Back to beer … and a return to a beer that, in particular, was seminal in getting this blog started; a beer I’ve mentioned, but not yet reviewed. It was also the first beer that I drank from BroueHaHa where I purchased it. The reason I selected this one was because at $6 for a regular sized bottle, I thought, this must be special. I was intrigued by the Iles-de-la-Madeleine as well … and so, caught up in the romance of the moment, Anne and I had a dinner of fruit, bread, and cheese … paired with beer. And so a blog was born ….
Since then, I’ve reviewed two of À l’abri de la Tempête’s creations in anticipation of coming back to this one in stepped succession.
There is so much that is noteable about this beer – but let’s start with the startling clear, pale pale yellow, almost still pour. It reminds me again of a local beer, Beau’s Lugtread Lager … both in terms of its straw colour and its crisp light taste. While the beer pours with a nice head, it was almost gone before I snapped my last picture and that, along with the lack of bubbles that rose from the bottom of the glass, portended what I thought would be a low level of carbonation on the tongue, which didn’t prove true – there is in fact quite a moderate amount of micro-carbonation that becomes very present in the mid-taste.
Dying to try this light golden, perfectly filtered nectar … you pull close and before your lips touch the edge, you stop and gasp … wow. What is that? Its floral qualities land quick and full upon the nostrils, bathing the nose in hints of lavender and rosemary, telltale aromas from la Tempête. There is a soft sugariness to it that reminds a lot of a squash, butternut or pumpkin: earthy and sweet. If these aromas haven’t totally swept you away in their olfactory foreplay, then wait for the spice, the soft hints of vanilla, mace and ginger which will raise droplets of saliva to the surface of your tongue. Impatient, you can’t hold back anymore and you take a long, deep taste … and those same aromas that played upon your nose, erupt in your mouth. And you sigh, oh so satisfied. You have arrived at your destination ….
I must say, this is a beer that 5 months from the first taste still compels … still is deeply intoxicating, mysterious, and utterly unique. And it still impresses ….
Those incredible flavours remain in the mouth even as the refreshing carbonation hits and even as a soft bitterness that surprises follows at the end …. The aftertaste is of that lavender and of that spice … and of the lingering bitterness that stays and even grows.
This is an incredibly constructed and layered beer that is truly like none other I’ve tasted. The spices, floral qualities, and the malts and its perfect creaminess will remind many of a very good pumpkin pie. Like the custard of a perfect pumpkin pie, it’s balanced to near perfection with just, perhaps, just a tiny bit of wateriness in the mid-last taste … this and the floral waters are strangely consistent throughout all three of Tempête’s beers I’ve sampled thus far.
What I can’t fathom is how la Tempête consistently makes a strong beer taste so ‘thin’ … and yet gets away with it. This is what makes this is an infinitely drinkable beer by both novice, those on the fence about beer, and those that love a great beer … all around, it will please and leave you thinking you’ve emerged from winter and in the midst of field of wildflowers on the Isles-de-la-Madelaine … in la Belle Saison.
Stats: IPA. 5.8% ABV. L’Étang du Nord, Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec.
Colour: Pale, yellow, straw.
Mouth Feel: medium micro-carbonation that hits mid-taste; clean and refreshing bitter from mid-to-end; good diacetyls make for a very creamy texture.
Purchased: Quebec (e.g. BroueHaHa)