5 Days of IPA’s: Homeland Edition – IPA Day in Quebec!

PicsArt_1375360500659It’s IPA day!!!!  I couldn’t think of a better way to promote the festivities, than to write yet another IPA article! I’m thinking you all might be starting to tire of my endless IPA centric articles. Well, I guess my only defense is the fact that they are best tasted fresh, and therefore end up on the top of my list to review. That’s certainly part of it, however to be more accurate, I simply love hops. Those fruity, zesty, herbal, piney, citrusy, and extremely bitter little plant pods basically have me by the balls; to the point where I’m starting to phantom taste them during the day. Great, now it’s happening while I write this!

IMG_20130730_100703In the past, we have talked a bit about Quebec’s relationship to the mighty India Pale Ale. The problem is, until recently, we were not seeing too many overtly fantastic examples of the style. I’m certainly not saying that there weren’t any good IPA’s out there, but rather, after trying some of the west coast styled IPA’s from the US, and the rest of Canada, there was an undeniable gap for some reason. That being said, we are catching up, and this year has been a HUGE one for Quebec hop heads.

This is the third in a series of articles I have written about the amazing IPA. The first article, entitled “6 Days of IPA’s,” consisted of a bunch of North American IPA’s that I arbitrarily selected in order to talk about the style as a whole. The second, “Another 6 days of IPA’s,” was entirely American centric, all six beers were from the US proper. This was great fun, which carried my love for the style to new heights, and gave me the chance to sink my teeth into some real American IPA’s. All things considered, it felt odd that I hadn’t really included Quebec, so I  decided I wanted to get proper local representation, which brings us to the article at hand.

I’m sure a lot of you are going to want to run out and buy these beers after reading the descriptions; sadly it’s not really that simple. Most of the following beers are one offs, or seasonals, meaning that they might only come around once a year, or may never come back again. On a positive note, there are new beers coming out every week, so as long as you peruse the beer shops here and there, you will find great stuff to try.

2013-06-06 08.07.13Le Castor is pretty new to the craft beer scene. They are located in Rigaud (a city about 30 minutes west of Montreal), and have about five beers that they have bottled so far. Yakima IPA is an American IPA and pours out bright orange and foggy, with a small but frothy head that never truly disappears throughout the whole drinking process. The aroma starts with sweet honey, alongside a big and beautiful citrus backdrop. It smells incredible. There is a slight sour funk going on here, with some big fruity elements and an emphasis on fresh strawberries. It is quite piney as well, with an earthy grassiness that really lets you know that it’s all hops here – everything else is background noise. This is indeed a very impressive aroma.

2013-06-06 08.05.56At first sip, the bitterness is heavy; it encompasses the palate immediately. Lots of citrus flavors, mixed with oily hop resins. This makes it harder to pin point the flavors on the palate as compared to the nose. It is certainly a citrus forward IPA that is fruity, with just the right level of sweetness. That being said, there is much less sweetness than expected; from what the aroma let on. It’s all cut down by a massive bitterness, which lingers as if the resins are resting on your tongue like a wonderful coating of bitter oil. As it warms, the fruitiness comes alive with peaches, strawberries, and of course some citrus fruit. The bitterness is still rampant, but as my palate adjusts, the flavors really come out. This is really something special. Kudos!

IMG_20130610_090316Le Trou du Diable is a brewery located in Shawinigan, and until recently their beer has been very difficult to find. However, luckily for all of us in Quebec, their bottles are now pretty much readily available for purchase at most beer shops.  Morsure is an American IPA and pours out a clear, golden copper color with a moderate but good sized head. As my nose approaches the glass, I’m first hit with the scent of musty, citrusy hops, and a slightly metallic undertone (which disappeared shortly after). Smells good, but not as fruity as I’m used to in an American IPA.

