The second beer to emerge from B-Side Brewing Label in Vankleek Hill, Ontario comes courtesy of Gigantic Brewing in Portland, Oregon. La Formidable “American-Belgo IPA” is a hazy golden orange colour and pours with a large & creamy white head that leaves small streaks of lace and hangs around as a silky cap.
This hybrid ale has aromas of pepper, clove and banana from Belgian yeast intertwined with the punchy lemon and orange notes you’d expect from American hops, all over a light caramel and honey-toned malt base. The taste of La Formidable is rather dry and earthy from start to finish. Thick toffee malts are accented by milt fruit esters and the beer’s sturdy (60 IBU) bitterness really hits home in the aftertaste, with also leaves mild lemon peel and pepper notes behind.
Somehow the name “La Formidable” wasn’t taken by any of the million or so Quebec breweries that could have used it by now, which genuinely surprised me. The beer’s logo prominently features a large robot reminiscent of the ones in tokusatsu series like Ultraman or the popluar 1980s anime Voltron and was designed by audiovisual artist Rob Reger. Gigantic Brewing’s logo is bold and suits the cartoonish style well. You will find a list of ingredients, a batch number and bottling date on the rear label and a card strung around each bottle’s neck provides a biligual description of the beer.
La Formidable is a textbook example of a Belgian IPA that strikes a balance between its influences and, as far as I can tell, is the first version to be regularly-produced for the Ontario retail market (excluding localized examples of course). Whether intentional or not, La Formidable makes a great companion to its “labelmate” Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale.
Some may find this ale a touch dry or bitter, though it does pair nicely with rich and creamy cheeses, most charcuterie options and fruit as strawberries, blackberries, grapes and cherries. It also makes me crave buttered seafood and I will be sure to explore this pairing when I get more of the beer.
At the time of review, La Formidable was not yet listed at the LCBO, but going by past distribution patterns of Beau’s & B-Side beers, it should be widely available when it does see release. In the meantime, you can visit Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company or their BYBO service to buy bottles, or find the beer on tap at select Ontario licensees.