|Brewery:||Dieu du Ciel!|
|Style:||Hibiscus flower Wit|
|Aroma:||Wheat Scent, Tropical Flowers|
|Flavor:||Light-Bodied, Delicate, Sweet Aftertaste|
|Availability:||Year-round — Limited|
|Pairs With:||Caesar Salad, Grilled Salmon, Mozzarella, Key Lime Pie|
When you think of Canadian beer, certain images spring to mind. Molson, Labatt, Moosehead, the Bob and Doug MacKenzie. Canada has long been home to strong beers to help give that warming feeling during nasty winters, but until recently, it hasn’t been big on taste. Over the last few years, one thing that they have proven is that a craft beer culture can blossom in cities where they spend months avoiding frostbite.
Montreal-based Dieu du Ciel! microbrewery is leading the way as far as experimental beers go in Canada. Not the largest or oldest craft brewery, Dieu du Ciel concentrates on producing innovative, drinkable brews that push the limits of styles. While many of their beers are darker and heavier, with nods to the Belgian styles and incorporating native ingredients, one of their most impressive brews comes from an entirely different direction.
Rosee D’Hibiscus is a bottle conditioned (meaning it is bottled with live yeast) wit beer brewed with hibiscus flowers. The bottle itself is a work of art – literally. All Dieu du Ciel! bottles feature beautiful, funky, stylized labels that grab the eye. On shelves full of shiny, brazen labels, Dieu du Ciel!’s bottles stick out as muted and handsome – Rosee D’Hibiscus features a pale maiden with hibiscus flowers in her hair. When it is poured – preferably into a lager glass or shaker pint – it comes out intriguingly orange-pinkish and cloudy, with a very small head. The head itself is white, but with a light pinkish hue to it, slightly effeminate.
The aroma is very clearly that of a wit beer, with a well-defined yet soft-spoken wheat scent highlighted by notes of berry and florals. This combination creates one of the lightest, most agreeable fragrances of any beer available – that of tropical flowers and wheat fields. The flavor is of a similar profile, albeit on the sweeter side. The hibiscus comes through more in the flavor than it does in the aroma, pushing the berry flavors to the back while providing a tang of acidity and sourness. It is very refreshing, a taste that is welcome on a warm summer’s day.
It is also a very light-bodied beer – it will not weigh you down or make you feel full. It has moderate carbonation, just enough to tickle the tongue and stick around throughout the bottle. Rosee D’Hibiscus is not a heavy hitter, either, coming in at 5.9% alcohol by volume, meaning that you can have a couple of them without becoming too inebriated. It finishes dry and leaves a light, sweet aftertaste that fades quickly, no sticky residues left behind.
Overall, Rosee D’Hibiscus is an incredibly interesting beer, capable of grabbing the drinker and bringing them back for more. It might not be for everyone – the delicate flavoring might not be strong enough for folks used to heavy-handed flavorings. It is overall an effeminate beer, which may make the big, burly, manly hop-heads feel a bit girly. Their loss, though, as Rosee D’Hibiscus is one of the most enjoyable summertime beers out there.
One of the drawbacks to Rosee D’Hibiscus, and Dieu du Ciel! beers as a whole, is their limited availability and high pricing outside of Montreal. While they are incredibly productive – having produced over 150 beers in the course of 15 years – many of their beers are available only at their brewpub in Montreal, on Avenue Laurier. Only a dozen or so are bottled and shipped worldwide, but thankfully, Rosee D’Hibiscus is one of them. It currently can be found in ten or so countries worldwide, as well as a few dozen American states.
It’s hard not to like Dieu du Ciel! as a whole, as aside from the great beer, the attitude of the company is one that everyone can get behind. On their website, they have posted a Via Dolorosa, or Act of Faith, spelling out their commitment not only to quality beer, but to being quality citizens as well. Masterbrewer and co-founder Jean-Francois Gravel started the brewery after getting his degree in biology, and hasn’t looked back, incubating it from making a few gallons per week through today, where it is available in hundreds of stores in Quebec and has become what many consider to be Canada’s best craft brewery.