Monday, January 21, 2013

Beer O'Clock: When In Winter...

Only in Ottawa can we go from above from above the freezing point, where we're wearing a sweater and a down-filled vest, to a deep freeze, where our parka just doesn't seem warm enough, in less than two days.

Welcome to winter.

Luckily, we Ottawans are a hearty bunch. When the snow has fallen and the wind chill makes the temperature feel like –20°C, we can head out and shovel our driveways, and break out in a sweat.

The best reward for enduring the bitter cold is to come inside, eat a chicken pot pie, and wash it down with a fine beer. But in winter, not any beer will do.

Enter this week's selection, from Québec, aptly named for this season.
Solstice d'hiver (Winter Solstice)
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
St-Jérôme, QC
Broue Ha Ha: $9.99 (plus tax, deposit), 4 x 341ml; 10.2% ABV
Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5 out of 5
This beer, a barley wine, is brewed in July and then aged for five or six months. As its name implies, it is released on December 21st—winter solstice. And with its hearty flavours and high alcohol content, it is a perfect winter ale.

Dieu du Ciel is also planning to release this "vintage" again this coming June 21 (its one-year anniversary) and again on the next winter solstice, the anniversary of its release.

A deep, murky, copper-brown colour with a creamy, beige head, I immediately detected a caramel nose with clove and some nutmeg. The spice carries through on the palate with slightly sweet toffee.

There is a great hoppy finish with lingering alcohol that isn't overpowering, despite it's high content.

This is a nice barley wine—the nicest I've had—but I wouldn't want to drink more than one in a sitting. The second time I tried it (after my initial tasting and review notes), I split the bottle with Lori while we had some homemade chicken pot pie. The beer was a great match. And it was a great way to reward myself after shovelling the driveway.

I plan to keep my remaining two bottles to open on June 21st and December 21st. I may provide an update.


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