Review: Le Corsaire Microbrasserie's Bourbon-Infused Amber Ale

At last year's Brandon Beer Festival, I had friends and beer geeks tell me that I really need to check out this one booth - their beer was awesome. For most of the night, being the beer columnist I am, I was schmoozing with people I know, chatting it up with brewers I've known for many years now.. so I wasn't really going out of my way to check out new beers. After maybe four or five people telling me I need to check out this one booth ASAP, I knew I had to go to their booth.

There was this one booth with beer from Quebec - in previous years, I've sampled Unibroue at the festival, so I didn't think much of it, but the thing was.. the guys manning the booth were from the brewery! Two of the guys (Vaillancourt brothers) made their trek all the way from beautiful LĂ©vis, QuĂ©bec to Brandon, Manitoba all just for this festival - that's the most dedication I've ever seen from any brewery for a beer festival in Brandon, a beer market that's predominantly Bud Light.. or Stella if feeling fancy. I've had their beer before while in Montreal but never expected to see it at a beer festival in Brandon.

Last week their Bourbon Infused Amber Ale caught my eye at my local LC. Since most of their label is seulement en français (only in French), it essentially says that it's brewed with high quality Bourbon oak chips, it will have a pleasant and welcoming character to it, as well have a bit of a complexity and something new for the typical beer connoisseur.

Appearance: Pours just like your typical Amber Ale, it's a beautiful reddish brown ale with a bit of a nutty appearance to it, and if you put it to the light - it has a bit of a ruby red hue to it. Mild amount of carbonation throughout the entire body of the beer and a light amount of a yellowish-beige head on top. The head hasn't moved at all since I originally poured the beer, good retention!

Aroma: Sweet! The first thing I got from this beer was a nice presence of the Bourbon and oak chips - it was sweet, a bit boozy and a bit oaky. There's a nice amount of caramel presence to it, possibly a bit of charred oak as well to give it a hint of smoke (I'm likely wrong), hint of vanilla as well. Smells like your typical Amber Ale so far. Also a slight hint of a butterscotch presence as well.

Taste: I'm finding that the wood is the most dominant flavour, giving off a typical oakiness, with a bit of a toasted/oak bitterness as well. It has an abundance of caramel, a bit of a spiciness from the hops giving me a bit of a tingling sensation at the very back of my mouth. There's a flavour I can't quite describe popping up once in a while.. just can't describe it, almost like an herbal/mint like profile but it's not. There's a mild bitterness to it, but mostly for aftertaste.

Overall Thoughts: This is your typical craft Amber Ale, it's sweet, not syrupy, easy to drink, plus has a nice oaky presence to it to give it something a bit different. According to Le Corsaire, this beer is an exclusive to Manitoba - no wonder why I couldn't find any information about the beer!

I owe Quebec City/Lévis a visit, I haven't been there since 2013, which is far too long as my previous longest period without visiting the city was five years. I was planning on visiting the folks over at Le Corsaire back in August when I was in Montréal, but Air Canada lost my luggage for a day so the day when I was waiting for my luggage was the day I was planning on going.. Typical Air Canada.

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