If you lived in or visited Québec a little over a decade ago, you may remember Belgh Brasse. Based in Amos, near the Ontario border in the Québec northwest, the brewery opened with significant fanfare, much of it playing upon the purity of brewing water available from the Abitibi esker, and a purportedly Belgian-influenced ale called 8.
8 was, ultimately, a dud. I tasted it a couple of times and was left unimpressed, while others complained of the beer’s inconsistency. It died. A resuscitation of the brewery followed, with an even less inspiring pale lager called Taïga. It also died.
Now Belgh Brasse is back for a third kick at the can, and in this case it appears that the third time is indeed the charm. I have sampled two beers from the new Mons line of “Belgian-Inspired” beers, the Abbey Witte and the Abbey Blonde, and was impressed by both.
Sandy gold in colour with a slight haze, the Mons Abbey Witte has a sweetish, perfumey and lightly peppery lemon aroma, accented by candied orange peel and perhaps a hint of cinnamon, and a rounded and citrusy, light-bodied middle and a drying and faintly spicy-peppery finish. Belgian-inspired, for certain, it has a decided lemony note to it that makes me think just a bit about Berliner weisse, as well. It might lean a bit too hard on the sweet and fruity side of things, but is still nicely refreshing and quaffable.
The Mons Abbey Blonde is certainly a fruity ale, with dried apricot and canned peaches in the nose and a malty, dry caramel and lightly spicy body with some tropical and peachy fruitiness. I sampled it at cellar temperature first and refrigerator temp second and found it more expressive and robust when colder, although not so cold as to suppress the fruit and spice.
I’m told now that the brewery has a dubbel out and a stout on the way, and is for sale in the U.S. as well as in Québec. Based on these first two tastings, I’d say that this time Belgh Brasse might be sticking around for some time to come.