An article by Noah Forrest
Today might be Péché Day, but Brasserie Champ Libre is also having a pretty epic bottle release! That’s right, they are releasing a slew of new barrel-aged variants as well as a brand new beer altogether. Read about the event right here.
If you’re not already aware, Champ Libre is a young brewery that opened its door last year, delivering a slew of tasty modern and classic styles to its Mercier patrons. I’ve written several posts about their offerings, including an interview with head brewer and co-owner Alex. Check it out here.
To kick off the release, Alex and his brewing team took their Bohemian Pilsner called Simplicité volontaire and lagered it at 4 degrees Celsius for 3 months in oak barrels. Next up is a new take on their saison, Élonge de la Lenteur, but this time barrel-aged for three months with Cameries (haskap berries) – now called Élonge de Cameries. As well, there is a new take on their coffee infused imperial stout. Usually Déjeuner en Paix is barrel-aged, but then blended with a fresh beer. This time, they selected their best bourbon barrels and are sending it straight to bottles with a new coffee called “black honey.” Lastly is something that I’ve never heard of before. They brewed a Saison, but replaced 25% of the water with actual buttermilk and added raw straw from their farm. Crazy, right?
Okay, let’s dig in.
Élonge de Cameries
As I was saying, Élonge de Cameries is a barrel-aged saison brewed with Cameries (haskap berries). The nose is a mix of vinous wine notes, lush cherries, and tart raspberries. There is a aromatic sangria-like thing happening here. And it’s super inviting.
The palate is crazy dry. Lots of cherry and winey red grape flavours from the haskap berries dominate, but it’s not jammy or particularly intense. Instead, there is more of an extremely dry vinousy vibe happening. Lots of tannins pucker the finish even more, coupled with a subtle tartness. This is definitely not sour, though.
The barrel adds a tight tannic profile, with some vinous notes to help compliment the fruit. Speaking of which, I really like the balance of the fruit here and how it plays against the subtle tartness of the overall beer. This goes down really well and might be my favourite Champ Libre to date. I love beers that come off simple yet complex upon each sip.
Simplicité volontaire – Nefiltrovany 3
This Pilsner spent three months lagering in oak barrels. The nose starts with that quintessential herbal hop profile, mixed with some honey malt notes. Light floral and spicy layers come through as well, and hints of damp oak.
The palate matches the nose, delivering nice classic herbal hops flavours. Grainy malts give off that rich honey and wheaty profile to compliment. However, what sets this apart from their usual pils is a subtle tannic oak layer that dries things out more than usual. This not only keeps the malt profile in check, but also manages to increase the drinkability.
Although highly quafable, Pilsners still have a distinctly sweet profile. What I love about this beer is how the barrels add just enough tannins to cut through it without overpowering it’s delicate profile. This is really solid. I could drink this all day.
I’ve been following Champ Libre since they opened their doors, and I’ve been able to try almost every beer and every batch to date. Like all young breweries it takes time to get used to equipment and perfect recipes, etc. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to dive into all four of these beers before the release, but judging by these two, the team at Champ Libre has really tightened up and outdone themselves, delivering some truly special offerings that you should definitely try to get your hands on. Congrats!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest