Monday, June 13, 2011

Mondial De La Bière III

Our second day of the Mondial had a much more organized approach. Since we had our list of beers and brewers and our initial scouting from the day before we were able to target specific beers that we wanted to sample, and brewers to meet, and do so with better knowledge of where everything was located in the immense exposition space.

LA BARBARIE is a Quebec brewery that we were already well familiar with and while we found their beers to be very good, nothing ever really jumped out at us, stylistically. But a new brew that they had at the fest, CUIVRéE AU THé, was worth noting. The base of it had almost a Saison beer character -- by the way, "cuivrée" means copper colored -- but what sets it apart is the use of Earl Grey tea in the brew. It gives the beer a pleasant herby quality, similar to what grains of paradise can impart to a beer. Highly recommended!
We made our way to another familiar Montreal brewery, CHEVAL BLANC, which is probably the first Quebec craft beer that we ever had, way, way, WAY back. The brewpub was founded in 1986 -- the first modern brewpub in ol' Hochalega. While well familiar with their standard brews, they had a new one on tap at the Fest, a CITRA WEIZEN -- a German style wheat beer hopped with Citra. Those particular hops provided an added spicy note to the expected German wheat beer aromas. It was tart and bitter with plenty of banana/yeastiness in the finish and aftertaste. Well done.

The day before we tried beers from Ontario's BEAU'S ALL NATURAL BREWING, and at least one of the two we tried justified a return trip. We sampled the stronger version of BOG WATER, a Gruit Ale, which we had earlier -- a beer brewed with bog myrtle. The BOG FATHER was a stronger version, though we found it too, too sweet and viscous. Their WINTER beer had a really nice coffee aroma and flavor -- not roasty or acrid, but more similar to a beer version of a coffee soda. The BEAVER RIVER L.P.Eh! was quite hoppy with a hint of orange/citrus mixing with the malt aroma/flavor. It had a nice sweet grainy aroma, clean and malty. They earn points as the ONLY exhibitor to have not one but TWO HOCKEY SWEATERS on display, both custom promo jobs for the brewery! (We only mention it because they were in Sens colors -- we accept no blue and white jerseys east of Vancouver!!!)

On to à LA FûT brewery for their LA CRIQUE, a kriek beer with a dull pink/red color, lightly lactic, phenolic, cereal aroma, and dull yeasty cherry flavor, with mild sourness (I know that doesn't sound so good, but... it's not that bad). It's made with: "de type griottes du temps des cerises de charette en mauricie." Well, I'm not certain of what that means, but that sounds like some fancy cherries, eh.

On to BOQUéBIERE, which had one of the most impressive booths in terms of the variety of beers, information available, and the display layout. Boquébiere had one of our favorites -- out of roughly 50 beers we tried in Montreal over the 4 days -- their HILDEGARD ROUGE DES CANTONS, a 7% Flanders Red. I'd say that it ranked in the top 5. Aged in oak red wine barrels, this Quebec malt beer fermented with wild yeast had a deep mahogany color, an effervescence, a Rodenbach-like nose, strong initial tartness/sourness, some Brett and yeastiness, but finished out gently, with a slight grainy aftertaste. The wine barrel aging definitely imparted some tannic wine qualities. Well worth a try!
Does this look like a video game? I thought so, too.

Boquébiere's HILDEGARD AMBRéE D'éPEAUTRE (5%) was a murky straw color, good head and had a tart, tangy nose as well some clean lager sweetness in the aroma. Brewed with Quebec barley and Eastern Townships Compton spelt, it was wheaty, slightly sweet and grainy with a floral hop flavor and very little bitterness (dry hopped with Premiant, brewed with Hallertau hops). Quite tangy yet malty, refreshing with a solid body.
The Flanders Red.

The brewery whose beer we had the most of during Mondial week was DIEU DU CIEL (God In Heaven) by a mile (or by 1.6km). Always the innovator, yet always very consistent with high quality, they poured a CASCADE BLANCHE (5.5%) that was tart and citrusy with a lemon zest note. It's decidedly much more bitter than the average Blanche. More (much more!) DDC in later posts.

We were blown away by HOPFENSTARK's Raspberry Berliner Weiss the day before, and now it was time to be blown away by their BOSON DE HIGGS, a Saison brewed with smoked malt.
Interview with Hopfenstark's head brewer/owner Fred

Whoa! It had a murky straw color, and an assertive smokey nose. But not Bamberg Rauchbier-smokey -- a bit more subtle. The smoke flavor was also subdued, but quite evident, accenting the tart yet not quite sour, slightly cereal flavor. At 3.8% it was one of the few beers under 5% at the Fest -- a nice change of pace.

We bumped into brewer Jonathan of TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES who got us a sample of A'LABRI DE LA TEMPêTE's BELLE SAISON (5.8%) which had a clear, Helles-color and was pleasantly herby, with a malty cereal note. This brewery is one of the most remote in Canada, based on the tiny Îles de la Madeleine, in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, between Quebec and PEI. Their one winter activity listed on wiki-travel: "A popular activity is to observe young seals on the ice floes during winter." Oooookeh, then. Another beer, SVP!!!

Off next to BROUEHAHA the the SPECIAL B ABT 10 Abby beer (listed on their board at 8.5%, but in the Fest guide at 10%), which had a clear alcohol note right away giving way to more pleasant figgy/date aromas. It was a convincing rendition of the style with nice dark candy sugar flavors, dark fruit notes and the alcohol not overwhelming the flavor, but providing one of the many complexities of this mellowingly tangy, full bodied drink.

That's enough beer for one entry!

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