Earlier this month, I heard that L’Autre Oeil, the terrific beer bistro that used to employ me, was having a special event that made me want to book emergency bus tickets back to the Ottawa – Gatineau region; Péché Day, a celebration of Montreal’s Dieu du Ciel Brewery and their ridiculously rich imperial coffee stout. Luckily, Beer Nerd Boyfriend came to the rescue, as always, pointing out that a bar called Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn seemed to be participating as well.
So for one night only last Saturday, a few friends and I ventured into the home of hipsterdom in this fair city: Williamsburg.
Spuyten Duyvil, despite having a name that I constantly forget, is a wonderful bar. Everything about it feels delightfully Williamsburg; the moment I stepped inside, I felt like I wasn’t cool enough to be here. They have a variety of meats, cheeses and other tasty goodies. But of course, the reason to come here is the beer lists. That’s not beer list singular. That’s beer list PLURAL.
Tonight, however, I came here with a mission and I was therefore only concerned with one beer list: Péché Day.
Péché Mortel is one of my favorite stouts ever, made by Dieu du Ciel brewery in Montreal. Fun fact: I lived down the street from their brewpub for many years. Not so fun fact: I only went once and had a sour beer that I wasn’t able to appreciate. I couldn’t even tell you the style, because all I knew at the time was that it involved cherries and I assumed it would be sweet. I know, it’s shameful.
Anyways, back to Péché Day: a special celebration of a very special imperial coffee stout. This is a strong, dark beer at 9.5%, one built for sipping while feeling like a class act, and infused with lots and lots of fair trade coffee – two different Mexican blends, to be exact. Péché Mortel means mortal sin in French, and the perfectly balanced espresso and chocolate notes definitely help this brew live up to its name. It makes me wish I worked in a coffee shop again, which is saying a lot.
Spuyten Duyvil had the original Péché Mortel on tap, as well as three variations. Of course, I had to try all three – luckily, Spuyten Duyvil obliged me with 6-ounce pours of each.
I started off with the Péché Mortel 2015 Special Edition, which was brewed with a single origin, lightly roasted Kenyan coffee. This edition seems to be heavier on the coffee and lighter on the chocolate that’s usually present in the regular version. I also detected a touch of tobacco in the aroma and also in the taste, with some complimenting touches of anise and toffee. There was something earthy and deep about it too. It’s very silky smooth on the palate. That’s one of the things I love about this beer; it tastes like a luxurious dessert. So far, so good!
Next, I stole a sip of the Péché Véniel 2015 from a friend – and I must say, I’m glad I did. I’ll tell you right off the bat that this was my least favorite of the night. The Véniel is also brewed using a single origin brown coffee. At 6%, it’s significantly lighter than the other Péchés, and it shows in the body. Rather than the silky, thick, cream-like consistency I’ve come to expect, it felt thin and watery. The coffee was present, but the chocolate notes seemed to be gone, replaced by what was perhaps a trace of bourbon. After the richness of the Special Edition, the Véniel let me down a little bit.
I rounded out our time at Spuyten Duyvil with the Péché Mortel Bourbon 2011, which consists of the original Péché aged in bourbon oak barrels for three years. As soon as I saw it flowing out of the tap and into my glass, I got excited. Here was the thick creaminess I was looking for. Here was the pitch-black beer I longed to drink. The aroma is straight-up bourbon, with maybe a touch of oakiness. The taste, predictably enough, is also bourbon. Luckily, it doesn’t overwhelm the coffee notes, and instead plays up the chocolate. The result is like drinking a rich iced mocha. The mouth feel is smooth and creamy, almost like a milkshake. I had an interesting thought while drinking this; this is how I wish bourbon would taste like, every time I drink it. Who knew that what I wanted all along was a very dark beer?
After that, we said goodbye to Spuyten Duyvil and finished the night in a very Williamsburg way; in a skeeball bar that played music from when I was 19 and surprisingly had Magic Hat’s Big Hundo on tap. Of course, I had to indulge, and the Double IPA was just as good as I remember. Its name refers to the fact that it’s such a bitter beer that it reaches 100 IBUs (International Bittering Units), which is just about at the top of the range that our palates can register. Basically, it’s a big, grassy, bitter beer that made me feel like summer was right around the corner.
Cheers to a fun night in Williamsburg, and cheers to Dieu du Ciel for bringing a piece of home closer to me!