Thought by some to be oldest fermented drink in the world, beer has long been a staple of social gatherings through the ages. And just like those who enjoy it, every beer is unique, from lagers and ales to dark beers and more. For those wishing to expand their foamy horizons, the abundance of options can seem intimidating. With this in mind, I recently paid a visit to the Ale House for a guided beer tasting.
The night started off with a trio of lagers: Sapporo, Jever and Belle Gueule. All three had the expected crisp taste and thirst-quenching traits found in lagers, but there was still a splash of variety between the three. The Japanaese Sapporo was very crisp, if a little bland, like a Molson Canadian with less bite. Jever, a German staple, had an earthy, floral smell with a kick of hops in the taste. Quebec’s Belle Gueule, on the other hand, sat between the other two with a balanced taste and lingering sweetness.
From lagers we moved into more flavorful beers. Starting off the next chapter was a Belle Gueule Rousse Red Ale. This was a nice change from the lagers with a fuller taste, containing notes of caramel and roasted coffee, making for a very smooth taste. Next was Oranje Weisse (Dutch for “Orange White”), a crisp and refreshing white beer. This is definitely a beer for the summer months with a fruity and refreshing taste; it was almost like a Radler, but without that overbearing sweetness.
As we drained our glasses of Oranje Weisse, our waiter returned, this time with a pair of India Pale Ales (IPA): Imperial IPA and Phillips Hop Circle. IPAs can be a bit of an acquired taste, and both of these beers came on strong in the hops department with a very bitter taste. Of the two I preferred the smoother Imperial, but both were too bitter for some.
Back to Quebec, our next beer was Coup de Grisou. This beer, made with buckwheat, had a unique taste with a mix of spices and fruit flavors present. Following the spicy Coup de Grisou was Red Racer Pumpkin Spice ale. As expected, this beer was delicious, with the typical pumpkin spice flavor, as well as a hint of actual pumpkin. Though it currently feels out of season, I can definitely see myself picking a bottle up come October.
Our next beer was ominously named Fin du Monde. Brewed in Quebec, this beer was gold and creamy with a tall foamy head and enough taste to mask the strong nine per cent alcohol content. The beer was one of my favorites of the night with a smooth, creamy taste, and though it’s a bit pricy on its own, it’s more than just a beer to get drunk on.
Finishing off the tasting was a pair of very flavorful “dessert” beers: Younga Double Chocolate Stout and Fruili Strawberry. The Younga tasted like fresh roasted coffee and dark chocolate, with a dark color, while the Fruili was light and fruity, similar to wine. Both beers were stellar, and though I’m not sure I’d want more than one or two of each, they’re definitely worth a taste.
So whether you’re a fan of beer or not, a tasting is a great way to learn more about one of the world’s most popular beverages, and if a full tasting isn’t your style, I’d still suggest picking up a few of the beers mentioned here on your own. You never know, you might just leave with a new favorite.
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