A Tasting Guide to Dieu du Ciel!’s 2017 Winter Bottle Release
An article by Noah Forrest
2017 has arrived. Trump is president. Sigh.
At least there is good beer to be had. Perhaps all these delicious craft elixirs can numb the pain of watching endless videos of that floppy faced orange buffoon, as he tries to set us back fifty years. Sadly, I don’t think there is enough Péché Bourbon in the world to actually help us deal with this. But one can always try!
Once again, Dieu du Ciel! offers a delicious line-up of barrel aged and rare delights that can be purchased to go at their winter bottle release party at their brewery in St. Jerome, This Saturday, February 4th 2017. Details on the event are right here.
To say there were a few snags in last year’s winter bottle release would be a bit of an understatement for some. Particularly those who left empty handed (or at least left without what they wanted). That being said, it seems that Dieu du Ciel! heard the plight of the Québec beer geeks, and tried to make things easier for those wanted to purchase beer at this year’s release. The result is that for the first time, a pre-registration system was put in place for those who wanted to come out and buy these much sought after beers.
Personally, I think this was a great move. Other breweries successfully use similar methods for their bottle releases. Essentially, a couple of weeks back, Dieu du Ciel! posted a link on their Facebook page. Beer-geeks frantically clicked on it and registered themselves. They were sold out in ten minutes.
The amazing Leïla at DDC organized and compiled the registrations based on a first received, first served basis, then sent out time-slots for people to pick up their beers. This will (hopefully) reduce lines and create a smoother situation all around. Sadly, if you are not registered, you will probably be out of luck for buying the more sought after beers, but there will likely be some leftovers to purchase later in the day.
That being said, the actual party starts at 15:00, where you can sample a slew of barrel aged and rare beers at the pub. It’s a “chalet” theme and there will be DJ’s.
Okay, back to the bottle release. The one thing I noticed with this year’s line-up is that it doesn’t have too many brand new offerings. However, it’s DDC we are talking about, so does it really matter? Having new batches of Péché Bourbon and L’Exorciste is exciting enough! That being said, we are treated to a previously unreleased Cognac Barrel aged Équinoxe du Printemps (Scotch ale) as well as a new version of Symbiose, a blend involving Solstice D’Été Framboise. So there are certainly a few new things to get excited about.
Let’s get onto the tasting!
Péché Mortel Bourbon (November 2016)
Péché Mortel Bourbon is a mythical and illustrious beer that has captured the hearts of beer-geeks time and time again. They take the classic version, a coffee infused imperial stout, and then age it in Bourbon barrels. There is a certain beautiful balance with this beer that we just can’t get enough off. Péché Mortel Bourbon (or PMB in beer-speak) is essentially the beer-currency of the Quebec beer trading scene right now.
The nose carries a huge coffee explosion, more so than in previous years. Some light vanilla and oak poke through, but the bourbon notes are pretty subtle. Dark chocolate and light caramel come out as well, lending a sexy chocolate cake component.
The bourbon comes through a ton more on the palate, carrying with it a slew of vanilla oak complexity, which lends a rich lingering barrel character in the finish. As usual, the coffee is dialed back compared to fresh Péché, despite the nose suggesting otherwise.
The sharp spirit presence in the finish is huge, adding wonderful layers of bourbon goodness to balance out the dark chocolate cake richness. Dry, complex, and robust, there are some subtle differences in this year’s version, but the end product is still the same amazing Péché Bourbon we’ve come to expect.
The Symbiose series by Dieu du Ciel! is a line of beer blends that differs with each release. Although this is the 8th version of this beer, it is only the second time we have seen it in bottles. This particular blend is Dernière Volonté (Belgian IPA), blended with Solstice D’Été Framboise (fruited Berliner Weisse), aged first in Pinot Noir oak barrels, then in second use Hérétique barrels containing brettanomyces.
Symbiose #8 pours out a beautiful coral colour, with orange and pink highlights. The nose throws big jammy fruits at my senses, carrying loads of raspberry goodness. The spicey oak and bretty phenols mix perfectly with an acidic and drying berry aromatic bite.
Up front its very tannic, dry and tart. The fruit isn’t in your face as much as the nose let on, but there are still big jammy elements that add nice raspberry accents to the Dernière Volonté base.
This blend’s acidic profile is well balanced against the Belgian pale ale base, with the raspberries and leftover hops busting with tangy goodness. The animal-like bretty funk is restrained compared to Derniere Volonté brett, and instead here, it provides extra fruity elements and drying phenols.
This year’s blend is more round than the last batch of cherry Symbiose (#7). The body and subtle sweetness make a more substantial flavour profile, carrying a satisfying finish that lingers with tangy berries and some pithy citrus rinds.
Équinoxe du Printemps – Cognac Barrel Aged
Équinoxe de Printemps is a Scotch Ale brewed with maple syrup; a classic that has excited since the early 2000’s. Previous special edition vintages were aged in Bourbon barrels, which imparted big vanilla and oak complexity to the rich malty base. For this iteration, they used Cognac barrels, which I’m very curious about.
The nose begins with lots of rich and vinous Cognac notes, carrying black cherries and fermenting dark fruit. Next comes the traditional scotch ale components that exude caramel, raisins, dates, and toasted nuts. The nose is just incredible and wonderfully well rounded.
Like the aromatics, the Cognac plays a huge role in the palate, lending a plethora of rich dark fruits, like cherries, dried cranberries and general port-like vinous complexity. It’s liquid fruit cake.
The beer is pretty much transformed, differing substantially from the classic and bourbon editions. The usual sweetness is cut by a nice tangy acidity that lends a huge, round fruitinesss. Dates, raisins, maple syrup and figs are also apparent, but are more of a base that allows the delicious Cognac soaked oak to shine.
Équinoxe Cognac is dry and tannic,leaving a clean finish that echoes fermenting fruit, wine soaked raisins, and caramel. This is my favourite version to date.
L’Exorciste is a beautifully complex wheat beer that undergoes mixed fermented fermentation and is barrel aged with various acidifying bacteria. Each new batch differs slightly from the last. To date, my favourite was last year’s 2015 release, which was incredible.
The nose carries a huge zesty acidic bite, coupled with lots of wine soaked oak. Ample bretty funk makes itself known, carrying earthy phenols and dank basement. Lemon and general citrus notes are perceived as well, backed up by some subtle apple, pear, and white balsamic vinegar.
As the nose foretold, there is a nice acidic component that lends a fresh sharpness to the flavour profile. The body is round, with a sparce, but still recognizable carbonation. Amongst the lactic acid, there are some subtle acetic notes that add complexity, but personally, I prefer when it’s not perceived.
Lemon, green apples, and pears make up the fruit profile. The wine soaked oak is more apparent than I recall, carrying some tannic components and general white wine-like similarities. The finish is tangy and fruity, with a lingering acidic and tannic zestyness that sits there awaiting your next sip.
L’Exorciste 2016 is great as always, however I preferred the 2015 as I find the slight acetic notes and milder carbonation a bit of a disappointment in this year’s edition.
L’Exorciste Mures -2016-
L’Exorciste Mures is the blackberry edition of the standard L’Exorciste. It has developed a sort of cult following here in Québec, and like regular L’Exorciste, it differs from batch to batch.
Mures 2016 pours out a sexy dark cherry red colour with pink highlights. The nose is a nice mix of blackberries, cranberries, and black cherry, carrying a nice acidic edge. There is a potent red wine component that provides a sangria-like fruitiness.
Wow, this is more dry than expected, and less acidic. Instead, this has a heavy tannic component that cuts through any and all sweetness before it’s even perceived. That being said, the fruitiness is huge, throwing cherries, dried cramberries, raspberries and blackberries at me with potency.
It’s juicy, but not particularly jammy, and instead carries an incredibly dry profile that provides a clean finish, echoeing the fruit bomb that preceded it. The acidic levels are subtle and not particularly intense, providing only a little tartness to balance the juicy fruits.
One of the most interesting and impressive aspects of this year’s mures is it’s drinkability. It just goes down effortlessly, with everything in balance and on point. This is one of them most complex easy drinkers I’ve had. I could finish this 750 in 5 minutes.
As always, Dieu Du Ciel! releases amazing beer after amazing beer. There were certainly more new beers and variants last year, but being able to taste the latest previously brewed editions is honestly just as satisfying. DDC are masters of their craft, pumping out beer masterpieces constantly. I’m always honoured to be able to review their latest offerings, and I hope this Péché Bourbon I’m drinking gives me the strength to endure watching that moron in my news feed for the next four years.
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest