In case you haven’t heard, Canada makes shitty beer. Yes, most of us enjoy a few stellar offerings from Unibroue and some smaller outfits, but overall would you really put your stamp of approval on Canada’s brewing prowess? It’s probably not fair to associate “All” of Canadian brewing with Sleeman’s, Molson, LaBatt, and Alexander Keith’s. Oh well, this is a blog and fairness is the last thing on my mind. What is on my mind though is the latest Imperial Stout I had from our neighbors to the North. It’s on my mind, because my mind has been blown. If you find yourself tipping back a bottle of the Péché Mortel from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, your perception of Canadian brewing might just be changed forever.
Yeah, your perception probably won’t be changed after one beer or even after sampling everything that Dieu Du Ciel has to offer. I get that. As much as we crap on the few offerings that we see from Canada, usually in the lovely style of Adjunct Lager, it’s just nice to see something else coming out of that country that’s interesting and bold. The Péché Mortel (Translation: Mortal Sin) is a Russian Imperial Stout that breaks the mold a bit by infusing it with Fair Trade coffee. Add this to their lineup that includes a Cocoa/Vanilla Stout, a Maple Scotch Ale, and a Hemp Beer and you’ve got a brewery that’s interesting and bold indeed. Sure, the labels are a little kitschy and the translated names oh so spooky (Ooooh….Rigormortis, Pagan….Ahhhh), but in the end I think they’ve got something pretty cool going in a land that doesn’t handle “Cool” all that well.
Clocking in at 9.5% ABV, the Péché Mortel shows off a near jet black pour of highly viscous brew. Blacker than black body with a dark tan head. Nose up front is all coffee, 100%, nothing more and nothing less. With such a boozy weight I’d expect to get some of those fumey aromas coming up from the glass but all I’m getting is dark roast. First sip shows the coffee and espresso flavors coming through but immediately gets mixed in with dark chocolate, roasted malts, and a hugely bitter finish. As with most Imperial Stouts, you know there has to be an ass load of hops to balance out all the sweet malts, but you’ll hardly notice anything at all. Perfect balance. The finishing taste that’s left in my mouth has a touch of booze to it, but more like the alcohol wafts that you get from pure vanilla extract. Mouthfeel is thick as molasses. Drinkability is all about perception. If you like Russian Imperial Stouts and can moderate yourself with a sipper or a short pour, then the drinkability is very high. If you do like I did and pour the entire 11.5oz bottle in a pint glass and sip it over the course of an hour, then you’re probably all set after the first round. In all honestly though, there’s not many of us out there that are tipping back bottle after bottle of Imperial Stout (Except Brother Barley, and probably Magnus, and definitely Slouch Six Pack, and maybe some others that I missed).
I don’t give out the exalted 4 hop rating often, but in this case it’s completely deserved. Perfect example of the style and by far the best beer that has ever come out of my home and native land (Full disclosure, the Doc’s lineage draws back to the land of the Loonie and the Toonie). My local package store must have 10 different offerings from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel and while some will probably miss (Like the IPA that Mashtun Copperpot so hated), I think I owe it to myself to see what else they can do.