Tuesday, January 5, 2016

La Voie Maltée

Our third and final installment covering the beer festival known as La Soirée des Brasseurs in Shawinigan, QC from August of 2015 features an interview with Max and Alex of La Voie Maltée brewery, based in Saguenay, Quebec, about 120 miles due north of Quebec City, on the Saguenay River near Lac St-Jean.

They operate three brewpubs -- two in the Saguenay districts of Jonquière (opened in 2000), Chicoutimi (2008), and one in Quebec City. They recently opened a production brewery in Saguenay proper to keg and also package their brews in 16oz cans. They don't bottle beer, though, citing the numerous benefits of selling beer in cans, from the convenience of transporting it while enjoying the rustic outdoors, to the stability and freshness canning provides over bottles & crowns.

They've earned some accolades over the years in the World Beer Awards, taking "world's best seasonal pale ale" with their Graincheuse Belgian Strong Ale in 2011. Their Criminelle imperial stout won in the Best Strong Dark Beer for North America in 2010, and their Polissonne took that title in 2012.

Max, the production manager of their newest brewery, expects an output of roughly 7,000hl (about 6,000bbl) in the first year, with hopes to grow by 2,000hl per year. That's a pretty serious figure. But the brewers don't want to grow faster than their ability to maintain consistency and quality.

They cite the three brewpubs as a great asset in experimenting with styles and techniques, which will help drive the direction of the production brewery. That seems like a formula well tested by other successful Quebec craft brewers. #dieuduciel #troududiable.

With scores of great little breweries to talk to at La Soirée, it was LVM's Berliner Weisse that convinced us that we should talk to these guys. It was sharp, tart, clean, balanced, refreshing, and authentic. It was one of the top 10 beers, out of a countless number, that we sampled. It's a kettle soured brew, with the lactobacillus cultured from the pre-milled grain husks! Brewer Max is a microbiologist, and this was simple work for him. They use both scientific equipment (pH meter) and the natural senses (palate) to determine when to cut the lacto activity and start the boil. To set their version apart from others, they gently hop the beer with Citra hops. They certainly nailed it with this one, a brew that they make at all three brewpubs.

Don't be surprised to see their tall boy cans showing up south of the Great White North and beyond, as exporting is definitely on their to-do list. And with the pubs and brewery being a 4+ hour drive north of the already very northern Montréal, we'd be quite happy about that!


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