Although Trappist inspired Quadrupels were all the rage in the craft beer community about ten years ago, we have seen a significant decline in their popularity since – and in the last few years, barely any contemporary breweries are touching them.
That said, I have noticed (at least here in Quebec) that some breweries are taking a crack at them again, yet perhaps with a more modern twist by aging them in barrels. Avant-Garde released two Quad variants, one aged solely in an oak foudre, while the other got a bourbon barrel treatment as well. Dieu du Ciel’s Rigor Mortis is still brewed every year, but over the last few years we have seen Brandy, Cognac, and Pinot Noir barrel versions.
Barleywines have also regained a big following over the last few years, so I think part of this very recent quad revival (if this is in fact actually happening) could be due to just how similar they are, minus the yeast profile of course.
This year Microbrasserie à la fût teamed up with four different retailers to celebrate their anniversaries: Maltéhops, Shack à Bière, La Station des bières and Alimentation L’Impact. They communally brewed the same quad, but then aged them in four different barrels: Bourbon, Merlot, Brandy and Maple Wine. They also bottled an ultimate blend of all four! I managed to get my hands on the set and decided to review a few of them for you.
The nose is rich, with layers of vanilla inspired bourbon-infused oak. Lots of dried fruits, like raisin and fig meet some brighter apple and pear. The palate is rich as well, with an underlining sweetness that’s cut well by a slightly tannic and dry finish. Layers of figs and dates meet some cider notes. There are bourbon vanilla accents here, but there are overpowering bubblegum esters that I find detract from the whole thing. It’s a shame really, because this beer is gorgeous, and has a beautiful subtlety to it. It’s not too sweet or too dry, but the esters are a bit off putting to me.
The nose on this one is earthy and densely complex. Layers of phenolic Belgian yeast deliver clove and cardamom, while apple cider notes come through as well. The aromatics are a touch bright and there are some vinous components coming through as well.
The palate is more tart than expected, lending a vinous Merlot layer with some pretty apparent acidity. Not sure if it’s intentional or not. However, it works. Green apple meets fresh figs and some raisins. There is a sweetness here, but it’s quickly cut by the tart finish and vinous oak tannins. There is an impressive balance here between the sugars and the tartness, while under-ripe pear and tannic red grapes meet some caramels and dried dates in the finish.
The nose is musty and delivers notes of green apple, fig and raisins. Caramel layers come through as well, alongside zesty red fruits. It’s a touch spicy, but perhaps less so than the others.
The palate is tart up front, delivering a cider-like element off the bat. Next, notes of maple and caramel lend sweetness, while vinous oak layers cut through everything. It’s tart and tangy and finishes with some astringency. It really does incorporate each barrel, with hints of each coming though.
Overall this was a fun project.
Allowing each barrel to shine by using the same base beer as a catalyst creates a fun and educational experience for the drinker. You can try them all and try to pick out the nuances of the spirit or wine that the beer was aged in. For my personal tastes, I prefer a quad that’s cleaner than most of these and without a complex sour flora. However, if you like big tart beers, these are for you.
An Article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest