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.
Over the past 7 years I have delved into the world of craft beer; every so often I encounter a brew I place aside to enjoy down the road. A good amount of these brews are of high alcohol content that were either too intimidating at the time or needed some rest to become properly enjoyable. Once in a blue moon I drink one of these such brews….today I open a brew from Microbrasseurs Les Trois Mousquetaires out of Brossard, Quebec. This bottle is the Porter Baltique a 9.2% strong porter from the Autumn of 2010. Three years of maturation inside of a bottle does wonders for such a beer allowing the in bottle yeast sediment to continue the carbonation process while allowing the flavour profile to mature.
I have previously drank this beer on several occasions so subtle details may become evident.Sometimes an aged beer has such pent up carbonation the cork will have a violent and rapid expulsion from the bottle…so be careful. Porter Baltique’s cork is a bit stuck at first but let go with a modest pop. Pouring out a slick, purely opaque black with a huge foamy tan head which settles to a thin layer a few mere bubbles thick at parts; this is true evidence of aging. A few quick swirls of the glass shows some minor alcohol legs on the glass that disappear quickly. The nose has a heavy roasted aroma with accents of vanilla bean, hazelnut coffee, used espresso beans, bourbon casks and a hint of sultry smoke. I have always said that the best beers are ones you just want to keep smelling and that Porter Baltique is one of those beers. The aroma has such a grabbing quality that in intoxicating. Taking the first sip Porter Baltique is smooth almost silken with a casked style flavour from the smoky notes as well notes of dark chocolate, espresso, toffee and a hint of dried fruits. A truly complex flavour profile with a palate as smooth as can be. A full bodied and heavy beer with an smooth mouthfeel and a heavy roasted malt isn’t rare but the execution of this beer is exceptional. The aging process has taken away some sweetness and changed the mouthfeel from syrupy to silky. Overall Porter Baltique is an exceptional brew that can and has stood the test of time. I look forward to trying my remaining bottle in a few more years.
During my weekly stop at one of my favorite craft beer stores in Calgary last week, the owner who knows my love of interesting brews offered up a sample of a Berliner Weisse. The Berliner Weisse brewed by Montreal’s Dieu du Ciel! With raspberries is my first chance to try tgis rare style. The Berliner Weisse is a style of beer originating from you guessed it Berlin where it is the local specialty. Brewed with wheat malt and often fruit Berliner weisse have a moderate sourness akin to lambic beers from Belgium.
Pouring out a beautiful glimmering pinkish colour evidence of raspberries. A nice tuft of pink foam on top with a solid bubble density caps off a glorious appearance. The aroma a beautiful sourness blended with fresh picked raspberries and a crisp clean wheat malt. The nose is rather sublime although the sourness is unlike most other sour/wild beers Ive encountered. Sweet raspberries and fruity flavors in the mid palate show like in the aroma with a mild crisp finish. Not until my second or third sip does the sourness creep up and linger into the finish and aftertaste. A beautiful balance and a crisp sourness blend well together in creating a refreshing sour brew.
The Dieu du Ciel has the ability to brew amazing beers in rare and uncommon styles which begs the question… can they brew a bad beer?
In celebration of the birthday of great Scotsman Robert Burns, affectionately known by many as Rabbie Burns, I have decided to write an article dedicated to my personal favorite Scotch Ale. This Scotch Ale brewed by Le Bilboquet in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec comes in at a whopping 10.8% ABV in what you could refer to as a “more than wee” Heavy. The addition of honey to the brewing process helps to increase the alcohol content of MacKroken to this high level. To be honest I find most Scotch Ales produced by alot of craft breweries to be corner cut ales made with a bit of peated or scotch malts. Unlike many of these other beers, I find MacKroken to be a truly unique beer with a ton of heavy and authentic flavours.
Pouring into a stemmed glass I first notice a beautiful dense beige head form and die slowly with a few remnant lacing blotches sticking to the glass. The body has a beautiful dark roasted copper-brown coloration with a few meandering carbonation bubbles. The nose has a potent booze scent right off the top of the glass with rich treacle and caramelized toffee aromas. A ton of sweet roasted notes accompanying mild peat and scotch malt scents that pair well with the sweeter notes. The aroma while rather boozy and intense smells absolutely delicious. Mid-palate I am greeted with sweet caramel and toffee malts with a kick of light woody malts and a hint of vanilla. A light floral and surprisingly fruity note soon encroaches with a mildly obtuse booze finish that lingers for just an instant. Despite the aroma has a bold and robust character, the taste profile is rather smooth and incredibly well balanced. Mild peated scotch notes linger as just an indentifiable trace and MacKroken has a sublime warmth to the finish accredited to the 10.8% ABV. IN conclusion, this is an utterly smooth and extremely well composed Scotch Ale unlike many others on the market.