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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel’ Category

Solstic D’hiver

November 23rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, Brewer: Mad River, Brewer: Thomas Hooker, Country: America, Country: Canada, Grade: A-/B+, Grade: B plus

I’ve long said that barley wines are my absolute favorite style of beer.  Since the beginning in fact.  The first beer that ever truly blew my mine was Stone’s Old Guardian.  And it was a barley wine.  I’d never heard of barley wines at the time–I think the only styles I knew of then were “Shitty Tasting,” “Shitty Tasting Lite,” and “Shitty Tasting with Lime”–but I immediately assumed it must be my favorite style and began to seek them out with a reckless abandon.  Stuff like Lagunitas Olde GnarlyWine and Brown Shugga, Sierra Nevada Big Foot, and Southern Tier Backburner were near-equally loved for their candy malted rich booziness, and I assumed I must like literally everything from the style.  For years I never passed a barley wine I’d yet to try without purchasing it.  But lately, I’ve been wondering if it’s still my favorite style, going so far to wonder if it’s an unsophisticated beer geek style that I’ve grown too old for.  A childish style you enjoy before “advancing” to the more adult imperial stouts and double IPAs and funky bunch sours.  Well, luckily, I had a few barley wines over the past few weeks that affirmed that I still very much like the style, even if it is probably no longer my overall favorite.

Thomas Hooker Old Marley

10% ABV bottled

Downtown Bar and Grill is an absolute enigma of a craft beer bar.  Firstly, it’s unquestionably the most brightly lit bar in New York.  The picture above was taken without using a flash of any kind.  It’s late night “mood” lighting is brighter than a Ruby Tuesday’s AFTER the lights have gone up at 2 AM and the junior high flunkies have started vacuuming.  Likewise, it’s seemingly run by a group of ambiguously Middle Eastern men that seemingly know absolutely nothing about beer.  Or the English language.  You ask them for something on tap and they stare at you like you asked if you could fuck their wives.  You point to a tap and make friendly conversation, “How’s that one, any good?” and they just pour you a full glass and hold out their open palm for $7.  You wonder what style a certain oddball beer is on the menu and they turn and yell something in Sanskrit to their buddies.  They’re not rude there, don’t get me wrong, they’re just…clueless.  I think.  It’s like the oddest practical joke being perpetrated:  these half-dozen Middle Easterners decide to open a simple “American” bar and then for some reason start getting shipped some of the best beers in the known world.  Who is the Wizard behind their beer curtain?

Without question, they have the best bottle list I’ve ever seen.  Unlike Spuyten Duyvil which is very skilled at writing on the wall a list of amazingly impressive beers–and then even more amazingly impressive at never having any of these in the back room–Downtown B & G actually has everything they list.  And I’m not kidding about everything.  Pretty much every vintage of every Brooklyn Brewery or Dogfish Head beer ever made dating back a decade or more, bottles of Sam Adams Utopias and Millennium, fuck, they even have Westvleteren 8 and 12 (for a mere monk-angering $50 a whack.)  Another great thing about Downtown is that they have the most interesting happy hour deals you’ve ever seen.  Whereas most bars have the pitcher of Coors for $8, maybe a bucket of Heinies for $15, Downtown will have something like…a beautiful plastic cork-plungered 25 oz. bottle of 10% barley wine for $10.  Yes sir, that’s how to get properly slobber-knockered on a Monday!  I’d been quite pleased with Thomas Hooker’s highly acclaimed dopplebock, so of course I gave this a whirl.  And it wasn’t bad.  Certainly well worth the Alexander Hamilton.  A tad cloying in a malty syrupy way, but still pretty tasty.  Aged in bourbon casks this has a nice little touch of vanilla and oaky smokiness.  Took me a full half of football to finish and made my evening’s canoodling a bit of a disaster.

B+

Mad River John Barleycorn (2008)

9.5% ABV bottled

My man Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive hooked me up with this beer I’ve never heard of from a brewery I’ve never heard of.  But that’s cool, I haven’t heard of a lot of shit.  Like the famous Irish folk song this beer takes it’s name from (fun Wikipedia entry alert!)  So glad Jay sent this my way though, because it was very solid.  A nice burnt dried malty sweetness.  Very caramel tasting, but perhaps a little too boozy.  A little too boozy?!  Am I growing soft?  (Did I just end a second straight beer review with an inadvertant e.d. barb?)

B+

Dieu Du Ciel! Solstice D’hiver

9.8% ABV bottled

Montreal’s Dieu Du Ciel! (the exclamation point is part of their name (!!!)) has become THE latest brewery that, if I spot a bottle of their’s I have yet to try, there’s absolutely no chance I will pass on it.  Their stuff isn’t exactly super-rare or anything, it’s just that New York isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with stock of it.  And, ever since I tried their legendary Peche Mortel, a strong contender for best stout in North America, I’ve been on a mission to have everything they make.  True, I have yet to find anything quite as good as Peche Mortel–then again, few beers ARE as good as that–but everything I’ve had from the exclamatory brewery has been quite swell, unique little twists on standard styles.  Their barley wine was no exception.  Boozy caramel tastes like a fine liqueur you get in a hotel bar, with a strong bitter finish with the hops coming through strong.  Would be a nice candidate for aging but for the time being a quite pleasant sipper.  And Dieu Du Ciel always give you pleasant bottle artwork to admire as you start slip slidin’ away.

A-/B+

Equinoxe du Printemps

August 20th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, Cigars, Country: Canada, Grade: B plus, Style: Scottish Ale

8.5% ABV bottled

What Makes Sammy Strip?

I was at a networking event which is interesting because I absolutely loathe “networking” and can’t think of a typically less interesting answer in the world than that to the question:  “So, what do you do for a living?’

Alas, the event had cigars, booze, splendid food, and a world-class skyscraper roof deck view to keep me sated.  Alack, the event was sans women in a “old boys club” kinda way, so I had no choice but to get loaded and talk to dudes.  How unseemly!

In fairness, it was a nice crew of upwardly mobile urban professionals dressed in nice clothes and living nice lives.  Most all with nice wives back at their nice (and owned) homes and apartments which meant the chicanery was at a lower–more “respectable” you might say–level than I’m accustomed to.

I was quiet and behaved, unable to speak much as the majority of conversation topics dealt with things I’ve never dealt with in my life nor may ever deal with:  seventy hour work weeks, nest egg creation, sweater vests, marriages, honeymoons, intended pregnancy.  I just sat back sucking down a Rocky Patel Ocean Club, a Holt’s Cigar company exclusive and a mini-masterpiece of a smoke, while tippling my second career beer from Canada’s brilliant Dieu du Ciel brewery, makers of the legendary Peche Mortel.  A “wee heavy” made with Quebec maple syrup, this brew has an unbelievable nose.  I expected greatness.  However, the taste is a little more muted.  Caramel malty and complex, but not an overwhelming explosion of flavors.  Nevertheless, an interesting and beautifully crafted winner.

I enjoyed my beer and smoke while enjoying the company, trying to learn a thing or two, decipher fancy business terms, acronyms, and unnecessary argot, vicariously living through these other men.  “Hmmmm…could I live this man’s life?” I wondered each time a I met a new, swell gent.

I didn’t think I could, but oh how quickly the sands go through the hourglass.  You never know.  Then, Sammy approached me.  A diminutive but jacked Indian, he was so aggressive in running up to me that I thought I was either being hit on, or that, more likely, Sammy was one of those hardcore networkers.  The kind of guy with a perpetual smile painted on his face, an overly happy demeanor oozing with artifice, an abundance of faux-enthusiasm that manifested itself in a lot of head nodding, “uh huh”-ing, and question asking.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  What do you do?  What can I do for you?  Oh, how do you know him?  Do you know her?  Gimme a card.  Shoot me an e-mail on Monday.  Let’s grab coffee.  Let’s get lunch.  Let’s do business together.  let’s facilitate a relationship.  Let’s make things happen.”

