I love to travel to find great beer. The LCBO is certainly improving their beer selection, however by getting out of Ontario you can open your fridge to a new world of exciting beers we just don’t see. The two most prominent destinations for me from Toronto are Buffalo and Quebec; both have many strong qualities as a beer buying destination, but Quebec may trump Buffalo in terms of random excitement.
Last time I was in Quebec, as usual, I grabbed a slew of random beers I’d never seen before, as well as beers whose labels I could not read or understand. Among the more legible beers was the Dominus Vobiscum Double, brewed by Microbrasserie Charlevoix located in Charlevoix Quebec. This would certainly be a new one to me, and I do love a good double, so I was excited.
Also, the Quebec brewers seem to have a strong understanding of Belgian style brewing, so I was hopeful for a good example here.
I took the Vobiscum out of the fridge about 10 minutes before I wanted to enjoy it so that it could warm up a little. You never want to have a beer that is rich like a double at fridge temperature; you will numb your palate and loose much of the flavor and aroma in the beer. This is precisely why the commercial brewers promote serving their beers ice cold; so you can’t taste how bad they are! But I digress.
The Vobiscum comes in a 500ml bottle and is 9.0% abv, another sign that these brewers are not simply messing around. Poured into a nice deep chalice, it flowed smoothly roaring a luscious head immediately. I slowed my pour as to not get more head than beer, and a beautiful and dense rocky beige tan head developed perfectly. The beer resting below was a hugely deep ruby brown shimmering with black and oak notes, dark mahogany and slight golds. It certainly looked the part so far.
The nose also stood the test ranging from caramel, figs, prunes, apricots, and dark chocolate to cloves, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, and licorice. It had a faint yeasty alcohol note on the end, and overall a mellow sweet warming malt sensation the whole way through. It was big and round like a double should be, so in I went for the real test.
Diving into the beer it brought rich dark fruity malts immediately across my tongue followed by rich prunes, plums, deep caramel malts and some dark malts as well. Soon enough, the sweet and rich malt was joined by clove, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, and pepper with dark chocolate finding its way in the back end. There are candied pears and peaches as well as licorice in the heart of the beer too. It’s vastly complex with massive flavors everywhere – but they are bright, fresh and distinct, rather than overbearing or dense.
A moderate amount of delicate carbonation on an otherwise full bodied beer creates an elegant and smooth mouthfeel complimenting the beer’s presence and overall character. Very little hops are to be found, as should be the case in a double, so balance comes from the smooth bitter chocolate helping round out the beer. Its alcohol is perfectly masked by the delicious flavors of the beer which are full and supremely balanced amongst each other.
The finish was smooth, clean and warming leaving me wanting more… much more! This was excellent. I was enjoying it with some friends and I could not stop talking about how perfect it was. I don’t think that Microbrasserie Charlevoix’s beers are available outside of Quebec, so if you are ever there make sure you find some! I have their Triple waiting for me in the fridge.