Here’s a question for everyone reading this review. Is it possible for a beer to be intimidating? Can a beer with its alcoholic strength, full body, and jet black countenance be too terrifying a thing for even the most die-hard beer lovers to approach? If so, it’s possible Peche Mortel might be such a beer. At 9.5% abv, this imperial stout is a powerhouse of a beer capable of knocking the best of us on his (or her) backside. Well, perhaps this beer’s had too much build up and we should get on with the rest of this review.
These days you see a lot of coffee flavoured stouts on the shelves. Coffee stout, espresso stout, and so on. According to an article at The Toronto Star, putting coffee in stout seemed like a good idea at the time. Jean-Francois Gravel and Stephane Ostiguy are co-owners of Quebec’s Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel. Both men admit being huge coffee lovers who wanted to create a beer that would let them express their love of coffee.
With its deep flavors and roasted notes an imperial stout seemed the perfect beer to experiment with. According to the BJCP style guidelines page and imperial stout’s flavor and aroma can take flavors of roasted coffee. Those flavors and aromas are sort of an illusion provided by the use of deeply roasted barley. Add in the flavors of dark fruits, adding a backbone to the beer and you’ve got a genuinely powerful brew.
Well, let’s see how this rates in the world of imperial stout. Peche Mortel pours into the glass jet black and oily, as black as death itself. Head is thick, mousse-like, lasting and the color of a well creamed cup of coffee.
Aroma is creamy and has an up front aroma of chocolate mousse. Center gives some rich, complex aromas, starting with faint alcoholic notes and an impression of liquorice. Roasted grains bring up the rear, giving a nice structure without making this stout smell burnt or like a roasted cup of coffee. Aromas come together to offer a nice balance.
Peche Mortel’s mouthfeel is full, lush and creamy. Flavors start out with an espresso-like roastiness supported by a pleasant, chocolate mousse sweetness. Roasted qualities build to a nice climax in the center, cou0pling with hints of acidity along the sides. Malt sweetness couples with alcoholic notes to give the beer structure and bigness. Finish is slightly of licorice and alcohol.
Peche Mortel is a solid 8.5 out of 10. This imperial stout is nothing short of awesome. It’s full flavoured, strong, lush, and inviting. Flavors come through with no one thing trying to overpower the other, providing a beer with great power, balance, and restraint.