But, Sammy wasn’t like that.  Sammy had just entered the world of suits and ties, cubicles and offices, meetings and conference calls and coffee breaks.  He found the world of business quite boring.  But that was great for Sammy.  Sammy liked that.  For you see, Sammy’s previous job, career, occupation, vocation was a little more…interesting.

Sammy had been a male stripper.

I don’t know how the topic came up, I don’t know how we began discussing it, but as you can imagine, a besotted transgressive like me had plenty of questions to ask the man, it was almost as if I was interviewing Sammy.  And lucky for us, he was quite forthcoming in the sort of blase way that shows you he is so unimpressed with himself that he is surely being 100% honest.

“It’s a standard rule amongst male strippers:  no coming.  For some reason, these women have no problems with rubbing a strange man up and down, fondling him, touching him, pleasuring him, but the second he ejaculates, it’s like the record scratching at a party in old TV shows.  Now all of the sudden, the women are quickly sober and disgusted.  Not with themselves.  But with me!”

So you just have an erection for hours on end?

“No, a man has his needs.  And I could only take so much.  So I just decided to break the industry rules and let it fly.  But never in the face.  Never in the face.”

How did you get into this…field?

“I was poor.  Poor as dirt.  Working a shitty job at a shitty restaurant.  I became friends with one of the bus boys and one day he’s kinda staring me up and down.  What the fuck?  ‘You have a pretty nice body, dude.  Muscular.’  Is he hitting on me?!  No, he’s recruiting me!  Invites me to join him that night for a bachelorette party.  I couldn’t believe the bank.  How much cash I left with that night.  I was hooked!”

How much were you making?

“This is Ontario mind you, not New York City, but I was pulling $600, $1000 even a night.”

WHAT?!  Then why the fuck aren’t you still doing it?

“It was far too humiliating.  Embarrassing.  All these gross old ladies slobbering over me.”

You gotta be drunk, right?

“I’d drink a whole bottle of Patron before I went out there.  The naked part wasn’t the worst part it was all the dancing to cheesy music.  So fucking embarrassing.”

But all these women want you.  Doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself?

“I tell you bro, it’s hard for me to respect women after all the shit I’ve seen.  Women blowing me mere seconds after meeting me.  Grandmas, mothers, wives.  Fucking fiancees sucking my dick one day before their wedding.  It’s disgusting.  I can’t trust any women after that.”

None?

“None.  I guarantee you, most all the women you meet have done the same shit before.  Think of how nasty us men are.  Well women are worse!  They are all disgusting whores.”

Did they ever have sex with you?

“They all want to.  But I never did.”

Why?  Morals?

“Economics.  You never have sex with a client because once you pop, then you’re done.  How you gonna keep making money dancing with a deflated balloon hanging from your groin?  Not to mention all the women you don’t fuck are going to be jealous of the one woman you did fuck and are going to want to spite you.  So you tease all of the women, make each and every women think that she is the one you most want to fuck.  You tease them, milk the money, let them milk you, but never have sex with them.  Unless they are mindblowingly hot.  And then, only at the last second before you leave, after you’ve maxed out your earnings.”

“Pretty fucked up, huh?”

Absolutely.  I’m kinda disgusted with the human race myself.  Did you ever feel bad the next day?

“No.”

No?

“I felt rich.”

Uh, so you want to go another bar and try to pick up some girls?

“No.  I don’t have one night stands.”

B+

Peche Mortel

May 1st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, Country: Canada, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

9.5% ABV bottled

They–meaning “good” people–always say to truculent assholes like me that, yeah, you’re right, the world will obviously still be up and running on all cylinders when me and you die, no matter how poorly we treat it, but we still have a responsibility to leave this world nice for our children and for our childrens’ children.  Recycling and maintaining itty bitty carbon footprints and not exploiting the land or our fellow man.

Well, I don’t plan on having any children*, so I guess I can continue to be an anti-environmental asshole, right?  Maybe.  But maybe not, if being a nice, sweet “green” dude means it will now be a part of my ethos to drink fair trade coffee.

Allow me to explain…

A few weeks ago I was bored, dicking around on Beer Advocate when I started studying their Top 100 list a bit trying to tip myself off to some great brews I had perhaps never heard of.  Those are sadly becoming fewer and farther between as my beer studies advance.**  However, this time I noticed a pop residing at the #15 position.  One I’d never heard of.  One with an odd “foreign”-soundin’ name.  Peche Mortel.  Interesting.  I didn’t do much further research at that moment and simply filed my newly-culled fact away in the ol’ Goldfarb memory bank.

Luckily, my research would serve me well as just a few days later I found myself at Whole Foods and came across a lone bottle of Peche Mortel residing on a high shelf.  My memory jogged like Chuck Bartowski’s Intersect-affected mind on “Chuck”–does any one in the entire world watch that show because that is one killer analogy I just made–and I quickly snatched the 12 ouncer off the shelf.  I examined the bottle.  Hmmm…an imperial stout from Montreal.  Odd, for some reason I thought it was gonna be a fruit beer from Belgium.  Maybe because I dumbly translated “peche” to mean “peach” and thought the funny language looked Belgian-y.  For the record, your honor, Peche Mortel actually stands for “Mortal Sin” if you’re as ineptly monolingual as I am.

That very weekend, while watching the sublime new “Thrilla in Manilla” doc on HBO, I popped the bottle with much anticipation and was floored by the intense coffee smell as the hot booze punched me in the snotbox the second I began to transfer the liquid from bottle to glass.  Whoa Nelly and Holy Cow, this is one great beer.  It tingles the tongue with a roasted coffee taste and pronounced bitterness, a smooth and creamy espresso body, and finishes with a subtle hint of sweetness.  I’ve had several great coffee beers lately, most notably Brooklyn’s Intensified Coffee Stout and Surly’s Coffee Bender, but this trumps them both.**  This is an incredibly complex stout and, personally, I think it’s even better than the much ballyhooed Kona-coffee-infused Founders Breakfast Stout.  That fair trade stuff is the real deal, brother.  And no, I still don’t really know what fair trade coffee is and am far too lazy to read the Wikipedia entry on it.

I honestly have no clue how rare this beer is as I just stumbled upon it through pure happenstance, but I am glad to learn that America, Jr. up north actually has another great beermaker aside from Unibroue.  Although, I’m not even sure if Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel makes anything else worthwhile as I know nothing about their other beers other than that they have some cool looking labels and their Aphrodisiaque sounds most exsquisite.  I’d love to get my hands on some if any one knows where to score ‘em.

Hey, it’s the era of grade inflation and I can’t help if I keep having masterpieces so…

A+

…I’ll try to drink something shitty this weekend, I promise.  Those are the most fun reviews.

Speaking of which, if any one has any tips for something abominable I can tipple for my next video review, please let me know:  theviceblog [at] gmail.com.

*On purpose that is, and probably not on accident either as I sit with a laptop on my balls for ten-plus hours a day, every day, and were my scrotum to be vivisected it would probably show a bed of long-perished spermatozoa floating atop a pool of neon green seminal fluid like dead fish at the end of a stream which has a tributary coming out of a nuclear power plant.

**If any one ever calls me an alcoholic, I’ll just start saying my beer studies are quite advanced.

**Quoth the brewers:

If you love really good coffee and really good beer equally, you will be thrilled with Péché Mortel. If coffee isn’t your cup of tea, and caffeine makes you bounce off the ceiling, then just put the bottle down and find something else to drink. This beer is all about coffee. Indeed, you may have seen ‘coffee stouts’ before, but no brewer has ever married coffee and beer so naturally and seamlessly.