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Monday, June 8, 2009

Canadian Champagne? La Futee Blanche

While I continue to play catch-up in my ever increasingly busy life (boo hoo), Rob Symes comes through and saves the day by forwarding me a recent review he did of a Canadian Champagne beer from Quebec. This will be Symes fourth guest appearance here on the old GCPB blog and you can expect many more posts from him in the future.

A month or so ago I became a Canadian citizen, and the impending celebration had me thinking about what to celebrate with. For some bizarre reason champagne has managed to corner the market in this department, but I’m a) not splashing out at least $50 on a bottle and b) a beer drinker. Luckily relief came from one of the rarest forms of beer in the market – a Bière de Champagne – beer brewed with champagne yeast to produce the sparking spritziness and pop that we would expect from a veuve cliquot. What’s even better, this beauty is from Canada. Au Maître Brasseur is a Quebec brewery with two champagne-style beers under their belt already, so if you love beer and have a celebration coming up you might want to hit these guys up. Anyway, here’s how I found their beer, La Fûtée Blanche:

This is an impressive looking beast of a bottle. 750 ml, corked and caged with gold foil around the neck - it looks all the part of a champagne beer, and pours into our champagne flutes the colour of apple cider with an impressive white mousse. While the head dies down somewhat it is adequately sustained by the high carbonation and lays down the odd streak of lace. Its a nice appearance, though I do feel a clearer beer would have been a better choice for the style.

The aroma is a tad subdued, but is characteristic of a malt-forward wit. Orange peel and coriander mix in with apple and pear. Overall, its clean and seems appropriate for a champagne style - I mean I'm not expecting to be punched in the face by the aroma as soon as the cork is popped.

The flavours are nice, leaning heavily toward a Belgian Wit, but with more fruity esters than I'd normally expect. Orange, coriander and wheat make up the expected character, but banana and apple also make their presence felt. The finish is crisp, with a fresh orange sharpness cleaning the palate. Its a delicate, but delicious range of flavour which I really appreciated, and my wife loved.

The carbonation is perhaps the most marked characteristic of this style. A true biere de champagne should recall that we call champagne 'bubbly'. La Futée Blanche just scrapes in. I really expected a higher, more aggressive level of carbonation, but didn't find it here. While the carbonation was high it seemed more transient in the mouth, which is a minus for the style, but a plus for me. My fear was that I'd find this style of beer to be too bubbly and, if poorly done, bloating. Fortunately I really enjoy this mouthfeel - the carbonation is soft and gentle in the mouth, despite the high number of bubbles. Also, while, it doesn't linger to long, it does do an excellent job of refreshing the palate.

The drinkability is high. We had a 750 ml bottle, and it was gone before we knew it. So why don’t you ditch the traditional bubbly and jump on the beer bandwagon?

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