An article by Noah
Forrest

Last weekend, I made my way out to Champ Libre‘s beautiful brewery in
Mercier.

Although one can’t currently hang out in or outside
bars/tasting rooms at the moment, I wanted to get my hands on
several beers that were being released that day. And wow, I do not
regret going.

Alex Ganivet-Boileau (co-owner/Head Brewer) and his team have
been particularly nailing it as of late, especially with all things
lagered. Their Pilsner has grown to be one, if not the best in the
province and the light lager, Oktoberfest and Kellerbier were all
truly special. On the roster for this release was a brett
barrel-aged version of their house saison and a 100% Amarillo
NEIPA. However, the beer that really convinced me to toss the kids
into the car and drive to Mercier was their barrel-lagered Pilsner.
Not only did I want cans, but Alex promised he would let me taste
it from his side-pull Lukr faucet, which if you’ve never
experienced such a thing, it’s otherworldly.

Without further delay, here are the three beers that
dropped.

Soleil Jaune

Soleil Jaune originally dropped in bottles a while back and
I’m very excited to see its debut in cans. The nose is a massive
hit of tropical fruits. Mango and grapefruit meets passion fruit.
It’s a touch earthy as well, with tangerine and clementines
dominating the aromatics with a real Five Alive thing
happening.

The palate is dry and sharp, delivering a nice cutting edge.
Layers of citrus give that big Amarillo orange thing, with
tangerine and mandarin in particular. Other tropical fruits come
forth as well, but citrus runs the show. This has a hop burn to it,
but it’s not so aggressive that takes away from the rest of
things. It’s fantastic, and basically straight orange juice.

Élonge des Bretts

This here is “Éloge Des Bretts”, a brett
barrel-aged version of their flagship saison “Éloge de la
Lenteur”, but blended with a fresh version. The nose carries a
bright flora, with lots of citrus tang and earthy brett funk.
It’s zesty, carrying aromas of apple slices, pear, and hints of
peach flesh.

Like the nose foretold, the palate delivers lots of
fresh and bright citrus-like flora, providing a subtle but apparent
tang. This light acidity is balanced nicely against a present
earthy brett funk. The fresh saison comes through as well, giving
off Belgian yeast phenols, providing hints of clove and cardamon
into the mix. The oak also add a nice spiciness, further drying
things out with some lingering tannins. This is a lovely complex
and balanced saison that you should definitely seek.

Simplicité Volontaire (édition spéciale)

As I mentioned above, I was particularly excited about this one.
I’ve been drinking Simplicité Volontaire since it’s inception
a few years ago. It was one of the four beers that Champ Libre
originally launched and has evolved into being one of the best
lagers in the province. Well, they took it and lagered it for 6
months on oak, creating the special edition.

The nose is full of zesty hops, honey, and some inviting herbal
notes. Light spicy oak aromatics come through as well, creating a
very inviting experience. The palate starts with lots of honey and
cracked grains. A light and balanced sweetness is cut by a crisp
finish that carries some light oak tannins. It’s round, balanced
and so much fun to drink. It’s truly wonderful.

Champ Libre has come a long way in the few years it has been
open. I have seen nothing but an increase in quality and general
direction. Not only are their lagers some of the best around, but
every style that’s been dropping lately has been extremely
impressive. I’m super excited to see what’s next!

An article by Noah
Forrest

Photography by Noah Forrest

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