An article by Noah Forrest
Well, since the cancellation of Les Trois Mousqutaire‘s Double IPA day back in August, we have all stood by, patiently waiting on news of whether it would happen at all this year. Well, thankfully, it will! In fact, if you didn’t know already, it’s happening tomorrow morning! So, I guess that means you’re just going to have to call in sick to work tomorrow, bundle up from head to toe, and make your way to Brossard so that you can fill your tummy with sweet, sweet LTM Double IPA.
Details on the event are right here.
However, as usual, the good folks at LTM have another trick up their sleeves. On top of the many bottles of hoppy sex being sold, they are also releasing the latest Barils d’Exception! It’s an Islay Scotch barrel aged version of their Baltic Porter. I know, right? Oh, and did I mention that this batch of DIPA is the best that Alex and the brewing team has ever brewed? Yeah.
I could sit here and try to explain all the details surrounding these two beers, but like usual, why not ask the man himself: Alex, head brewer at LTM and all around sexy bastard.
Alex, due to the unfortunate situation that caused the cancellation of the August bottle release, you must be that much more excited to get your infamous Double IPA back in the hands of us beer fiends. Given how far you and your team have come with the creation of your amazing standard IPA, what can we expect from the Double IPA this time around (compared to other years).
We are very happy to finally be able to release a batch of Double IPA this year. It was a hard decision to cancel the DIPA Day in August, but I think it was the right call. We are not the type of brewery that compromises on quality, and despite the August batch tasting quite good, a serious yeast mutation fermented the beer way too dry (no, it was not brett). So, basically, it was out of the flavor profile we were targeting, and that people were expecting. So, yeah, right call. I was afraid that we would receive some backlash for this, but the decision was actually saluted by pretty much every beer enthusiast here in Québec. They understand that we want to sell them top quality beers and nothing else. So we wanted to brew another batch right away, but first, we needed to run DNA analysis on the yeast to discover what the hell happened to make sure this cluster-fuck would never happen again. After this, our production schedule was totally booked until mid-November. So we had to wait, and take the chance to sell it in December, which is quite risky considering the cold climate here. We obviously can’t sell it the same way (a big outdoor BBQ party-thing) so we opted for a two day release instead to reduce the waiting time outside in the cold. As for the recipe itself, we did indeed learn a few more brewing tricks with our new regular IPA that we applied to the Double IPA. Also, they now share the same yeast (but we made sure it didn’t mutate this time). This yeast is a fruit bomb by itself, so expect the DIPA to be more fruity this year. It’s also a very hazy yeast, so all the folks still dreaming about the 2013 Double IPA will be happy. The texture is so silky, so smooth. I love it. *dancing to the song Smooth Operator*
Your barrel program has been snowballing towards new and exciting places. A year ago last week, you guys released Baril Unique, a Baltic Porter aged inside a bourbon barrel from 1978. It was the first in a new line of rare specialty beers called Barils d’Exception that push the limits of how barrel characteristics can impart flavours onto a beer. Since then, you’ve created several of these one-offs, each with their own extremely unique flavour profile, which comes largely from the barrels they have been aged in. Tomorrow, you are releasing the latest in this series: your Baltic Porter, aged in Islay Scotch barrels. Can you tell us all about this latest concoction?
The Barils d’exception project is a brewer’s perfect fantasy. We select top quality barrels and use them to create very special beers. So far, most of them were variations of Porter Baltique, because it was the best beer to fit with these barrels (1978 bourbon, Speyside scotch and now Islay scotch). I think in the future we will explore other types of barrels with other beers as well. For the new one, we wanted to try other scotch barrels after the Speyside, and we had the chance to get some Islay barrels. Islays are very intense, peat-smoked monsters. At first, I was kinda skeptical. I was afraid the peat would take over, and that the beer would have no balance. The base recipe was modified a little bit in order to compensate for this. After only 3 days in the barrels, the peat notes were already all over the place. I got a little nervous. But as the weeks passed, dark chocolate notes came back and everything started to blend together. Don’t get me wrong, peat is what will hit you first, and this is probably the most intense variant of all the barrel-aged Baltique’s we’ve done, but it is also the best one for my tastes, maybe side by side with the 1978. It is fascinating how the same base beer (with little to no modifications) can have completely different flavor profiles. Still, if you don’t like peat-smoke notes and big Islay scotches, this beer is probably not for you. (Unless you absolutely want to spend 20$ for it just to rate it 3/5 on Untappd or Ratebeer. I’m totally cool with that.)
Double IPA 2016
I’ve been fortunate enough to taste every batch of LTM Double IPA since it’s inception in 2013. It’s been an evolution of sorts, but given the new yeast strain Alex mentioned above, I’m predicting this will be something very different from what we are used to (at least the last two batches).
It pours out hazy as fuck, looking like delicious swamp water, carrying a frothy little head. The nose wafts huge citrus notes, coupled with all kinds of big juicy brightness. There are some subtle pine and grassy undertones as well. It is so incredibly zesty, with citrus rinds punching my nasal cavity, followed by strawberry esters, and general tropical fruits. Given how young it was when I drank it, it was a tad “green,” but this will have faded tomorrow morning.
Off the bat, this is insanely dry, with a pretty substantial bitterness that I wasn’t expecting. Like the nose, it’s a huge citrus bomb, carrying lemon zest, clementine juice, and bitter grapefruit rinds. As it warms, even more fruits become active, with strawberry, mango, and hints of vanilla lending a bit of that milkshake IPA thing we are in love with these days. Pineapples explode on my palate, coupled with candied oranges that are very quickly cut down by the bitterness. The body? Well, it’s thick and luscious, with the oats lending a great sleek and velvety mouthfeel that is like receiving a soft tongue hug.
Double IPA 2016 is is essentially a double version of the new standard LTM IPA. And before you think, “oh, okay”, this is actually a huge compliment given how great that beer is! The North-East haze craze has hit Quebec; it’s in full swing, and I for one accept it with open arms, waiting to make love to any foggy juice bomb that’s served to me.
Barils d’Exception – Islay Scotch Single Malt
I have to be honest. I don’t really like smoked beers. I don’t dislike them all, but I usually prefer those that carry a very subtle smoke backdrop. I don’t really think it’s the smoke itself, but rather that smokey beer styles often taste like smoked meat or bacon, which I generally find off-putting in beer. That being said, I have had smoked whiskeys that I enjoyed, so I’m hoping that this beer will harness that Islay Scotch flavour, and not so much the umami meat thing that I don’t dig. Let’s see!
The nose wafts big smokey notes, reminiscent of old weathered down campfires. It doesn’t carry that meaty, almost bacon-like thing you sometimes get with Rauchbiers (German smoked beer). Instead, this is more peaty; almost dusty in its smokiness. Some dark chocolate and vanilla notes peek through, with spirit notes and oak squeezing their way past the bonfire.
Like the nose, the peat is the main focus here. However, it makes itself more apparent in the finish, with a smokey and dusty linger, as if mimicking the experience of being curled up in a sleeping bag by a freshly stamped-out fire. It’s not exactly sweet, but I don’t find it quite as dry as some of the previous Barils d’Exceptions. This actually helps balance the peat smoke, adding a rich complexity. That being said, the sugars are cut down by the slightly sharp ethanol notes, leaving a dry finish.
As usual, the Porter Baltique base throws dark chocolate and some coffee notes at my senses, however, they are more muted, allowing the Scotch barrel to really shine. The marriage of dark roasted malts and this particular whiskey are quite on point. As much as the peaty smokiness is huge, so are the Islay notes in general, with some apparent medicinal and iodine attributes, alongside a light saltiness in the finish. Again though, it’s not meaty or umami-esque. The 10.5% is very well hidden here, with any sharpness working into the beer wonderfully. As it warms, dark chocolate flavours start to come through more potently, complimenting the peaty elements, making for a perfect marriage of flavours.
I think the most interesting part of this beer is the lingering finish. Once the malty, chocolatey notes leave you, the peaty, slightly chemical attributes of the Islay Scotch stay with you. As you breath in and out, you still taste its complexity, as if it doesn’t want to let you go.
If you hate smokey beers, this isn’t for you. However, I generally don’t like smoked beers, and I like this – a lot. Another thing to note, there is a pretty potent iodine component that is slightly odd, especially for palates (like mine) that are not familiar with drinking Islay Scotch. However, it is normal and adds an interesting drying flavour component to the whole thing. And as I continued to drink it, I appreciated it more and more.
Well kids, there you have it. The bottle release is tomorrow. If you’re going, make sure to bundle up and maybe down a bottle of barleywine before you go (if you’re not driving). On top of these two beers, they will also be selling their 2015 Porter Baltique: Edition Speciale as well as BBQ sauce made with Porter Baltique and a touch of bourbon! This year’s Double IPA is a delicious testament to the hard work of the LTM brewing team and an homage to the new era in hoppy beers. The latest Baril D’Exception is certainly an eccentric smoke bomb, but the complexity of the Islay Scotch is so interesting and multilayered that the beer is transformed into something incredible and (in my opinion) delicious.
LTM, congratulations on the continued innovation and success!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest