Review: Le Naufrageur - Swordfish

On my first visit to Broue Ha Ha over in Gatineau, I was blown away.  Much like my praises for Bières du Monde when I visited them recently, the selection at Broue Ha Ha was awe-inspiring.  These folks carry an amazing range of Québec craft beer.  I've previously stated that my knowledge of the Québec craft beer scene is limited, and Broue Ha Ha showed me just that.  Over 300 beers in stock, the majority of which were from microbrasseries de la belle province (and most I had never had the pleasure of sampling!)  One beer I picked up was La Swordfish by Le Naufrageur in beautiful Gaspésie (actually, it was picked by my lovely better half, based mostly on the beautiful artwork on the bottle.)

La Swordfish is an interesting brown ale, weighing in at 6.75% alc./vol.  What really makes it interesting is that it's brewed with English malts and Belgian yeast.  I picked up a 500mL bottle for about $6.

It pours a deep, dark brown.  The head is an off-white, near beige colour that is pretty thick for a brown.  Retention is solid, lacing is light. 

There are great earthy nut notes in the aroma, mixed in with some light chocolate and toffee tones.  I also smell some fruity sweetness in there.

Oh man, the flavor is great: very well-balanced with some depth in complexity.  Roasted malts up front with some strong chocolate notes.  I'm loving the subtle caramel-like sweetness mixed with coffee bitterness.  This beer ends with a quick and sharp - but not overpowering or lingering - dry hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is smooth: some full and robust creaminess. 

Overall, this is great.  I find it a little "bigger" than your average brown ale, which isn't a bad thing.  It's actually got quite a few porter characteristics, which might be off-putting to true brown ale fans, but it wasn't to me.  This is definitely something I would buy again and would strongly recommend to fans of beers in the darker end of the spectrum. 

  -James