An article by Noah Forrest
Last weekend, I made my way out to Champ Libre‘s beautiful brewery in Mercier.
Although one can’t currently hang out in or outside bars/tasting rooms at the moment, I wanted to get my hands on several beers that were being released that day. And wow, I do not regret going.
Alex Ganivet-Boileau (co-owner/Head Brewer) and his team have been particularly nailing it as of late, especially with all things lagered. Their Pilsner has grown to be one, if not the best in the province and the light lager, Oktoberfest and Kellerbier were all truly special. On the roster for this release was a brett barrel-aged version of their house saison and a 100% Amarillo NEIPA. However, the beer that really convinced me to toss the kids into the car and drive to Mercier was their barrel-lagered Pilsner. Not only did I want cans, but Alex promised he would let me taste it from his side-pull Lukr faucet, which if you’ve never experienced such a thing, it’s otherworldly.
Without further delay, here are the three beers that dropped.
Soleil Jaune originally dropped in bottles a while back and I’m very excited to see its debut in cans. The nose is a massive hit of tropical fruits. Mango and grapefruit meets passion fruit. It’s a touch earthy as well, with tangerine and clementines dominating the aromatics with a real Five Alive thing happening.
The palate is dry and sharp, delivering a nice cutting edge. Layers of citrus give that big Amarillo orange thing, with tangerine and mandarin in particular. Other tropical fruits come forth as well, but citrus runs the show. This has a hop burn to it, but it’s not so aggressive that takes away from the rest of things. It’s fantastic, and basically straight orange juice.
Élonge des Bretts
This here is “Éloge Des Bretts”, a brett barrel-aged version of their flagship saison “Éloge de la Lenteur”, but blended with a fresh version. The nose carries a bright flora, with lots of citrus tang and earthy brett funk. It’s zesty, carrying aromas of apple slices, pear, and hints of peach flesh.
Like the nose foretold, the palate delivers lots of fresh and bright citrus-like flora, providing a subtle but apparent tang. This light acidity is balanced nicely against a present earthy brett funk. The fresh saison comes through as well, giving off Belgian yeast phenols, providing hints of clove and cardamon into the mix. The oak also add a nice spiciness, further drying things out with some lingering tannins. This is a lovely complex and balanced saison that you should definitely seek.
Simplicité Volontaire (édition spéciale)
As I mentioned above, I was particularly excited about this one. I’ve been drinking Simplicité Volontaire since it’s inception a few years ago. It was one of the four beers that Champ Libre originally launched and has evolved into being one of the best lagers in the province. Well, they took it and lagered it for 6 months on oak, creating the special edition.
The nose is full of zesty hops, honey, and some inviting herbal notes. Light spicy oak aromatics come through as well, creating a very inviting experience. The palate starts with lots of honey and cracked grains. A light and balanced sweetness is cut by a crisp finish that carries some light oak tannins. It’s round, balanced and so much fun to drink. It’s truly wonderful.
Champ Libre has come a long way in the few years it has been open. I have seen nothing but an increase in quality and general direction. Not only are their lagers some of the best around, but every style that’s been dropping lately has been extremely impressive. I’m super excited to see what’s next!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest