Here’s a very good brewery from Quebec that has provided a number of interpretations on the “pale ale” and this is but one of their half-dozen creations. As such, it seemed right to start with their “Classique.”
A first taste reveals a ton of carbonation which was only accented more by how relatively little carbonation the string of beers I’ve tasted for the past few weeks have possessed. Between the constant rising of these medium bubbles and the unfiltered turbidity of the beer, the appearance is turbid brown-orange at best and muddy at worst. Fact one: it doesn’t look like an IPA and it does not pour like an IPA either. Once the head falls away, the lacing has a bit of tan to it as well. The aroma is sweet, almost honeyed with faint hints of floral and a lot of caramel (i.e. lots of malt). It’s clear these aren’t west coast hops, which is good because I’m assuming “classic” doesn’t mean “American-styled,” especially since they also have an Americaine IPA (it’s in my fridge … review follow’s here).
As with the aroma, the taste is ‘malty,’ almost peaty. There is something in this beer that reminiscent of a scotch and, if you are familiar with the brews of Innis and Gunn, this may very well appeal to you as well. Like I say, it’s definitely earthy with a bit of oak in the mouth which is cleaned up by the nice bitter finish. With 62 IBUs, this isn’t the most bitter you’ll taste, but it isn’t for the faint of heart either. And for all the malts in this bottle, the sweetness is not pronounced on the tongue. In fact, I’d say the hops in this beer clear away the palette to let the malts shine through – and it’s quite well played if you like these malts. I suspect if you follow the serving suggestion and pour it at a very warm and very English 10-12˚C (just colder than cellar temperature), the malts and the sweetness will emerge even more making this definitely a classic IPA.
I’ll admit, the malts aren’t what I’d usually go for, but a quarter of the way through the glass, I found them definitely growing on me and the beer even more so. It reminds a bit of an ESB (extra-special bitter); however, with a good deal more bitterness to it. This would be an amazing beer with a nice piece of beer-battered haddock and some home fries: truly, the earthiness of the potato skins would be in love with this brew.
Don’t mistake this for a west coast pale ale; even at that, I don’t think this beer will leave many on the fence either way. However, in its class, this is a very very fine pint indeed. Looking forward to part two tomorrow night ….
(Speaking of nights: only three more nights till Le Festibière d’hiver.)
Stats: IPA. 6.4% ABV. 62 IBUs. St-Eustache, Quebec.
Colour: Burnt-orange, brown.
Mouth Feel: Medium-high carbonation which fills the mouth a bit too much.