French for Spring Equinox, Équinoxe du Printemps from Basserie Dieu Du Ciel! takes the traditional style of beer from Scotland (Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy) and adds a very well known Canadian ingredient to mix – maple syrup. The beer is brewed once a year in January and is aged for two months before being released to the public on March 21st for the Spring Equinox.
Even with an aggressive pour Équinoxe du Printemps has almost no head and what little remains is off white leaving no lacing behind. The appearance is of a maple syrup dark caramel color and when held up to the light a hazy orange-ish red color can be seen with medium carbonation. It’s a bottle conditioned beer but for the style I left the yeast in the bottle. On the nose you get huge caramel notes and no hop character whatsoever – very typical of the style. The maple syrup is also very apparent on the nose giving it a sweet, almost candy-like aroma to it with some hints of brown sugar and the slightest bit of alcohol.
The taste of Équinoxe du Printemps follows the nose to a certain extent. On the front of the tongue the alcohol is present with dark fruit and caramel notes. As those characteristics fade mid tongue you’re hit with the maple syrup that carries over to the back of the tongue with brown sugar notes lingering around. Despite the alcoholic bite at the beginning, this is quite a smooth drinking beer for suck a high ABV. As expected with a Scotch ale, it’s on the sweet side but not overly sweet for its medium body. I’m guessing there is some subtle hop bitterness coming in at the end to prevent it from becoming sickly sweet on the palate.
While it lacks some of the roasted malt, toffee and smoky characteristics that can be found in other Scotch ales, the addition of maple syrup adds a unique touch to the style without being crazy. Although smooth on the palate, the drinkability is low. I can’t see myself having more than one bottle a session but Équinoxe du Printemps does make a great dessert beer that pairs very well with dark chocolate. Dieu Du Ciel! has produced an above average beer, the rating is hurt by its drinkability and could be too sweet for the majority of beer drinkers out there.
Beer Geek Nation rating: B-
Beer Advocate: B- / 3.4
Rate Beer: 3.3