I won’t get into the debate about Benedict Arnold and whether he was a traitor or hero. Moreover, I’m not entirely sure whether this beer is an oxymoron, but it definitely pushes the boundaries of contradictions. It is a Quebec beer, brewed with English hops, in the style of an Indian Pale Ale, named after anti-American villain (British hero?) who betrayed Americans to the British. It’s perhaps worthy to note that the French took the side of the Americans and that early revolutionary war ranged over Quebec, up and down the St. Lawrence, with Arnold clearly ranging as well. Truly, the plot of this beer has more twists and turns than a Chris Nolan film. Perhaps Arnold took up beer making whilst under the protection of the British witness protection program, I don’t know, but if he did, he didn’t last long in the business and should have taken this beer with him.
Not surprising, when I drink it, I’m not sure if I’m experiencing an American IPA that fails or an edgy English pale ale. I will say that for a Quebec beer, it has taken the non-traditional route of filtering the beer to produce one of the most beautiful ambers you’ll witness … and truly as lovely as any Polish amber I’ve seen. This is the one shining success in a beer glass of disappointment.
The taste is hard to pin down. There is too much carbonation up front, though you wouldn’t know it from the scant head that quickly dissipates. Even for that and for a beer that boasts 6%, the front end is rather tepid, watery even, which is just before the arrival of a few strong flavours that are draped all over the mid-taste and the middle of the tongue. The mid-taste, however, is a very short interlude in a long taste of nothing. The malts are key to this beer which is why I’m inclined to go with this being an English-styled IPA rather than an American. There is bit of whiskey (the roasted malts) and probably some pine (the hops) … and if I didn’t know better, I’d say the herbaceousness of a good root beer. This is accented by the creaminess of the diacetyls; the ending has some hops and bitterness but not much else and so it ends much as it began. It’s bit like drinking old dishwater – or, if you’d rather a more compelling description of blandness, like salted cod without any salt.
Personally, I think the confusing nature of this beer’s origin and name are less of a contradiction as they are a portend to a confusing beer that misses just about every mark. And if I was confused before about whether Benedict Arnold was inappropriately maligned or not, this beer has done nothing to dispel my own beliefs. Simply put, if this beer was a revolutionary figure, I’d shoot it as a traitor. As such, I strongly discourage you letting it into your homes.
Stats: English Pale Ale. 6% ABV. Frampton, Quebec
Colour: Dark amber, filtered.
Mouth Feel: Full carbonation, little head, buttery finish, with watery aftertaste.