An Article by Noah Forrest
For those who don’t know, L’Espace Public is a brew-pub located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve quartier of Montreal. Without an ounce of pretentiousness, this tiny unassuming bar fits the vibe of the area perfectly, carrying a worn-in urban edge that still feels inviting. I’ve spent several nights there, and I’ll spend many more. This Saturday they are holding a party to showcase their brand new bottled beer, called Bière de Driveway. Details right here. I got hold of some bottles ahead of time so that I tell you all about it.
Besides brewing to serve on location, L’Espace Public took the canning plunge this past summer and released three beers that are available to be purchased all around the city. Unlike the usual offerings you normally see when a brewery launches, these guys decided to do something a little different – in more ways than one. All three of their beers were kettle sours. Kettle sours are (as you might presume) beers that are sour. Brewers inculcate the beer with lactobacillus at a higher temperature in which it thrives and sours the beer much faster than traditional souring methods that can take months or even years.
“Sours” (a broad term I don’t like, but seems sadly necessary) come is all shapes and sizes. However, they can be pricey, hard to find, and many have spent time in a barrel. This makes them beers that someone wouldn’t always want to grab at the dépanneur on a whim to session that night. However, after speaking with co-owner Pierre Lessard-Blais, the idea behind these beers was to provide accessible sours for the summer months that people could pick up and head to a party.
Of the three, I quite enjoyed Bière de Coin Rue (Blond sour) and Bière de Balcon (Raspberry Sour). They were simple, clean and straightforward beers that you can drink anytime. However, being so refreshing, they don’t fit the traditional “winter beer” mold quite as much as other styles. So, they decided to do something a bit different and created a brand new beer called Bière de Driveway, a sour stout!
Bière de Driveway
Sour Stouts can be hit and miss. The combination of dark roasted malts, which carry coffee and chocolate flavours, can (at times) contrast instead of compliment the sour citrusy notes of lactic acid. That being said, sometimes they are brilliant – just like that time you ate a coffee infused yogurt and was surprised how fucking amazing it was.
Driveway pours out jet black, carrying a light beige head that sticks around. The nose wafts a beautiful mix of dark chocolate, alongside strawberries, black cherries, and lemony citrus fruits. Espresso beans come through as well, making interesting and complimentary company for the tangy acidic aromatics.
Up front, it’s far less roasty than the nose lets on. Instead, the tart acidic components first reach my palate, with lots of under-ripe strawberries, lemon zest, and pithy grapefruit bitters. That being said, the dark chocolate elements and general roastiness do play a role, lending a subtle bitterness and some earthy coffee beans. The finish is crazy clean, leaving a long tangy sourness on my palate, with echoes of roasted malts.
The body is quite exquisite, carrying a slick and creamy mouthfeel, while spouting perfect effervescence. This really drinks like a stout, but the huge tartness certainly runs the show and tricks your palate in many different ways. It is perfectly dry, without a grain of sugar in sight.
This is the best of two worlds, each side meeting to deliver something quite interesting. Not only should you make your way to L’Espace Public tomorrow for the bottle launch, but make sure you also grab some of this bizarrely sexy beverage once it hits stores next week.
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest