The newest beer from Dieu du Ciel! to arrive in Alberta is Isseki Nicho an Imperial Dark Saison a style which has started to slowly develop in the craft beer community. Dark Saisons from breweries such as Stillwater, Widmer and Upright have all been recently released. Isseki Nicho is a collaboration project between Dieu du Ciel! and Shiga Kogen a Japanese sake producer. Isseki Nicho is described as having a grain bill of an Imperial Stout with a saison twist. At 9.5% ABV this brew is certainly a heavy hitter in the class on an Imperial Stout.
Twisting off the cap a slow hiss of vapor trails out of the bottle. A gloopy, pure black viscous body with a thick, bubbly, tan head forms in the glass. The head settles slowly with larger bubbles and small, dense bubbles forming well. The nose has a general rich malt aroma with a moderately heavy roasted note, hits of coffee and chocolate and a beautiful mild saison style yeast scent. Soft esters complement the light saison yeast well with light barnyard dust notes and mild citrus zest. The aroma is rather elogent and the heaviness is a refreshing change for the saison style. My first sip has a thoroughly roasted, heavy malt flavour with a note of espresso and vanilla. More subtle flavours of smoke, wood, bourbon, lemon zest and barnyard dust work their way through. The finish is heavy with a mild saison yeast and a roasted malt bitterness that lingers for a while. Well balanced, Isseki Nicho is a unique twist on the style of saison despite being alot like an Imperial Stout.
The bourbon flavour in this beer is totally not subtle.
Personally, I love this seasonal edition by Dieu du Ciel!. It is absolutely a noteworthy beer in a non-traditional style that fringes the boundaries of saison. My biggest issue is the large amount of alcohol—as much as it is a trend with their seasonal varieties, I feel that it takes away or masks too much of the flavour.
Even though that may be a part of Dieu du Ciel!’s flavour trademark, I feel that it limits their audience even among the serious, the seasoned and the conoisseurial tasters out there. They are the only Canadian brewer to reach ratebeer’s list of the top 50 beers (Aphrodisiac) in the world, and I feel like these seasonals could put them on that list with a few more of their beers, however, to do that, they need to lessen the amount of alcohol in the beer so that the flavour can really shine.
Sometimes I want to have more than just one beer in a sitting, but these seasonals don’t exactly allow me to do so.