“La Divine Comédie” is the newest collaboration between two highly regarded Quebec based craft breweries: Le Trou du Diable & Dieu du Ciel! This collaboration resulted in the creation of a hybrid beer, and more specifically, a “Wit-Pils” which lands somewhere in between a Belgian Witbier and a German Pilsner. Named after Dante’s epic, each brewery produced their own art based on the poem, brewed and bottled their own version of the recipe, and then each released two different bottles showcasing both art pieces. More and more breweries are commissioning artists to design their bottle labels, and these two breweries have had consistently beautiful artwork for years now. Pictured below are both labels; on the left is Dieu du Ciel artist Yannick Brosseau‘s piece, and to the right you’ll see Fred Jourdain‘s work. It’s always great to see two artist’s differing representation of the same idea. The following description comes from Yannick’s personal Facebook page (sorry for stalking you Yannick, but I couldn’t find any info elsewhere).
“Virgil, the poet, is represented with the pyramid of the sins of purgatory, holding in his hand an oil lamp to symbolize the assistance it provided to Dante out of purgatory (he brings his light to guide him through the darkness).
Dante, the writer, is represented with a parchment with the eye of God at its Center. The poem the Divine Comedy is in the image of medieval society which saw the imprint of God everywhere. Dante was the spokesperson for this vision of the world in his writings – Yannick Brosseau (translated from French)”
More and more we are seeing different forms of collaboration in the craft beer world – some of which involve art, as we just saw – but the most common is certainly when two (or more) breweries get together and produce a beer as a team. This exercise reinforces why this industry is pretty groundbreaking and amazing. Instead of trying to destroy each other using the typical dog-eat-dog capitalistic notion of modern business, both companies become friends and make something together out of mutual respect and love. In the Divine Comedy, Dante travels through Hell, Purgatory, and finally Heaven, all with the assistance of others guiding him to salvation. Just as the poem is a giant allegory, perhaps this collaboration is as well; by embracing the competition, breweries create connections and not enemies, which can help guide them through the challenges of running an independent business – especially with the almighty big-beer-tycoons trying to destroy them at every turn. Craft beer became more than a simple beverage for me because it is amazing and delicious, but it has become a hobby and a passion of mine largely due to the impressive camaraderie and kinship surrounding the craft beer world – including those who produce, and those who ingest.
Because each brewery released La Divine Comédie separately, I wanted to taste them side by side to see if there would be any discernible differences. From what I’ve heard, they used the exact same recipe as well as the same ingredients to produce this beer, the only differences being the water and equipment used by each brewery (please correct me if I’m wrong). Because it would be fitting, I grabbed both my Dieu du Ciel and Trou du Diable branded tulips, and cracked open both bottles. It would have been better to use identical glassware, but I wanted a sexy photo (I guess we know where my priorities lie). They both pour out a bright but foggy yellow orange colour with copper highlights. Le Trou du Diable’s version is a slightly darker orange, but they pretty much look like the same beer. In order to keep things easier to read, I’ll be referring to Le Trou du Diable as TDD, and Dieu du Ciel! as DDC.
The aroma carries a nice earthy, almost musty character, alongside a big fruit forward presence, and a lot of herbal hops. The DDC version is certainly fruitier, with a zestier quality, while the TTD has that stronger musty yeast aroma, and a hard to describe cheese thing happening – though surprisingly, this is not off putting. Mostly, however, they are filled with citrus and tropical fruit, with a big zesty and dusty backdrop. They smell incredibly refreshing. After sipping both, I can tell you that this beer is fruity up front, but the herbal resinous German hops kick in right away and cut down any residual sweetness. There is some citrus fruit, musty yeast flavors, and an ever so slight tartness in the finish. The bitterness lingers on your tongue beautifully. It’s a lot like a hopped up witbier, with herbal zesty hops filling your palate with all kinds of wonderfulness. The wheat adds to the body, but it’s easy drinking all the way through.
These two are certainly the same beer without question, however there are marginal differences. The TDD has a very musty finish, with more fruity flavours coming through, like mango and strawberry. The mouth-feel is also a bit more robust and creamier. The DDC certainly has a harsher bite, as the hops comes through with an intense resinous bitterness, reminiscent of citrus rind. I like the DDC a tad more, as the hops cleans up the finish nicely, but they are both stellar, and virtually the same beer. If you haven’t tried this beer yet, you might still be able to get some around Quebec, and I suggest you do as it’s a fantastic summer treat – but don’t wait too long, you want to taste those hops fresh! I really wish this one was year-round, I feel like we are very much lacking in hoppy craft lagers in Quebec.
We see lots of collaboration in the arts; from bands getting together on particular songs, or graffiti artists painting murals together. However, in the world of business it’s far less common, especially when the two companies are competitors selling the same product to the same consumers. As I was mentioning earlier, these brewing collaborations are gaining momentum – every week I’m reading about a new one. To me, these partnerships are refreshing and forward thinking, as well as a perfect expression of what craft beer is and should continue aspiring to be: something to love and enjoy with friends. And when the beer is exceptional (like in this case), it’s even better!
**If you are interested in purchasing any of Fred Jourdain’s work, you can do so online right here or by sending him a message on his Facebook page. Also, his art is displayed at Vice & Versa, HELM, and at Nyks Bistro Pub
An Article by Noah Forrest