Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quebec Brew #1: A Sexy Blonde

Beer: Les Trois Mousquetaires Serie Signature Kellerbier
Brewery: Les Trois Mousquetaires (Brossard, PQ)
Type: Kellerbier or Zwickel
ABV: 5.5%
Three Musketeers "Sword Rating": 4

Sorry for the delay in posting folks: had a bit of a throat virus thing going on that more or less curtailed my drinking altogether.   Fortunately, after a bout of antibiotics and a stirring locker room pep talk from Coach Bombay, I'm back on the scene and ready to kick some Hawk ass!  And by that I mean drink heartily, for the Saturnial/Yule/Christmukkahkwaanzal season is upon us!   To honour my return to goodish health and to celebrate this delightful winter wonderland we have going on out there, I felt that the cracking open of one of my finer Quebec microbrew pickups was in order!  And, to truly make the season bright, I've decided to festoon all of my brew pics with Christmas cheer (i.e., frame them in front of my sensational Christmas tree)! 

After a bit of extra research, I whittled down which brews from my Quebec haul to cellar for a while, and which ones would get cracked open in the near future.  Just like with wines, each style of beer will respond differently to aging depending upon their composition.  Some, like pale lagers, pilsners porters and pale ales don't really improve with time and are best consumed in the near future to avoid spoilage / thieving beer gnomes.  Others, like barleywines, Belgian ales and Russian Imperial Stouts can last anywhere from a few months to several years depending upon their storage conditions.   I'm still getting the hang of "cellaring" - it's just something most beer geeks do and, from what I hear, the wait is worth it.  Some brews are designed specifically to be aged for a few months or years to round them out: i.e., to reduce the stinging potency of the alcohol and the carbonation, as well as to encourage the refermentation of natural sediments in the brew to achieve tasty, tasty perfection.   Indeed, a common complaint with drinking high alcohol or high sediment brews is that they taste too "hot", which in beer geek parlance means that either the carbonation is too harsh or the flavors just don't mesh properly.   Like a finely made red wine, a few months of relaxation will do them wonders.  Not that drinking them right away is a bad thing; cellaring just (hopefully) makes them taste even better.  Again, I'm still experimenting with proper beer cellarage (I had a couple of disasters and success stories last season), but the basic rule of thumb is to keep them slightly cooler than room temperature and in a dark place to avoid sunburn.   I'd have done it earlier, but dammit: temptation is a sexy, sexy lady.   To not drink a beer that's just sitting there, waiting for me, begging to me drank is one of life's greatest challenges.  Sometimes you just have to be patient, take a leap of faith and hope the Holy Grail of Beer Goodness awaits you across the Impossibly Deep Chasm of Temperance. 

"You must believe, boy..."

A quick check on Beer Advocate reveals that kellerbier is not one whom improves with aging, so we're good to go!   Therefore, first on the agenda is one of Les Trois Mousquetaires rarer offerings, their Signature Series Kellerbier!

For those who may not recall, kellerbiers are traditional German lagers that are unfiltered and thus full of sedimenty goodness.  (Because they are already 'lagered' for a long time, extra storage isn't necessary).  They should be malty, hoppy and full of flavor for the winter drinking season.

Kellers are traditionally consumed in large earthenware mugs, but since my only true beer "mug" is a massive Paulaner stein, I instead poured this into my curved Steam Whistle pilsner glass.  A deep tawny golden brew, opaque with sediment - looks a great deal like fresh-squeezed white grapefruit juice. A brilliant two-inch high head that has receded into a solid half-inch layer of foam.  Scads of patchy lacing.  Great retention.  Now kellers don't necessarily produce a great deal of lacing, but because this looks so bloody brilliant, I upped the markage here.

Nose is quite pleasant: apple, peanut, floral aromatic hops, grain, malt.

Finally: a Canadian kellerbier with some chesthair (not literally - that would be gross).  Creemore's version is certainly enjoyable, full of malty caramely goodness, but LTM's produced a massive flavor experience here.  Starts off with a big blast of nutty, grainy goodness with a sharp floral hop tang.  Citrus (grapefruit), apple and a nice moderate malty backing.  Took a few sips to get my tastebuds in tune, but I'm liking what I've encountered so far.  About as flavorful as a 'non-filtered pilsner' as you're going to get. 

Thicker-bodied for a lager, which is all kinds of good.  Slightly creamy, lovely mild carbonation. Reminds me of a real home-brew mouthfeel, which I dig greatly.

After receiving but a taste of what LTM had to offer last summer with their standard mixpack, I couldn't wait to sample more of their brews. I can safely say that their Kellerbier was more than worth the wait. A markedly bitterer and huskier kellerbier than I've experienced before, but this robust flavor was certainly welcome. Terrific work from LTM!  (Grade: A)

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