What can I say about Dieu du Ciel’s “summer solstice” tap takeover at Bar Volo? I chatted beer with Ralph Morana, Stéphane Ostiguy, Mike Lackey and Iain McOustra. I learned about many nerdy things that mean huge gains for Toronto’s beer scene. I tried a very rare sour beer brewed with mango, and the delicious Bourbon barrel aged sour called Exorciste, which went very fast. Kumquat IPA Disco Soleil was perfect on cask: well balanced, fruity and creamy. And then there were all my classic Dieu du Ciel (DDC) favourites, such as Charbonnière, a smoked ale (Rauchbier).
The closest most Torontonians have gotten to DDC is by trying the Rosée d’Hibiscus at one of Toronto’s many craft beer bars. For those not in the know: Montréal microbrewery DDC was started 16 years ago by Stéphane Ostiguy and brewmaster Jean-François Gravel. Both did their masters in molecular biology. Jean-François had been homebrewing for many years, and started DDC with an intention of innovation. At the time, all the other five brewpubs in Montréal were offering two to four brews. DDC started with six. To date, they’ve brewed well over 100 beers. I first tried them when an ex brought back cases of DDC beers from a trip to Quebec. The variance, mastery, and design all won me over. DDC is world class beer.
My first smoked beer? Charbonnière. First variance of incredible strong stouts? Péché Mortel and Aphrodisiaque. First barley wine? Solstice d’Hiver. Even after trying many varieties of these styles, DDC’s stand out. I could go on and on about their godly branding (which I bet is a result of being raised in religious Quebec), and their beautiful label art, which stems from Gravel’s university friendship with artist Yannick Brosseau.
Instead, I will tell you that Volo’s owner Ralph Morana met Stéphane the year before the first Cask Days (2005), and they’ve been making beer history ever since. Morana originally opened Volo as an Italian restaurant without knowing much about wine, and like many people who start learning about wine…. he got into beer. In addition to being one of the first (family-run!) craft beer bars in Toronto, Volo brews beer, runs events, designs and imports beer. They’re the reason DDC has been available in the LCBO for the last four years. You can always get DDC beer at Volo, but the tap takeover’s leftovers mean that you should go ASAP. Look at this list.
What’s next for Volo? Only the biggest beer nerd event in the city: Cask Days is happening at the Evergreen Brick Works October 24-26. Tickets go on sale September 1st.
For all you adventurous beer drinkers: keep an eye out this September during Toronto Beer Week for Volo’s Funk Night (yes: funky, farmhouse, cheesy, dirty tasting beer is actually sought after. You gotta try it to believe.)
- Calabaza Blanca is a barrel aged white ale featuring that unmistakable Belgian yeast, notes of banana, and sour with a grapefruit finish. Great for those new to sour beers and connoisseurs alike.
- Les Trois Mousquetaires Gose is the only gose the LCBO currently carries. Slightly salty and sour, really nice. Buy it because it’s different. Mix it with grapefruit radler. Do it.
- Framboise: both Lindeman’s and Amsterdam. The Lindeman’s is a 2.5% Belgian sporting a nice mix of sour and sweet; not at all overpowering like some sours! Great on its own, better as a cocktail base with ice, mixed with wheat beer or champagne. Amsterdam’s is also brewed with raspberries instead of flavouring, is a beautiful shade of dark raspberry and is well balanced without being sweet.
- Great Lakes Brewery’s Karma Citra IPA is liquid gold if you dig fresh IPAs. This is what brewmaster Mike Lackey is known for: strong hops nose and taste. Karma Citra is more bright than bitter, and the bottles are always a pleasure to look at and read thanks to 1) illustrator Garnett Gerry and graphic designer Fabian Skidmore 2) Lackey’s philosophical meanderings (i.e. copywriting).
- Any saison. Beau’s, Black Oak, Nickel Brook and Oast House saisons are all great. Buy them all.
Hello! My name is Evelyn. I like beer. Many varieties of beer.