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An article by Noah Forrest

Microbrasserie Riverbend is a brewery based out of Alma, QC (about 5hrs from Montreal). The brewery has been on the scene for about three years now and exclusively can all of their beers with a wide Quebec distribution.

I tried a hand-full of their offerings a couple years back and honestly, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Or, at least not enough to keep buying their beers. That’s one of the problems with having a rich and diverse list of breweries to choose from on any given day. One needs to pick and choose from those that have left a particularly impressionable mark on you, otherwise you need to be rich, and perhaps drunk all the time.

All that to say, when the folks at Riverbend contacted me about their can release a few months back, I was happy to review their beers as it gave me a chance to see how the products might have evolved over time. I apologize as this post is a little late to the party, but you might be able to find these sitting on shelves around town. Or if you are in or around Alma, they still have some for sale.

So, back in November Riverbend released these small-batch barrel-aged cans with a limited distribution. Included were three beers, each quite interesting a unique. Two of the three were Imperial Pale Ales, however each was aged in a different barrel; one aged in a barrel previously containing Vin Passerillé and the other in a Mistelle de Poire barrel. Lastly, there was an Imperial Stout, aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with a secondary brett fermentation. Let’s dive right in here. 

Imperial Pale ale – Mistelle de Poir

First we have an Imperial Pale Ale, aged in a single barrel that contained Mistelle de Poire. Mistelle (or vin de liqueur) is a fruit-wine that’s fortified with something like brandy or eau de vie. The resulting higher alcohol content restricts most of the yeasts from multiplying, allowing for a lot of residual sugar during fermentation. Mistelle de Poire is a pear version of vin de liqueur. 

The nose is a rich oak bomb, followed by some subtle fruity hops. Pear, apple and light cherry come through next, providing a nice rich compliment to the big vinous barrel layers. 

The palate is similar, with a massive oak presence. There is a robust caramel malt base, which is subsequently cut down by some dry tannins from the wood. The pear comes through for sure, carrying luscious fruitiness and a slightly astringent, spirit-like ethanol burn.

Pear, ripe apple and some liqueur-like sweetness make up the profile, but the finish is very dry and pretty clean considering – without an aggressive bitterness. The hops are there, but subtle and more on an afterthought. This beer is an odd one. I like it, but it comes off a bit too boozy.

Imperial Stout – Cabernet Sauvignon – Brettanomyces

As mentioned earlier, this is an imperial stout aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with a secondary fermentation using brettanomyces. 

It pours out like beautiful motor oil. The aromas are rich, beginning with dark-roasted espresso beans, followed by black cherry and some dark chocolate. Vinous notes come through as well, lending a tannic character to the aromatic experience.

Up front the palate matches. Lots of black cherry and serious espresso-like bitterness attack my palate. Ample dark fruits appear as well, carrying huge cherry and blackberry flavours. The finish is quite tannic and vinous, with a lingering bitterness that rests on your palate after each sip.

The body on this is luscious and thick, with some intense dark chocolate layers. The brett phenols are subtle, only adding light dustiness and loads of fruity esters – but also keeping things dry and drinkable. The balance here is on point and all the right notes are hit. I’m really impressed with this one.

Imperial Pale ale – Vin Passerillé

Vin Passerillé or (straw wine) is made from grapes that are dried in order to concentrate the sugars and ultimately make a sweeter wine. The process is often done by drying the grapes on mats of straw in the sun. This Imperial Pale Ale was aged in barrels that previously contained this wine. I’m curious how the richness of the fruit will lend character to the beer. I’m thinking there will be similarities to Sauternes barrel-aged beers. 

The nose carries a rich fruity presence all around. Stone fruits, like plum and peach mix with pears and lots of grapes. Loads of vanilla come through alongside vinous wine soaked oak, providing a rich tart edge to the aromas.

The palate matches, carrying a huge barrel-forward flavour profile that has a potent vanilla base. Candied fruits and marmalade provide a rich and robust sweetness. That said, nothing feels cloying as the whole thing is quickly cut down by the tangy oak tannins – drying the finish nicely.

There are subtle echoes of the hops that were likely at the front at some point, whereas now it’s an afterthought, providing hints of juicy citrus alongside all the stone fruits.

The vinous notes are intense in a good way, further helping dry things out while still adding more grape-forward fruitiness. Overall, this is rich, but balanced, and quite good. There is indeed a Sauternes-like thing going on. I’d recommend this beer.

Well, I have to say that these beers reshaped my impression of Microbrasserie Riverbend. Not that I had a particular negative view of their products, but I also wasn’t actively buying them by any means. The brett wine-barrel-aged imperial stout was legitimately delicious and rather innovative. I also very much enjoyed the Vin Passerillé Imperial Pale ale, and although the Mistelle de Poir wasn’t exactly to my tastes, it was still interesting to drink. If you see any of these lying around on shelves, you might want to pick them up.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

A couple of months ago, Brasserie Dunham announced that they will be hosting a spectacular beer event near the end of the summer. It’s called Foudres Unis. This event is a celebration for exceptional brewers and passionate beer lovers alike. The line-up of breweries is pretty earth shattering, including names like Cantillon, Bellwoods, The Bruery, Auval, Twin Sails, Hill Farmstead, Dieu du Ciel!, 4hands, and many, many more. 

The Event itself is on August 11th 2018 and will be held at ONEKA Organic Farm, located at 2 Chemin de la Poste-de-Boston, Frelighsburg, QC (about an hour and twenty minutes from Montreal, and about an 18 minute drive from Brasserie Dunham). There will be two 3.5Hr sessions; Session 1 will take place from 11:00 to 14:30, and Session 2 will take place from 16:30 to 20:00. The tickets for the event are 120$ plus tax for each session, however they include all of your drinks for the day. There will be restaurants on site as well as a Kombucha kiosk. More details here.

So how do we get tickets?

Well, here is the challenging part. You can get tickets starting tommorow, Feb 15th 2018, until March 4th 2018, but they have to be purchased in person at Brasserie Dunham’s boutique (3809 Rue Principale S, Dunham, Quebec). They will be opened from 12:00-21:00 both the 15th and 16th of February and then will return to their regular hours afterwards.

Why do we have to drive all the way to Dunham to get tickets?

Well, according to the good folks at Brasserie Dunham, because of the slew of amazing breweries being showcased, “…we have good reason to believe that people from everywhere will be interested. We want to make sure that local, passionate, motivated, and willing people are able to get tickets in the first place.”

It is certainly a long drive on a weekday, but the line-up for this event is epic to say the least. That said,if you need a bit more motivation to take the trip, Dunham is also hosting a small winter bottle release tomorrow (Feb 15th 2018). Four beers are dropping, (1) Hemen eta Han – collaboration with Naparbier, (2) Duel – collaboration with Microbrasserie À la Fût, (3) Viti Vini Vici Cuvée Hupin/Marler, and lastly (4) the latest version of Zonder Goblins Bourbon. Not only that, there are still bottles of killer barrel-aged beers like Pinacle Réserve Sauvignon Blanc and Funk Royal available to purchase.

I got my hands on a few of this bottles to review ahead of time. Check it out! 

Viti Vini Vici – Cuvée Hupin/Marler

This is the third edition of Viti Vini Vici, a series of bottles desinged to marry grapes and beer. This particular iteration is a saison brewed with freshly squeezed grapes (Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris) from the Pervenches vineyard in Farnham. It is also lightly hopped and NOT barrel-aged in order to keep the brightness of the fruit.

It pours out a beautiful clear ruby-orange colour, almost looking a lot like carbonated Rosé. The nose wafts loads of dusty funk, mixed with tart vinous components. Red grapes and subtle berry notes add fruity layers that balance against the rich musty brett phenols. Stellar nose all around.

On the palate Cuvée Hupin/Marler is dry up front, but not particularly tannic. Instead, the beer is rounded and incredibly smooth. Lots of grape fruitiness comes through, carrying a luscious wine-rich profile, without the usual drying oak backdrop.

There is also a nice subtle hoppiness to this. Cherry comes through as well, while the brett provides lots of drying phenols, with dust and earth in the finish.

Saison du Pinacle Réserve – Sauvignon blanc

Pinacle Réserve is a Dunham classic. This particular batch showcases Sauvignon Blanc barrels as opposed to the usual Pinot Noir.

The nose is just spectacular, with stones fruits bursting forward, alongside some apple, white grapes, and lots of dusty brett funk.

On the palate it’s juicy and bright like the nose lets on, however there is a tannic oak presence that alongside the hop profile, creates a sharp bitterness in the finish.

Earthy and dusty flavours emerge in addition to some vanilla oakiness. As well, layers of white wine vinous notes and lots of rich and juicy stone fruits come through. The brett phenols dance brilliantly against its slick mouthfeel, leaving a pretty potent dryness that lingers.

Pinacle Réserve is truly one of the more impressive beers around. It’s the best of the best from Dunham, but perhaps also from all of Canada. And this new variant might even be better.

Le Quench du Soif “Réserve”

Quench de Soif is a collaboration between Brasserie Dunham and Twin Sails Brewing out of British Columbia. The name is a jab at all the American breweries who use french words in their names in order to come off sounding more sophisticated. It’s a wild IPA, carrying a hop profile inspired by the Vermont scene. This particular Réserve edition spent 6 months in Sauvignon Blanc barrels.

The nose is a bright and juicy mix of tropical fruits, including peaches, papaya, and light pineapple. Subtle vinous notes and spicy oak add more layers, while a light dustiness finishes off this beautifully aromatic beer.

The palate matches, carrying loads of fruit-filled complexities. The body is pretty slick and robust, carrying a nice clean and sweet maltiness – further complemented by rich fruity hop flavours. That said, any sweetness is cut by the brett phenols and tannic oak.

Although there are some hoppy layers, this is not as bright as the original product. Instead, there are wine-forward fruit layers that deliver white grapes and oak-forward vanilla notes. All is in balance. This does however, have an astringency in the finish that I’m not loving. Overall though, It’s solid.

Funk Royal

Funk Royal is Foudre barrel-aged sour brewed with plums. It pours of a bright coral amber colour with orange highlights. The nose is jammy and funky at the same time. Lots of rich plum aromatics burst forth, with zesty acidity and some earthy brett phenols.

Up front on the palate it’s both very sour and very tannic. The dryness here is intense, leaving a mouth puckering linger on your tongue after every sip.

Lots of bright plum acidity mixes with an earthy brett backing. The oak isn’t incredibly apparent, but still lends a certain character to the beer as a whole. Although rather sour, Funk Royal is also quite drinkable and balanced overall. I very much enjoyed this one.

Hemen eta Han

Hemen eta Han is a saison aged in used wine barrels for four months and then blended with a foudre-aged rye beer. It was brewed in collaboration with Naparbier.

The nose provides a lovely bretty funk, delivering dusty and earthy phenols that are mixed with vinous soaked oak. Loads of grapes meet hints of peach and general fruitiness, but the oak and brett is certainly the star of this nose.

The palate matches, delivering big vinous notes alongside a nice dry brett presence. There are lots of oak tannins to further dry things out, but the beer is balanced and round overall. It’s pretty much the quintessential Dunham BA brett beer. The rye adds a light pepperiness, complimented by a big silky body.

Grape skins come though in the finish, with light berry notes and some stone fruits. This is cut by an apparent but not aggressive bitterness that works with the tannins to really dry everything well. This is fantastic, I could drink a case of these.

Well there is is folks, if you’re willing to call in sick to work tomorrow and trek out to the gorgeous Eastern Townships, not only will you be able to purchase tickets to (likely) the greatest beer festival in Québec’s history, but you can also buy a shit-ton of amazing barrel-aged and generally exceptional beers to take home. I don’t think you have a choice here, just do it already.

Before going to get tickets for Foudres Unis, make sure to read through the event details in order to get up to speed on all the rules regarding the event.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

It’s February, and the cold has been around so long now that my anger has transformed into a form of cold-complacency. It’s depressing, demoralizing, and I want it done with! Luckily, it is also that time of year where imperial stouts are found in abundance. And more specifically, Péché Day is on its way!

Journée Péché Day – March 24th 2018 – Celebrate at both the Montreal and St. Jerome locations!

For those unaware, Péché Mortel is Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!‘s imfamous coffee infused imperial stout. It is well respected, world renowned, and simply one of the best of its kind. For several years now the brewery has celebrated the beer by giving it its own day. Many bars from all over Montreal, Canada, and the entire world will be pouring different variants of this epic beer.

To add even more wood to this fire, Dieu du Ciel! is reprising their Péché Day mixed pack from last year with a whole new set of Péché variants for us to pour down our frost-mangled throats. Like last year, the infamous Péché bourbon is included, as well as three never before bottles versions: Péché Framboise, Péché Latte, and Péché Termopilas.

Distribution of the Journée Péché 4-packs will begin on Péché Day (March 24th) , so keep an eye on social media to see which stores around Quebec are receiving them. I was able to procure a case ahead of time to tell you all about these luscious bottles. Enjoy!

Péché Termopilas

This first new Péché variant is brewed with Termopilas Coffee beans, which were used to provide a lighter roasted profile than classic Péché Mortel. In last year’s Péché case, they did something similar, using a coffee called M’Beguka from Kenya.

The nose carries a huge mocha-coffee presence – a touch more apparent than usual. Lots of dark chocolate comes through, but with a nuttier edge, showcasing that quintessential third wave roastiness. Some dark cherry comes through as well, but this nose is all beans.

On the palate the coffee is that much more in your face, with an intense bitterness to cut through everything. It feels like Péché turned up a notch, with an potent espresso intensity.

Bitter dark chocolate mixes with freshly pressed coffee, alongside some fudge and a light fruity acidic backing. Overall it’s sharper in bitterness and alcohol as well as seemingly a touch thinner. This sounds negative, but it isn’t – at all. Péché Termopilas is fucking delicious.

Péché Latte

Péché Latte is essentially a Milk Stout or Sweet Stout version of Péché Mortel. This is done by adding lactose which creates a more robust and slicker mouthfeel alongside some extra sweetness. Lactose is all the rage now, so it only makes sense that they created this. I’m normally not a fan, but it is Péché after all…

The nose is rich and lovely. It has that very typical Péché coffee excitement, but with a softer and rounder sweetness alongside some mocha and milkshakiness – but subtle.

Okay, I’m converted to lactose from this beer alone. The body (as expected) is through the roof with a brilliant lusciousness. The lactose thickens it up, but the coffee bitterness really helps keep it all in check. It’s certainly sweeter than standard Péché, but again, the dark roast really balances everything, creating that quintessential latte delisciousness. Lots of milk chocolate and cappuccino-like richness rounds the whole beer, turning one of the best beers in the world into something different yet equally brilliant and delicious. Wow, I want more.

Péché Bourbon 2018

As usual, all of us beer-geeks are ecstatic with the idea of landing some Péché Bourbon. So, for those that could not attend the recent winter bottle release, this Péché Pack is a great way for folks to get their hands on the latest batch. I reviewed it a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d include my tasting notes right here:

The nose is the usual Péché bourbon masterpiece, however the rich vanilla bourbon notes seem a touch more pronounced, with sweet oak forward aromatics at the front. Rich earthy coffee beans comes through as well, alongside loads of milk chocolate. The nose is divine.

The palate is a big burst of coffee, lending dark chocolate and freshly ground espresso beans, mixed-in with vanilla and spicy oak tannins. The effervescence feels a bit more prickly on the tongue this year. It’s very bitter, tannic and dry (perhaps more than usual), while still being rich and round overall. Bitter dark chocolate components work extremely well with the luscious vanilla-forward bourbon notes, while the alcohol is sharp, but balanced. Péché bourbon is always a treat.

Péché Framboise

Last we have Péché Framboise. Yes, that’s right, they brewed Péché Mortel with Raspberries. Last year Dieu du Ciel! created Peach Mortel, which was a play on the fact that anglophones kept getting mixed up over the word Péché (thinking it means Peach). Despite it being more of a joke than anything else, the beer was quite brilliant. So needless to say I’m excited for this one.

Oh my, this nose is incredible. Bright, freshly cut raspberries mix with bitter dark chocolate and fresh ground coffee beans.

The raspberries are less apparent than on the nose, but instead provide a light compliment to the coffee layers. That said, the tanginess and tannins from the fruit clash a touch with the bitterness of the coffee, presenting a certain astringency in the finish. That said, I do very much enjoy raspberries and chocolate together, so this is essentially that combination in beer form.

Bakers chocolate, bright berries and espresso make up the flavour profile, pushing the boundaries of what Péché Mortel can be. Although enjoyable, I find this Framboise iteration too bitter overall. It is my least favourite of the case, but that’s also like choosing your least favourite Ferrari.

So, just to remind you again, Péché Day is on March 24th, 2018. Pay attention to the Dieu du Ciel! Facebook page in order to get all the details. The Péché 4-packs will also be sold on the 24th of March, so keep an eye on your local shop.

This year’s 2018 Péché pack selection is certainly a step up from the 2017. Although I preferred last year’s Peach Mortel to this year’s Raspberry, Termopilas and Latte were just amazing. And well, Péché bourbon is always king. I’m already thinking about what next year’s will be, drooling at all the possibilities.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

Small Pony Barrel Works opened its doors to the public at the tail end of 2017. Located in Kanata (just west of Ottawa), this new and innovative brewery focuses solely on Barrel-aged products – and in particular, sours.

Barrel-aging is nothing new, the modern craft-beer scene is loaded with various products that utilize barrels in all sorts of amazing ways. However, the process is lengthy and challenging, especially when focusing solely on sours. Because of this I was somewhat surprised to see this all-barrel brewery come into fruition, but also because sour beer is still quite niche in these parts – and although the scene is starting to boom in Ottawa, it isn’t quite where Toronto and Montreal are just yet.

That said, this is amazing and exciting. I’m extremely happy to see this happen, and I’m sure Small Pony is going to do well. Once you fall under the spell of well made barrel-aged sours – where the layered acidity carries an unmatched complexity – it can be hard going back to simple kettle-sours. 

I had a chance to connect with owner and brewer Sean McVeigh to answer some questions about his new operation. As well, I got my hands on their first four beers, which I examined at length. Enjoy! 

Small Pony Barrel Works has been in the making for some time now. Can you tell me a bit about its history and how it all got started?

“Small Pony Barrel Works started as an answer to a problem I was facing early in 2016. I started leaning towards the sour styles a couple of years earlier and picked up my first wine barrel to use for my homebrew sours. Barrels are the right way to do things, but the downside as a homebrewer is that these barrels are quite large and I found myself wondering what to do with all of this sour beer I was brewing. I started investigating the feasibility of opening a brewery at home and packing my basement with barrels, but regulations and being in a rural area would have made it challenging. I met with other brewery owners in the area and along the west coast in the U.S. who were producing sour beers and really started to form a picture of what an all sour brewery could look like, and so I just dove in and went for it. A year of construction and brewing and waiting later, here we are!”

At this point, it seems most breweries have Barrel programs in some capacity. However, they usually only account for a smaller percentage of their total beer production. What made you decide to oak-age 100% of your beer? Especially given the length of time it takes to produce.

“I really feel that barrel aged sours have more character than when made through other means. There is also something really pleasing about having a cellar full of barrels which all have their own unique personality. We may brew a larger batch and split it across as many as 16 or 17 barrels, and when we are sampling through them over the months, it’s surprising sometimes that two containers of the same original beer can have notably different aromas and flavours. The freedom to run hundreds of parallel experiments like this really gives you a nice creative outlet when it comes time to blend and package a beer. We really are spending several months building a beer… brew day is just the start of that process, unlike other more conventional beers.”

Your first four beers are all sours. Is Small Pony Barrel Works only going to create wild and sour beers, or will you also be making other barrel aged creations that aren’t inoculated with wild yeast and bacteria?

“We’re focused on producing only barrel aged sour beers, and don’t have any plans to branch out from that. There are many other breweries producing excellent beers in that space already, and any time we would spend focusing on other beers, would be time taken away from learning from our sour beer program. There is also of course the challenge of trying to keep the non-sour side of a brewery free from contamination. This is one reason that many breweries are not looking at putting out funky and sour beers.”

What can we expect to see in 2018 from Small Pony?

“The plan for 2018 is to really explore the sour style and release 15 or 20 different beers. We have lots of good beer brewed and aging in the cellar — some of that is earmarked for specific blends, and some that we are waiting to see how it evolves over time before deciding on a direction to take.”

As I was mentioning above, Small Pony launched their opening with four beers to consume on site or purchase to go. I had a chance to review them below! Enjoy!

Orange Whisper

The first beer on this list is Orange Whisper, a blend of golden sour beers, aged in oak barrels with Mosaic hops. The nose is a rich and bright Mosaic hop bomb, tossing loads of tangerine and under-ripe clementines at my senses. The oak adds a touch of vanilla and earthiness, creating an almost creamcicle likeness – but nothing cloying or weird – like a lactose IPA. It’s truly citrus all the way, with orange everything at the front, followed by some more sharp grapefruit pith, and a touch of hard to place, almost savory notes. 

