An article by Noah Forrest
In June 2016, Microbrasserie Vox Populi hit the Quebec beer scene with their flagship Double Fruit Punch IPA. Shortly after came Anna, a hopped up Belgian Tripel, and then their Kettle Sour. The folks behind this gypsy brewery are constantly trying to improve their products; their philosophy is that they want to do the most they can for their customers. In an attempt to better themselves and their beers, the team is always attempting to improve on what they are producing with each new batch.
Vox Populi is Latin for “voice of the people.” This phrase is important to them in how they brew and conduct business. For now, in order to develop a name for themselves, they distribute their cans throughout the province. However, the ultimate goal is to open a brewery in Boucherville, and sell mostly from the door, connecting with their customers face to face.
This coming Saturday afternoon, it seems the Vox Populi team will be able to temporarily fulfill that desire. They will be throwing a bottle release that is aptly entitled “Marché de Noël,” where they will be showcasing and selling some interesting one-off creations and variants. Beer-geeks from around Montreal will once again line up to get their hands on some “brewery only” bottles to go. It’s being hosted at Oshlag Brasserie & Distillerie. The details are right here.
Two brand new beers are being sold; as well as a couple of new variants from their regular line-up. I got my hands on these four beers a little early so that I could give you my impressions. Let’s see what they taste like.
Double Fruit Punch IPA (Galaxy DDH Edition)
Double Fruit Punch IPA has been a work in progress this year, with each new batch being tweaked to better represent how they want it to be. I’m rather curious to see how the galaxy Double Dry Hop will change things. It pours out a murky orange colour with brownish copper highlights. The nose wafts citrus notes, with massive tangerine, grapefruit, and mango. Sweet Malts come through as well, lending a candied lemon component alongside some caramel.
The beer matches the nose, throwing big citrus at you alongside a hefty malt backbone. The bitterness however, is extremely aggressive and cuts through everything, carrying a huge drying mouth blast.
Essences of grapefruit come through, with tropical fruit notes all around. There are pithy citrus rinds that work quite well with the overall malt profile. It’s quite the cornucopia of fruits in general, with everything under the sun coming out; mango, pineapple, passion fruit, etc… Despite the fruit salad, the galaxy mono-hopping makes it a tad one-dimensional. It is also still a bit green, and will likely improve in the next few days for the release. Overall, I find Galaxy DDH DFP a bit too malty, with intense earthy elements and an overly aggressive bitterness. For my personal tastes, these days I lean more towards subtlety in a DIPA. That being said, it is nice to get blasted by hops sometimes, and this fills that desire for sure.
Anna (Mosaic DDH Edition)
I actually had Anna for the first time a few weeks back; I really really enjoyed it, which made me excited to try this mosaic double dry hopped variant. It’s a well hopped, new world Belgian Tripel, coming in at 10% ABV. The nose is a big mixture of spicy Belgian yeast phenolics, coupled with zesty mosaic hop deliciousness. Loads of peaches, pears and passion fruit come through, alongside subtle pine, candied apple, and hints of grapefruit.
Off the bat I love how juicy and dry this beer is at the same time. The 10% ABV melts into the rest of the beer, becoming completely integrated. Spicy phenolics and fruity esters couple quite brilliantly against the zesty mosaic dry hop, creating a juicy, floral, and all around fruit bomb of a beer. Cloves, cardamom and light vanilla accompany big mango, strawberry and bitter grapefruit fruitiness. The finish is long and dry, echoeing Belgian yeast and some slight boozy remnants.
I’m not sure if I’d say this is better than the original, but it’s certainly a solid representation of Anna; a beer that I’m starting to think will hold a permanent place in my fridge.
Citra IPA is a brand new beer for Vox Populi. Like many other breweries, they have jumped on the haze-craze train, launching a New England style IPA. I for one, welcome it. This one however, is a Citra single hopped creation.
The nose wafts huge Citra notes, launching orange, lemon and grapefruit into my nostrils. There are bright juicy aromatics all around, carrying lovely fruit explosions. Slight grass, pine and cat pee emerge, but just enough to balance the big lemony citrus goodness.
Up front, it’s light bodied, refreshing and easy drinking. The bitterness is in check, with only a slight bitter kick to cut things down. This beer is exceptionally fruity, just like the nose, with layer upon layer of citra hop goodness. Lemon, tangerine, orange and grapefruit are at the front, with some other tropics lingering in the back drop.
The finish is clean and leaves your palate quickly. There are hints of wheat and a slight malt backbone. A bit of astringency is also apparent, but minimal and not too off putting. It is a tad watery in the finish, which takes away a little from the overall profile, but also makes it a sessionable, easy drinking beer to down rather quickly. The body however, does carry a certain girth, which provides a silky mouthfeel that NE IPAs are known for.
Overall this is a really solid offering that I’d like to see again. Perhaps in cans as a regular item? That would be pretty awesome!
I’ll be honest, like most of you, I had no idea what an “Adambier” was. I’ve heard of it alongside the plethora of German beer styles that exist, but I certainly couldn’t talk specifics. After some quick research, it seems this beer is a bizarre concoction. It’s traditionally malty, high in alcohol, very dark, smoky, and usually barrel aged in order to be inoculated with acidifying bacteria.
I spoke to David Lévesque Gendron (co-owner of Vox Populi) who explained that like various other styles of beer, there are several schools of thought on Adambiers. Although historically sour, this could have simply been because anything placed in a barrel during that era would take on bacteria. Their version is not acidified, it carries a hearty smoke backbone, and is kind of their take on a Barleywine.
It pours out an extremely dark brown, bordering on black, carrying lots of sexy red highlights. The nose is full of big smoky aromatics, alongside light fruity hops, dark roasted malts, and some earthy yeast.
Like the nose, this is rather smoky, with campfire and peaty flavours at the front. There are lots of nice malty components, lending subtle caramel to the mix, but with less of that cooked taffy and maple sweetness one gets in a barleywine. Instead, it’s a bit cleaner, allowing the smoke and aggressive bitterness to keep things in check. As the beer opens, fruitiness starts to emerge, lending stone fruits, dark cherries, figs, and lots of raisins.
Given the big body, rich flavours, and high ABV, this drinks quite easily and goes down smooth. Although the bitterness is intense here, it’s clean and not resinous, leaving your palate quickly with echoes of smoke and subtle dried fruits. As much as this is like a smoked American barleywine without the hop aromatics, the yeast seems to provide a cleaner flavour profile, while still being rather complex. This is very good.
Well there you have it, two brand new beers and two fun variants for your drinking pleasure. If you like the traditional iterations of Double Fruit Punch and Anna, then you’ll likely enjoy these variants. However, if you are expecting the DDH versions to be extremely different, or mind blowing, you might be disappointed. Citra IPA is a delicious take on the modern NE IPA, and would make a suitable addition the the increasing Quebec hazy IPA line up – alongside LTM’s version. That being said, it’s different enough that folks could easily find room in their fridge for both. Adambier is a delicious concoction that (for me) marries an American barleywine with a rauchbier, while still really being its own thing altogether. If you are into smoked beers, this is definitely for you (I’m not, and I still liked it a lot).
Again, here are the details for the event! Check it out!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest