Monday, June 13, 2011

Mondial De La Bière V


The Old Rosemont section of Montreal looks to be one of those old forgotten neighborhoods that is now being rediscovered. Down the main drag of Masson is a new brewpub called LA SUCCURSALE, which not only has its own brews on tap, but offers a nice selection of other Montreal/Quebec craft beers as well.
Kölsch and Porter.
On a lazy Saturday afternoon we were the sole patrons for about an hour as the very knowledgeable and amiable bartender Francis served up the suds. The PETIT-CôTE 4.8% Kölsch beer was served in the traditional Kölsch glass, had a brilliant clear pale straw color with a delicate white head, a lightly aromatic fruity nose, though more malty than fruity. The beer nailed the Kölsch flavor about as well as any non-Köln brewed beer we've ever had. (Captain Lawrence of Pleasantville, NY also does a bang up job on the style.)

Billed as a Porter, the 1814 NOIR (5.5%) had the aroma of small German brewery -- clean, direct and fresh. The roast flavor and bitterness of this very solid beer were well balanced, and the roastiness built slowly and steady to the bottom of the glass, and finished perfectly.
Francis of La Succursale.
If they had billed the LA SUCCURSALE AMBRé (4%) as something like a Farmhouse Ale or almost anything other than a British Bitter, then I think that we'd nod our approval. But we didn't perceive anything of what you'd expect of that style. Regardless, it was a very drinkable honest beer, with an accent on nice grainy, farmy maltiness, very subdued in all hops departments.

We finished up with a delightful Altbier that they call RADSCHLäGER AMBRé (4.8%). The aroma hinted at that impossible-to-describe Altbier malt quality -- is it the elusive Vienna Malt? How to put that in words? The flavor was malty and mildly bitter with a slight tang and a clean finish. Francis poured a sample of the DIEU DU CIEL's RESCOUSSE Altbier to compare. I have to say, I preferred the more malt-centric version of Masson/Rosemont to that of the much hoppier, bitter version of Laurier/Mile End. But Altbier... what a tricky one to put into words -- I guess that I prefer the northern Altbier to the Düsselfdorf style.

This inspired us to peddle across Masson back to Laurier and see what was new at DIEU DU CIEL since three days prior. We found Stéphane of the brewery standing outside of the pub curbside with two kegs of their Helles HELIUM. Apparently it had won the highest honors of the Mondial fest, a platinum medal, and was in intense demand! We helped Stéphane load the kegs into the car, and then loaded ourselves into the pub.

There were a number of new beers put up since last we were there, but I was compelled to revisit one that intrigued me on Wednesday -- the Spruce Beer ANNEDD'ALE. Its name means "tree of life" and is a reference to the first French settlers (lead by Jacques Cartier) being saved from scurvy over their first winter in the New World by eating the sap/bark of the balsam fir for it's health benefits, thanks to instruction from the Native Americans, or First Nations People. Ever since B.R. and I tried to brew our own Spruce Beer, to horrible effect, we've always been eager to try the very rarely brewed style whenever we've had the chance.

This bière de pin had a hazy pale straw color and modest head. It gave off an enchantingly beautiful forest-like pine aroma -- NOT Pinesol, but rather the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree, or sappy two-by-fours. It had a woody, earthy flavor, with pine filling the nose as you sipped. With a fairly light body and very little perceivable hop character -- you'd expect the pine character to take care of that -- it's an easy drink with a moderate malty graininess and a slight sweetness. Though low in ABV (4%), this is definitely a beer to be enjoyed by the glass, and not by the PINTE or PITCHER!

DDC's WEIZENBOCK called NATNITOR (7.9%) gave off a big banana, estery, clove-like bouquet. As expected, those typical German wheat beer yeast bi-products were present in the flavor, as well, along with an assertive alcohol presence. There was a mildly sour tang which added to the quite complex -- very complex beer! B.R. nailed it right on the head when she simply said, "Aventinus." YES! That's it! It took me about 50 words to do what she did in one!
We had at least 15 different beers from DIEU DU CIEL over the four days. This one was one of the best. I hope this one comes back around on the brewing schedule!

Our last beer experience (save for the lunch beers we brought for the train ride home, all DDCs (purchased from Marche des Saveurs) was a late night near our borrowed apartment in Petit Italie. Originally we dropped by BENELUX for the nightly post-Fest gathering. We got there 30 minutes early, hoping to secure a seat and settle in. It was already a mob scene before the beer crew arrived, packed wall to wall (Grand Prix?), so we opted out of that.

We met our pals Eric and Dave at THE bar in Montreal to try the greatest variety of local and regional craft brews, VICES ET VERSA, which often has over 30 different drafts going.

I'd seen the SIMPLE MALT beer FUMéE MASSIVE around, and was happy that I could try it at VetV. It was a strong, thick 8.6% smokey experience, not quite SCHLENKERLA or SPEZIAL smokey, but rauchy/peaty nonetheless. The smoke was also dominant in the flavor, along with a bit of a medicinal phenolic note, but nothing too detracting. The full bodied flavor rounded out as it was sipped down.

B.R. opted for the CHARLEVOIX OATMEAL STOUT. It was hard to get too much of the nose, but the scents of the food being served around us was more the reason than anything else. As you'd hope for in this style of beer, it was very smooth, tasty and not too roasty.

I wanted to try one particular beer, but the board on which I saw it was out of date (there are four beer boards at VetV, and some are bound not to be updated). While I was checking out the up-to-date board the waitress brought me a sample of RUINE PAPILLES ("ruined taste buds") from á LA FûT, which was WAY more bitter for my taste. I didn't even finish the few ounces left.

So, next I got a BRASSEURS ET FRERES beer called MORT DE RIRE (Dying of Laughter). The board didn't list the style, but, despite a mahogany color (I think -- it was pretty dark in the bar), the flavor and subtle malt aroma, lack of a strong hop aroma or hop flavor, reminded me of a Belgian Pale Ale -- something similar to SMUTTYNOSE's STAR ISLAND SINGLE. I wondered what they were going for with the beer. We pondered, "brown ale?" (That's what RateBeer lists as its style, we learned later.) There was a BRITISH BROWN ALE on the menu from á LA FûT, so I got a glass of each to compare. The Brown was definitely more hoppy and more towards the darker malt flavor end of the spectrum. The Mort beer seemed more refined, with subtle malt flavors, and a gentle smoothness that made me think that I could easily drink another glass, in fact a full pint of it -- so I did!

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