An article by Noah Forrest
Quebec City’s Brasserie Générale have recently reinvented themselves on several levels through their brewing styles, their branding, and even their name. In fact, they have been working on this for some time now. I remember trying their IPA “IZI” for the first time a few years back and was enticed by it’s contemporary angle and just how good it really was. It’s almost as if they were somewhat on the sidelines, growing and evolving, getting ready to strike.
Well they did, and they hit us hard.
Throughout 2020, I have been fortunate enough to try a ton of stuff from BG, and I can say I have been nothing but impressed. Many breweries who historically brew more “classic” styles have attempted to jump in and make a NEIPA or something more contemporary. However, because it’s not their forte, they often fall flat, feeling rushed and just not up to par. Brasserie Générale have taken the time to find themselves and produce some amazing modern beers.
This really came to fruition in October when they released six beers for their 7th anniversary. This release also gave birth to new can art by Romain Lasser and a brand new logo! From a myriad of hazy IPAs and milk stouts to fruited sours and even a mix-fermented barrel-aged sour, this release really showcased what BG has now become. I’m excited to have another brewery in the province not only brewing interesting and fun new styles, but most importantly, doing them well.
Let’s dive in.
Bromance is a kettle sour made with local strawberries, lactose, and vanilla. The nose carries a fresh strawberry tang mixed with subtle sweet notes of vanilla. Fruit sorbet aromas come through mixed with subtle acidic compounds.
The palate is tart up front, delivering a pretty solid sourness. Tangy strawberry is pretty well complimented by the present but not overbearing vanilla. Lactose helps round out the mouthfeel, while not attaching too much sugar. The acidity cuts through everything in the finish, with a lingering vanilla layer.
Strawberry can be a very risky fruit with beer – it simply often doesn’t work well. Throw vanilla and lactose into the mix, and you’ve turned me off even more. However, this works. The vanilla and lactose are very subtle, and doesn’t overpower at all. The strawberry is juicy and luscious, and the beer has a nice lacto-sourness to amplify the brightness of the fruit. Combined, this adjunct-rich sour gives you a bit of a sorbet profile while not being overly sweet. I enjoyed this a lot.
Grand Maman Gâteau
With Brasserie du Bas-Canada popularizing the imperial sweet stout in Quebec, we have seen a rise in a number of breweries attempting pull one off. This is Grand Maman Gâteau, a 10.9% Imperial Sweet Stout brewed with macadamia nuts, smoked coconut, cacao, Madagascar vanilla, and lactose. It was also made in collaboration with Clandestin, Cuisine créative, a local Gatineau based restaurant.
The nose is straight chocolate fudge brownies. Lots of macadamia nut aromatics come out as well, mixed with vanilla beans, cake frosting, and a light roasted coffee. The palate begins with rich layers of sweetness. Chocolate fudge and huge vanilla lead the way, while layers of silky icing lend even more sweetness. Macadamia nuts provide more complexity, while the coconut lends a smokey and sweet dessert-focused component to the finish.
This is pretty great. However for my tastes I think the sweetness could be reduced just a tad, or perhaps the addition of coffee might assist in cutting through the sugars. But wow, really well executed.
New Kids on the Hops
New Kids on the Hops is a 7.5% NEIPA made with passion fruit and brewed in collaboration with fellow Charlesbourg brewery, Emporium.
The nose is dank and juicy. Big tropical layers of papaya and guava come through from the hops, while the actual passion fruit comes through with a sharp brightness. There is such a fruit salad vibe thing going on here – I could smell this for hours.
The palate is bright and tangy. Layers of juicy hops mesh with the passion fruit quite well, leaving your palate confused as to where one begins and the other ends. It’s got tangerine up front, with pineapple and other tropical delights as well, finishing with a big hit of tangy passion fruit that lends some acidity to it. It almost has a dry-hopped sour thing happening, but not so aggressive on the acidity. Also, I’m not usually a fan of fruit in my IPA’s, especially those that have an acidic bite. For me, it often clashes with any bitterness, leaving an astringent profile that I just don’t dig. This however doesn’t, and creates a really nice melange of fruit complexity that works all around. Great stuff.
This is Calculon, cleverly named after the amazing Futurama character. It’s a blend of several beers, including a gin barrel-aged Berliner Weisse. The nose is zesty and floral, carrying lots of herbal notes alongside some solid barrel funk. The juniper comes through, lending that wonderful piney complexity, but it’s subtle. Some acidic notes come trough as well.
The palate is bright and aggressive, but carries a lovely finesse. A hefty acidity hits you first, carrying a fruity tang with it – sour citrus meets tart green apple and grapefruit pith. However, a huge tannic dryness envelopes your palate next, sucking all the moisture from your mouth. Herbal juniper notes lend a complimentary complexity without screaming holy Gin! The barrel integrates quite well overall, while the flora induced dusty funk gives you some light Lambic vibes. This is one of the best Quebec beers I’ve had this year.