Dominus Vobiscum Blanche

Ever since fellow beer advocate and sibling Rob Nagy took a trip with his beloved to Montreal and Quebec City, I have become aware of a few very striking facts about Canadian beer. Most of what I learned from his stories of the beer culture of our French neighbours solidified what I already knew about Canadian beer (that the mass produced, corporate distilleries are predominantly alcoholic atrocities) and also opened my eyes up to a fantastic new horizon of craft brewing.

Excuse my ‘French’, but Quebec is fucking serious about beer. They clearly do not mess around. There are so many ‘brasseries des artisans’  everywhere that I, for one, would know what to do with. It seems to me that the extra bit of effort that is needed to produce beers of prestine calibre and quality is commonly understood by everyone; especially the consumers who are willing to pay more money to ensure that they are getting a treat.

This beer was a complete gamble. I knew no one who had tried this beer, and didn’t even have any idea what the beer’s name meant. Despite all this, I knew that it was a good choice to bring this puppy home because it was a craft beer made in Quebec. Just the fact that it was from Quebec shouted out to me from the shelves that this was totally going to be a worthwhile purchase: and I am not dissapointed.

The Dominus Vobiscum Blanch is a deep, entrancing wheat beer that is cloudy straw yellow color. The flavour is superb, with a suble tang of citrus and chamomile. The head is long lasting and quite thick. As I was pouring the last of this 500ml brew into my glass, in went some fine brown sediment that was still hanging out in the bottom of the bottle. This is another sign of an amazing beer: that there is so much in it that the brewers deliberately left sediment in there to continue to infuse the beer with potent and complex flavours. A very hardy beer.

The artwork on the bottle appears to be a print of a painting dipicting a fiery red sunset over the Canadian shield in Quebec. This beer means business.

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Peche Mortel

Never before have I opened a regular sized beer bottle (341 ml to be precise) and been so blown away by it’s contents. Dieu de Ciel is a French Canadian brewery, with a microbrewery and pub in Montreal. They have a very wide range of creations that I am sure will make their own appearances here once we all as a collective try to taste-test them all.

Peche Mortel (Mortal Sin) is an immense beverage, delivering a real whollop of flavour. It is a very dense, strong stout with very bold roasted aroma. There is very little carbonation, but produces a thick, foamy dark head that lingers for the entire duration. The flavour is rich with flavours of coffee, caramel, hzaelnuts and wheat, but overall is incredibly complex and twists around the pallet; much like the serpent around the madam on the label.

Would go perfectly well with, you might have guessed it, a pork or beef roast (which was perhaps marinated in the beer itself?) 4 Heads.

A Good One and a Bad One

Ah, yes. Sounds delicious and is delicious. This isn’t the first time a Dieu du Ciel! beer has been reviewed here on BFB, and it surely won’t be the last. This brasserie from St-Jerome, Quebec has a whole slew of distinctive beers that don’t disappoint. These bad drivers really know how to add some serious character to their beer. Even the illustrations on the labels are awesome. It’s like listening to an album that has great artwork… just makes it that much better.

I’ve been drinking quite a lot of Dieu du Ciel! beers recently, and their Solstice d’hiver is just too good to not be reviewed. I guess this is technically a barley wine (it says so on the label), which kind of put me off at first. I haven’t had barley wine before this point, but om bought a bottle of Mill St. Barley Wine, drank it fresh (no aging), and was disappointed. Since he’s got good taste in beer, I have been skeptical of barley wines ever since I heard about his experience. However, having had only pleasant experiences with all the other Dieu du Ciel! brews, I thought I’d give it a taste. And I’m certainly glad that I did because this beer is great and it stands up to my other fav winter beers like St. Peter’s and Samuel Smith’s. And just like these other winter beers, it’ll only be around for a short period of time so now is the time to try one. It’s brewed once a year at the end of the summer, and is then aged until December when it starts to appear at local liqour stores. Its malty sweetness and strong alcohol percentage are a perfect blend making this brew velvety smooth, yet bold enough for the coldest of winter nights. Paul approves.

Once this is unavailable, I would also recommend trying their Rigor Mortis (a quad inspired by none other than Belgian Trappists) and Mortal Sin (an imperial coffee stout). While these beers are definitely a treat, I wouldn’t recommend trying to down a six pack in one sitting. Most of Dieu’s beers are considerably stronger than your average brew. The Solstice is 10.2% and even though it comes in a 341 ml bottle, it takes a while to get through. This is definitely the kind of beer I would start or end the night with.

After having this barley wine, I’m interested to taste what my 2008 Mill St. Barley Wine is like now that it’s been aged for a couple years. That’ll def be another review worth posting.

And now…

This doesn’t even deserve a proper review. This isn’t beer. How is it that something so awful is so popular? I find myself asking that question far too often. Save yourself the trouble of drinking this none-sense and dump it right where it’ll eventually end up anyway. Paul is not down.

Rosee D’hibiscus

On my way home from work, I decided to pop into my local liquor dispensary to pick up a couple of different beers to sample. Among my collection was a beer from the Dieu du Ciel Brasserie, in St. Jerome, Quebec. For those of you who strive to disprove Canada’s claim to bilingualism, allow me to remind you that “brasserie” and “brassiere” are two completely different things. They are both of comparable merit, housing things that have intoxicated men for millennia, yet only the former refers to a place where beer is brewed.

This particular brewery is home to just over a dozen beers, hosting names such as Route des épices, Equinoxe du printemps, and Aphrodisiaque, all of which look absolutely scrumptious. The only one that my local LCBO seems to be carrying is Rosée d’hibiscus, which I will now gladly review.

Let’s start with the bottle itself. Like all of the beers this brewery puts forth, the label is a work of art. There is only a front label, which boasts an Angelina Jolie look-alike version of mother nature, adorned invitingly with hibiscus flowers. While the ingredients are in both languages, the description for the beer is only in French, making it an intriguing puzzle for some, and a welcome opportunity for others. It’s clear that thought even went into designing the cap. It is delicately protected by a symbolic sticker which must be ripped in order to consume the beverage—a detail that alludes to the beer’s unadulterated purity.

Upon pouring the beer into a glass (preferably a chilled one), one is surprised to find a reddish-burgundy colour flow out of the bottle, looking almost like a diluted and darkened tomato concoction. While this beer does have a distinct iron-copper  taste, and a pronounced astringency, there is little else that it holds common with tomato juice.

This beverage is sold as a bière blanche, but the malt is listed as being a bigger ingredient than the wheat flavour; this is definitely evident in the taste. Additionally, there is a distinct undertone of hops, which is not characteristic of this class of beers. Having tried a pure hibiscus beverage, I can claim that overtones of this selling-point herb are definitely present. This is much more evident in the aftertaste than there is when actually drinking the beer. I guarantee you that this beer won’t take very long to finish; despite being stronger than a lot of beers (5.9%), it goes down exceptionally smooth.

For $3.10 a bottle, this is something I could easily drink again. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open for more beers from the Dieu du Ciel brasserie, a brewery which pleasantly surprised me with a very unique beer. I can only imagine that their other products will be just as remarkable.

Overall, 4/5 Paul Westerberg heads

St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

Imagine the perfect stout beer. A beer to drink alone, by the wood-stove on a damp & dreary April night. Perhaps complimented by hand-rolled, filter-free Drum cigarette & an Al Purdy poem. This beer has achieved a balance between raw and smooth. It pours like fermented oil; thick, heavy, and intensely black. This is not a bottle-drinker, as this beer comes to life in the glass (or in my case a wide-mouth mason jar). The head is slow-forming, but long-lasting, and is the deep-orange colour of a rich espresso crema. Diving face-first into a jar of this bitter, delicious, 5% ABV beverage, my senses were greeted by a smoky, roasty aroma of oatmeal, roasted barley, wheat, and four different varieties of hops. The taste is deep, dark and strong with accents of black coffee & cocoa. It has a mild sweetness and leaves a nice bitter aftertaste. Brewed at the St-Ambroise Street brewery in Quebec, this masterfully perfected craft beer is surely the product of years of experience. This is the absolute finest beer that I have crossed in the small town of Powell River, B.C. (Liquor sales are privatised here, meaning the prices are high and the selection is random.) I would gladly enjoy this hardy drink first thing in the morning with scrambled eggs for breakfast, or by the fireside with roasted venison sausage under the moonlight.

French Canadians have done it again.

4 & 1/2 Paul heads, seriously.