My readers have spoken out and I have given a beer another chance.
Last week, I reviewed an oatmeal stout on the recommendation of someone working in a craft beer boutique that I visited for the first time. But before I say more, I want to back up a bit and make a clarification.
In my review, I may have given the impression that I was unhappy with the man in the boutique because his chat kept me in the store for far longer than I had planned to stay.
That part is true.
The man was a friendly, knowledgeable, helpful person who obviously loves craft beer and likes to talk about it.
It was also evident that the man liked to talk about many subjects, as our conversation moved from one topic to the next. At one point, I wondered when he was going to wrap up, but it became clear after nearly 30 minutes that if, given the chance, he would have chatted with me all afternoon, or until another client would require his help.
I want to make it clear that if I had had the afternoon to chat, I would have done so. The man is a warm, delightful person who is, as I said, friendly and knowledgeable. But the initial purpose of my visit to his store, Bières du Monde, was to quickly go to A) check it out, B) grab a beer that I knew was there, and C) get back to work.
For me, a trip to Bières du Monde should take far less time than a similar trip to Broue Ha Ha, which is where I had been going prior to learning about this closer shop. From where I work, I can drive to Bières du Monde and back in less time than it would take me just to get to Broue Ha Ha.
On Tuesday morning, as I was preparing to go to work, I checked my e-mail and learned that I had received a comment on my post about the oatmeal stout. And Bières du Monde. It was an apology, from the owner of this boutique, for my feelings about the stout and about his chattiness. He also wanted to give me another bottle of Le Castor to try again.
And this time, he added, when I came in, he wouldn't talk my ear off.
He signed his name, Ryan.
After work, on Tuesday, I paid Ryan a visit. I wanted to apologize, to his face, for unwittingly painting him in a bad light. When I arrived, I saw a young man behind the counter and I asked him if Ryan was in.
"I'm Ryan," he said.
"Really?" I replied. "I'm Ross."
He looked at me and said he didn't recognize me. "That's because you're not the person I met last time I was here," I said.
He instantly knew who I had written about. His name is André.
I apologized for the tone of my post, but wanted to make it absolutely clear that I did think André was a great guy, was very helpful, and that I would continue to visit the store.
Ryan, true to his word, gave me a complimentary bottle of Le Castor to try again.
Last night, I cracked open the bottle and poured a glass, approaching the stout with a clean slate.
Let's begin, again.
Oatmeal Stout (5% ABV)Colour: this is the lightest-coloured oatmeal stout I've ever seen. A clear but dark walnut colour with slightly red highlights, this stout reminded me of an A&W root beer, with its thick, dense, taupe foam. The appearance is the only aspect of my tasting that remained the same.
Microbrasserie Le Castor
Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5
Nose: coffee, roasted malts, and a hint of chocolate.
Palate: rich, dark chocolate, espresso, with a touch of smoke in the finish.
Overall impression: Much better. While I did not suspect a fault in the first bottle I tried, I did think there was something wrong with the stout. And I blamed the brewer. To him, I also owe an apology. This is a seductive oatmeal stout with great flavours from beginning to end. It's exactly what I expected an oatmeal stout to be with a little bit more.
There was no charred wood taste, whatsoever, in this bottle. Le Castor is creamy smooth in the mouth with the right amount of smoke at the end.
Thank you to my readers for encouraging me to take another look at this ale. You've opened my eyes. Le Castor is a keeper.
And I'd like to send a special thank you to Ryan, for his kindness and generosity. Though I was planning to be a repeat customer before we met, he has solidified my commitment to his shop.
If any of my readers has not yet visited Bières du Monde, do so as soon as you can.
And tell Ryan or André, when you see them, that I sent you.