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La Vache Folle - ESB - Microbrasserie Charlevoix

La Vache Folle - ESBLa Vache Folle - ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

80 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 80
Reviews: 60
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 10.94%

Brewed by:
Microbrasserie Charlevoix visit their website
Quebec, Canada

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 04-27-2004)
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Ratings: 80 | Reviews: 60 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of CalgaryFMC

Alberta (Canada)

3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Sampled a pint on tap at Beer Revolution. After trying this brewery's excellent double milk stout some time back, one of the best stouts I have tried to date, I was keeping an eye out for this one. A light gold to amber brew, light for an ESB to be certain. Aroma is sublime, very nice earthy English hops, tangy crystal malts, and sweet citrus, registers as orange to my olfactory center. Smells sweet and fruity, albeit with some dry grain to provide a foil. Taste is initially quite bitter and nutty, with a touch of caramel. Not bad but was hoping for more malt complexity. Some bread crust is apparent but not as rich and assertive as I'd like. There were some sweet fruit flavors as well, evoking banana and white grape. Could be the yeast strain or the fermentation temperature? Whatever the cause, one shouldn't get these in an ESB. Some unique mandarin citrus flavor that does fit the style and I applaud the earthy bitter finish that screams Fuggle. Nice semi-chewy mouthfeel and the carbonation was spot on, mid-range for an English-style ale. I was hoping for more in the malt department ... Rating for taste might be a bit low but there you have it. The hops were bang on and I'd give this another go.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2014 05:15:02 | More by CalgaryFMC
Photo of SebD

Ontario (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice clear golden/yellow color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of bready/biscuity malts, some faint citrus, floral hops and some caramel.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some bready/buiscuity malts, citrus, floral/earthy hops and some faint caramel.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2013 20:56:55 | More by SebD
Photo of TheDoctor

Quebec (Canada)

4.34/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a barely hazy honey color (between amber and orange) with a inch-and-a-half creamy, puffy beige head stays around fairly good (finally forming a nice thin cap of film). Good retention; splotchy and stringy lacing.

Strong caramely and bready malt scents and some hops behind it all.

Earthy and fresh with some mineral flavors. Tea, lemon, and biscuity malt. Really well-balanced.

Slightly creamy, prickly carbonation, light-medium body.

Another spectacular beer from Charlevoix! A really nice drinking ESB. I am a big fan of bitters and I think that this one is a good one. Smooth and rich. Looks nice. The hop-malt flavors come through really nice with a tinge of bitterness at the finish.
Would totally have again. Worth seeking out.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2013 22:42:30 | More by TheDoctor
Photo of deBeaupre

Ontario (Canada)

3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found a bottle in my closet which was a part of payment made for some custom woodwork. It was given to me in 2009 - reviewing it 2013.

Appearance: Branding graphic is weak. Bottle appearance is lacking. Poured it into a stolen Stella Artois 33cl glass...shhhh! Colour was bright gold very warm in hue temprature. Musty density with few flotilla at the bottom of the glass.

Smell: Sweet smell, very pleasant. Hint of bitter in the back of throat as expected.

Taste: Sweet citrus - bitter for a second then sweet. Aftertaste very present (could be because its 4 years old).

Mouthfeel: Very pronounce sharp sensation - Mostly feeling in the back of the throat.

Overall: I would really like to try again with a fresh bottle. I have a personal bias towards Canadian brews especially French ones so - please buy and try.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2013 01:27:14 | More by deBeaupre
Photo of polloenfuego

Ontario (Canada)

3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a pint glass

A: copper color and bright, a good two finger head that dissipated leaving some lacing.

S: well...it smells like an ESB should. Malty, a touch of yeast and a very mild citrus profile from the low hop presence.

T: Malty, biter and a nice sweet finish after the bitter settles down.

M: medium carbonation, dry finish.

O: a good ESB, I don't think this is the strongest of Charlevoix's brews but it is a good beer. It meets the criteria of an ESB with its malt and bitterness. Seems like a good beer to enjoy at the pub or with some traditional pub fare.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2013 21:13:26 | More by polloenfuego
Photo of Muhly

Alberta (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 65cl bottle into snifter. Label indicates that it was bottled May 2012.

A-Pours a clear and true copper. Two fingers of tight knit head forms easily upon pouring. Head retention is ok, but a thin film stays on top of the glass. Lacing is decent with lines and dots.

S-Malty sweetness highlighted by some dried dark fruits, namely prunes. Can't detect any hops on the nose.

T-Sweet malts and a decent hint of fruit esters. Hop bitterness is prominent, but balanced by the sweetness.

M-Moderately round and full mouthfeel. Sweetness lingers longer than the hop astringency.

O-A nicely balanced ESB that tends towards the bitter. Would have been nice to get more hops on the nose, but maybe that's just my lack of sense of smell...

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2013 00:36:56 | More by Muhly
Photo of jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled November 8, 2011

Amber/orange in colour with a moderately sized white head. Decent retention and lacing.

Biscuity malt in the nose along with grassy, earthy hops. Not a strong smell.

