Five Months of Lagabière’s “Balade En Radeau” – What We’ve Seen So Far
An article by Noah Forrest
I first discovered Lagabière back in 2013 after trying a bunch of their stuff at a visit to Festival l’Oktoberfest des Québécois. The brewers were two young brothers who had some impressive potential. Over the years they grew, honed their craft, and established themselves as one of the better breweries in the province. Their NEIPA was one of the first solid examples in Quebec, and they are continually dropping interesting contemporary offerings that I’m generally impressed with.
This past May, Lagabière released “Balade En Radeau,” a new series of one-off creations that will come out once a month for the remainder of the year (and into 2020). The idea was to create 12 beers that change as the seasons do, allowing the brewers to experiment and try new things. As a fun added bonus, the can art is composed of individual images that are part of one larger picture – we will have the pleasure of seeing the completed work come into fruition next April.
I wanted to examine the first five releases, and give you my impressions. Here we go.
Balade En Radeau May is a blackcurrant sour. The nose carries a huge fruit presence, delivering all kinds of big blackcurrant aromatics. There is a stewed strawberry thing happening here as well. It’s fresh, but smells rich and full of depth.
The palate matches, carrying a nice mix of jammy blackcurrant layers. It’s tart – and I could even say sour – but the sweetness of the fruit keeps the acidity in check, making the beer quite balanced overall. There is this zesty quality here, with bright accents that remind me of strawberry, alongside the usual earthy blackcurrant pepperiness that comes off almost smokey. This jammy sour really hits the spot. I’m impressed. Definitely seek her out.
Balade En Radeau June is the second in the series; an NEIPA, hopped with HBC 520 and some lactose. The nose is bursting with juiciness. It’s dank and tropical, with grapefruit peel, mango and tangerine at the front. The palate matches, delivering loads of juicy hops. Big mango, candied lemon, papaya and bitter grapefruit rinds make up the flavour profile. The body is thick and luscious, providing a big creamy sip each time. As it warms, it does come off sweet. However, the finish is a touch bitter for the style, helping to cut through the lactose, creating an seemingly dry profile despite the milk sugar.
Generally I’m not big into lactose and hops, but I very much enjoyed this. It’s bright and intense, with enough layers and complexity to balance the sweetness. And the lack of vanilla leaves out that quintessential milkshake component I really don’t enjoy. Another successful beer in this series.
July’s edition is a pineapple sour! The nose starts with lots of zesty stone fruit aromas, with peach in particular, alongside the obvious juicy pineapple. It’s a touch earthy, and quite juicy, but not an over the top fruit bomb.
September’s beer is a Gose brewed with lime and cucumber. The nose bursts with earthy cucumber, dominating the aromatics. Light citrus follows, alongside oats, and some general fruitiness.
The palate matches, however the cucumber steps back a touch, allowing the acidity to shine. There is a juicy lime tartness happening, and when coupled with the lactic acidity, it makes for a fun sourness. The cucumber adds an earthy savoury layer that blends well with everything, especially the salt. Cucumber in beer has really never been my thing, as I often find it off-putting. But I have to say that here it works, and I quite enjoyed this.
Well there you have it, the first five beers in a series of twelve. I love this idea and I think for the most part Lagabière has been nailing it. I’m excited to try what’s coming next. Looks out for my posts as the beers drop, and expect another full article in seven months when the whole thing is done!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest