Dieu du Ciel Solstice d’hiver

Dieuduciel_solsticehiver_verreBrewer: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal, QC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of the brewery’s Momentum Series, which is an annual cycle of twelve seasonal releases. As their winter release, this traditional English-style barley-wine style ale celebrates the winter solstice with a winter warmer.

Tasting Notes: I’m a fan of barley wine, and I considered trying the Solstice d’hiver necessary having sampled the Solstice d’ete not that long ago. But I have to say this particular barley wine was too on the coarse and strong side for me. It’s got the usual notes of dark fruit and sugars and is a shade of brown so deep and opaque that it could easily pass for a stout. But the alcohol in this beer is so potent that it overpowers just about everything else.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, raisins, dates, sugars, strong alcoholic bite
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, hints of dates and raisins, brown sugar, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and alcoholic bite
Overall: 7.5/10

Salt Spring Island Fireside Winter Ale

saltspring_alesDuring my most recent trip to the beer store, I decided to pick up a bottle of this seasonal release from Salt Spring Island Brewery.There were three reasons for the purchase, the most obvious being that it is a perfect example of a winter ale, name and all. The second is the fact that I can remember sampling this beer many years back, and couldn’t for the life of me recall if I gave it a review or not. And so I decided that for the latest review in this holiday segment, to take a second run at this seasonal brew.

saltspring_firesideYes, I could remember sampling it many years back, back when it came in a wide-bottom bottle with a stopper, and not the sleek 650 ml bottle it comes in today (see what I mean?) However, the style and flavor of the beer is just as I remembered it. Much like their other ales, this beer is fashioned with organic barley and spring water, and contains a malty profile that is clean, slightly sweet, and has a dry finish that is reminiscent of cider, as well as their seasonal Gruits. But above all, what one gets from this beer is a dark, syrupy ale that is fruity and slightly spicy.

Appearance: Dark ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Tart, fruity malts, orchard fruit, cider-like
Taste: Slightly sweet, viscous malts, mild tang, notes of apricot, peaches
Aftertaste: Lingering malts and hints of spice and dry finish
Overall: 8/10

Only a few more days to go, and many more beers to try! Hope it’s finding everyone safe, warm, dry, and with plenty of good cheer. If not, winter beer has been known to help with all that!

Dead Frog Winter Beeracle

deadfrog-winterbeeracleGuess what I just got in the mail? Yep, another sampler pack from the Dead Frog Brewery. And today, consistent with the Christmas season, is their latest version of Winter Beeracle. This year, they’ve altered the recipe somewhat, going from a spiced amber ale of last year to a dark ale with a different palate.

In this batch, the flavors of note are vanilla, which accent the chocolate malts quite well, and some orange peel that add actual citrus to the hop profile (Cascade and Perle). In the end, what comes of it is a gentle Winter Warmer with a flavor that compliments Christmas deserts quite well, is low in bitterness (25 IBUs), but still packs a respectable alcoholic punch (7.5% alc/vol).

WinterbeeracleAppearance: Very dark brown-red, transparent, light foam retention
Nose: Immediate notes of vanilla, slight zest
Taste: Strong vanilla accent, sweet malts, notes of chocolate
Aftertaste: Slightly bitter aftertaste, citrus hops and orange zest
Overall: 8/10

Not a bad winter warmer, Dead Frog. The flavor, strength and spices are all warm, inviting, tasty and sweet. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of mulled wine, hot spice cider, and other holiday beverages that combine fruit, spice and warm your ribs! I envision figgy pudding going very well with this, or chocolate chow mein cookies, or short breads dipped in chocolate. Damn, I need to start pressuring the family to start making Christmas cookies!