I figured I’ve picked up enough momentum that I should continue to work through the rest of my beer list for À l’abri de la Tempête – and experience the full range of their brewing abilities. Next up, then, is Écume ….
A pour of the beer quickly reveals at least part of the inspiration behind the name – the rocky beaches of the Isles-de-la-Madelaine likely are the rest. There are some less flattering translations of Écume, but in homage to the Isles and with even a nod to the myth of Aphrodite’s birth, I’m going to go with “sea foam” which you can see in the picture on the label as well.
The colour of the beer is very similar to that of La Belle Saison (previous review) with just a bit more depth of colour and a hint of turbidity to it this time. As a result, it doesn’t stand nearly as bright and clean looking as its sister. Moreover, when matched with the yeasty aroma that comes off the head, this added turbidity might suggest sur lies as part of the fermentation method.
The beer is indeed refreshing and a great palette cleanser for fish, Caesar salad, cheese or a number of oily and ‘stronger’ tasting foods. I’d attribute this to a reasonable bit of acidity and the pronounced hops that round out the bitter finish of the beer.
Having said that, this is in no way a hopped-up IPA or an ale of any description. If I was to go out on a limb, I’d say it was a lager inspired blonde and this, reminds me well of our local Beau’s Lugtread Lager, which is an exceptional beer in its class.
There is a bit more nuance in this one, however, which isn’t to take anything away from Beau’s. Consistent with other la Tempête products, there is certainly the telltale, but very discreetly layered, smells of wildflower, though I wouldn’t say there was any lavender in this one. More daisy or marigold. The typically ‘sweeter’ malts you would associate with a lager produce a bit of honey on the nose as well. However, compared to la Tempête’s other entries, this one has nowhere near the sophistication.
You could argue that if this is an island lager, then it shouldn’t be too funky anyway, but I’ve come to expect the unexpected from la Tempête and this is really just a solid example of a good lager with a bit of island flavour. I definitely don’t detect the “salt” the label suggests is part of its complexity. The malted barley is really the prevailing taste here, and without any roasting, it is pretty simple and straightforward brew. Like I say, it’s what you’d expect in a lager … but I was hoping for more from la Tempête. The one thing that this beer doesn’t do that its bigger brothers had in common … is it doesn’t have any of the ‘thinness’ that defined each of them. This is interesting because it is also only 4.8%, but thin wouldn’t be an adjective you’d use here – probably on account of the good level of carbonation.
In sum, this is a beer that is very accessible, very approachable and certainly won’t offend. If you like a good lager and are looking for something a little different and from a cool part of Canada, definitely give it a try. It’s a very drinkable beer that won’t make you wrong.
Stats: IPA. 4.8% ABV. L’Étang du Nord, Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec.
Colour: Pale, yellow, turbid honey.
Mouth Feel: Medium body with very good carbonation; refreshing with a nice bitter kick at the end that cleanses the palette.
Purchased: Quebec (e.g. BroueHaHa)