish lingered bringing a desire to return to this full-bodied creamy delight!  Grade: A
  4. Dieu du Ciel Equinoxe du Printemps 2002 (11-year aged Scotch Ale with Maple at 9.5% ABV): This is a great beer on its own terms, but in a style I can never imbibe much of as the excessive sweetness assaults my senses.  Similarly, this 11-year old oddity evokes the same uncertainty in my apparaisal as the original as it is fantasic if not quite my cup of tea, as odd as that sounds to vocalize.  The maple on the nose here seems to only increase with time as it wafts maple syrup candy through-and-through.  While I find many beers in this style, and the un-aged version no less, a bit too hot, this has no noticeable amount of alcohol in the mouth or on the way down, feeling and tasting like a faintly peaty, cloyingly sweet maple sugar marvel.  It may not be my thing, but it sure was sweetly delicious, a unique evolution of a solidly-brewed beer, and something to try that can easily be replicated - if you cellar your bottles long enough!  Grade: A
  5. Dieu du Ciel Quintessence XV (10.5% Barrel-Aged English Strong Ale): This was only the third time this beer has been brewed as DDC brews it every fifth anniversary only and slightly differently each time.  This XV version presents a pretty hot bourbon nose with some caramel malts and hints of milk chocolate.  The flavour, howeverm is dominated by smoked malts and some peaty-ness.  Both sweetly warm and richly smoky alongside just traces of the wood, this full-bodied brew finishes with a decent lingering resiny hops, but of fainter remains than the smoke, and a light-moderate carbonation.  Very good and of diverse hybridity.  Grade: A
  6. Dieu du Ciel Peché Mortel Réserve Spéciale (9.5% Bourbon barrel-Aged Coffee Imperial Stout): Though the bourbon did shine through nicely on the nose with some woody vanilla notes, I found it smelled much warmer, while the taste began differently than the non-barreled standard DDC treat with a warm oakiness that evolves into the similar coffee finish this beers fans all love.  This is a bit less bitter than the staple, with the oaky-sweetness and all, but also more discernibly boozy even with an identical ABV.  It would be hard to choose the better beer, but they are clearly different animals of high esteem.  Grade: A
  7. Dieu du Ciel 2009 Grande Noirceur (9% Russian Imperial Stout): One of two bottles we purchased.  We had hoped to get the Le Purgatoire Archeoporter from Trou du Diable, but didn't attempt it until our second order - and the person two spots ahead of me bought the last one so we settled on this.  It isn't much different from the original, that I reviewed here, but is a little smoother and bit more creamy and chocolatey, with the warmth tempered slightly.  A fantastic beer improved upon at least slightly, though without a side-by-side comparison, it can be hard to recall how subtle these differences may be.  Regardless, Grade: A
  8. Dieu du Ciel 2009 Isseki Nicho (9.5% Imperial Dark Saison): The other of the two bottles we purchased.  We had planned to buy the Pinot Noir Barrel-Aged version, but the person in front of me bought the last one and this was our backup.  To be honest, I won't say more here other than that without the side-by-side comparison, I didn't notice the differences (or maybe because - as you can tell - I'd had quite a few, admittedly small, tastes of many a strong beer by this point)! Grade: Just as damn good as the original?  Better probably, but your guess is as good as mine!
  9. Dieu du Ciel/Le Trou du Diable Purgatoire Pils (5.6% Pils): I shouldn't have been surprised that just because I don't seek out pils, doesn't mean a DDC/TDD pils collab wouldn't be remarkable and, indeed, it was.  This beer had a stellar hoppy nose wafting mango and citrus with the best of the IPAs, while it tasted a bit sweeter up front with some honey characteristics leading the charge before a nice hoppy assault of tangerine and rind.  The linger wasn't as substantial as this might lead one to expect and it had the lighter body of a pils, with decent carbonation, while otherwise bearing much in common with the IPAs of hop-head affections.  Grade: A-/A
  10. Kissmeyer Smoked Baltic Porter (7.3% ABV): Kissmeyer strikes again with another solid beer!      Though I found this beer to be only slightly smoky on both nose and tongue, it had some other solid characteristics with some roasty notes alongside cocoa and woodyness in the aroma, the taste was of sweeter chocolate with a toasty, lightly smoky finish without a substantial linger.  Slightly oily with a medium body that makes it easier drinking than a 7.3% smoked baltic porter has any right to be!  Grade: A-/A

3) What was just run-of-the-mill, standard Dieu du Ciel-level sort-of-fantastic:

Quintessence XV and Zwanze 2013
  1. Cantillon Zwanze 2013 Abbaye de Cureghem (Spontaneously fermented tripel with 10% lambic blend) (7.2% ABV): The beer of the day - tapped in 46 pubs around the world at the same precise moment, never to be released again - is clearly not a standard tripel.  It bears resemblances, with aromas of lightly tart apple and some wet wood alongside some vinous grape qualities.  Taste-wise there is less sour and more funk than present on the nose, if neither extremely, with hints of vine and rind.  The body is a bit fuller than most lambics, while the carbonation was a touch lighter.  I get the hybridity and love the attempt, but only liked the beer.  My first Cantillon I didn't give an A+, if still a great experience!  Grade: A-
  2. Dieu du Ciel 15 Nord (8.4% ABV American Strong Ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels): This 15th anniversary surprise was quite good and offered what I wish the #4 below had: tempered vinous notes!  While quite dark in colour, the nose was faintly floral hopped with some discernible wine notes and just a faint peatyness and slight roasted cereal grainy notes.  The taste was sweetly vinous and lightly woody, with just enough drying earthy hops and roastiness to clean things off.  Quite enjoyable - though I do love my American Strongs to be hopped-to-high-heaven in a way this wasn't quite... but it was delicious if a different animal.  Grade: A-
  3. Dieu du Ciel/De La Senne Blanche Van de Plateau (4% ABV Witbier): Not usually a fan of the style, this beer hits some decent coriander and peppery spiced notes on both nose and tongue, while presenting just a light tartness that intrigues, dries, and lingers in a very re-enticing manner. I cannot wait to give this another go - when drinking less of such high gravity and bold flavour!  Grade: A-
  4. Dieu du Ciel Dernière Volonté Réserve Spéciale (Pinot-Noir Barrel-Aged Belgian IPA): All I will note here is that this offered an aroma with little transformation from the original, while the taste was strongly akin to a dry pinot noir, which is fine, but with the diminished carbonation and wine-dominance it isn't really what I'd personally love in a beer.  Rich and complex, and well-brewed, but a bit more of a barrel-aged for barrel-aging sake thing to me.  Maybe aged half as long would suffice (for me) as I'd rather hints than dominance of these notes, though a few at my table disagreed - which is why thoughts more than ratings are so crucial!  Grade: B+
Yep, and I tasted only a few beers that didn't make those super-highly-ranked category cuts.  With pretty affordable pricing too, it's safe to say this is a day not to miss, as long as you have a high tolerance for lines, crowds, general insanity, and high gravity and/or low ph beers!

It's probably a good thing for my liver - but bad for the soul - that it'll be another year 'til Zwanze 2014 and the DDC 16th Anniversary roll through.  But rest assured, you'll hear from me again aplenty before then!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Oktoberfest des Quebecois: Standouts and Observations

This past weekend, I attended the Oktoberfest des Quebecois in Repentigny.  (Everyone always says, "what is with the Oktoberfests in September?"  Well, not only does the original Oktoberfest happen mostly in September only ending in October, but Canada seems to have a climate more conducive to outdoor festivals occurring in September than October.)

As this event occurred a week after the Chambly Festival, Bières et Saveurs, and a week before Zwanze Day, I had to choose between the two festivals and I don't regret my choice!

Free buses from Montreal's metro stations Honoré-Beaugrand and Radisson helped get us safely to and from the site.  The festival grounds was the Parc de l'Île-Lebel which is a gorgeous peninsula jutting out into the St. Lawrence River.  Though warm enough the day was overcast, limiting our enjoyment of the sun, but helping prevent the bouts of sunstroke often seen when the sun aligns with copious booze consumption.

