Every once in a while the Beergonaut doubt’s himself. This is what happened when I tried Chi Oriental, an Asian inspired white beer brewed with barley, wheat and rice and flavored with ginger and citrus, from Les Brasseurs de Montreal. I bought a sampler case of 12 which contained 2 of 6 different beers. Five of the 6 beers were easily reviewable but the Chi left me dumbfucked. Pardon my French. I tried Chi sometime between Christmas and New Year and I think I didn’t even finish it. I poured the remaining third right down the drain. I was so disappointed. I almost looked forward to reviewing it so that I could let its brewers know what a mistake it was. How pretentious of me, and how very contradicting of my positive attitude when it comes to appreciating all innovative efforts put into brewing beer.
I went back to the cottage several weeks later and, for no apparent reason, I decided to give it another try. I also thought it would be a good idea to read the bad reviews everywhere; so I thought. Well, to my surprise, it scored 84 on one site but then 44 on another site. The sites I am referring to are not one man’s review but several reviews compiled and averaged out to a final score. In other words, a great majority of folks on one site love it while the great majority of folks on the other site we not impressed, to say the least.
I kept an open mind, sat at the table then opened Chi. I gave it a fighting chance by pairing it with my homemade Tikka Masala Chicken and basmati rice from the night before. I was less disappointed but still, this one is a funny one. Also, I can add to this that “interesting” doesn’t always mean excellent. I had a savory foie gras creme brulee the other day and I can tell you it was good, but not worth being on the restaurant’s menu.
LOOK: The beer poured a hazy pale yellow with decent head that retained fairly well.
SMELL: It smells like ginger, citrus and wheat with very little nutmeg.
TASTE: Oh boy… You’ll either love it or hate it. The flavour of this beer is best appreciated with a meal, between bites. The ginger flavor is dominant yet felt a little too much like that of a cosmetic essence. The citrus wasn’t as present as I would have liked and quite frankly, I can’t decide whether the rice was an added benefit or just an adjunct ingredient that no one should brag about including in the mash. Thing is, I know I sound harsh, but with the proper meal pairing, it was somewhat enjoyable at one point and my second tasting gave it a better score because had I gone for the first tasting, it would have been a major bomb.
FINISH: The finish was dry with more ginger and some sort of a tingle left behind.
BODY: Medium body with good carbonation yet not a session beer.
CONTEXT: It’s a white alright, a white with a twist. Because of its key Asian ingredients, it certainly deserve the Oriental name yet to call it a white is not exactly accurate given that it’s been flavoured so much.
SPECIAL MENTION: Whether you like it or not, it deserves to be acknowledged for its style and innovative twist. That’s respectable.
Pairing: Pairs well with Indian, curry, sushi, Asian and Thai.
Price: 18$ x 12
Availability: All the time.
Beer type: White
Brewery: Brasseurs de Montreal
Country / Region: Montreal, Quebec
That’s it folks. Cheers!