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Quebec IPA offers tropical, fruity flavours

After my annual bièrcation to Montreal in April, I got news that Shawinigan’s Trou du Diable was going to be coming to Manitoba by the end of the spring. Well, it’s nearly the end of August and the brew is finally here.

The first time I heard of Trou du Diable was when they first introduced their Shawinigan Handshake beer, a German-style Weizen bock depicting the former prime minister Jean Chretien choking the devil — giving him the ‘Shawinigan Handshake.’

A few years later, they came out with another version of the label that’s frequently seen in Quebec and British Columbia, depicting Chretien choking Don Cherry.

Beer brands in Quebec seem to be able to get away with just about anything on their beer labels, but this is part of the Quebec beer culture — the beer artwork is part of the identity as much as the liquid in the bottle is. I love it.

The first Trou du Diable beer available in Manitoba is The Four Surfers of the Apocalypso, a tropical strong beer.

What surprises me is that the entire beer label is in English. I’m used to breweries in Quebec having a description in English/French but retaining the name of the beer itself in French. However, in this case, they use the English translation rather than Les Quatre Surfeurs de L’Apocalypso.

I would rather ask for a “quatres surfeurs” at a bar or the Liquor Mart than a “four surfers” — it would be much more fun. But that’s just me.

OK, now on to what’s in the bottle itself.

Four Surfers is a Belgian-style India Pale Ale, which means that you get tropical, fruity, citrusy and yeasty flavours and aroma — lots of fruit (as it is still the year of fruity beer) mixed with a liberal amount of bittering hops to give it a bit of a pine and metallic bitterness.

It pours a bright yellow straw to light orange with a thick amount of off-white creamy head on top. The foam quickly diminishes, leaving lots of residue on the glassware. It’s a very cloudy ale and there’s a bit of sediment floating throughout the beer.

The aroma reminds me of piña coladas and hops — there’s lots of tropical zest in the smell. There are notes of pineapple, a hint of grapefruit, lots of banana, and a light amount of Belgian yeastiness, followed up with fresh bitter hops that give it the aroma of pine, alfalfa, fresh-cut grass, and more hints of grapefruit.

The taste starts out very grainy, gritty and yeasty, with plenty of bread and lemon notes, a light amount of grapefruit, and a moderate amount of cascade hops to give it a nice pine bitterness.

I was expecting more banana and pineapple to make an appearance. It’s smooth and silky on the tongue, only leaving a light to moderate metallic bitterness from the hops for an aftertaste.

Belgian-style White India Pale Ales are a newer trend in the beer scene, and frankly, they’re hard to pull off because I find that the bitter hops and Belgian ales seem to clash. Four Surfers is no exception.

It’s certainly a great take on a Belgian Wheat Ale, but with the addition of an India Pale Ale to it? It just doesn’t work. The hops aren’t as bitter as I expected and some of the citrus notes we know and love in a Belgian ale just don’t pop out around the hops.

One thing is for sure — drinking this beer brings me back to relaxing on the patio over at Le Saint Bock brewpub in Montreal, with its distinct Quebec vibe.

At the time of writing, Four Surfers of the Apocalypso wasn’t listed on liquormarts.ca for stock availability, so it may be just rolling out in Manitoba right now.

I was able to find it at the Corral Centre Liquor Mart for $6.61 per 600mL bottle. You may be able to find it at the South End and 10th and Victoria Liquor Marts as well, but they didn’t have it in stock yet when I checked.

It packs a 6.5 per cent ABV punch.

3/5 Pints

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 21, 2015

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After my annual bièrcation to Montreal in April, I got news that Shawinigan’s Trou du Diable was going to be coming to Manitoba by the end of the spring. Well, it’s nearly the end of August and the brew is finally here.

The first time I heard of Trou du Diable was when they first introduced their Shawinigan Handshake beer, a German-style Weizen bock depicting the former prime minister Jean Chretien choking the devil — giving him the ‘Shawinigan Handshake.’

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After my annual bièrcation to Montreal in April, I got news that Shawinigan’s Trou du Diable was going to be coming to Manitoba by the end of the spring. Well, it’s nearly the end of August and the brew is finally here.

The first time I heard of Trou du Diable was when they first introduced their Shawinigan Handshake beer, a German-style Weizen bock depicting the former prime minister Jean Chretien choking the devil — giving him the ‘Shawinigan Handshake.’

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