In a word, Boréale is “balanced.” Indeed, it’s probably the most balanced IPA I’ve tasted thus far. The first taste is not what I’ve come to expect in an IPA. The carbonation is immediately present – which would make you think, “Wow – too much.” But that’s not the case – sure, there is more carbonation to this than the previously reviewed “Atomic” but it’s actually quite light and testament to this is how fast it fades in the mouth to reveal the real ‘first taste’ beneath its effervescence.
This is where the word “balanced” rings so true. Very little about this beer springs to the palette. It just sort of washes away which is about one of the oddest things for a beer that registers at 6.2% and yet boldly calls itself “brute/course” on the label. While this may be more about it’s beautiful and dark golden unfiltered waters, the polar bear and the alcohol says “strong.” Having said that, I have to admit, it’s kind of a cute polar bear, only less cute than Coca Cola’s trademarked bear (hope they don’t shut my blog down for mentioning it).
The story of this balance continues to get interesting. The label itself is not bold nor is it harsh and the artic blues are kind of soothing. And then there is the word “natural” festooned over the label which seems to match the relatively light hue of this beer. Even unfiltered, it is light for an IPA. Not to dwell on a label as the most predictive of ‘texts’ to interpret this taste, but I have to say, this one fits.
So here’s where the story gets good – read the label around the neck. Herein lies the key to enjoying this beverage. “Natural Ale: Best served at 8˚.” I’ve heard tales of some breweries like Guinness insisting pubs pour their draft at a certain temperature, but this is a first for a bottled beer for me.
Hmm …. 8˚? Now that’s a hard thing to execute out of the fridge and even my basement floor is probably warmer than 8˚ – though it’s probably closer than the 4˚ of my fridge. Here’s the trick in my opinion – pour the beer out of your fridge and wait for the lace of the head to all but disappear. Then take that first sip …. Wow!
Odd or intentionally playful in the irony, but this boréale product with the polar bear – well, it doesn’t play well in the cold. Perhaps that’s why it’s not called “Polar Beer” though perhaps that clever name is somewhere already trademarked. (I can’t be the first Canadian to come up with that one….)
Anyway, once the warmth comes into this beer, the balance opens up a bit more and behind the sweetness of the pure malt is revealed a light, almost floral taste with just a hint of pine. (Or perhaps I’m still hung up on the boreal conceit ….) And here’s the next key: the longer you wait, the more the refreshing bitterness of the hops emerge as well.
There is a real poetry to this beer, though, so perhaps the literary tact to this review fits. This isn’t a Tarantino brew. There is no Seth Rogan in here either. This is Shane Koyczan poetry and “We Are More” all the way. And just like Shane created lovers of poetry out of the untried, this beer might just be the perfect entrance into IPA’s for those not sure if it is for them.
Stats: IPA. 6.2% ABV. Blainville, Quebec.
Colour: Amber/Golden. Unfiltered.
Mouth Feel: Light carbonation and a very balanced taste.