Up front on the palate I’m hit with some ample and sharp acidity, which cleans the palate immediately, leaving echoes of the beer behind it. Like the nose, Mosaic is the focal point, providing beautiful fresh tangerine and a touch of earthy grassiness. The oak is not particularly apparent, but adds pleasant mouth-puckering tannins that further dry things out.

This beer is sharp, flavourful and very well balanced. The acidity is definitely present, but it’s also very drinkable – a balance that is often hard to pull off. I do find it just a touch watery however, but overall this is definitely a winner.

They Go Up!

They go up! is a golden sour beer, aged in oak barrels with Montmorency cherries. The nose is big cherry pie, with some light sulphur, and juicy berries. Vanilla and almond cake aromas come through as well.

The palate matches, with a big cherry pie essence and lots of vanilla-like accents. The acidity is present, but not over the top, lending a sharp balance to the beer. It’s got some tannins going on, which add a tartness to the acidity and sweet cherry essence.

Although I prefer a more jammy fruited sour, there is a good easy drinkability here. It’s very light on the palate front, and I could use more fruit, but it’s still enjoyable.

P.A. System

P.A. System is a golden sour, aged in oak barrels with peaches and apricots. The nose is a zesty mix of bright citrus, coupled with huge apricot and peach. Some acidic compounds are extremely apparent on the aromatics, alongside ample bretty funk, delivering dusty books and a little damp basement.

The palate matches, but is less juicy. Although aggressively sour, the acidity is balanced well against the fruit. The apricots and nectarines are clearly here, adding layers of fruit complexities against the acidic backdrop. Just like on the nose, there is a wild brett profile that carries some light dusty funk and dry oak tannins. This is quite delicious.

Something for Everyone

Something for Everyone is a golden sour blend, composed of different barrel-aged beers that hold similar characteristics. The nose is a bright acidic pleasure, carrying loads of ripe nectarine, citrus, and cherry. Some light vanilla comes through as well, lending a subtle oak presence alongside grapefruit rinds as well.

On the palate things are nicely balanced. There is a “Gueuze-like” acidic profile, minus the big earthy funk. Instead, this blend is more clean. As well, it holds a richer, more rounded profile if compared to the other three.

Lots of papaya and mango meet lemon and grapefruit citrus components. The beer is sour, but also tart, providing a tangy and tannic finish that cleans the palate after every sip, reminiscent of pithy grapefruit rinds. I believe this is my favourite of the four. I love it.

It’s extremely exciting to see an all-barrel-aged-sour Brewery open its doors this close to Montreal. I’m happy for the Ottawa folks that have the sour bug, as they will be able to get their tart on pretty much any time they want. All four of these beers are still available at the brewery. If you’re interested, check out their Facebook page of opening hours and availability. I highly recommend visiting and grabbing some bottles – especially if you like sour beer.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

2018 is upon us. And before we can even scratch the surface of amazing beers to come, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! is about to release a plethora of new variants for us all to salivate over.

That’s right, this weekend is Dieu du Ciel! St. Jerome’s 10th anniversary party, as well as the 2018 Marché bottle release!

  • Saturday, January 27th 2018
  • 259 rue de Villemure. Saint-Jérome, Quebec.
  • The Marché is from 12:00 to 18:00, while the Pub festivities run from 15:00-3:00.
  • Further details right here.

Just like previous years, in order to control exceptionally long line-ups and potential disappointment, Dieu du Ciel created an online registration process to reserve bottles ahead of time. Due to the popularity of the event, it only took three minutes to fill up. This certainly caused some angst amongst those who were turned down, but at least no one has to wait outside in arctic temperatures only to be potentially turned away after several hours.

As well, there will definitely be leftovers to purchase on site if you simply want to show up (however, obviously not the highly-sought-after beers carrying low limits). And, you can take part in the festivities at the bar, where pretty much everything you couldn’t reserve will be available to drink on-site.

Although there aren’t any brand new titles this year, there are several new and extremely exiting variants; like L’Exorciste Raisin de Glace, Rigor Mortis Porto, Rigor Mortis Pinot Noir, and the return of the highly acclaimed L’Exorciste Sauternes. Not to mention the always earth-shattering Péché Mortel Bourbon.

I was very fortunate to get my hand on a few bottles ahead of time so that I could give you my thoughts. Enjoy!

Rigor Mortis – Porto Barrel Aged

This release will be the second time Dieu du Ciel has created a Rigor Mortis variant. The first being an extremely rich and delicious Brandy barrel-aged edition. I’m anxious to see how the Porto transforms this beer. For many beer-geeks, Belgian Quads are not exactly an exciting style anymore, but Rigor Mortis is one of those classics that always interests me.

The nose is a complex aromatic experience. It stars with loads of sweet red fruits, mixed in with raisins, grapes, and figs. Rich fortified wine comes through, lending layered sweet aromatics. Subtle spicy phenols emerge as well, providing some cloves to the mix, while tart vinous notes add a subtle afterthought to all the rich fruitiness.

Onto the palate. Wow, this is such a different beer. It’s rich and sweet like Rigor Mortis always is, but the sweetness is immediately cut down by a tannic and unexpected tart finish. The spicy Belgian yeast is also more subtle and not as apparent as usual.

The flavour profile is quite vinous-forward, carrying a wine-rich red grape sweetness, mixed with ripe cherry, dried cranberries, raisins, and light caramel maltiness. There is a amazing tang, with some oak tannins drying the finish. The alcohol is so well hidden that it flows down like nothing. This might have been the most easy drinking quad I’ve ever had. I finished it in 10 minutes.

Péché Mortel Bourbon 2017

As usual, all of us beer-geeks are ecstatic with the idea of landing some of the latest Péché Bourbon. Let’s see how this 2017 edition fairs.

The nose is the usual Péché bourbon masterpiece, however the rich vanilla bourbon notes seem a touch more pronounced, with sweet oak forward aromatics at the front. Rich earthy coffee beans comes through as well, alongside loads of milk chocolate. The nose is divine.

The palate is a big burst of coffee, lending dark chocolate and freshly ground espresso beans, mixed-in with vanilla and spicy oak tannins. The effervescence feels a bit more prickly on the tongue this year. It’s very bitter, tannic and dry (perhaps more than usual), while still being rich and round overall. Bitter dark chocolate components work extremely well with the luscious vanilla-forward bourbon notes, while the alcohol is sharp, but balanced. Péché bourbon is always a treat.

Rigor Mortis – Pinot Noir Barrel Aged

Finally we have Rigor Mortis Pinot Noir. Like the Porto, the nose is rich and complex, while also being a bit understated. Caramel sweetness mixes with light Belgian yeast phenols, adding a touch of clove and cardamom pod spiciness. Vinous wine-soaked oak comes through as well, lending vanilla and some light tannic acidity.

Off the bat, the Pinot variant is boozier, and a bit more quad-like if compared to the Porto. You get big caramel maltiness, carrying rich dates, brown sugar, and general dried fruits – but the sweetness is cut quickly by sharp oak tannins and a little ethanol burn. The finish is long and dry, with echoes of vanilla and spicy oak.

The balance here is perfection, with the rich maltiness you’d expect from Rigor Mortis, but with oak tannins drying out the beer exquisitely, and the barrel adding amazing flavours of vanilla and vinous red grapes. Everything is subtle and brilliant. I feel like the Pinot compliments the beer in a way that allows it to be what it always is, while still transforming it into something more complex and refined. This is my favourite variant to date.

This is a mere sample of the slew of bottles available this weekend. Visit the Facebook event for a full list of all the beers being sold. As usual, Péché Mortel Bourbon is a delight, and both of the new Rigor Mortis variants were quite brilliant in their own way, each being transformed by the barrels they were aged in. I did not have a chance to write about the new L’exorcist variants, but hope to soon. Once again, Dieu du Ciel! hits the nail on the head. If you’re heading to the party, have fun and stay warm!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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An article by Noah Forrest

In 2017, Microbrasserie Pit Caribou had a spectacular year, and that’s probably putting it lightly. Early on, they released an ambitious, extremely well received barrel-aged sour blend called Neuvin, and it just snowballed from there. Countless barrel-aged sours came down the pipeline – so much so, it became very difficult to keep track. I alone have had over fifteen different BA bottles from Pit Caribou this year, and that’s not even all of them. And what’s truly impressive is that most, if not all, have been stellar.

Perhaps the most sought after and arguably impressive bottle they released last year was Perséides, Quebec’s first 100% spontaneously fermented beer. A feat that not only needed skillful brewing practices, but also required navigating through some legal red tape. However, all was successful, and I wrote about it right here.

As well, they created Flore du Québec, a beer fermented with a yeast strain gathered from Pit Caribou’s home in Gaspe. Although not as illustrious and acclaimed as Percéides, it was certainly a solid offering.

Additionally, this wonder-brewery has done several collaborations in 2017, and again, released a plethora of mixed-fermented (often sour) barrel-aged bottles that pretty much warm my heart with every sip. I selected a few today to talk about – some collabs, some not – and just think, this is just scratching the surface.

Pointe Jaune

Pointe Jaune is a light coloured wild ale, aged in Pinot Noir barrels with brettanomyces. The nose is a spectacular mix of musty brett phenols, juicy wine-infused oak, and several fruity layers. Apple and pear aromatics are huge here, followed by some white grapes and a touch of vanilla.

Wow, this is lovely. The palate matches the nose, carrying some subtle pear flesh and white wine vinous complexity. There is a ton of oak, lending rich vanilla and light spiciness. The body is a touch slick, presenting a nobserved but subdued carbonation that lets you down this sucker really easily. The acidity is certainly present, but well balanced and integrates beautifully with the rest of the beer. This one is amazing.

Grande Grave

Grande Grave is an amber wild ale, aged in whiskey barrels. It pours out a rich chestnut brown with lots of red highlights. The nose carries a mix of caramel maltiness alongside floral and musty brett funk. Oak-forward vanilla notes blend with fruity esters, showcasing lots of dried fruit, like raisins and dates.

Up front it’s tart, tannic, and way drier than the nose foretold. There is this amazing creamy head that never dissipates, and the body is soft, round, and slick. Dried fruits meet tart under-ripe apples, chocolate, cherry, and just a hint of nuttiness. The whiskey notes are not particularly present, but the barrel makes the beer very tannic, with a lingering dryness that reminds me of grape skin. It’s lovely, incredibly drinkable, and just different enough to be exciting.

Brett Session Saison de Seigle

Brett Session Saison de Seigle is a collaboration between Pit Caribou and Isle de Garde. This beer first surfaced about two years ago. The low ABV and brett fermentation made it highly drinkable and dry, while the rye added a spicy complexity and luscious body – I was a big fan of this beer at the time. Now they’ve taken that same recipe and thrown it into Rum barrels for 10 months. Needless to say, I’m highly intrigued. 

The nose is tangy and rather acidic, with some rich oak and light vanilla. The palate matches, carrying a tangy layer that provides a green apple tartness. The rye comes through as well, creating a nice chewy body. Oak tannins add a pleasant finish to the roundness of the rye, with the subtle rum components allowing for hints of sweetness. Rum barrel-aged beer can be hit or miss, but this worked very well. 

Tigros Poilus

#Ti-gros Poilus is a collaboration between Pit Caribou and the amazing Pat Roy from Sutton Brouërie. This rustic beer begins with the malt base of Pit Caribou’s American IPA, however they have replaced the usual hops with some that were aged. Then the beer itself was aged for a year and a half in Pinot Noir barrels.

The nose is an awesome mix of rich vanilla oakiness and big vinous wine notes. Some maltiness comes through as well, lending caramel and candied fruits. On the palate the wine is even more apparent, with an almost bracing tannic bitterness that cuts through everything. Any sweetness is pretty much washed away by vinous grape notes, leaving a big oaky vanilla finish. There is a nice acidity here, lending ample tartness to the finish. Hints of the original caramel malt base come through as well, but it’s more of an afterthought at this point. Delicious. 

Débrébue

Débrébue is a barrel aged amber coloured beer, brewed in collaboration with Les Gueux. The nose wafts beautiful dusty brett phenols alongside bright vinous wine notes. Apples and pears meet lots of stone fruits, like apricot and peach. It’s a touch dank as well, carrying ample oak funk and some seemingly bright hoppiness.

The palate is a bit richer in comparison to the other bottles I’ve talked about. It’s still dry, but there is a roundness here. Apricot, peach and apple are at the front, with a lingering tannic astringency that cuts through everything nicely. It’s also a touch sweet and sticky, but I’m enjoying the huge juicy stone fruit layers. Great stuff.

I’m not sure exactly what Pit Caribou has in store for 2018, but it’s certainly going to be tough to top the plethora of amazing bottles released as well as the innovative brewing practices they spearheaded last year. That said, I’m tremendously excited to watch it all unfold, and will certainly be revisiting this brewery again soon on Beerism.

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest 

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An article by Noah Forrest

2017 has been a pretty momentous year for the Quebec beer scene. Several new breweries opened their doors, all kinds of new and amazing products hit the shelves, and for some annoying reason, lactose is on the rise (to be fair though, we didn’t start it).

That said, there were two particularly crazy and polar opposite events that occurred this year. Boreale (a brewing titan not normally associated with “Craft”) released their incredible NEIPA – a beer that people actually line up for and continues to sell out in hours. And in contrast, Le Trou du Diable (a brewery very much associated with “Craft”) announced that they were joining the Six Points division of Molson-Coors. Needless to say, beer-geek heads exploded.

Speaking of North-East or New England India Pale Ales, this contemporary take on the modern American classic has completely taken over the hop-scene not only here in Quebec, but around the world. Almost every brewery in the province has in some way attacked this style by creating a hazy, juicy, and generally luscious hop-bomb – all designed to quench the thirst of many ridiculous haze-crazed maniacs throughout our land (and yes, I’m on that bandwagon too).

As well, “Milkshake” beers are now a thing that we have to deal with in Quebec. These beers are usually made with lactose and vanilla, creating something that isn’t necessarily sweet, but certainly gives the illusion that you’re drinking a beer with the viscosity of liquefied gummy worms. Why, you ask? I have no fucking idea. To be fair, I’ve enjoyed several of them, but every single time I drink one, I think, “this would be much better without the lactose and vanilla.”

Probably the best thing that happened this year was that Microbrasserie Pit Caribou maneuvered through some red tape in order to allow for the production of 100% spontaneously fermented beer in Quebec, and then subsequently released the extremely sought after and well received Perséides (Quebec’s first spontaneously fermented beer). In general, Pit Caribou has simply killed it this year.

Every year it gets harder to scale down my list of amazing beers – but I did my best, and got it down to 13. As usual, it’s important to know that this list is (1) 100% Quebec-based beers, (2) includes only bottled or canned beers, (3) only has beers that were bottled for the first time in 2017, (4) only includes one beer per brewery, and (5) is in no particular order. As well, the tasting notes for these beers are taken from previous articles that I’ve written. Given the number of bottles, this is clearly a long post, so feel free to simply browse if you don’t want to commit to the whole text. Enjoy!

Le Trou du Diable – Ze Blène

Well, let’s start with Le Trou du Diable, who despite now being owned by Molson, had an amazing year. Several fantastic barrel-aged creations dropped, including the return of Bretteuse, a brett barrel aged IPA that is a fan favourite amongst the Quebec beer community. That said, they also released Ze Blène, which really impressed me.

Ze Blène is a monster. This 9% ABV blend consists of various beers having been aged in Calvados, Sauvignon Blanc, Banyul, and Sauterne barrels. It was created with a cocktail of wild yeasts and bacteria, including Sacch, Pedio, Lacto, BrettL, and BrettB. I’m excited to try this, but also worried that it could be a mess. Let’s see!

The nose is a big mix of wine-soaked oak, stone fruits, and some dank earthy funk.  Tangy grapefruit rinds and bright citrus essences sneak through as well, creating a rich and robust aromatic experience.

The palate matches, with layer upon layer of complexity. Off the bat, there are rich vinous flavours, that showcase the apparent oak funk. It’s acidic and tart, but balanced and not challenging to drink. The bigger body and higher ABV help balance the acidity and add a nice richness to the whole thing. I’m not big into sours on the higher alcohol spectrum, but the 9% fits here, not being particularly apparent, while also adding a touch of sharpness to help dry things out.

The fruity components are composed of mango, peach, and passion fruit, alongside potent grapefruit rinds. There is this great tanginess here, and when coupled with the plethora of Sauternes barrel juiciness, gives so much complexity to the drinking experience. This beer is legit delicious. It’s rich, but goes down incredibly well, while the barrel layers are just insane. Seek this out, it’s special.

la Memphré – Dimanche 

Microbrasserie la Memphré is quickly climbing the top Quebec ranks in my opinion. Although they don’t produce bottles extremely often, when they do, they are pretty damn stellar. This year, their “Dimanche ” stole my heart. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Dimanche is a bourbon barrel-aged wheat wine, brewed to celebrate that day of the week where we can potentially do nothing. Oh, and yes, that is a white pompom on the label. It pours out a clear dark orange colour, with some brown undertones. The nose is an inviting mix of bourbon vanilla notes, alongside some apple cider-like aromas, musty yeast phenols, and cooked caramel. 

The body is rich and robust all around, carrying lots of maple, caramel, cooked apples, and plums. Bananas foster comes to mind. Although perceivably sweet, it actually finishes very dry, with a surprisingly clean linger. The bourbon adds a nice complexity to the beer, with lots of vanilla and oak, as well as rich barrel elements and some drying tannins. 

You can have big beers that are too sweet, which come off cloying and unpleasant. While on the opposite spectrum, you can have big beers that are too dry, with either an over-zealous bitterness or an unwelcomed astringency. It’s hard to find that balance, but once again, La Memphré has done it. Dimanche is rich and robust, while still very dry and drinkable. Oh, and the body is out of this world.

Auval – Trifolium

Next up is Brasserie Auval, who just like previous years, continued to kill it. Several amazing offerings returned, and many new bottles dropped. That said, the one that blew my mind was Trifolium. Although I’m not ranking, this is probably my favorite beer of 2017.

Trifolium is a wild ale, barrel-fermented with a house-made mixed culture captured from wild clover in the region. The nose is a rich mix of dank, wine-soaked oak, alongside dusty brett phenols, some pear, apple juice, and grapefruit tang. It has a bit of a lambic-sequel aromatic profile. Extremely inviting.

Up front it’s quite tart, bordering on sour, with a lingering tannic tang in the finish. There is a richness here, with several layers of complexity becoming more and more apparent after each sip.

Tart green apples meet a huge oak presence, carrying loads of tannic wine dryness that lingers long after you sip. It’s not quite as dusty as a Gueuze, but the acidic layers and general flavour profile are extremely reminiscent of a quality lambic. This is an impressive beer. That said, there is also a linear drinkability to this, allowing the beer to be exceptionally complex, rich in body and flavour, while not being remotely hard to drink.

Le Castor – Sauvignon

This year, Microbrasserie Le Castor has kept their wild beer momentum going, re-releasing most of last year’s offerings, along with several new ones. That said, their latest beer called Sauvigon was particularly impressive. Sauvignon is a Sauvignon Blanc barrel aged wild ale – and man, is it good.

The nose is juicy and funky all at once. Loads of stone fruits come through, especially peach and nectarine. Grapefruits are also apparent, lending a tangy note that complements the dusty brett-induced phenols. It smells quite vinous as well, with some light oak in the background.

The palate matches, with that pithy grapefruit thing turned up a notch – while still carrying a big peachy juiciness. Wine soaked oak tannins help cut through everything, but the barrel leaves a nice vanilla spiciness on the finish. The brett adds lots of earthiness, carrying a phenolic dusty basement and old books element that adds more complexity to the whole thing. The body is smooth and slick, with soft but ample carbonation. Overall this is the perfect combination of juicy esters and vinousness, with dusty funk and loads of oak.

Brasserie Dunham – Bière de table

Brasserie Dunham is a brewery that continues to shine with every coming year. They collaborate constantly, and even worked with the infamous folks from Bellwoods brewery this year. Their barrel program is stellar and leads the pack with regard to barrel-aged wild ales. In 2017 they released a slew of impressive new beers, but the one that actually impressed me the most was a little tiny beer called “Bière de Table.”

A few weeks back, I was in Dunham and had Bière de Table on tap. I thought it was stellar. When I found out that bottles would be sold, I was pretty damn excited. The nose is a lovely and subtle mix of bretty funk alongside light lemon-like acidity. It is simple but complex, carrying stone fruits and hints of spicy phenols.

The flavour profile is similar, beginning with notes of dusty barnyard and a very subtle but still apparent acidity. This lends a citrus-fruit component, adding lemons and grapefruits in particular. The finish has a long and lingering lemon/grapefruit rind complexity that really appeals to me. It’s crazy dry, and goes down like water. I could drink this all day long.

This beer might not impress all the beer-geeks, as it’s extremely subtle and even a tad watery. However, that’s what makes it brilliant. Packing this much complexity and downright deliciousness into something that goes down like water is a truly difficult thing to pull off. I Love this beer.

Dieu du Ciel! – Symbiose #8

Although not releasing a slew of brand new bottles this year, Microbrasserie Dieu du ciel! still pumped out a few new offerings. My favorite was Symbiose #8.

The Symbiose series by Dieu du Ciel! is a line of beer blends that differs with each release. Although this is the 8th version of this beer, it is only the..

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An article by Noah Forrest

Microbrasserie À La Fût is one of the those quality Quebec breweries that has been around forever while at the same time being a brewery that is often taken for granted. It certainly has been from me. I don’t try nearly enough of their products, but when I do, I’m almost always satisfied or impressed.

Part of that is related to their price point. Due to the fact that they use organic ingredients and are an extremely small enterprise, their bottles and cans tend to be on the pricier side if compared to similar quality products. That said, generally speaking, I don’t regret my purchase when I do splurge.

À la Fût has been consistently creating barrel-aged sours for as long as I’ve been into beer. They have always been on the progressive side of brewing, releasing American IPAs and Flanders Reds back when they were just becoming popular (at least in our country).

It’s about time that I sit back and properly examine what this awesome brewery has been working on recently. I have an array of cans and bottles to dive into, including their interpretation of a Gueuze. Enjoy!

Kapibouska

Kapibouska is a sour American pale ale, brewed with Mosaic and Citra. The nose is a sweet mix of bright citrus and luscious stone fruits, tossing papaya, grapefruit, and tangerine at my senses. Some caramel maltiness comes through as well, alongside an acidic tang in the backdrop.

On the palate it’s pretty dry for the most part. Actually, this is rather unique and hard to place overall. It’s not as aggressive as most dry hopped sours, and instead only carries a subtle tartness. The bitterness is in check, and the fruitiness matches the nose, carrying stone fruits, strawberry and a big grapefruit pithiness.

Overall, this is a nicely balanced and accessible beer with subtle tartness complimenting the fruit-focused hoppy characteristics of citra and Mosaic. Although a touch malty, it goes down smooth and incredibly well – quite quaffable.

P’tite brett

P’tite Brett is brewed with brettanomyces, barrel aged for one month, and dry hopped. The nose is a bright mix of green apple and pear flesh, coupled with lots of oak. Big dusty brett-induced funk follows, carrying some barnyard and dank old books.

It’s quite tart up front, but more tannic than sour overall. Like the nose, it’s fruity and vinous, carrying white grapes alongside the pears and green apple.

It’s a touch thin, however this does make sense in that it’s under 5%, and the fact that they call this a “session” let’s them get away with it a bit. As it warms, more stone fruits emerge, carrying hints of apricot and peach. The dusty brett funk adds nice a nice dry phenolic finish alongside the vinous tannic tartness. Although complex, this does drink rather easily. It’s a delicious success!

Cuvée Western

Cuvée Western is À la Fût’s interpretation of an Belgian Gueuze. It’s a blend of three beers, aged in barrels for 6 months to two and an half years with a cocktail of wild yeasts. The nose is rich and dank, full of earthy funk. Zesty vinous notes meet grapefruit pith and under-ripe apple. Some dusty brett phenols come through as well, alongside subtle vanilla oak in the finish.

The palate matches, but slightly less bright than the nose let on. Lots of candied apple, pear and some white balsamic sweetness help round out the flavour profile. The acidity is not aggressive in the least, allowing the beer to go down incredibly well.

Overall, I’m not huge on this one. In general, acetic notes in a “Gueuze” are not something I enjoy, and there is an estery bubblegum component that I don’t love. That said, this is nicely balanced, complex and still very tasty nonetheless.

Double Kapi

Double Kapi is Double American Pale Ale brewed with Citra, Galax and Mosiac hops. The nose is a fruit bomb all the way, providing both ample stone and tropical fruits to the aromatic experience. Peach, mango and nectarine meet tangerine and payaya, with some acidic candy-like layers.

The palate matches, although a touch more subtle. Not a bad thing though. The acidity is also low-key here, adding a tart compliment to the rich fruity hop base.Loads of peach and rich mango flesh come through, carrying a tangy clementine-like tartness that pulls everything together nicely.

I was a touch worried this could be a mess, as a high ABV hoppy sour isn’t something that seems appealing to me, but it was quite the opposite. Everything works well here, it’s very nice.

Co Hop V

CoHop V – Rouge de Mékinac is À La Fût’s interpretation of a Flander’s Red and a kriek. The nose has a rich leathery chocolate start, mixed with minced-meat tarts and cherry pie. Light balsamic ascetic elements come through as well, but not too over the top. Cherry pits and light vanilla mix with some currents and blackberry jelly. What an exceptionally complex and inviting nose.

Up front on the plate, the ascetic notes are more apparent, but balanced and not overbearing. Big cherry pie flavours come through, mixed with some nice oak-infused vanilla nuttiness. Dates and raisins come next, mixing with the tangy acidity and juicy cherry goodness. Light cocoa and almonds are there as well, lending further complexities to all the fruitiness happening here.

The Flanders red is a style that doesn’t really excite or even interest me that much anymore – but this, I very much enjoyed. The cherry adds some much more depth and the ascetic notes are kept in check – something that I’m pretty sensitive to.

Overall, I really enjoyed these beers. They carry a drinkability that is balanced against some really innovative deliciousness. À la Fût’s experience really comes through, allowing them to create complex products that are very well made. Although not being huge on their Cuvée Western, their Flanders is one my the best I’ve had. Great stuff!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest


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An article by Noah Forrest

A few weeks back, Avant-Garde Artisans Brasseurs hosted their second ever barrel-aged bottle release at their home inside the Oshlag brewery in Montréal. This contract brewery, with Renaud Gouin and Shawn Duriez at the helm, has had a pretty exceptional year.

Last April these guys dished out some tasty barrel-aged offerings that were pretty well received. I wrote about them right here if you are interested. As well, Renaud’s other brand Bières Jukebox was one of the first in the province to tackle the now extremely popular “Milkshake IPA” by releasing New Wave. Personally, I have issues with this lactose craze, but New Wave was really solid, and something I revisited a few times.

Unlike a lot of other breweries, these latest barrel-aged bottles from Avant-Garde’s are also being sold at many locations throughout the province. So if you are looking to purchase them, check your local beer store.

I’ll be talking about three beers today. The first two are the same beer, but treated slightly differently. Both are an imperial porter, and both are bourbon barrel-aged, however one of them has the addition of coffee beans skillfully roasted by Dispatch coffee here in Montreal. Lastly, we have Avant-Garde’s first blended wild ale. With that said, let’s dive into these bottles!

Porter Impérial Bourbon (Coffee Variant)

To begin, let’s start with the coffee variant, because well, why not. The nose wafts huge coffee aromatics mixed with loads of fruity dark chocolate notes and some serious bourbon-soaked oak.

Up front the carbonation is a touch too low for me, but there is a nice medium-bodied mouthfeel that makes up for it. Like the nose, the coffee is the star here, and blasts your senses with dark-roasted beans. The barrel is also quite intense, carrying lots of vanilla and oak, which ultimately balances nicely against the coffee. Lots of mocha and general chocolateyness come through as well. The finish is long and lingers, putting forth some coffee induced bitterness and light boozy bourbon-barrel astringency which helps cuts through any sugars.

I really like the coffee and barrel profile on this beer, but for my tastes I’d love a bit more carbonation to help clean the palate. That said, I really enjoy how this worked overall; it almost drinks like a spirit.

Porter Impérial Bourbon

Here we have the non-coffee variant. The nose is a big vanilla bourbon bomb, mixed with a lot of chocolate, toasted nuts, light roasted coffee beans and a serious caramel-like, bananas foster thing.

The palate is rich in bourbon deliciousness, delivering huge (and I mean huge) vanilla and oak. That said, the body is rather light, but works a bit better here if compared to the coffee variant (not sure why, exactly). The finish carries a lingering bourbon astringency, cutting through any sweetness.

Milk chocolate, banana cake, and bourbon-soaked vanilla beans make up the general flavour profile, alongside rich bourbon-infused oak. It’s highly accessible and goes down easy, providing a potency and drinkability at the same time.

Assemblage Sauvage

Assemblage Sauvage is a blend of Saison en Enfer, Funk et la Furie, and Wild #1, all barrel aged for 6 to 16 months in red wine and tequila barrels with a cocktail of wild yeast and lactic bacteria. It sounds pretty amazing!

The nose is an awesome mix of rich wine-soaked oak and some funky brett phenols. Lots of apple and pear mix nicely with white grapes and light dusty books. It’s an extremely inviting experience.

Up front it’s tart, bordering on sour, with lots of dry tannins in the finish. Like the nose, you get under-ripe apple and pear, mixed with white wine, litchi, and some vanilla oak accents. That said, a touch of tequila earthiness does come through, but it’s very hard to place, adding only a subtle layer to the whole thing.

It’s all really well balanced and in harmony. The tartness is present, but not extremely sour, while the tannins also cut the beer further without adding too much mouth puckering dryness. It comes off round overall, delivering layers of wild phenols and lots of fruity accents. This is the best thing they’ve done so far (at least that I’ve tried).

I’m happy to see that Avant-Garde is brewing some interesting and downright delicious barrel-aged offerings. This is the second bottle release for them, and their products are improving with each launch. Assemblage Sauvage is especially good, and is up there as one of the best beers I’ve reviewed from Quebec this year. Congrats gentlemen, I look forward to the next one!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest


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An article by Noah Forrest

About two years ago I wrote about The Wild Shack for the first time. Back then, you probably had no idea who they were.

That has changed.

The talented and sexy duo behind The Wild Shack are the illustrious Remi Galipeau and Maxime Dallaire. And this year, they have been very busy. In between regimented brewing sessions at their east-end downtown Montréal apartment, The Wild Shack has managed to garner quite a following and reputation within the Québec (and Ontario) beer scene. They seem to have found a way to bridge the gap between home brewing and commercial brewing, creating a brand synonymous with spectacular sour, wild, and hoppy beers.

At this point, these two have done collaborations with L’Espace Public, Brouerie Sutton, L’hermite, and Vices&versa. Soon enough, you’ll also see products by Half Hours on Earth, Lagabière, Oshlag, and Maltstrom carrying a Wild Shack credit. That’s crazy impressive and I can’t wait to have all these collaborative concoctions dancing in my mouth.

I was able to get myself a plethora of their bottles to write about once again, and I can’t wait to tell you all about them. Let’s get started.

C’est du Jus

Starting off, we have C’est du Jus, a Mosaic Dry Hopped Sour. The nose is a peppery and juicy mix of rich mosaic deliciousness. Mango and tangerine mix with some lemony highlights. This smells divine, and yes, smells like du jus.

On the flavour front this beer is exquisitely balanced, with a subtle acidity alongside bright fruity hop notes and a clean, very dry finish. It’s tangy and juicy all around, with mango and a general citrus followed by a grassy and earthy component. I really loved this one.

Rouge des Fentes

Next up is Rouge des Fentes, a sour red ale aged on Cranberries. The nose is a rich mix of cherry, candied fruits, cranberry, and hints of vanilla. It smells incredibly tart, and carries some earthy yeast funk. The aromatics are wonderfully layered here, being juicy and rich at the same time.

It’s sour up front, and incredibly dry. The cranberry tannins are intense with a crazy mouth puckering dryness. It’s quite tangy, lending under-ripe red fruits, like cherry, raspberry and cranberry to the flavour profile. Although intensely sour, there is a balance here with from the malt base and fruit addition, creating a dry but slightly rounded overall profile. Delicious stuff!

Golden Shower

Golden Shower is up next. This beer is a blend of a golden sour ale and a sour wheat farmhouse ale. The nose is an intense fruit concoction, bursting with apricots and peaches. The aromas are quite acidic, but overall seems balanced.

The palate matches, but the sourness is more restrained than expected. Lots of stone fruits meet tart underripe apple and pear. There is a touch of freshly cut wheat. It’s highly drinkable and goes down super easy. Even at its 7% ABV – it drinks more like 5%.

Gozer

Gozer is a Mosaic dry hopped Gose. The nose carries a bright mix of earthy and zesty mosiac fruitiness, mixed with some slightly dusty brett phenols. It’s impressively spicy and fruity all at once. There is a abundance of fruitiness here, tossing mango, pineapple, melon and tangerine at me all at once.

The palate matches the nose, but carries an intense sourness to add even more complexity to the whole thing. Lemon peel and under-ripe orange meet tropical fruits, like papaya, passion fruit and pineapple. The dry hop provides a juicy element that further compliments the sourness, adding a clementine-like component to the intensely acidic bite. The finish lingers, echoing all that juiciness alongside some vanilla and subtle salt.

Steven Seagal’s Raspberry Bday

Steven Seagal’s Raspberry Bday is a Raspberry Berliner Weisse. The nose is a bright raspberry bomb, carrying intense zesty and fruity aromatics. It’s also a bit jammy, with some rich cooked fruits coupled alongside serious acidity.

The palate is mouth puckeringly sour up front, holding ample berry goodness which lends juicy and bright fruity flavours and tannins. Although being exceptionally sour, the low ABV and lighter body make it very crushable. There is an earthiness here as well as some light acetic notes but they are extremely subtle and barely perceptible.

The Wild Shack continues their brilliant ability to produce fantastic beers in their own home. Their ability to create impressive sour and hoppy concoctions is often staggering, making what they’re doing that much more impressive. And as I mentioned above, there are some amazing collaborations coming very soon. Definitely follow their Facebook page for updates about their upcoming projects in the near future – you won’t regret it. At the very least, you’ll get a kick out of their beer names!

An article by Noah Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest


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