Though we missed the bands, a solid lineup of Tequila Gang Band, A Beatles Tribute, Seven Bags of Bricks (Flogging Molly tribute), Bernard Adamus,  and Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs assured good times for drinkers and non-drinkers alike.  Similarly, the festival tone was family-friendly complete with a family zone comprised of rides and games.

But, this time, the family stayed home freeing me from such obligations and allowing me to focus on my other love... good beer.

As always, I shared far too many samples to comment entirely, but I will simply point out that which amazed, inspired, or was otherwise noteworthy.

Top beers of the day (for me and my crew) follow, before my surprise discovery of note:

Boquébière's Rouge à l'Érable (8.5% Flanders Red Style Ale with Maple): this beer was a marvellous delight as a fantastic Quebec interpretation of the style offering a great acidic and woody nose, with a nice puckeringly tart flavour that is spread across the tongue by an ample carbonation allowing a fully sour, lingering experience!  There is but a trace of the maple sweetness, making this beer a surprising delight as I was worried the maple would overpower the tartness, and I am pleased to say that it doesn't!  Grade: A/A+

Les Trois Mousquetaires' Double IPA (Draught version at 8.3% ABV).  Yeah, yeah, I reviewed this here.  But I still had to note how great this draught version was, what with it being cloudier and a bit earthier, while still fucking fantastic!  Grade: A

Le Trou du Diable's l'Apocalypse (7.5% White IPA): I have heard a few folks say this isn't as good once it warms a little and some flaws become discernible, I didn't let mine get warm enough to speak with certainty, since I devoured its delectable citrus and passion-fruit flavours coupled with the like nose.  This beer is unfiltered and cloudy, and more amber-coloured than the name would suggest, with a nice bold effervescence.  I hope this gets bottled so I can devour it cold and also try it warmed a touch!  Grade: A-/A

Les Trois Mousquetaires' Randall-Infused American Barleywine (11% ABV).  This beer, originally, is a delight with an excellent dry-hopped nose adding piney-earthy complexity to the malty fruity aromas.  Though quite sweet throughout, bordering on Scotch Ale territory, it begins with a port-like sweetness evolving towards a dryness supplied by warmth.  Quite creamy, quite substantially-bodied, quite hoppy, and simultaneously quite sweet and, hence, quite unique and enjoyable!  The un-replicable Randall the Enamel Animal version tapped here, however, brings a freshness and even hoppier grassy aroma, while the taste becomes earthier and a bit drier, but simultaneously a bit wheat-grassy.  This was my first Randall experience and, though I can't say I liked the beer more (liking the taste less and the nose more), I appreciated the evolution and I look forward to imbibing more Randall infusions in the future!  Grade: A-/A (Though I'd give the original an A)

La Succursale's Angus IP<<AAA>> (7% ABV).  Yes, I have reviewed this before, but am reminded of how pleasurable it truly is to drink when consumed alongside other marvels once again and still holding its own!

Lagabière's brewing brothers, Francis and Sébastien Laganière
Finally, when our day was drawing to a close, we discovered Lagabière, a 6-month old brewpub in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.  Named as a play on words from the surname of the brewing brothers, Francis and Sébastien Laganière, this new brewery surprised!  I can't say I adored any of their beers, but all were very solid (B+/A- range mostly for me, with none below that)!  I tried seven of their products and cannot wait to get to their location to try more!  Of note, I most enjoyed their Bomb IPA (probably close to an A), their Evel Knievel American Pale Ale, and their Spout-Nic Russian Imperial Stout, while one of my company adored their l'Alegonquienne (Spruce Ale).

By way of critique, I'd say they haven't stepped out of the bounds of the norm yet, but they have taken a strong route assuring that they can brew the standards which makes a strong base for any good brewpub.  Their beers are well-crafted, if a slight bit on the lighter-bodied side at times, while their (beer, and I guess personal) names are great and their promise is high!  Check them out!  Seriously!

In conclusion, this festival truly showcased much of what is great in the Quebec beer scene, and yet that was just the beginning of a wider festival celebrating culture and prolonging the end of a great summer festival season!  Though with limitations on my time, I chose Beau's Oktoberfest last year and Oktoberfest des Quebecois this year, next year I must plan for Chambly instead.  However, I mention this not to critique this wonderful event, which would be difficult indeed, but rather to note why I will try all that the region has to offer in beer and, so far, the more I discover, the more I admire!  If you haven't attended these events, you won't regret any of their delights and I strongly encourage you to support your local beer scene.

'Til next time... Santé!

PS: Thanks to Beerism for the pictures (as their phone/camera is MUCH better than mine).  Watch for their pending Oktoberfest review as well!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Opening a Can of Worms: Les Trois Mousquetaires Double IPA in Comparison to the Legendary Heady Topper

I am not even close to the first to make this comparison, and there is a reason for its appearance in beer circles on the web, but at risk of opening a can of beer pandora's box can of worms, I wish to chime in on the Heady Topper vs. Les Trois Mousquetaires Double IPA comparison.

Both are hard to come by, with Heady regularly selling out every week within hours of canning in the vicinity of the Alchemist's Waterbury, VT brewery, while LTM's DIPA was released only for one day at the brewery (so far) and sold out in two hours.  (Though, its limited availability is assured to be simply because of difficulties in hop sourcing for all 8 varieties in the product, and LTM assures that they will be making more at some point).

Both offer waves of hops goodness, with numerous hops varieties infusing each, while LTM is 8.3% and 130 IBU to Heady Topper's 8% and 120 IBU.

The similarities don't end there, though some differences exist as well.

My original review of Heady Topper is here, while I will focus on the Trois Mousquetaires beer herein, with reference back to the Alchemist's hot-cake.  (It is worth noting, btw, that I have had this beer three times - twice from the bottle thanks to beerism and ca brasse, and once on tap at Oktoberfest des Quebecois which will have its full review later this week.)

The LTM Hors Série Double IPA pours a hazy orange with but a slight white head of very little retention or lace.  The Heady Topper is similar in all regards, but with a more substantial head, less orange and more amber, with chunkier particulate that is somewhat hazier than the bottled LTM, but less hazy than its draught counterpart.

The aroma brings the strongest similarity with a bold fruitiness exemplified by citrus (especially tangerine, with some lemon and grapefruit), mango, and a hint of lychee.  The nose is actually very similar to HT, but doesn't quite fill the room upon bottle-crack the way it does when a can of Heady opens.

In the mouth, it begins sweetly with some lightly bready malt and the sweeter side of the tangerine hops goodness before drying up quickly with a more substantial and longer-lingering bitterness (characterized by grapefruit) than is present in Heady Topper.  The draught version of the LTM DIPA presents a spicier earthiness, alongside a touch of honeyed sweetness that I don't notice as much in the bottled version.  Either way, it tastes delightful and offers a solid flavour evolution, but doesn't quite get to the complex evolution of hops notes offered by Heady, though it is still very, very delicious.

On the tongue, it is medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, while simultaneously feeling a slight bit oily alongside some slight and decent prickliness despite not presenting an overwhelming effervescence.  It is a bit warm and the alcohol notes become increasingly present as the glass warms, while this is something HT better tempers.

In conclusion, there are many reasons for the comparison to Heady Topper.  Appearance, aroma, flavour, and mouthfeel all bear similarities, but the legendary Heady comes out on top overall.  That, however, is still high praise for LTM and takes nothing away from its success, since HT currently ranks as the world's top beer on ba and 29th on ratebeer.  This Quebec gem, however, is further proof (alongside Dieu du Ciel's Morality, especially) that the Quebec and Canadian IPA scenes are evolving - when the necessary American hops can be sourced - and that it truly and legitimately belongs in this discussion is an excellent sign even if it fairly falls behind the Alchemist's masterpiece.

Nonetheless, I can grade this beer an easy A and I welcome its eventual return, at which time I will line up for a case (but the rest you should stay away to keep the line down!!)