Matt’s Sleepy time Belgian Imperial Stout: Almost Matthew’s perfect beer

As a follow up to the last post, here is a review on one of Beaus star beers: Matt’s Sleepy Time. I received a bottle of this beer from my dad for my birthday. I think he chose it because of it’s name and the style of beer, which are right up my alley!

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What about the specs?

Matt’s sleepy time is a Belgian Imperial Stout that is 8% and an IBU (International Bitterness Units) of 38 that is aged on oak staves and can be bought in 600ml bottles from the LCBO or on tap at select locations.

The Pour

It poured dark brown with two fingers of caramel colour head. The head lasted well after the first sip and eventually settled at 1 finger. This dark completely opaque beer was a little more brown than most other imperial stouts.

The Sip

As I lifted it up to take a sip I couldn’t help but be captivated by the light caramel smell. After further inspection, hints of dark grains, roasted malts, milk chocolate, cloves and herbs from the belgian yeast became more apparent. The first sip was a smooth operator. It had medium body that coated the tongue with a little fizz but was not harsh. The end of the sip was a little sticky but soon faded away. This beer was velvety, not harsh and as it opened up it became smoother while retaining its balanced palate. I do however usually prefer less carbonation in my imperial stouts and higher body.

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The glorious taste

As the sip covered my tongue a wave of light coffee, burnt malts and chocolate milk covered my taste buds. A few sips later I could taste a note of vanilla and raisins and as I was finishing my glass I could taste hints of fig and raisins. Although the IBU is 38 which is medium high, I felt that its bitterness was medium low. The bitterness was one of the balancing factors that was well hidden by the coffee overtones. To sum up the flavour it is rich and amazing. As I was finishing the bottle it became obvious that this rich and tasty beer is definitely one to try again.

The packaging says yes!

The bottle and images really spoke to my marketing/design side. I looooovvvve the packaging and marketing of this product. Beau’s really appealed to my marketing side. I give these guys additional points for creativity and execution of this product. The bottle is so nice that I will be keeping an empty of Matt’s sleepy time somewhere in my 605 sq feet condo.

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The sum of the parts

It looked great.

It smelled good.

It felt good.

It tasted amazing.

This is one balanced beer that will take you for a nice ride. If you like imperial stouts you will want to pick this one up for your next late night revelry. This beer is really good but I will admit that when it’s both an imperial and a belgian, the expectations are high. Matt’s Sleepy time was amazing but not great. My preference is for a heavier body and lower carbonation for the Belgian/ imperial stout combo than this beer had to offer. I am however looking forward to drinking this one again the next time I am in Ontario!

I give this beer a 4.3 + bonus points out of 5.

Cheers and À votre santé!

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Matt

 

Extra Extra

Full Rating

Appearance: 4.5 / 5

Aroma: 8 /10

Palate: 4/5

Flavour: 9/10

Overall 4.3

La vie est Beau! Matt’s Trip to Beau’s Brewery

Beau’s Brewery is a hopscotch and throw away from Montreal, my home, and Ottawa, our Nation’s Capital. Just a quick 1 hour drive from either, you’ll be glad you stopped by.

On my way to Ottawa the other day there was a detour that I could not resist: Beau’s brewery. After seeing their product in the LCBO and receiving a Matt’s sleepy time beer from my dad for my birthday it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit a place that makes some great beers.

History of Beau’s

Once upon a time there was a flourishing textile factory in Vankleek Hill. One day the business was not doing so well and they were about to close up shop. Just then they decided to convert it to a brewery and since, they have been booming.

Family owned and run, Beau’s is as homely as visiting a friend that owns a farm in a local small town. It’s a relatively new brewery thats started 8 years ago with its Lagered Ale call Lug and Thread. The master brewer is named Matt O’Hara, and he with the Beauchesne family and friends are banging out some really great beers.

I’d like to see your facilities

The brewery was very humble from the outside. I wasn’t sure we had found it until I saw the gigantic sign covering the front wall the says “Beaus all natural brewing company”. Once inside we were greeted by a few very pleasant characters. The first thing we were asked was “would you like to take a tour of the facilities?”, and I responded cordially with a “yes, yes of course!”. What a nice tour! We smelled the hops and malts, then wore protective eye gear and walked around the facility. We got to see everything but the beer aging in oak barrels which where situated in a secret back room.

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Try them 1 try them all!

After the tour ended we were led back to the tasting station. Now, many breweries have contradictory policies on tasting. Sometimes you pay and other times you don’t. So when they asked me what I would like to try I hesitated for a moment thinking I would only get to try 2-3 different beers. I asked “how much?” and the answer was “the samples are free!”. What a delightful feeling to be told that the samples were free. So I tried them all…

I had a chance to try 10 beers! Which breaks my 4 taste maximum rule but, low and behold, I could not help myself. My favourite on tap was Matt’s sleepy time so I ordered a pint (which was only $5).

Nick guided us through the beers explaining their flavours and when quizzed on their IBUs, he quickly pulled out his beer bible that had a full explanation of each beer. He had a good sense of humour and even allowed us to try his own bottle of Mission accomplished, which was a delicious out-of-production IPA that has been voted into their holiday season 4 taster. We also got to taste the Imp ale which was incredible but could only be purchased with a $300 membership that included 30 bottles. I really just wanted to buy 1 or 2 bottles of it but could not, this was the only not so amazing facet of the tour.

The 10 beer lineup changes on a regular basis so you can be assured that I will be stoping in again to try the new additions.

Where can I get some of this beer?

Any LCBO but not in the SAQ, according to the website it should be in Quebec within a year.

In conclusion

I will be going back again and again. It was a great experience that I recommend to anyone that likes beer and wants to try some great microbrew on tap. The staff was friendly and down to earth and they even let us pet the resident cat! Luckily Yasmin was there to be my beer buddy, which allowed me to try so many of their beers and get home safely.

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For more info on the brewery here is the link: beaus.ca

Cheers et À votre santé,

Matt

Update: Beau’s is coming to Québec!

 

Let’s taste some beers together! Birthday / beer tasting party

Oh what fun it is to try beers! This year I planned an event where people would be able to try a variety of beers over the course of one night. I had a selection of 21 beers ranging from stouts to blondes, lagers to Ales with between 4.5% to 11% alcohol by volume (ABV). Friends also brought many beers (especially Brendan). In all there were over 40 beers to try! Which, to say the least, was a bit daunting. We ended up trying about 14 beers, which worked out great because everyone left happy having tried at least one beer that they liked! Here are some insights on the things that worked and those that didn’t.

Here was the selection I brought to the table.

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Know your audience

Before the night began I knew what beers most people liked. There were a few wild cards and most people (including me) had not done a beer tasting before. Overall it was a light beer crowd with a few people that were not beer drinkers. For that reason I picked a few beers that were at the top of their category like Mons Abbey Dubbel, Dieu du Ciel Pêche Mortel and Saison Pinacle to showcase the best that the beer world could offer. Unfortunately in practice we only tried one of those beers and it didn’t go over so well.

Build it and they will drink!

In order to facilitate the evening I made sure to have the right tools for a crowd of 20 people to try the beers. The most important tools are the glasses. After a bit of research I determined 4.5 oz to 6 oz glasses are perfect for tasting. So before the party I stopped by Ares and picked up 12 X 4.5 oz tumblers and Brendan gifted my 4 X 6 oz glasses and a holy wood paddle. The size of the glasses and the paddle really came in handy while serving the beers. I did a quick rinse rotation of the glasses and was able to share the beers quickly while still being able to spend time conversing.

The Pairings

Now there is a fine balance between being polite and being a good host. Having a beer tasting without food would be unjust. With that in mind, we picked up a few typical beer foods like pretzels and chips along with a few nice cheeses and sausages. Some beers paired very well with the cheeses such as the Italian beer Bianca or Weiss from Hacker-Pschorr, while others went better with the sausages such as Hops and Bolts and L’égare Monstre du Lac-St-Jean.

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After 4 say no more.

The unfortunate thing about trying so many beers is that after the 4th beer it gets harder to taste the nuances of each beer. After a while all the beers started tasting dryer and more bitter than normal. I am not sure if it was IPA Hops and Bolts or the cabanos sausage but the beers all tasted more dry and metallic than usual. So I would say that between beers it is important to cleanse the palate with water and bread.

Pro Tip: It’s my party and I’ll drink beer if I want to!!!!

Here is the thing, everyone enjoyed trying the beers however some people just wanted to get their drink on. Sometimes, like while eating tapas, people just want a bottle of beer straight. They don’t want to share and they would prefer to just sit back and slowly sip on a bottle and laugh. And that is OK, I however did not foresee this happening… Obvious blind-spot of a beer tasting party. For this I recommend two things; first have a 6 pack of the cheapest pilsner you can find and hide it in the back of your fridge to accommodate; second if you are going to a beer tasting party and are planning to drink one beer all night make sure to bring a few bottles of that beer (maybe enough to share).

The Discoveries

For this party I wanted to try a new style of beer for me called Saison, and boy was it different. We tried two saisons and my first taste of Saison I (this is its actual name) was delicious and like no other beer that I have ever tried. It poured opaque yellow with one finger of head, smelled of earthy hops and spices, was dry and a little sour, and tasted earthy, of wild hops and a little citrusy. Also, Glutenberg blonde was my first try of gluten free beer and I liked it. It felt more like cider on the tongue and was very dry but overall I liked it and I am looking forward to trying it again.

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The Beers we loved: Top Picks

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My pick for the night would be Saison 1, as described above. It was a great introduction to the saison style and accompanied the food very well.

The crowd favourite was Unibroue’s 17. This is one fine-aged belgian strong ale. There were many mmmmss and ahhss by the group trying this beer. This beer is deep, smooth and subtle. This smooth operator will have you rolling your tongue around it to taste all of its subtle nuances. But stop and take your time while trying it because it has an ABV of 10%, not that you will notice, and you will be feeling it by the end of the bottle. Pours dark brown, leaves two fingers of head and screams I’M AM A STRONG BELGIAN ALE. At first smell the dried fruit and dark fruit hit you followed by spice, wood, and earth as it opens. I strongly recommend this beer but you must hurry because it is brewed only once a year.

Bianca was our third pick because of its pairing with cheeses and mild yet unique taste. Most people agreed that they really liked this one.

Afterthoughts on a great party

Overall the goal of a tasting night is to share good beers with friends and anything you can do to accommodate this helps make it a success. I am going to rate this night a success and plan to do it again. Some learnings were that having about 10 beers for a 20 person tasting plus what others will bring is more than enough to get your tasting on. The key is quality and variety not quantity. I wish I had tried at least one new stout and one new tripel, however I have a few left over that I am looking forward to reviewing.

PS If they brought it you should try it

Let your friends try the beers that they brought over. There were a few beers that people brought that we did not get a chance to try and for this I was sad, but like I already mentioned, there were just too many beers.

Cheers and À votre santé!

Matthew

La Buteuse Extra Strong Divine Ale

This week I tasted La Buteuse from Le Trou du Diable. What a smashing beer! This beer, like many other Quebec tripel style beers, have a cataclysmic story attached to it. They say that if you drink this beer you may have a vision of Père Buteux. This microbrew located in Shawinigan has a strong character and the beer that I picked up this week certainly lived up to it! DSC_0076

What originally attracted me to this beer was its bottle and the description on it. Nothing like a creepy priest meets devil story to make you want to try a beer! This is a an extra strong divine ale brewed in the Belgian Tripel style with an ABV of 10%. This style ale is typically very high in alcohol and tends to be very full bodied and crisp. One of the great things about living in Quebec is that you can find great tripel-inspired local beers and Trou du Diable really follows through with this Extra strong Divine Ale.

It filled my tulip glass with deep amber apricot almost copper colour and created two and a half fingers of off white head. A few small patches and trails of carbonation were visible through its slightly opaque clarity. Once settled it had very little head. The colour was more coppery than your typical tripel suggesting that it may be a little more hoppy. buteuse in tulip glass

It smelled of fruits, mild spices and herbs, apricot, ale malt and citrus hops. As it opened up the fruity aromas became pronounced. The look and smell of this beer is very enticing for those who enjoy Trappist beers. The first sip was amazing! It was crisp, a little harsh and heavy bodied but it felt nice and velvety around the tongue. Just the right ting of carbonation for a tripel. As it opened and warmed up it became smoother while maintaining its carbonation til the end. It was one very balanced beer that maintained its character til the very last sip.

As the beer touched my tongue I was brought into a delicious landscape of citrus, ale malt, spiced and a little kick of bitter at the end. Although the alcohol level was very high it was masked by the mildly sweet savoury flavours. Drinking this beer I could picture myself sitting on a bank of le Trou du Diable being tempted to let myself slide slowly into its pull.

Overall this beer was amazing for both its balanced palate and depth of flavour! The hardest part of doing this review was stopping and appreciating why it was soooo good. I just wanted to drink it down as soon as possible (which for a tripel is not that easy). This was a 600 ml bottle priced just under 10$. This is now one of my favourites and I will be recommending it for years to come and most definitely drinking again! Overall I rate this beer a 4.5 out of 5.

Cheers and À votre santé,

Matt

PS. Here is the link to the story, it is very creepy…

La Barberie Stout Impérial: Perfect start… sticky finish

This week I tasted a local imperial stout that I had never tried before. La Barberie is a small cooperative brewery that is based in Quebec city. They pride themselves for their unique brews, local tasting room and their ability to engage with the community.

La Barberie Imperial stout comes in a 5oo ml bottle, ABV of 7.5% and retails for $4.95.

At first pour this Imperial Stout lived up to its name. It poured a rich dark brown colour and gave about two fingers of caramel head. The head settled down to about a 1/8 inch and lasted until the very last sip, slowly lacing the glass on it way down. Once poured it was a dark brown colour that was just a touch lighter than other imperials I have had. For stout drinkers this pint screamed just pick me up and sip me already!

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This beer started with a strong roasted oatmeal smell that was followed up by a coffee almost caramel smell that ended with a sharp hoppy finish. As it opened up the smell became a little sweeter and the hint of coffee became more pronounced. The smell led me to expect a rich balanced full body beer that would have a hoppy aftertaste.

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The first sip was harsh and more carbonated than I like my imperial stouts to be. Although it had a good medium to heavy body that rolled nicely in the mouth, after about half a pint it became a little sticky on the tongue. It was slightly less balanced than I was expecting and dryer than other imperial stouts that I have tried.

Then there was the taste…

It was roasted, a bit sweet, I could taste oatmeal and a hint of coffee and chocolate. It was well rounded at first with the roasted oatie mildly sweet taste but by the middle the hop took over and as it warmed up it seemed to get more roasted and peaty. A bit underwhelming compared to the original smell.

Overall I like this beer, but it definitely is not one of my favourite stouts. It was a bit of a downward slope of an experience. It started really high with the pour and the smell. The palate and flavour were a bit of a bust. It was much harsher and more one dimensional than I was expecting. I became tired of drinking it about 3/4 of the way through my pint. If you were to try it, I would recommend sharing a 500 ml bottle and using a classic pint glass or even a flute, which I would not normally use for an imperial.  For my detailed specs click on read more after the article

Overall I rate this beer a 3.5 out of 5

Cheers and À votre santé.

Matt

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A taste of beer!

The journey of a thousand beers starts with one sip.

For the last year I have been trying various beers in hopes of learning about the drink that I have been drinking for the last 13 years. I realize that there is no particular type of beer that I prefer (despite the name of the blog). I just simply relish savouring each beer and trying to understand why it tastes the way it does.

I have dabbled a little in home brewing in hopes of understanding the process and origin of the flavours that I am tasting. I used a pre-made grain kit and made 9 bottles. It took 4 hours of hard work, 1 month wait and a surprising level of attention to detail but in the end it was worth every minute.  I was amazed at how hard the process was and at the nuances that were involved in developing its flavours. This has given me a profound respect for all brewmasters and the art of creating a great tasting beer.

Who Am I?

I am from Montréal and my tastes have been influenced by some of our best local beers. This blog will surely lean towards Montreal’s local brews and brewpubs. Don’t worry, there are plenty of local pubs and I will be trying bottles from wherever I can get them.

I have made this blog to share my findings with fellow beer drinkers. If there is something that I like almost as much as beer it’s talking about beer! Whether it is in a pub, on a beach, at home or on the interwebs, I love discussing beer! So I invite you to share some of your favourite beers and to let me know what you think of my blog.

Cheers and À votre santé!

Matt