Monday, 2 September 2019

Messorem Bracitorium: Haze Hype Right Off the Hop

Earlier this year, news of Messorem Bracitorium's pending opening excited me for multiple reasons: their location near my home, their style focus on the trends we geeks lose our minds for, and the breweries at which their brewers wet their chops (Auval, Pit Caribou, Les Trois Mousquetaires). Apparently I was not alone, as this is likely the most-hyped brewery opening in Quebec since Auval.

But with beer, I'm a realist and the reality is that most new breweries promise the moon, but fail to deliver. I mean, I'm not trying to be a snob, but I'm just not interested in drinking even decent beer any longer. There's enough great beer out there that I feel opening in this market necessitates coming hard or heading home. You NEED to make a name for yourself, hit the styles most consumed (I mean, beer geek or casual beer drinker, many thrive on the IPA), or expect to struggle whenever the herd is culled.

And, though I am told that Messorem wishes to emulate the strengths of the breweries they love - Grimm and Other Half, for their explicitly stated examples - I'd also like to brew like Shaun Hill and it really ain't that easy.

So despite my hope, I needed to see the evidence, especially since so many struggle to scale on new equipment, with canning lines, with the ropes of running the show, etc.

Yet, they "opened" with a bang. I mean, they aren't "officially" opened, having "soft openings" for over a month now, with limited hours, but they hit the ground running with solid beers most critiqued for being "a little green." There is an irony to even posting this now, since anyone in the know has already grabbed cans, swapped for some, or crushed some pints on site, but nonetheless here's my take on all five cans so far (with an extra shout-out to the unreviewed draught-only, but much enjoyed Couper l'Herbe Sous le Pieds and Touche. Tombe.).

In order of release...

 OK l'Enfer (Ekuanot, Simcoe Cryo DDH IPA @ 6% ABV, from Week 1) pours a cloudy yellow with a quickly receding and low-moderate head, but a trace remains atop with fair glass lacing. The nose is bright and fruity, offering mango, pineapple, and citrus. The taste is a touch sweet up front, though it finishes somewhat sharply. It has a bone dry linger, that is a touch astringent, but the slightly low-end effervescence complements the grainy, weighty, pureed smoothie mouthfeel that gives this an edge. At two weeks on (at the time of detailed assessment), this remains a bit green, but it may be the bold notes of "lupulin burn" cryo hops rather than a greenness at all. A fine beer, especially for a first offering!  Grade: B+
Brain Dead (Amarillo, Chinook, Cascade, Citra APA @ 5% ABV from Week 2). I gotta tell you: this beer is fire!  Some have noted oxidized cans of late online and some breweries do have issues with initial canning processes, but my allotment didn't last long enough to discover this outcome. (The lighting in the outdoor pic below may appear slightly oxidized, but see the pic at the bottom of the article to see the thick cloudy brightness of this beer at its best!)

This is one cloudy, thick looking mofo, presenting an almost milky-hazy yellow, the apparent viscosity of unfiltered non-alcoholic apple cider. It is likewise capped by a slight white head that dissipates quickly as it is pretty sharply carbonated. Here, the aroma wafts lemon rind, papaya, under ripe berries. Taste and feel combine in the mouth to be a bit sharp with a fairly bitter linger some may describe as
lupulin burn, but that I far prefer to a sweet linger even in other haze-cans I still imbibe on the regular. It is sharp, but the body has a richness on the tongue that gives some depth to this bold finish. It is much drier than HYPAs from Brasserie du Bas Canada and with a deeper complexity and balance than most IPA, let alone APA in the province. Still a touch green a week after sale, but safely worth the price of entry and a bold promise of things to come. I gotta say, I rarely buy APA in Quebec as so few compete with the best IPA, but this is likely the best APA in the Province IMO. My 4 cans and the, hmmm, 5 pints I have had on site have only strengthened this assessment. Grade: A (for style, as I might enjoy the OK l'Enfer as much but it has bolder competition) 

  Ces Magiciens (Amarillo Cryo, Cashmere, Citra DDH Sour IPA @ 7.2% ABV).

It's unclear to me - is a dry-hopped sour the same as a sour IPA (as long as they're kettle-soured)? I mean, I can't imagine the difference, but I often tend to enjoy but not love this style, with some exceptions. "WAIT," you say, "isn't that every style?" Well yes, but even trusted breweries struggle to hit this out of the park IMO, and this is no different.

Ces Magiciens follows the trend of an orange-hued haze monster, though the minimal head seems to linger a bit longer atop this one. Aromatically, it is dominated by wave after wave of lemon. The taste has a sour apple thing going on but is otherwise a bit non-descript for me, being of mild tartness with minimal character. I mean, the hops and sourness are well blended and balanced, but as neither is bold, they almost cancel each other into an easy drinking experience. And that's a good thing - but not what wows me about the best in the style that assault my senses with waves of candied fruit and a depth beyond what I got here.  It's fine, good even, just not earth-shattering. Grade: B

Get Wavy (Citra, Galaxy, Vic Secret DDH DIPA @ 8.5% ABV) arrives in the glass with a slightly more orange hue than those above, but remains hazy (if less cloudy than Brain Dead). Fair white head lasts longer with the least apparent carbonation of those above. For me, the nose is dominated by tangerine, oranges, a touch of lime zest, with varied citrus fruits all the way. There is a touch more sweetness here, though it is still balanced against the finish. That said, it is far drier than a BBC DIPA. Though this dropped a shade greener than the (as yet) uncanned "Touche. Tombe" (or single IPA, Couper l'Herbe Sous le Pied), it offers no real lupulin burn or astringency, finishing dryly, but lingering more with a juicy finish than a sharp one. (And "green" cans are fine with me - drink'em next week if you prefer!) The feel is not so much thicker than on the others, even for a stronger brew, but that isn't a slight as they have been nailing this aspect of their beers so far. Another solid offering. Grade: B+/A-

7 Pieds Sous Terre (Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe DDH IPA @ 7% ABV) excites before launch. I mean, those are three exciting hops! And, I am happy to say this doesn't disappoint, nor does it sell out on launch-day! (As I write this cans remain available for pickup after noon Tuesday even though they are closed for other service).

In the glass, 7 Pieds shows off a cloudy orange-tinged copper-yellow, atop which rests a characteristic slight white head that again dissipates quickly with no real lacing. Dankness on the nose is coupled with some lemon rind, pineapple, and papaya. I get similar fruits on the nose with some additional strawberries qualities, while the hops presents almost a tannic bite as it switches to a drier more bitter finish than most other top tier NEIPA in the province. I gotta say, this pairs really, really well with these trendy Beyond Meat burgers (and with a real burger as well, but oddly a tiny bit less so) - a match made in heaven. Alongside a medium-full, almost creamy smooth mouthfeel and fairly low carbonation that contributes to that round softness, this works well in the mouth and is well executed all around.  Their best IPA yet. Grade: A-/A

Messorem is currently open only Thursdays through Sundays at varying times (check their website for details), with an opening event still pending, but their beer, gear, location, site, and promise leave me excited for what's to come!