An article by Noah Forrest
Releasing new beers constantly is certainly a huge challenge for brewers. It means less tweaking and creates a lot of potential risk for producing something sub-par or even just bad. The contemporary consumer wants something new all the time, which certainly adds pressure for breweries to pump out new products regularly. That said, this desire for new beer also sparks creativity and requires brewers to become more innovative and hone in their craft that much more.
In May 2019, Lagabière decided to embark on a brewing endeavour that would last an entire year. It’s was called “Balade en Radeau”, where each month the brewery dropped a brand new beer and each can contained a small piece of a much larger piece of art (as you can see above). The idea was to allow the brewers to experiment and play with ingredients without having to add something to their core lineup. I think it was a great success!
Earlier last year I wrote a post, outlining the first five beers in the series. Today, seven months later, I’m finishing off my thoughts on the remaining seven beers. Sit back and enjoy!
October kicked off with a pineapple and coconut infused NEIPA. The nose is straight pineapple, with some juicy topical hop notes alongside tart under-ripe tangerine.
The palate matches, carrying lots of bright fruits from the hop profile, as well as some clear pineapple flavours. The fruit lends an approachable juiciness, and the beer is nice and dry, with just hints of the coconut – delivering a piña colada thing. However, just like most fruited IPAs, I find that the tartness of the fruit clashes with the bitterness, creating an astringency that I just don’t dig. That said, it’s pretty subtle and overall the beer is quite enjoyable – just maybe not my thing.
Here is November, the first dark beer of the series, a stout brewed with orange zest and cacao. The nose begins with rich dark chocolate with hints of espresso. This is followed by lots of orange zest – it really personifies that Christmas orange chocolate ball perfectly.
The palate matches, but is more subtle. Lots of bitter coffee vibes mix with dark chocolate, finishing with hints of orange (without any acidity). The body is pretty killer, delivering luscious sips, but with a low ABV crushability. I really enjoyed this one.
December was a tangerine infused IPA. The nose starts with some earthy notes, followed by blasts of citrusy hop aromatics and fresh tangerine juice. It has a candied peaches thing happening as well.
The palate matches, providing tropical hop notes alongside a nice bitterness – the profile reminds me of more of an aromatic style Vermont IPA, as apposed to something more on the NEIPA spectrum. The tangerine is very present, but not over the top, adding juicy components which further compliment the hop profile. There is a touch of astringency from the fruit/bitterness mixture, but it’s manageable and not off-putting.
Overall I’d say this works. We have a juicy IPA here, and it’s fun to drink while not adhering to that typical New England thing we’ve become overly accustomed to. Still though, again I generally just don’t love fruit in my IPAs.
January was a cacao and coffee infused imperial stout. The nose is dusty and filled with layers of rich coffee, earthy cacao, and dessert-like cakeyness.
The palate is rich and luscious, carrying an ultra creamy body and a flurry of smooth and creamy carbonation. It almost has a nitro-like feel. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate own the profile, providing a base for the rest to shine. Some sweetness creeps in, but the espresso-like bitterness cuts through everything. I really adore the mouthfeel and body on this, but there does seem to be an ashiness that overpowers too much – but pretty enjoyable none the less.
Here is February, this time it was a luscious black IPA. The nose is piney, with sharp espresso, and loads of chocolate fudge. Some citrus and juiciness comes through as well. The palate is creamy to the max, and delivers lots of fruit-forward flavours alongside huge pine, grapefruit, and a big crushing bitterness in the finish. Ashy Cacao meets spruce, with a coffee-like edge. Juicy hops start to come through as well, lending hints of mango purée.
Black IPAs are almost a dead style at this point, which is unfortunate because they can be quite enjoyable at times – and this is definitely one of those times.
March is a lemon zest and juniper berry infused kettle sour. The nose is bright and acidic, carrying lots of lemon and earthy berry notes. It’s slightly herbal, and overall the aromatics are pretty complex.
The palate is fruity and tart, but not jammy. The lemon adds a nice tannic dryness and the juniper provides an herbal layer that compliments things nicely. This doesn’t come off as one of those “gin” beers, and is instead more fruity forward and tangy. Good stuff.
And last but not least this is April, a Farmhouse New England IPA.
The nose bursts with lovely and bright hop aromatics. They deliver a dank and tropical base which is further complimented by some spicy phenolic yeast characteristics. It’s herbal, juicy, dusty, and smells pretty damn delicious.
The palate is dry yet juicy, carrying lots of tropical fruits, like pineapple and mango. However the brett profile shines equally, providing a tangy fruitiness and lots of dry dusty tannins. It’s balanced and straightforward, I’m a big fan of this one.
I’m really going to miss looking forward to the latest “Balade en Radeau” each month. There was something fun and special about discovering a new beer each time and seeing next piece in the puzzle.
I’m sure this was a challenging endeavour, so I don’t know if they will ever do round two, but I sure hope they do! Congratulations Lagabière, this was a blast!
An Article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest