I’ve got mad cow disease!!! Reviewing two great beers from Charlevoix Brewers


It’s the beginning of May, snow has come and gone in Toronto and for the most part in Montreal, but in St-Sauveur, Quebec, there’s still enough snow to keep the rakes in the garage and wait until our next visit to rake the lawn. Instead, I decided to sit on my porch with only a t-shirt on (pants too), a beaming sun, the sound of water running wild down the creek at the end of my driveway and I opened up a beer that I purchased several weeks ago; Charlevoix’s Vache Folle RyePA. First off, Vache Folle means mad cow. I thought you’d appreciate this. Second, I tried their Vache Folle Milk Stout several months before and quite frankly, I was very impressed and for no apparent reason, I never got around to reviewing it. So, today is a two for one deal, Vache Folle RyePA and Vache Folle Milk Stout.

Let me start with the Milk Stout…

LaVacheImperialMilkStout1-225x300

This beer is brewed using lactose sugar for better results and the end product clearly paid off.

Look:  Gotta love a good stout when it’s pitch black. Add to this a creamy beige frothy head with good retention and you’ve got a winner stout. Eventually when the head died down, it left behind peaks and valleys along with uneven lacing.

Smell:  Picture a dark chocolate coffee cake cooling on a window ledge. Add to it a little acidity and alcohol… close your eyes, take it in, that’s it.

Taste: Complex. There’s a lot going on. It starts off with just the right amount of acidity and prickly feel then flavors start coming in one at a time almost. The milk chocolate, coffee and sweet caramel candy follow up with grain notes and dried fruits like raisins or cherries. This stout is one good beer. Oddly enough though, and despite what seems like a great review, I can’t say that it’s that much more memorable than say many other stouts, especially ones with chocolate or coffee.

Finish: A little dry with cacao powder.

Feel: Creamy and well carbonated –such seems to be the Charlevoix way.

Context: Right on.

Repeater: Yes but not necessarily my go-to if other stouts are around.

Pairing: Pork, pepper steak, salads and soft cheeses and desserts all go well with this beer.

Score: 80%

Price: 5.95$

Availability: Limited.

Beer type: Stout

Alcohol/Vol.: 9%

Brewery: Charlevoix

Country / Region: Quebec.

Vache Folle RyePA

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This one disappointed me a little.

Look:   Hazy coppery orange. Good foamy and creamy head that died down unevenly like melting snow.

Smell:  Reminiscent of the first time I smelled a beer. Malts, Rye and hops are all at the forefront. There are also hints of floral and pine mixed with sweetness.

Taste: Oh well. The nose was promising. I found this beer to be slightly in need of an identity. I felt the rye and malts dominated the taste along with peppery notes and some sweetness.

Finish: It finished a little sweeter with an alcohol kick.

Feel: Creamy and well carbonated.

Context: good

Repeater: Not really.

Pairing: Goes well with pork, pepper steak, salads and strong cheeses.

Score: 75%

Price: 5.95$

Availability: Limited.

Beer type: Rye beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 6%

Brewery: Charlevoix

Country / Region: Quebec.

I am not sure what to make of these guys, Charlevoix have clearly crafted two great beers but I don’t know that there’s a signature here except for the carbonation which was borderline excessive. Bluntly put, if this brewery was a guitar player, it would be a young Joe Satriani who, let’s face it is amazing, but we all know Hendrix or even Slash both sound better; they’re not as “clinical” and “perfect” instead, they have soul, a good tone and great riffs.

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