I bought this beer by accident.
The first time.
I saw it, stacked among the miriad unknown labels of Québec microbrasseries that I see at the grocery store that is a short drive from my office. Over the past few months, I would visit this craft beer section in search of potentially interesting brews that I was collecting for the advent beer calendar that I was making.
For the past few years, some of my social-media beer buddies and I would enter our name in a draw. We would select a name and then purchase 24 different brews, which we would wrap, write a number on, and assemble in a box. We exchanged these "calendars" before December 1.
In selecting cans and bottles from this Québec grocer, I would pick up two of any beer that caught my eye. I would try it, and if I liked it I would add it to the advent calendar.
I would never give a beer that I wouldn't drink, myself.
I saw a bright yellow can of a blond ale by Drummondville brewers, Le Bockale. By the microbrewery's name, I thought it was a bock, but reading the label of La Candide, I learned that it was a blonde ale.
Next to this yellow can, by contrast, was a black can with images of hops: my eyes quickly read IPA, and I added this ale to my basket.
The blonde was decent—nothing special but with no faults that I could detect. If offered to me again, I would probably drink it but I wasn't sure that I would seek it out again. I rated it a 2.5 (middle of the road). Blonde ales are not my favourite but I still thought that it was worth adding to the calendar, and I hoped that my recipient would enjoy it.
After finishing the blonde, I reached for the IPA. It was at this point that I looked more closely at the label.
IPA Sans Alcool, it read.
I've only had a few non-alcohol beers in the past: Beck's, which tastes like filtered vomit, and a couple of the President's Choice brews, which taste like the president has made a couple of bad decisions.
So, how does this Québec brew taste? Let's have a closer look.
Découverte IPA Sans Alcool (0.5 % ABV)
Microbrasserie Le Bockale
Appearance: a murky, pale yellow, like pineapple juice, and a thick, foamy, white head.
Nose: a citrus bouquet with slight, flinty pepper. It certainly smells like a full-bodied IPA.
Palate: it starts slightly creamy with mild grapefruit. I was reminded of the grapefruit San Pellegrino, without the bold effervescence. It was fruity and watery.
Overall impression: it's not particularly complex but it's refreshing. You sure can drink it quickly without the fear of a buzz. It's refreshing and tastes like a light beer, with a good flavour but without a bold body. For a non-alcohol beer, it far surpasses any others that I have tried.
So, would I recommend it? Let me put it this way: I added it to the advent beer calendar that I was building, I recommended it to a friend who was looking for beer but was avoiding alcohol, and I've purchased it for myself a couple more times.
It's my best mistake and a great discovery. Or, as they say in French, mon meilleur découverte.
If you're looking to reduce your alcohol intake, this holiday season, but like a beer with decent hops, this is your brew.
Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5