Yummy. Oh, yeah … yummy, all the way.
I could end it there – but I won’t.
Brasserie Schoune out of Quebec has nailed this maple-beer, so much so that they’ve cleverly inserted the word itself (érable) into the name. And I must say, they have also very cleverly achieved a pure insertion of maple into this brew.
I knew before I tasted this this beer that it was going to be maple-ly – the aroma out of the neck of the bottle as I set the shot up for the obligatory photo was all maple. While there was no mistaking it, it took me 60 seconds to place the obvious smell and then it came to me – maple-walnut fudge. No, I kid you not … and it works.
Here’s why, in my opinion. Maple fudge or maple ice cream work best when paired with the astringent and earthy bitterness of walnuts (or pecans, yes, but they’re more subtle). The earthiness of the malts and the bitterness of the hops provide a perfect substitute and, in this case, this beer rocks. A great pairing would be barbecued ribs.
I will say that the beer otherwise drinks a bit like a blonde or wit/weizen – though the label says “maple pale ale.” The colour is a light golden straw but there is an almost opaqueness to it like you were looking through oil or honey. It’s also very lightly carbonated, reminding me of a cask conditioned pour. Indeed, as I was pouring it, I realized quickly little head was forming and poured harder to form even a centimeter but by the time I reached for my camera, it was gone and it left no lacing at all. Consider this more an observation than an indictment, though – the mouthfeel is awesome and the palette doesn’t have to fight through the carbonation to find the maple. Truly delicious with a refreshing finish and a taste of maple that simply doesn’t disappear. It’s very well done.
Now I’ll grant you, there isn’t much else going on in this beer. At 4.5% it is ‘light’ in all aspects; the carbonation and colour are light too. The hops perfectly balance the maple, but they don’t jump out which should mean that this beer will appeal to even those that don’t “like” beer. And it’s all-natural ingredients leave a crisp and clean finish. My only caution would be to drink this beer ‘fresh’ as, based on some other things I was reading, some have had ‘off’ bottles. Perhaps Schoune was playing around with this before getting it right, I don’t know – but the bottle I bought from BroueHaHa was superb.
However, if you hate maple (and by “maple,” I mean real maple flavours … not Aunt Jemima corn syrup), then avoid this beer. BUT, if you’re like me and think of yourself as a bit of a maple slut always dreaming of more things you can put this perfect nectar onto, well, then this is beer is an absolute must ….
Stats: Maple Pale Ale. 4.5% ABV. Saint-Polycarpe, Québec.
Colour: Light Golden Straw and slightly ‘cloudy’
Mouth Feel: Clean and crisp with a very light carbonation and little to no head