Beer of the Week – Atlantic au Pineau

This article was originally written in April 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in September 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after the Taste T.O. blog was shut down and taken offline.

As mentioned in last week’s column, the LCBO’s Spring beer release has started trickling out into selected locations. It’s quite a lean release this time around, featuring only six beers, one of which (Fruli Strawberry Beer) is already available year-round at the Beer Store. Of the remaining five beers, only two are imports: the Duchy Originals Organic Ale that I wrote about last week, and this week’s pick, Atlantic au Pineau (LCBO 24372, $3.45/330 mL).

This beer comes from Brasserie des Gabariers, the French brewery responsible for the Cognac-laced XO Beer that has been available in a couple of previous LCBO seasonal releases. XO elicited some pretty strong “love it or hate it” responses from the local beer geeks, and I was one of the ones who actually enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to trying this one. Instead of straight Cognac, Atlantic is infused with Pineau des Charentes, a liqueur that is made by blending Cognac with unfermented grape juice.

Unfortunately, the ingredients list also includes sugar, which means the resulting beverage ends up being more of a sweet apertif or dessert drink than a typical beer. At least it looks like a beer, with a bright golden colour and a massive white head that disappears fairly quickly. The aroma is a bit grassy, suggesting that there are some hops in there, but it’s mainly quite sweet – almost cloyingly so – and the body is sticky. The flavour is also very sweet, with strong notes of white grape juice and sugar syrup, and a middling beer behind it.

Like the XO, this is essentially a gimmick beer. It’s just that it’s a gimmick that doesn’t work as well as it’s predecessor. Still, it’s worth a taste for the novelty value if nothing else. Just don’t bother buying more than one – unless, of course, you have a serious sweet tooth and prefer beers that don’t really taste like beer.

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