Thursday, June 30, 2016

Some Über Beer for Solstice d'été

In summer, it's not uncommon for me to find lighter, thirst-quenching beer. After all, I'm outside more—mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, cycling, or just hanging out on my front porch, trying to beat the heat.

I'm less likely to drink a stout than a session ale, or saison, or radler. And now, I may just reach for another thirst-satisfying brew: a raspberry ale.

But which raspberry ale would I reach for first? Over the past couple of weeks, I've had a chance to try two: one, which was given to me by my 13-year-old daughter, who picked out the bottle on her own, to give to me for Father's Day; the other, a raspberry beer that I picked out in a Gatineau shop, to enjoy as I celebrated St-Jean Baptiste Day (a Québec holiday, but for me, a day to relax and sip great ale).

It's an Ontario ale over a Québec beer.

In this post, I examined each of these tart treats in great detail, and we shall see which one beats out the other.

I started with the ale that my daughter bought me.
Raspberry Über Berliner Style Weisse (3.8% ABV)
Nickel Brook Brewing Company
Burlington, ON
Appearance: a murky, pinkish-red, like a ruby-red grapefruit cocktail, or red Kool-Aid, or a red sangria with a pink fruit juice and a splash or red wine. The head is a bright pink that fizzes and bubbles, and sat on top like a fresh-poured soda and vanished just as quickly. After the bubbles let go of the side of the glass, you're left with a faint effervescence. Some sediment was left at the bottom of the bottle.

Nose: candied raspberries.

Palate: sweet and tart raspberries come on strong. And even though fresh Ontario raspberries are used in the brewing process, I felt that I could taste something artificial, as though something more was added to enhance the fruit flavour. This flavour did not detract from the overall enjoyment of this German-styled ale—it is solidly enjoyable: tasty, refreshing, and clean, with no cloying finish.

Overall impression: my darling daughter chose this ale for me, and she chose well. When I first tried it, I knew that this would be a great beverage to quench my thirst on a hot day. This is a perfect alternative to a grapefruit or lemon radler, and I recommend this for a great summer beer.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4

The second raspberry beer comes from one of my favourite Québec brewers. I knew I was going to like it because I haven't had a beer from this company that I didn't like. But would I love it? And, would I love it more than the Nickel Brook raspberry beer?

Let's find out.
Solstice d'été Raspberry Strong Beer (5.9% ABV)
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
St-Jérôme, QC
Appearance: unfiltered, bright-red, with a brilliant, pink head that also settles to nothing, like soda. Lots of large bubbles cling to the sides of the glass (do I need to clean my glasses better?), and when they're gone, all that's left is a fine effervescence. Small pieces of actual raspberry fruit settle at the bottom of the glass.

Nose: this brew was fairly closed, at first, but slowly revealed its fresh raspberries.

Palate: sour, tart raspberries, which carry all the way to the finish. No alcohol is detected, which could make this a dangerous brew if you're used to lighter fruit ales and radlers. This drinks like a fizzy raspberry soda, without any sweetness. The sourness makes the fruit pop in your mouth, and if you bite into a piece of the fruit, the raspberry flavour is amplified. I looked forward to finding a piece in my mouth as I sipped my drink.

Overall impression: I'm not typically a fan of sour ales, but with the tart raspberries, I can't imagine this ale any other way. I loved those pieces of raspberries. This ale, as its name states, is a summer-solstice-inspired treat, and is made especially for this season.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4.5

So, which raspberry beer did I prefer? As you can see, the Dieu du Ciel choice squeaked ahead in the ratings, but only because of that sour punch and the real-fruit flavour burst when I chewed on the raspberry bits. But I would happily grab for both in the liquor store. I didn't see Über in Broue Ha Ha*, where I bought the Dieu du Ciel; likewise, I didn't see Solstice d'été in the LCBO. So it all comes down to where I pick up my beer—on which side of the border I shop.

Either way, you can't lose.


* Broue Ha Ha is open on Canada Day; the LCBO isn't.

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