Rating: 83 points
Stats: Double IPA. 10% ABV. Gatineau, Quebec.
Size: 750 mL bottle
Colour: Unfiltered orange-blonde
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation, creamy and smooth finish.
Pairing Notes: n/a
So to all the red-headed women out there, no, this bottle is not a slight at you … though the provocative label is sure to get some attention and draw its fair share of conversation. But no, this isn’t to say that red heads are “devils in the flesh.” Le Diable au Corps is actually a French, post-World War I novel about a young married woman (the red head here) who has an affair with a 16-year old boy while her husband is away fighting at the front. A familiar story and tryst that recalls tamer coming-of-age stories like the American Summer of ’42 (which felt like a coming of age film for me when I watched it as a teen) or the infinitely beautiful Italian film Malèna written by Giuseppe Tornatore. Le Diable au Corps, written by Raymond Radiguet, was a scandalous novel given its proximity to the war in which it was set, but it gained in notoriety and acceptance with time. So where is the beer allusion? I can only assume that Les Brasseurs du Temps (BDT) believes its beer has the same seductive and counter-culture influence as that redheaded vixen.
So let’s size up this seductive drink. Turn this beer around and take a look at its stats … and then you might want to sit down and take a deep breath. This beer has some serious clout. At 10% ABV and served in a 750mL bottle, this is akin to drinking a bottle of white wine. So don’t let the “beer bottle” fool you — this is meant to be shared, and shared responsibly. And if that doesn’t make your knees wobble a bit then consider the more scary stat on the bottle: 100 (I repeat, that is one-hundred) IBUs — international bitter units. Yes, that means if you don’t like bitter, you’re probably halfway to Alaska by now. But wait. There is much more to this story than stats ….
For those that remain, let’s continue.
I’ve said on a number of occasions in the past that bitterness and IBUs is not as simple as looking at IBUs. Don’t just take my word for it, though, do some taste comparisons. IBUs are a bit strange because they are chemical measure of bitterness, not a taste measurement. Just like looking at a 0, 1, 2 etc on wine may indicate “sugar” content, the the sweetness of the wine in terms of taste is a result of the balance with the acids and other elements. In the case of beer, bitter units come from the hops — and the sweetness in beer comes from the malts. So in theory, a beer with 20 IBUs with little in the way of malts, could and probably does taste more bitter than a beer of 50 IBUs which contains deep dark roasted malts to sweeten it. Follow?
I’ve only tasted a small handful of beers over 100 IBUs — and this BDT’s is far down the list in terms of bitterness. Why? Because the malts are huge here.
So is the alcohol.
And more than the bitterness, the spicy malts and the ridiculous ABV backbone are what rule here … not the hops or bitter units. Which brings me to the point of why I cracked this today: because winter begets winter beers. And this is a beer that would be well served after a day of skiing when you’re chilled, sitting around a fire, and lapping up spoonfuls of chile with hunks of rye bread. Ok, so my mind wanders … we have no snow here, but a guy can wish, right?
I do like my winter beers, on occasion, but I have to be in the mood for them. But I love and adore my imperial — aka double — IPAs. You’re going to have a hard time convincing me, then, that this tasty beer is a DIPA. I don’t buy it and I have drank my share of DIPAs to know. I do like this beer — it’s very tasty though it will easily kick you on your ass after a glass. I’m not impressed at the price but when you price dollars/ABV, this is not bad value if you think about it is like buying 4-5 beer in a single bottle. But the truth is that this drinks a heck of a lot more like a doppelbock than a DIPA because even with all the IBUs, this is a malt dominated beverage with a boozy body. All things said and done, it’s actually pretty well balanced — but a DIPA, in my opinion, isn’t balanced. It would be like buying a sports car that is good on gas and child/family friendly. Great qualities in a car, for sure, but not what you expect in a sports car. I don’t expect balance in a DIPA. That’s the point. It’s supposed to be hop forward and this, dear readers, is not. This is a beer that has all the great qualities of a good doppelbock: excellent flavours, nutty/sweet/toffee, spices roll around, and it is amazingly creamy with a perfectly smooth ending which is beyond impressive when you say it has 100 IBUs. So don’t let the 100 IBUs fool you — this is not a hophead’s beer.
In sum, a tasty beer (which is why it scores well, generally), fun for a group of friends that want to try something different and/or local (if you’re from Ottawa/Gatineau), but if you want a real imperial IPA, this is not the droid you’re looking for….
Read more of My Beer Reviews here ….