Taste is full of biscuity malt, a bit toasty, with some grassy/earthy hop flavours. Well balanced- some sweet malt tastes coupled with mild bitterness from the hops. Slight flavours of light citrus fruit. Nice.

Moderate carbonation, medium bodied. Chewy.

Overall, a nice ESB. Would like to find a fresher bottle, but I'll take what I can get.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2012 01:13:02 | More by jrenihan
Photo of NightINgale

Russian Federation

4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my second attempt at this beer. The first time I got a really old bottle and found the beer bland.

A - Looks more like an American IPA than and English ESB: slightly hazy orange body with a rich and creamy white head. Really good lacing and solid head retention.

S - Biscuit notes, some nice fruitiness (apples, pears and plums), some slight citrusy notes (orange, grapefruit), and a very solid malt aroma base (toffee, caramel and toasted bread).

T - The taste doesn't disappoint! This beer is fruity, yet fairly hoppy (with a nice flowery taste to it), slightly citrusy, and quite malty. There is a noticeable level of bitterness, which does a great job balancing the fairly strong sweetness of the beer. This definitely tastes like a true ESB.

M - Medium-bodied. Not very carbonated. It gets just a little hefty after a while, though. No hint of booze. Drinks really well.

O - All in all, this is a good ESB! Complex yet drinkable; original enough yet true to the style. All one has to do is make sure the freshness date is not years away from today!

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2012 23:23:23 | More by NightINgale
Photo of leaddog

Alberta (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Pours a pale amber/topaz hue with a ½ finger width of white head.

Smell – Citrus and tropical fruits, piney hops, honey sweetness.

Taste – Nice balance of citrus/tropical fruits and hops, that leaves a little touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. This light bitterness lets us know its presence but subtle at best. Honey flavours are present in the finish.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied with light carbonation. Good dry finish.

Overall – An enjoyable ESB from La Vache Folle. There are some great flavours in this brew that are well balanced with one another. Very nice touch with the honey. An easy drinker that is worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2012 19:50:17 | More by leaddog
Photo of hoser

Alberta (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A full bodied extra special bitter that makes Fuller's ESB weak at the knees and that is saying something. To steal a line from Todd and Jason Alstrom's Imperial Milk Stout review the beer is nothing to get mad about. It actuality the name translates to Crazy Cow and is a tongue in cheek poke at something else. All in all love this nutty version of an ESB.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2012 22:36:06 | More by hoser
Photo of joemcgrath27

Alberta (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - poured into a tulip, clear copper with tall tan head that retained well
S - citrus and earthy aromas, biscuity with a hint of caramel
T - biscuity malt with hop notes of citrus, pine, and spice, and a hint of caramel sweetness
M - mild carbonation with a smooth medium weight, just right bitter and spiciness on the finish
O - a nice full flavour ale with heathy bitterness, a great example of one of my fave styles

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2011 00:13:31 | More by joemcgrath27
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

amber in color with a smooth even white head on top that held on for a good long while, dropping nice amounts of side glass lacing along the way. Aroma was light, hints of citrus hops, a touch of light grassy notes and a noticeable touch of light spice all coming together rather lightly, but pleasantly. Taste was light as well, clean and crisp with a smooth profile. Light touches of hops sprinkled throughout a light bready and grainy base that shone through pretty strongly. Light touches of peaches and pears actually popped up as well as a nice light touch of spice and hops

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2011 23:55:09 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of fostachild

Ontario (Canada)

3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bottled on: 2011/09/09

pours a nice clear medium-light bronze hue, tons of white foamy head - lasts forever.

smell was sweet - had hops, malt, fruit/citrus.

taste was bitter, malty, with an even maltier aftertaste. maybe a hint of caramel in there too.

good carbonation and drinkability. pretty enjoyable esb.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2011 04:02:01 | More by fostachild
Photo of ctgui

Quebec (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 14/08/2011.

A - Poured a clear copper with some amber, about 2 inches of off-white head. The appearance is good.

S - Biscuit and booze, but not overly so. Notes of bitter floral hops.

T - The taste is not too intense, a nice balance between the sweet malt and the bitterness of the hops that sticks for a while. I enjoyed the overall simplicity of the taste. Well put.

M - Medium mouthfeel with a bit over average carbonation. The finish is not too dry.

O - Another good beer by the Microbrasserie de Charlevoix. My first ESB I believe, and I truly liked the style. Very drinkable. Looking forward to having this one again.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2011 21:52:45 | More by ctgui
Photo of tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Broue HAHA.

A - Pours a nice light copper colour. Hazy with a good one finger white head. Mildish carbonation. Good filmy retention and some soapy lacing.

S - Oh ya. I've always loved EBSs from my first by Fuller's. This is no different. Balance is so key to a beer IMO and ESB just show it so well. A rich, fruity malt character combines with a great, earthy, fruity sorta hop character and just meld so well. I'd say the malts come out a little stronger than the hop profile but damn, it's well put together.

T - The taste is surprisingly weaker. I get some yeast and oranges. Strong malts with bread and biscuits. While the hop comes out in an earthy/spicy character. Weaker than the aroma but still nice.

