Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beer O'Clock: Cross-Border Shopping, Again

I'm such a scofflaw: breaking the rules about bringing beer across provincial borders. Shame on me.

But it's worth it. I do it for you.

Last week, I told you about a shop that is close to my office and sells some really good beer, including my favourite beer of the National Capital Craft Brew Week. Remember how I said I cleaned them out of their supply of that beer.

Look! Lots of IPA!
That wasn't very fair of me, but I found another place in Gatineau that sells way more of the St-Ambroise IPA. And I didn't take any. I'm leaving it for you.

You're welcome.

Last week, one of my foodie friends, Katy Watts, took me to the Mecca of Québec beer. We were also met by another beer-loving friend, Martin Couto—aka The Beer Baron—who was familiar with this place that truly is the Beer Heaven of the Gatineau region. And its name sounds somewhat maniacal: Broue Ha Ha.

Located on Boulevard St-René Ouest (just south of la Vérendrye and l'Hopital), the store can easily be missed if you don't see the small black sign in the mini mall. The outside of the building is unassuming, but once inside, the colourful bottle tables and neatly lined shelves give you pause. It truly is outstanding.

Katy, doin' some shoppin'
Shelves are organized by beer styles, from blondes, reds, browns, and dark, it's easy to find the beer you like. It is a truly impressive selection of small craft brewers from within Québec and imported from outside of Canada. You won't find Coors Light here.

I picked up a modest collection of beer, ranging from IPAs to brown, to stouts. I'll be reviewing them in the coming weeks, but for today I thought I'd share my impression of a beer that was highly recommended by Martin. It's a Scotch Ale, a style I really like when it's done right.

Here are the details:
MacKroken Flower Scotch Ale
Saint-Hyacinthe, QC
Broue Ha Ha: $6.99 plus deposit & tax, 500 ml; 10.8% ABV
This is a caramel-brown ale with slight hints of red and a creamy, beige head that lies thin, but stays. Brewed with honey, there is a sweetness that brings tones of toasted caramel and creamy malt. On the palate, the creaminess carries through with a gentle smokiness and a sweetness that blends with the alcohol into a honey-rich finish.

For my liking, I found the alcohol to be a bit overpowering. It is a heady, warming ale. In a full pint, I felt the alcohol to be a little much. The bottle is good to share, not to have on your own. But I would gladly share it again (luckily, I bought two).

I'm looking forward to sampling the other purchases I made. And I'm hoping that the dated law for bringing alcohol over the border goes away soon. Then I won't feel guilty about recommending Broue Ha Ha and all they have to offer to you.


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