Style: Russian Imperial Stout
From: St- Jerome Quebec, Canada
Brewer’s Note: “The Grande Noirceur (Great Darkness) is an intense and dense black beer with strong roasted flavours. Its imposing bitterness is balanced by the presence of malted, caramel notes. The high alcohol content is well integrated and discreet, well suited to this beer’s complex nature./ This stout style, high in alcohol and bitterness in order to favour preservation, was originally brewed to support the long and arduous voyage necessary to export the beer from England to Russia. The word Imperial comes from the fact that the beer was specially brewed for the Russian tsar’s court./ The name of this beer refers to the Prime minister Duplessis political era (1945-1960) when the Quebec government was under the strong influence of the church and willingly kept the inhabitants into ignorance and away from progress./ The Grande noirceur was born in our Montreal brewpub in March 2004”
I love the labels of Dieu Du Ciel. Something about their cartoony/art nouveau-style really clicks with my eyes. In overall execution, the title font is bland and there is too much clutter on the sides of the label, yet I still really like the label. The terrifying head of some nasty politician is an excellent center piece for the label, and it gives a nice focus to a lovely little scene. Color-scheme is also perfect and really makes my eye dance around the label. In the end, I am keeping this label. I like it.
The beer pours like used up motor oil- thick and black. It nearly oozes out of the bottle, and leaves no head behind, and only a slight hint of very dark khaki (nearly orange) bubbles. This stout has one of the smallest head formations I have ever seen on a beer, which is fine with the style and looks fine upon this beer, but is still slightly puzzling. When washed up against the sides of the glass, the beer leaves thin and drizzling legs of alcohol to evaporate into the air. In body, the beer is viscous and impenetrable to the eye. On the nose, the beer smells like a proper RIS. Smooth roasted malt mingles with dark chocolate and French roast coffee notes. As you swirl the beer, notes of earth and must kick up into the nose suggesting a decaying forest floor alongside the roast malt character. Herbal black licorice dances around the nose as well, slightly blurring with the beers soft touch of booze. This is a luxurious and complex scent for a beer. On the tongue, the beer tastes softly sweet with chocolate and bread nuances. These are balanced by a smooth bitter roast with just a kiss of grassy hops at the finish. Hot alcohol does burn through the second half of the sip, but it is blended in with the other elements and does nothing to hurt the taste of the beer. This is a true work of balance in an RIS; sure, the flavors are big and intense, but overall this beer is quite smooth on the palate. In flavor, the beer begins as smooth chocolate malt, sweet cherries, just a ghost of raisin, and then spicy booze. This opens into rich French roast coffee, dark chocolate, and then decaying leaves and must. The finish turns to black licorice and root beer with smooth dark chocolate coating the back of the throat. The aftertaste is of licorice and chocolate. As the beer warms, I also start to get hints of whipped cream at the finish, which add a rich, dessert-like character to the beer. In the mouth, the beer feels oozingly fat, yet divinely silky and smooth in mouthfeel. The beer is of a heavier body, and though the smoothness helps to hide this, the way the beer oozes off the back of the palate in the finish suggests quite a heavy beer. Carbonation is practically none-existent, with only the tiniest prickle making me aware of its presence in this beer. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly damp in the middle of the tongue, but with a nice roasted-dry feeling throughout the rest of the mouth. The mouthfeel is quite luxurious, and nearly perfect, but I do wish it had just a little more grip on my tongue, so as to let me know the true weight of the beer. This beer is quite delectable, overall. Rich and complex malt flavors blend perfectly together to give a superb sip. This beer is also a great candidate for aging for one to two years, as the final traces of booze will surely meld away and bring the rich malts to further complex glory. Dieu du Ciel’s twist caps are a worry with oxidation, however, so if you do age a bottle be sure to dip it in wax. This beer is, of course, ready to drink as is, and provides quite a beautiful experience on the palate. This is the most balanced RIS I’ve had to date, and it is one of the best that I have tasted.