An article by Noah Forrest
I’ve been writing this blog for over four years now, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of progression within this industry. It could be breweries expanding to churn out more volume, brewers starting to create new and more innovative styles, or even fun collaborations. I really feel everything is in a process of moving forward. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a very young family, which means that I don’t get out to beer events or bars very often. That being said, I’m still entrenched in the beer scene, being able to interact via social media, but also largely watching from afar. I’ve witnessed many things grow and flourish through these channels over the years, and one of those things is Microbrasserie Vox Populi.
When I first started to really get into beer, I didn’t know where to begin. In-between diaper changes and bottle feedings (for both me and my son), I started scouring the internet and social media platforms for all things Quebec-beer-related. I wanted to gain a better understanding of what this stuff was that I was falling in love with. I stumbled upon Décapsule, a brilliant blog run by the Atman brothers that houses tons of articles, videos, and general silly antics. And although they are good friends of mine now, I remember watching a video of these two crazy dudes drinking a beer on their roof. I’m not talking about the roof of a downtown apartment building where hopeless Concordia philosophy students go to down cans of Pabst. No no, like an actual suburban house, with shingles and all that. Ridiculous. Anyway, the point here is that they were drinking some insane, obscenely high IBU’ed black IPA from a brewery called “Black Barn Brewery.”
I started researching where I could find beers from this “Black Barn Brewery” which had been previously unknown to me at the time. Pretty quickly, I realized that it was actually a tiny home-brewing, pico operation. At the time, I was never able to procure anything by them, but as they grew, that eventually changed.
Black Barn Brewery was a joint collaboration between Etienne Turcotte and Yann Longueuil, and after they won the first LABAQ (L’Annuel des Brasseurs Amateurs du Québec) – a yearly Quebec based home brewing competition – they decided to change the name to “Microbrasserie Vox Populi.” Winning that competition allowed them to brew their victorious beer at Brasserie Dunham, where they later brewed two more beers under the Vox Populi brand, and again using the Dunham facilities. One of these beers was the highly successful “Cerbère,” a collaborative beer brewed to honour the dusty sour saisons of Vermont. About a year and a half ago, the Vox team expanded to five members, and although having never really met any of them until recently, I feel like I’ve been watching their progression over the years. This is one of the reasons that I’m particularly excited to talk to you about their new business and new beer coming out next week.
Vox Populi is considered a “gypsy” brewery, meaning that they use another brewery’s facility to brew beer under their brand. They have announced three beers to begin with: a Berliner Weiss, a new world Tripel which will be released in the coming months, and in the next couple of weeks, their Double Fruit Punch IPA is going to hit stores. And as you can probably tell from the photos, this is the beer that I’m going to be talking about today!
Double Fruit Punch IPA
This 100 IBU, 8% ABV Double IPA pours out a cloudy orange colour with a bright white head that dissipates rather quickly, leaving a thin veil of foam circling the glass. The nose is a powerhouse of dank grassy hops, that tosses earthy funk and rich freshly cut grass at my senses. Some candied lemon and oranges emerge behind the dank, adding layers of fruit. Overripe mangos and cantaloupe also start to emerge, lending a more rich fruit presence to this otherwise rather “green” aromatic profile.
The flavours match the nose quite well, with a pretty big grassy and “green” presence. The juiciness is integral as well, with some tropical fruit and a strong grapefruit pithy finish. However, it’s not quite as fruity as I’d think considering the name of the beer. It’s drier then the nose let on, and the 100 IBU finish isn’t as aggressive as I presumed; instead, it just works to clean any maltiness left on the palate, and does so quite brilliantly.
The fruit essences particularly shine in the lingering finish, where mango and passion fruit rest on your palate alongside the bitter citrus rinds. There are none of those pesky “caramel” flavours we find in so many big double IPAs, and although having a big body and a bit of maltiness, it’s dry and very drinkable, with a great rich fruit to bitter balance.
The carbonation could use a bit of a boost in my opinion, but it by no means feels flat. I’m digging the bold, fruit confit flavours and how they couple with the aggressive bitterness and hop resins. Overall though, I think I’d personally like a bit more “brightness” in the hop flavour profile, but that being said this is still pretty damn delicious, and at this point I’m splitting hairs.
If you are wondering if this is it at par with “Super A” from Auval, “Double IPA” from LTM, or “Immoralité” from Dieu du Ciel!? I can’t answer that for you. I’d say it’s up there, but might need some tweaking to really shine brighter than a couple of these top tier Quebec examples. That being said, this is their first batch, using brand new equipment. If Double Fruit Punch IPA is this good now, I can’t wait to see where it will be at after a few more releases.
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest