Well, my week of beer fell apart rather quickly. In my reckoning, six of the seven were good beers, with the the Austrian one being the exception. The one that I most highly recommend (based on both taste and value) is Weihenstephaner Vitus. I will hopefully write an actual review later this week. In the time being, just go buy it.
Tonight’s review is of a beer in that same group of LCBO spring releases. This one dropped a little later though, so wasn’t included in my initial buying spree. The full title of the beer is Dominus Vobiscum Lupulus and it comes from Microbrasserie Charlevoix in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. They make other beers with the “Dominus Vobiscum” label, so I will stick to Lupulus from here on.
Lupulus is a Belgian IPA. This is a style which, as Beer Advocate informs me, is relatively new. From what I gather (and taste, as I will explain later), the style is somewhat similar to Belgian Tripel, but with a hoppiness that is more like an American IPA.
Firstly, before we get to the tasting notes, I just want to note that Lupulus has a gorgeously understated bottle. It’s essentially a champagne bottle capped with a standard beer bottle cap and has no real bottle art to speak of, just elegant text that suggests that the product inside is of a high quality. I suggest keeping it chilled in a refrigerator, a refrigerator without a freezer works great as well.
Lupulus (10% ABV) pours golden yellow in colour, with a shade of orange thrown in. There is a massive amount of foamy white head that, while nice to look at, makes the drinker be patient.
The smell reminds me of a tripel, with the typical Belgian yeasty tones. Additionally, there is a lot of fruit (apricot stood out for me). The heavy alcohol content comes through a bit on the nose as well.
The taste is sweet up front, with the yeasty, fruity tripel notes coming through strongly. If the beer ended there, I would be impressed – the front end is as good as any tripel I’ve ever had. However, it doesn’t finish there. Instead, the taste transitions to a complimentary bitterness that stays around. That combination, and the execution throughout, makes the best tasting beer I’ve ever had.
I should note that as the beer warms, the back end becomes more prominent. I’d suggest drinking it while still fairly cold, but it is an interesting exercise to see how the taste changes as it warms.
The mouthfeel is creamy, but not thick. And for a beer at 10%, this is incredibly drinkable.
Charlevoix isn’t a huge brewery and it’s not the most well known or celebrated brewery in Quebec. That being said, Lupulus is good enough to really put them on the map. It is simply the best beer I’ve ever had the privilege to drink. At $11.65 a bottle at the LCBO, it doesn’t seem cheap, but when you compare it to a bottle of wine, it’s not much pricier. My advice is buy this while you can – most LCBO stores have little to no stock of it and it will probably only be around a little while longer.
I know my rating system is far from perfect. I had planned to leave the 10/10 range empty for a while, but this beer has changed my mind. It is too good to give anything less than a 10. Congrats, Charlevoix, this is outstanding.