Now that my white blood cells have (finally) done a decent enough job to remove the offending cold bug, I think it's time to celebrate by cracking one open! In honor of this momentous occasion, I decided to also review some of the more intriguing members of the LCBO Dieu du Ciel! fall release. Now I try not to review too much from the same brewery, but dammit, Dieu du Ciel! gets me every time. This past spring, I received a sampler pack from a Montreal-bound friend of mine and enjoyed every one of them. But after finishing these off I was saddened to think that it would be quite some time (i.e., whenever myself or a friend passes through Quebec) before I would have the luxury of some more Dieu du Ciel brews. Thankfully, my fears were allayed with the announcement that several of their beers would be available for sale at the LCBO this fall. Good ones too. Great ones, actually.
In addition to Rosee d'hibuscus and Corne du Diable, both of which I've already given mad props to on the blog, the LCBO is also offering four new DDC brews to a thirsty Ontario: Route des Épices; Dernière Volonté; and two of Canada's highest-rated brews: Aphrodisiaque (a.k.a. Aphrodisiac, a.k.a. Aphrodite) and the aforementioned Péché Mortel. Naturally, I am super stoked.
Let us quaff...
Type: Rye beer
It might be hard to see in the picture, but yes - the man is wearing a ship for a hat. I repeat: a ship for a hat. Wonderful artwork once again - a surrealist tribute to both the Oriental spice trade and humanity's advances in beard-curling technology.
This beer describes itself as being a rye beer brewed with peppercorns, which has gotta be a first for me. Not sure what this is going to taste like, but I assume it will be a great deal like peppercorn steak. Another win for the cause of experimentation, I guess. I poured this one into a chalice because, not knowing what kind of glassware best accentuates a peppercorn beer, I stuck with my default.
A rust-copper brew, chestnut when out of the light. Not much head, just some patchy streaks of lace and a few islands of foam. Not the most attractive beer, I must admit: kind of looks like a limp Belgian dubbel. Still, we press on.
The nose is caramel malts, with only the finest hint of nutmeg, cinnamon and peppercorn to be had. Remarkably deceptive; I had fully expected a spicy, peppery bouquet, but it just wasn't there.
The taste, however, is by far one of the most unique beer experiences I've ever had. The peppercorn taste is not entirely unlike a ninja: you don't even know it's there at first with the less-potent notes of malt, caramel and fruit providing a distraction, until POW! It hits you with a shuriken to the throat from out of the darkness! The finish is an unmistakable peppery explosion, which to me is comprised not so much of 'peppercorns', but rather ground table pepper. The finish is incredibly bitter, spicy, lingering, and provides my esophagus with a thorough wakeup call. There might be other spices in here, but pepper really steals the show. I can't say I'm really enjoying it, but neither can I say I'm not fascinated with it.
Big credit to DDC for making a brew that challenges my beer perceptions by giving me something totally new and exciting. Is it a beer I'm likely to get again? Probably not; in fact, I doubt I could finish more than one bottle. Still, kudos to the brewmaster for making such a unique product. (Grade: B-)
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Another wonderful label. Similar to Christian imagery of Jesus in his crypt or the pieta. After roasting my tastebuds on Route des Epices the previous night, a return to Belgian pale ales - a style Quebeckers brew so very well - was certainly welcome.
Poured into a Leffe goblet. A peachy-coloured brew, slightly opaque, with wisps and patches of sediment gracing the lower half of the glass. Frothy, patchy head is thin, but retains well. Crests of lacing appear here and there. Looks great, just right for the style.
Nose is peach, lemon, citrus, yeast, and a fine hop character as well.
A splendid tasting Belgian pale. Notes of peach, pear, spices, yeast and dry white wine. Lovely use of hops to the finish - peppery and leafy tastes linger after each sip. Warming alcohol burn as well. Great stuff
Could have used a bit more carbonation, but other than that, the mouthfeel is about right for the style.
Another winner from DDC, a great BPA that can challenge any Belgian or Unibroue product. Definitely worth a pick up - or two or three. Anyone who has enjoyed Maudite, Fin du Monde or Chimay will certainly dig this. Great stuff (Grade: A-)
Beer: Aphrodisiaque (a.k.a. "Aphrodite" in Anglo territory, "Aphrodisiac" in the States for some reason...)
Type: strong stout
The cashier at the LCBO joked that this must be a chick beer or something, to which I replied: "It's a strong stout with a hot chick on the bottle - which sex you think the brewer was aiming at?"
Indeed, that is some sexy bottle artwork right there. For a beer named after the Greek goddess of sexuality, they certainly put the right type of label on the front. A minxy goddess figure, seductively chewing on a piece of grain, staring right into you....whew, is it getting hot in here or something? My pants are chafing me a little...
Again, poured into a chalice glass. The bottle states that this was brewed in August of 2010. Nearly pitch black, with only the faintest line of chestnut near the brim. Produced about a half inch of mocha head, which left some scattered patches of lace and islands of foam lasting throughout the sample.
The nose on this is terrific: a lovely blend of chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, vanilla, cream, caramel and toasted marshmallow. All this without smelling artificial or syrupy. Delicious.
A very tasty stout, which opens with a big hit of chocolate, caramel and vanilla, but leaves with a bitter coffee finish. Good interplay of sweet and bitter here. A pleasure to drink.
Could have been a touch thicker, but the carbonation was right on the mark. Creamy and satisfying. Clearly, the name "Aphrodisiaque" was undoubtedly appropriate, because Dieu du Ciel has completely seduced me with this brew. Outstanding stuff yet again from DDC. Well worth the wait, and very glad to see it grace Ontario shelves. Flavorful, rich, but neither too strong nor to hearty for seconds (or thirds), provided one has the stamina. Wow. I need a break from all these sexual innuendos. Moving right along. (Grade: A, A+ for sexiness)
And last, but certainly not least, the brew Matt has been anxiously awaiting since he first got into craft beer, the legendary Péché Mortel!
Beer: Péché Mortel ("Mortal Sin" - but not "mortal fish" or "mortal peach"!)
Type: Imperial stout au cafe (Imperial Coffee Stout)
Péché Mortel means "mortal sin" in French, and features creepy artwork that seems to have been lifted straight out of the the Book of Genesis. A seductive treat, Péché Mortel, is dark, rich, hearty, flavorful, but damns you with its high ABV and piercing espresso bitterness. Truly a fantastic brew.
Poured into my trusty Duvel goblet. Nearly pitch-black, with a half inch of tan, frothy head. Leaves lovely swirls and island patches on the surface, a thick ring that retains well, and a few patches of lacing. Looks terrific.
The nose is rich in roasted espresso beans, toasted malts, cream, marshmallow, a touch of alcohol (bourbon and sherry) and mild hoppage as well.
The taste is a tremendous burst of espresso flavor that attacks the tongue with vigor. As the brew warms a touch (and after the tastebuds acclimatize to all the espresso goodness), I'm also picking up some subtle notes of caramel, dark fruit, and just a hint of bourbon. The finish is surprisingly dry, boasting peppery hops and coffee bitterness. Although I can certainly detect the alcohol, it is warming and flavorful. Long, bitter finish.
Chewy, velvety, and with a fine, creamy carbonation, this brew is going down tremendously well. Great body to it; I'm swirling around the last few sipsworth and you can really see the viscosity holding everything together. First rate.
Once again, Montreal proves to be among the finest brewing cities to be found. Certainly well worthy of the hype (and the wait). One of the finest uses of coffee/espresso I've seen in a stout. Seriously, I'm almost getting a coffee buzz here, despite nearly being at 10% alcohol! About two bottles of this would be about all I can handle in an evening, but nevertheless, the drinkability for such a thick, hearty, high ABV stout is still high for me. I will most definitely be back for a few more for cellaring and extensive sampling on my part.
A great lineup for the LCBO - though I often bash them for their Toronto-centric release policy and frustrating lack of American and interprovincial shipping, credit where credit is due. For those who love fine stouts, Belgian pale ales and new, different beer experiences, any one of these brews should fit your bill. The Corne du Diable is also fantastic and worth a pickup. If some calamity were to strike Canada's brewhouses, leaving us with only Dieu du Ciel brews to be had, I certainly will be quite happy. Everything I've had from them has been terrific - or at least unique and exciting - and I still have about 20 more brews of theirs to get through. A trip to Montreal is certainly in order.