La Chouape – India Pale Ale

Canada is known for many things: hockey, free healthcare, some pretty good syrup, but I can’t help but typically leave quality beer off that list.  I can blame it on nothing more than ignorance.  Even googling top Canadian beers, I came up with one quality beer that is produced there: Unibroue.  Therefore, I couldn’t help but ask my wife to look around Canada and see what she could find when she headed up there this summer.  The last beer I reviewed from our neighbors to the north was extremely good, so I was more than happy to break into yet another bottle she brought home with her.  Lets hope we go two for two.

La Chouape is located in Quebec and has a pretty solid line-up they carry.  They carry everything from a Stout, to AIPA, to a Belgian Dark Ale.  Looking up some additional information on them is once again a challenge because of my lack of French skills.  Ironically, much of the bottle is in both English and French; however, the site they direct you to is completely in French.  I did read that every ingredient comes from their farm in St-Félicien. I think that is a pretty cool detail.  Everything seems to be going green now-a-days, so it is nice to know they know exactly where all of their ingredients are coming from.

The bottle indicates that their IPA is actually listed as more of an American IPA.  I guess because it is an IPA made outside of America.  Seems to make sense to me.  The beer also states that it has generous hops, some malts, and fruity notes as well.  The only confusing thing I found on the bottle was where they state it is a strong ale on lees; however, I of course used this as an opportunity to grow.  Lees are the deposit of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after fermentation.  So, I suppose there could be some floaters in here.

Pouring this one out results in a rich copper color.  I was thinking this might poor out a little lighter than this, but it is almost a light red. I was actually a little happy about this.  Lately I have loved the dark beers; therefore, the prospect of this being a little different take on an IPA was very interesting.  There is also a very light white head that develops on the pour.  The head is definitely not too significant, which actually explains some things about the tasting.  Additionally, swirling the glass does bring about some slight lacing; however, all in all, it is not all that significant.  Of course, while the lacing is not all that significant, it does last for a little while.

The smell has a very citrus scent at the onset.  The piney hoppy notes are definitely present in the aroma.  There is no question that you are about to consume an IPA.  The hops are really present in the smell, but there are definitely some slight malts in the there as well.  I was surprised that the malts were coming through as strong as they were despite the overwhelming presence of heavy hops.  One striking thing was the earthy tones that were coming off this one.  I can’t help but feel that this has to be because it basically comes straight from the farm.

The taste was perhaps the most surprising aspect.  Maybe most of my IPA’s recently have been too hoppy.  I have had another one or two of Devil Dancer since the post I made; however, this one did not overwhelm me with hops at the start.  Actually, at the start there is an orangey, malty flavor.  These malts blend nicely into the hops, which are definitely still present.  This is almost a great IPA for both the lovers and haters out there.  However, once the hops start they come on strong.  Unlike most beers I have, I can’t say there is a beginning, middle, and end to the tasting.  This one is more of a two parter.  Combined with the hops are some nice fruit flavors, but the piney hops really overpower those fruit flavors.  The earthiness really persists throughout.

The biggest issue I have with this one is a lack of carbonation. Because this bottle is slightly bigger than your typical beer, I got about three pours out of it.  Therefore, I had a few different attempts at tasting it straight out of the bottle.  The carbonation is okay if you drink it right away, but it really starts to disappear quickly.  I’m not sure how you create carbonation that lasts, but they could stand to put a little more carbonation in this one.  Otherwise, there is a slight creamy feel to this one that carries through to the end.  It is interesting to mix the creamy and the hops into one.  But, I don’t hate it.  I think it’s just a good take on an IPA.

All in all, I’ve been pretty happy with my new craft Canadian beers.  While this one doesn’t fall in line with my favorite IPA’s, I do think it is a pretty good take on an IPA.  There is definitely some slight things I would do to improve this one, but I don’t think it would take much.  I would have to call this one a win.  If you happen to see this one around, I would pick it up.

Teacher Grade: B


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