Friday, June 4, 2010

God in Heavens! - My Dieu du Ciel! Sample Pack

Another friend makes a trip to Montreal, another sample pack for me! How awesome is that?
(Thanks again, Lori!)

Dieu du Ciel! is one of my favorite Quebec breweries, sporting an impressive and diverse brew lineup, a passion and dedication to unique styles, and a fantastic labelling design. As I think I said in one of my first reviews, I love when breweries incorporate artwork into their bottling; that extra effort demonstrates a holistic approach to beer production - beer bottles should be attractive outside, tasty inside. Dieu du Ciel! means God in Heavens! en francais, and the amusing naming does not stop there. Most of their brews have some fantastic names - usually involving a complicated french pun or wordplay, but still worthy of remembrance. The brewery's most famous brew, Peche Mortel Imperial Stout au Cafe (currently Canada's highest-rated brew on beeradvocate, and extremely well-received south of the border) means 'mortal sin', which given the pitch-black colour of the brew, is quite appropriate. Unfortunately this brew was not part of my sampler pack (one of my many, many beer goals is to sample this national treasure) but there are still loads of goodies to be found here!

Here are some of my favorites:

Beer: Fumisterie ("Smoke screen")
Type: Belgian pale ale
ABV: 5%

First of all, I love this brew just because of the label - it looks like an Ent and a Viking had a lovechild. Awesome.

The reason for the name is because this beer is made partially from hemp. According to the brewery website:

"Fumisterie, which loosely translates as “smoke screen”, was given its name in reaction to laws – created under false pretext – that prohibit hemp crops, a beneficial plant with multiple ecological uses." Good uses like beer. Go hemp!

Poured into my fantastic Duvel goblet. A nice ruby-russet hue, with about a 1/2 inch of head. Some lacing, a thin ring survives.

The nose is...different, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Toasted malts (not roasted), caramel, tea, and a creamy, milk product scent. Some folks on beeradvocate have said yogurt; I tend get buttercream. The point is there's something 'dairy' about it, which might just be a characteristic of fermenting hemp. Not really sure.

Not a bad little brew: certainly flavorful and unique. Toasted malts and caramel up front, with some of that dairy-cream flavour The creaminess is countered by a grapefruit-tea hop character, giving the brew a slightly bitter finish. Not quite balanced, but certainly drinkable.

Mouthfeel is velvety and creamy; the carbonation works well here.

I weigh in favor of this brew - drinking new and unique brews tends to put me in a great mood as it is - but there's definitely some areas of Fumisterie that need work. The taste is a little unbalanced, and the cream/butter isn't the greatest flavor. Still, a solid brew - and worth trying just for the name! (Grade: B)

Beer: Rosee d'Hibiscus ("Pinkish hibiscus", according to the website)
Type: Herbed/spiced wheat ale
ABV: 5%

No name-silliness here - this brew is all about hibiscus. More fantastic artwork here. Just love it.

Poured into a chalice. Looks like strawberry juice, similar to Fruli, the famous Belgian strawberry beer. Strawberry in colour, a few clouds of head, little lacing.

The nose is quite nice: strawberry, raspberry, pale wheat, hibiscus flowers, citrus tartness, honey.

The taste is considerably drier than I'd expected; I guess when I see strawberry, I expect strawberry. Certainly a great deal more rose-petal flavor, combined with pale wheat and citrus. Finishes long and dry, slightly puckery. Lingering aftertaste, very dry. Smooth mouthfeel, with a slight crackle of carbonation to the back of the tongue.

Not a bad little brew, certainly good for what it is. I enjoyed drinking it, but let's face it, how often does one really crave a rose-flavored beer? Not something I'll drink too often, but it was worth a try nevertheless. Sometimes this happens; brewers will test out a new method of making beer and they'll do it well, but are under no delusions that it will become a top seller because it is so unique. They do it for pure enjoyment. And hey, I'm always one to support a brewers' desire for experimentation! (Grade: B+)

Beer: La Paienne ("the pagan")
Type: Blonde ale
Cool design on the bottle - a slightly minxy girl making a pagan offering at a Stonehenge-like monolith. (Seriously, you should check out the brewery's website for more awesome artwork - my personal favorites are Aphrodesiaque and Equinox du Printemps)

A lovely golden hue, slightly opaque. Looks like mead or honey. Very little head to speak of, only the slightest ring and a lonely island in the middle.

Nose is nice: grain, fruit, a touch of honey, light hops.

Actually one of the better blonde ales I've tasted recently. I'm not a huge fan of the style, as it can tend to be a bit boring - predictable and good, but still, boring. This one was quite the opposite. Sweet, but not overpowering. Grassy and floral, some biscuit character near the middle. Finishes hoppy and slightly dry. Very refreshing. Medium-thick body, light carbonation.

I'm usually not a fan of blonde ales, but I've been enjoying this one very much. Smooth and enjoyable, I can certainly see myself drinking several of these in a night. Unfortunately, this one is particularly hard to acquire, as it is only available in these sample packs. If you're lucky enough to pick up this 12 pack, I highly encourage you to do so! (Grade: B+)

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