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Be Wary of the Dark Times

HP le temps noirOne of the more anticipated and boundary-pushing beer that has hit the prairie market in recent weeks is Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir. An Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels, it is intended to be intense and intimidating. Even the label demonstrates this, with a barrel hanging by a noose. The name evokes post-revolutionary France.

The beer was aged a whopping 8 months in barrels and clocks in at 9.6% alcohol. This is some beer. Do not trifle with it, especially since it comes only in 650 ml bottles.

What am I talking about? Let me tell you. This is an inky black beer with a thick, dense dark tan head that seems like it would stay for weeks. What I pick up in the aroma is a dizzying combination of rich bourbon alcohol, dark roast, vanilla, pulled taffy, wood, chocolate and musty barn. And then there is the warning from the alcohol – a sharp scotch-like pungency in your nose.

You take a sip and the first thing you pick up is bourbon. Bourbon comes out big time. There is a stout under there, I am sure. And it seems like it was pretty good when it went in, but after 8 months it came out a different puppy. The beer allows an alcoholic warming, some oak notes, vanilla, dark chocolate and hints of coffee that has sat on the burner a bit too long. The linger is big on bourbon and slick dark malt. There are hops in this beer, but it is hard to tell as there is too much else going on. This is a complex, rich and enticing beer. The bourbon really sharpens and thins the stout character, but without losing its overall identity.

I find this beer dangerously enticing and drinkable. This is one of those beer that might the next morning make you want to hang from a noose if you imbibe too much.

Respect this beer. Because you don’t at your own peril. But be sure to try it, as you will be equally unhappy to have missed it.

8 comments to Be Wary of the Dark Times

  • Matt Sander

    I absolutely love this beer, bravo to the good people at Half Pints.

  • Dave

    “While Louis Riel was imprisoned in Regina before his hanging, he said : The Métis will experience a dark period of 100 years (Temps Noir), but they will overcome it through their culture and arts.”

    • beerguy

      Clearly the folks at Half Pints have a better handle on western Canadian history than I do. It also explains the noose a bit more.

      However, there is also a link to the French Revolution, so I wasn’t that far off…

  • Mark Heise

    Best Canadian beer I have tasted.

  • Between this and the Demeter’s Harvest (well, and others, but those especially) I’m intrigued by the manner in which Half Pints is pushing into that American realm of crazy beers. Hope the trend continues, and that other Western Canadian brewers will take note.

  • My one-time snark against barrel-aged beer as an over-used gimmick was the subject of some lively discussion here before, but your effusive review prompted me to try Temps Noir last night. I have to say it’s wonderfully complex and, yes, dangerously drinkable. FWIW, I’ve recently been trying to revisit some of the barrel-aged offerings out there and came away impressed with Phillips’ red ale aged in rum barrels, as well.

  • Tasted today by our expert panel. First aroma was pure soy sauce. There is a serious aspergillus (mold) infection somewhere in the process. Definitely undrinkable.

    Of the dozen imperial stouts I picked up at Sherbrooke, this one rated dead last. The best of the batch was Verdi, the Italian imperial stout.

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