Wow, this one is very dry and bitter; again, not as fruity as I would have expected. That being said, it is certainly an easy drinking beer, which goes down really well. There are lots of grapefruit and lemon flavors going on here. The carbonation is spot on, with loads of spotty lacing coating the sides of the glass. Although being exceptionally bitter, it almost drinks like a crisp lager. It goes down smooth, and provides a sharp finish that is not overtly resinous. It certainly has that American IPA, west coast hop citrus bang, with a lighter malt backbone, and a slightly sharper finish. I would call this one a great summer IPA – if such a term existed.

IMG_20130706_052508Charlevoix is one of my favorite breweries. They release single hop double IPA’s every once in a while, and I was fortunate enough to grab both this time around. Today, I’m looking at their “Simcoehopped DIPA, and on the nose I’m smelling some earthy, yeasty aromas with lots of grassy hops. As well, I’m getting some big sugary malts hiding behind the big foamy head. Citrus fruit starts to emerge, with an emphasis on lemon and grapefruit.

Wow! Booze, hops, and a big bitter finish. The alcohol is quite predominant at first, and at 9% this is not that surprising. The Simcoe hops provide a certain citrus quality, but are also rather grassy and earthy.  This balances well against the pretty strong ethanol flavor, while the malty sweetness brings everything together. I’m getting some fruit in here as well; mainly candied lemon, and grapefruit. The body is lighter than expected, which is nice given the hot summer weather we are having right now.  The finish is quite bitter, with a pretty intense lingering alcohol taste that is actually quite nice.

I’m rather enjoying this one. Let’s be clear, it’s not for the faint of heart, however, it definitely fills the Double IPA role quite well, providing that big, slightly sweet, but intensely bitter flavor that all us hops heads enjoy. Charlevoix is one of the best in Quebec, they always hit the nail on the head.

IMG_20130731_104803Catapulte IPA is a collaboration between Benelux and Zulogaarden (Brewery from Barcelona). The first time I tried it, I was blown away; my impression of Quebec based IPA’s changed forever. It was a perfect balance of flavors that was just as good, if not better than the American IPA’s that I brought back from the US. Catapulte pours out a beautiful amber orange color with a frothy, sticky looking head. On the nose, I’m getting a lot of strawberries, mixed with tons of other sweet fruits. There is also pine, and a huge citrus presence, which works well against the sweet caramel malt aromas that are also predominant here. It has a zesty, banana and honey thing going as well, which is extremely inviting.

Sadly, I kept this one longer then I should have, and it lost a bit of its edge in the last few months. However resting in my cellar, it did gain a honey caramel flavor that works well when mixed with the fruity hops that still reside. But again, IPA’s need to be drank fresh, let’s not forget that. It has a nice bitter finish that cuts the sugars, resulting in a good flavor balance. It had a particular richness, which works with everything else going on. The finish is quite bitter and tangy, which lingers in anticipation for the next sip to hit my tongue.

IMG_20130730_100507Post Colonial IPA from Hopfenstark is a beer that I’ve had on tap many times, but only recently was I able to get my hands on some bottles. It pours out a darker than average red amber color, with a massive frothy head. The beer overflowed the second I popped the cap. It’s difficult to get to the aromas through the giant cloud-like head. I’m getting lots of earthy, musty yeast smells with a fruity and sweet backdrop. Zesty meets caramel, quite a nice nose on this one.

On the taste front, it’s quite sweet, with strawberries and caramel as the forerunners, cut by a nice bitterness. The hops are here, but this is certainly a malt forward beer with similarities to a Sticke Alt or other hoppy reds. That being said, it’s quite delicious . Bitter, fruity, but not that citrusy, unlike the other American IPA’s that we have been looking at. It is quite sweet, with a big zesty and very yeast forward backdrop. This is all cut down by a big bitter finish with a lingering sweet maltiness.

There we have it, five Quebec IPA’s that push the hoppy envelope.  As I said earlier, Quebec is making itself known in the IPA scene, and these examples prove that we don’t need to run south anymore to grab those delicious American hoppy India Pale Ales, we can go down the street and buy them from the Dep!

HAPPY IPA DAY!!!

– an article by Noah Forrest

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