First Draught: Chaman, a hoppy and aromatic imperial pale ale from Quebec
By David Ort
Scary mascot, good beer (Image: David Ort)
This March, let’s agree to not force our beer into the indignity of wearing green. Instead, beers like Chaman imperial pale ale from Quebec’s Dieu du Ciel!, which have the ever-green flavour of hops, seem like a more appropriate way to celebrate spring.
The imperial pale ale style came out of the thriving craft beer scene in the Pacific Northwest. Lots of warming alcohol, strong flavours and an especially heavy hand with the hops characterize the type.
Chaman pours a hazy amber orange with more than a finger’s worth of off-white head. A patient and careful assessment of the aroma will be rewarded. What starts as pine resin will pass through grapefruit zest and hints of tropical fruits on its way to a calm earthiness as the head fades and the beer warms slightly. Give it at least a full minute before you take the first sip.
Chaman’s flavour accomplishes what every imperial pale ale should: a hard-fought, heavyweight match between bitter hops and sweet, bready malt that goes a full nine rounds. The strong background of alcohol (nine per cent) supports both flavours without getting in the way.
The importance of glassware is worth a specific mention here. Beer tulips or small snifters (like you might use for brandy) are purpose-built to capture the wonderful aroma of beers like imperial pale ales. Even a large wine glass will do the job in a pinch. It’s an especially bad idea to drink a beer like Chaman straight from the bottle. A lot of work goes into making it as aromatic as possible, and that effort goes to waste if it can’t open up in a glass.
Chaman is part of the LCBO’s spring release, which will begin hitting stores soon. Look for the green labels with the frightening mascot.
Chaman from Dieu du Ciel!, LCBO #309658
In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David Ort writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including Spotlight Toronto and his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter.