With the first skiff snow of the season on the ground providing a definitive layer over the landscape today, winter is indeed close and the IPA season will soon evolve into winter beers. Which means, I’ve got some work to do to do with some of the IPAs still in the house.
First on my list is a pair of beers from À La Fût, a Quebec brewery out of Saint-Tite (near Shawinigan). They produce two IPAs, both named “La Ruine Papilles” which to the best of knowledge translates as “ruined tastebuds.” It does leave me thinking I must have missed something because it seems an odd thing to name a beer or any other consumable as it is tantamount to naming it “crap.” Perplexed as I may be, the first of these ruiners is named a “blonde IPA.”
Brewed sur lies (i.e. the fermentation finishes in the bottle), it pours with relatively little head which is odd because the carbonation is quite pronounced in the mouth, a bit too much if you ask me. It’s the sort of burning microcarbonation you’d associate with a soft drink like Coca Cola: it might work in Coke, but it doesn’t work in a beer.
The huge bitter, hoppy tones are immediate and impressive – but I have to say, that’s about the gist of the beer. It starts up front, very citrusy, but this wanes as quickly as the head to be replaced by a grassy and quite an earthy bitter finish. It’s not that the mid-tones are poor, it’s more like they simply aren’t there. I suspect it is because contrary to a ‘normal’ IPA – in other words, one which isn’t blonde – this uses a very light malt (the malts generally give a beer its colour, sweetness, and other flavours) and so this doesn’t have the caramels or sweetness you’d expect. This means the beer lacks complexity and balance, clearly a conscious choice on the part of the brewer to accentuate the hops themselves. Where it succeeds is that, for all the emphasis on these hops, it doesn’t have too overwhelming an astringent (read: “papery”) ending.
I suspect that À La Fût has done a good job in preparing this beer as they intended and it is an interesting beer worth tasting … if you like a hop-forward-and-ending beer with nothing more to confuse your tastebuds. However, that means you have to be a hophead to enjoy this beer as it is going to drink a bit like broken glass to those that aren’t cool with hoppy bitters.
All in all, an interesting experiment and something worth trying: just don’t buy more than one or two.
Stats: Blonde IPA 6.3%. 60 IBUs. St-Tite, Quebec.
Colour: Medium gold-blonde; sur lies.
Mouth Feel: Tight carbonation with no sugars for balance, so it is a bit harsh or ‘burning’ on the palette.
Purchased: Quebec (e.g. Brouehaha)
Pairings: Ginger beef or any western “Chinese” take-out.