Smuggled across the Quebec border at great physical risk, Bucky thanks L.K. for the opportunity to sample some of the ‘Belle Gueule' line of beers from Les Brasseurs RJ of Montreal. Apparently Les Brasseurs RJ was formed in 1998 from the merger of three microbreweries: Les Brasseurs GMT, La Brasserie Le Cheval Blanc and Les Brasseurs de l'Anse.
First up was Belle Gueule Houblon (“Houblon”). Houblon came in a 341 ml standard brown bottle and was 6.2% alcohol by volume. Houblo ... n poured a very clear golden amber colour with plenty of visible carbonation bubbles. Pouring produced a thin layer of white foam which left some respectable lacing down the glass. Its aroma was primarily of grapefruit with undertones of lemon…all hops on the nose. The taste began with sweet caramel malts which then gave way to bitter grapefruit and lemon, with the bitter citrus flavours lingering as an aftertaste…nothing overpowering or unpleasant though. Houblon was light/medium bodied with an average level of carbonation, and judged by Bucky to be the best of the Belle Gueule beers sampled on this evening.
Belle Gueule Rousse, from the standard 341 ml brown bottle and with a 5.2% alcohol content, poured an attractive copper red/brown colour. The beer was clear enough that carbonation bubbles were visible. Pouring produced a thin off-white head that left behind some moderate lacing and spotting as it retreated down the glass. Its aroma was of roasted malts with perhaps a touch of roasted nuts as well. The flavour was much the same as the aroma but with an added mild hop presence in the finish. Light to medium bodied and with much the same carbonation level as the other beers in the Belle Gueule line, Belle Gueule Rousse had a dry mouth feel. Overall, a fairly simple, straightforward brew and worth visiting.
Belle Gueule Originale (“Originale”) came in a brown 341 ml bottle and was 5.2% alcohol by volume. It poured a clear amber/gold colour with visible carbonation bubbles, and a thin white head without much in the way of retention or lacing/spotting. Originale's had a grainy and malty aroma with no hops detectable on the nose. The flavour very much followed the aroma with a sweet malt and grainy open, with a very mild bitterness in the finish. I would describe the beer as light bodied with an average carbonation level, and a dry, crisp mouth feel. Not in the same class as RJ's Houblon, but a decent summer beer nonetheless.
Making his way through the samples kindly provided by L.K., Bucky moved on to Belle Gueule Pilsner (“BGP”) in a 341 ml bottle. BGP was 5.2% alcohol by volume. The beer poured a clear (clarity being a notable feature of all the Belle Gueule beers sampled to date), golden yellow colour with a thin white head that left some modest lacing in its wake. Its aroma was fairly subdued with sweet, grainy malts and a faint hop presence. Subdued best describes the flavours as well…sweet grainy malts up front followed by a hint of hops and a relatively clean, dry finish. BGP was a light bodied beer with the standard level of carbonation. Not a bad beer by any stretch, but given the Belle Gueule beers sampled during this session, BGP was the least good of the range.
Belle Gueule Blonde d'Ete was 4.5% alcohol by volume and came in the standard Canadian 341 ml brown bottle. Blonde d'Ete poured a crystal clear golden yellow colour with plenty of visible carbonation bubbles, and pouring produced a thin layer of white head which left little in the way of lacing or spotting. Its aroma was a combination of light lemon citrus and cereal grains. Blonde d'Ete's taste began with a malt sweetness, followed the same lemon citrus/grains that were evident in the aroma, with a very mild hop bitterness in the finish. No lingering aftertaste here…the finish is quite clean and crisp. The beer was light bodied with an appropriate level of carbonation, and overall I would have to describe it as a light, refreshing summer beer. A superior alternative to the macro brews.