I had a pretty quiet blogging week last week, which I blame entirely on my purchase of Grand Theft Auto 5. Seriously, it is ridiculously addictive! If this was a video game blog I’d be giving it a perfect score and telling you to go and play it right now! But it’s a beer blog, so I won’t say that…
In between pulling off insane heists, completing assassination contracts, and causing general mayhem, I also managed to squeeze in a few beers (beers and video games, who’d have thought that combo would work?!) So to make up for my laziness last week, I’m going to bring you three…that’s right, THREE…more beers from the epic list this week. The first is one that I thought I was going to find earlier this year, but things didn’t work out the way I planned.
Those that follow this blog will know that I visited Montreal for a holiday earlier this year. One of the highlights was a visit to the Dieu du Ciel! brewpub. I had it on good authority that this was THE beer place to visit in Montreal; the fact that they also brew three beers from the epic list was a bonus. Unfortunately none of these three were available at the time of my visit. So even though I enjoyed many a good beer that day, I was also a little disappointed; if I couldn’t get these three beers at the source, then my chances of trying them were dramatically reduced. So imagine my surprise when I visited the Craft bottle shop in Brisbane and found a four-pack of Dieu Du Ciel beers – two of which are from the list! It was meant to be.
This is the first of the two, beer number 148 off the epic list – Route des Epices.
What’s on the bottle?
Ok, Google translate time: ‘Route des Epices’ is French for ‘Spice Route’. This explains why there’s a picture of some dude with a funky beard, wearing a ship-for-a-hat and a neck ruff – obviously he’s a spice trader from back in the day. Although I guess he could just be a bearded hipster who dresses funky and sells organic spices at the local farmers market? No, there’s a ship in the background as well…let’s stick with the ancient guy theory. All of this spice innuendo is for a good reason of course; this is a rye beer that’s brewed with peppercorns. That’s spice on spice right there.
What’s in the bottle?
Even though I’m well aware that this beer is brewed with peppercorns, the amount of black pepper aroma is still a surprise to me. Seriously, go and grind some black pepper on your beer and smell the results…Route des Epices smells more peppery than that. The very first sip is dominated by the pepper as well, but has enough sweetness behind it to keep things under control.
The spice calms down as you get further in, with the malt contributing a more substantial sweetness in both the aroma and flavour. There’s some cocoa on the nose, and some caramel in the taste that, when mixed with the black pepper, creates a burnt caramel kind of thing. Some dark fruits join the party toward the end, adding a subtle tang. But the pepper king throughout; every sip finishes with a lasting spice that burns the throat ever so slightly on the way down. I’m good with this amount of spice, but it may not be for everyone.
I expected this beer to have spice from the rye, with the peppercorn chiming in subtly…my expectations were way off. This is a pepper beer, with the rye lending no noticeable spice at all. Not that this is a bad thing; this is the first ‘spicy’ beer that I actually enjoyed. I’ve had a few chilli beers in my time and, well, they’ve been awful. Route des Epices on the other hand manages to get the balance between spice and sweetness just right.
As a side note, if this beer wasn’t so difficult to find in Australia, I’d buy some more and marinate my steaks in it. If anyone decides to do that, let me know the results. I bet it’ll be awesome.
Fact from the book…
The brewer got the balance of this beer right with his very first test batch! Which is apparently unheard of in the brewing world? I guess that proves that he’s more of a god than a brewer…god of the sky maybe? (Hopefully the French speakers get that reference…)