I must admit, with the ongoing search in the wintry Atlantic for the missing crew of the capsized Miss Ally, this beer and the poignancy of its brand takes on a whole new relevance these days. If one ever needed shelter from the storm, À l’abri de la Tempête, this crew certainly needs it. My thoughts are certainly with these brave fisherman and their community ….
Next up on my review list is a continued exploration of the Îles de la Madeleine’s impressive microbrewery, À l’abri de la Tempête, and their second strongest beer, “Terre Ferme.”
Note: You can read more about the Magdalen Islands and this brewery in my previous review of their Corne de Brume.
The most striking detail of this beer out of the bottle is the sur lies … and the sediment that quite truly lies suspended in the apricot hued liquor.
The sediment aside, the colour is very reminiscent of Flying Monkey’s “Smashbomb Atomic IPA” … and because there is definitely some citrus aromas that come off the top, it leads you to believe that you might be getting À l’abri de la Tempête’s version of an IPA. However, stronger than the citrus is a smell redolent of lavender and wildflowers, the same thing that wowed me with their La Belle Saison (next up on the review circuit).
The taste is definitely citrus, lavender and a bunch of pine that takes me back to my visits to Greece and my hard-to-explain love of retsina. Together, the lavender and pine creates a flavour oddly reminiscent of rosemary.
After that startlingly unique first taste which I have to say really works, the bitterness of the hops emerge. I don’t know what are the IBUs of this 6.2% “strong beer,” but I’m thinking they’re in the 80 range. So if you love a thirst cleansing IPA, you’re going to love Terre Ferme.
These tastes are well-balanced with a decent amount of carbonation. The head is there, but you have to really pour the beer to produce it and it fades quickly leaving a sticky and uneven lacing on the glass.
The finish, however, gets a bit watery (this is reminiscent of the Corne de Brume’s watery finish) … but in this case, I would be happier with a bit more ‘meat’ at the end. The bitterness lingers, which is great, but there is a lack of structure to the end in this case that just makes the beer feel incomplete. Don’t get me wrong – I love this beer and I am desperately looking forward to exploring many more bottles of it … but what strikes me is that this weak finish is magnified by the incredible start and mid-tastes. For three-quarters of the race, this beer was running a world record, only to fade at the line and win bronze. Seems oddly Canadian … (er-hem).
In the end, this definitely reminds a lot of an American, west-coast styled IPA … but I hesitate to label this beer an IPA. The brasserie doesn’t beg the term and everything about this beer, as with all their beers I assume, challenges the very notion of convention and “typical.” It’s “sort of” like an IPA – no question. But the lavender, pine, and rosemary are not typical of any IPA and I don’t think À l’abri de la Tempête is seeking to create anything other than just a unique, original beer that somehow is consistent with the uniqueness of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
Truly, Terre Ferme is a very good beer which will definitely wow you and make you go ‘hmm.’ If you love bitters and IPAs and are looking for something different, definitely explore this. If you want to “travel” and experience the Îles-de-la-Madeleine without actually leaving your living room, then this beer is a great field trip. And if you want to support a cool brewery with great values and which has a lot to offer, then definitely hit this or any of their other beers up. You won’t be disappointed.
Stats: IPA. 6.2% ABV. L’Étang du Nord, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec.
Colour: Copper, orange-brown – apricot.
Mouth Feel: medium carbonation that fills the mouth; clean and bitter, but watery finish.
Purchased: Quebec (e.g. BroueHaHa)