An article by Noah Forrest
One of the things I love the most about beer is how versatile it is. There is a beer for any and every occasion. There is also a beer for every season; in fact, there are many beers for any and all types of weather. In the darkest depths of a Montreal winter, you can snuggle up on the couch, drinking a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, letting the booze warm you from the inside out. When the snow melts, you can start sitting on the patio again, perhaps holding a double IPA whose body and higher alcohol still warrant the sweater you’re wearing, but seems to fit your surroundings better than a rich Barleywine or a light Pilsner.
Spring has finally decided to come to 2016, and I for one am very excited to say goodbye to the bastard of a season that precedes it. Breweries are now in the process of brewing their summer offerings. And although it’s sad to say goodbye to all those seasonal imperial stouts, I’ll welcome some heat and a hoppy pils with open arms.
For those who don’t know, the craft beer scene is always in seasonal flux, with more temporary offerings available at any given time than ones that are actually around all year. This way, breweries can release products that fit the seasonal demographic. Obviously you can drink any beer in any season, but you’re going to sell more lagers in the summer and more Barleywine in the winter.
The perfect and best Quebec example of this is Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! As you can see from the chart below, they have a consistent and well-planned schedule that they adhere to every year (although changing annually). They have a main line-up of beers that are always available and then another set of beers called their “Momentum” series. These Momentum beers get released once a month, but each particular beer only makes an appearance once a year. However, for 2016, Dieu du Ciel! has added what I’m calling their “swing ” beers, which will be released during particular seasons. Bottom line: Dieu du Ciel! has more beers than ever, and more new beers to be bottled in 2016 than I’ve ever seen from them before. Coming from what is arguably the best brewery in Canada, this excites me.
The chart indicates some awesome surprises are coming towards the end of spring and into the summer. In early May, two brand new to bottle DDC beers will be on the shelves: Saison du Parc and Petit Détour. I was fortunate enough to get samples of these two beers so that I could to talk about them before they appear in stores. A Beerism exclusive!
In the colder months of the year, Dieu du Ciel! releases a beer called Herbe de Détoune. It’s a Citra-hopped, new world Tripel that has been a reoccurring member of the Momentum series for several years. It’s aggressive on the alcohol front, at a big 10.2 per cent. The booze is sharp, but the accompanying Citra dry-hop and subtle yeast phenolics balance out the beer nicely, creating a surprisingly well-rounded and utterly delicious concoction, albeit a potent one.
Petit Détour is basically Herbe de Détoune’s little brother and part of that “swing” series I mentioned above. They are calling it a Belgian IPA. It’s hopped with Mosaic and Citra, and being a huge fan of it’s older brother, I’m super excited to try it.
The nose wafts huge tropical aromatics, which provides a plethora of citrus accents and some dank-hop freshness. This is followed by sexy yeast phenols that lend spicy and earthy components. There is mango and a little grassy pine element in there too. It’s rather juicy overall.
On the flavour side, the yeast plays a larger role, showcasing a slew of earthy phenolics that impart some cloves, hints of vanilla and general tannic bitters. The hops come through as well, with a fruity presence that adds layers of citrus. This coupled well with the esters from the yeast. There is also a grassy and dank-hop funk thing happening, providing this a freshly cut lawn aspect that I quite enjoy. The finish is on the lighter side, but still contains ample bitterness, helping cut through the yeasty components.
The interplay of Mosaic and Citra complement the Belgian yeast flavour profile quite nicely. This isn’t a juicy hop bomb per se, but the hops are certainly a huge component of the beer. They still allow the yeast to shine alongside them, instead of trying take over, as many Belgian IPAs do.
DDC! was clearly not trying to remake Moralité, but rather create something balanced that showcases all components equally. DDC! is a master of this technique. Petit Détour is extremely refreshing and would make for a beautiful patio beer. It’s light enough for the hot months ahead, yet complex enough to pair with lighter spring cuisine.
Saison du Parc
Just like the extremely high alcohol beer craze from a few years back, lower alcohol beers hit the scene full throttle last year. It’s a great idea in theory. But just as extremely high alcohol beers can often be an imbalanced mess when not done right, the same applies to these “session” beers. Instead of unpleasant sharp ethanol booziness or cloying sugars, you often get boring, watery beers that taste like hopped tea. Some breweries just jump on trends without properly perfecting their beers, while others pull it off beautifully. Trends aren’t a bad thing, but if you are going to join the fun, do it right.
Saison du Parc isn’t marketed as a “session” beer, but at 4.2 per cent it is certainly within the easy drinking spectrum. However, as usual, Dieu du Ciel! made things more interesting by creating a “session” beer that’s actually a galaxy hopped saison. It’s Dieu du Ciel’s Momentum offering for the month of May, so it will only be available for another month. Let’s check it out now.
It pours out a cloudy but bright foggy yellow colour, with a head that never disappears. The nose is a beautiful mix of earthy saison yeast phenolics, coupled with some tart lemon rind aromatics. Slight tropical fruits come through as well, adding subtle hoppy depth to the dusty yeast forward nose.
Wow, just wow — where to start? First off, this is extremely dry, with beautiful dusty and earthy yeast phenols crushing your palate with tannic bitterness. Then the subtle fruitiness emerges, with some juicy lemon and grapefruit, followed by peppery components. The finish is long and very bitter, with echoing hop resins that linger on your tongue. There is a wonderful but subtle hop complexity to this beer that just adds a tad bit of fruit. The body is surprisingly ample, with no wateriness or that usual flavourless “session” thing.
I guess it’s no surprise that Dieu du Ciel! has, once again, put out some killer beers. I know their lighter offerings don’t always sell quite as well as their other beers. I find that a shame. These two hoppy Belgian inspired creations are a wonderful example of the subtle brewing genius they are capable of. And what ever you do, don’t be fooled by that 4.2 per cent in Saison du Parc. This beer has balls!
Both these beers should be available in the next few weeks. They are definitely worth picking up.
An article by Noah Forrest.
Photography by Noah Forrest
If you have any feedback, or simply want to send me beer, fill out the below contact form!