M - Good carbonation, medium body and a lightly sweet finish with a bitterness that is quite light.

O/D - Quite a nice ESB. Not aggressive but easy to drink. Well done.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2011 02:28:51 | More by tbeckett
Photo of MaliciousMatt

Quebec (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First and foremost, I must admit thatcher I don't drink a lot of ESB. It seems to be a style that is overlooked by some brewers and it is unfortunate, this great offering proves it.

The look is nice. Slightly hazy light cooper with a good fluffy head that looks like a cloud you would like to sleep in!

Smells goood! Floral and subtle. Straight foward.

Taste is clean and pleasant. Once again, nothing too complex. Notes of sweet and toasted malt well balanced by the bitterness wich is present but not overpowering.

In the mouth it fits the rest of the experience, round fulness with medium to light bubbling.

So this is a great overall beer that is well constructed. It may not be the most shockingly innovative beer but does it always have to be? This is a great session style and this beer is a great interpretation of it.

Thanks to brasserie Charlevoix. Long live your brewery!

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2011 01:52:48 | More by MaliciousMatt
Photo of Digimaika2

Ontario (Canada)

3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed this at Atwater Market (along with some incredible cheeses).

A: Nice orange-copper colour but a thick and milky head steals the show. Frothy head dissipates to a grouping of beautiful bubbles. Great stuff.

S: Lots of earthy spice with sweet honey. Picking up faint banana and grapefruit aromas aswell. Other reviewers noted plum, and I'm picking that up a bit too.

T: Subdued earthy-flowery hops up front, with a taste of grapefruit. Finishes with a lingering bitterness, but malty sweetness balances it out nicely. Overall well balanced and very smooth.

M: Rather viscous and quite oily with mild carbonation.

D: Easily drinkable. Would be great to have acouple pints of this on-tap.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2011 02:34:12 | More by Digimaika2
Photo of HopBacchus


3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I confess I have an affinity for ESBs. I like the way brewers can transform the lackluster style that is English Bitters and make something relatively complex and interesting while still remaining true to the Bitter's roots.

Served in a Stein glass. Pours a rusty orange with medium lacing throughout.

Candied fruit comes to mind, plums and raisins as-well as lightly toasted malts. Citrusy hops are also detectable.

Smooth and well balanced with a surprisingly robust hop character. More citrus, certainly lemon with an addition of orange and apricot.

On the lighter side of medium bodied with mild carbonation.

I could sesh this thing all day, goes down wonderfully.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2011 02:58:48 | More by HopBacchus
Photo of Glory

Quebec (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought this ESB while saying to myself...I like pretty much everything they make at Microbrasserie de Charlevoix so I guess I could pick this one and have no worries ! Yeah... doesn't really happen as planed.

The Beer is served in a small Weizen Glass. Its copper to orange in color and very clear from any sediments. There's a little head of foam but not much to say about it... It kinda looks like a regular cheap Red Ale.

The smell is quite nice and probably where this beer is at its best.
You get caramel malt with floral essences. A little hint of rust as well and for some reason it kinda smells like my mother's Pecan bread !! You tell me...

The taste is a bit flat and watery at first but then you really taste Mash of sweet caramel Malt. After two second you get a small kick of bittering hops and adds a pine sorta foresty taste and finishes with a pretty bad after taste of....you know, when you take some tylenol and you don't quite swallow it right away and you get this very bad medecin tast in you mouth for a while...well...that !!
The carbonation is quite low..I did swearl it alot to get the esters but still pretty flat witch is nice because its similar to real English Bitters.
Overall, I didn't get as much fun as I though and probably won't buy again but I still love the Microbrasserie of Charlevoix!

Cheers Lads


Serving type: bottle

02-11-2011 23:44:34 | More by Glory
Photo of Rutager

British Columbia (Canada)

4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Poured a cloudy orange with a hint of red. Half a finger of nice white head that falls slowly to a film that lasts the duration.

Smell. Plums, green grapes, herbal hops and a hint of roasty malt. Real nice.

Taste. Bitter herby hops. A little apricot and pine and a long bitter finish. Yum.

Mouthfeel. Medium, prickly carbonation and just a little thin.

Drinkability. Went down quick. A great drinker.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2011 00:57:46 | More by Rutager
Photo of Matt1516

Quebec (Canada)

3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass.

Shows ambers and cloudy with a thick frothy head that sticks around.

Looking at other reviews, I notice I'm not the only one who was put-off by the initial smell. It's sour and grassy.

The bitterness is impressive, however. It has a sourness that puckers up your mouth. There are some notes of fruit (banana?) In the taste. Compares well to a Fuller's ESB

Drinkable--much more impressive on tap--especially at their Baie St. Paul brewery.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2010 03:21:47 | More by Matt1516
Photo of liamt07

Ontario (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of ZorPrime, 500ml into a pint glass. Charlevoix always dates their stuff, but this one is missing a stamp on the back.

Pours a translucent golden brown, couple fingers of sudsy and soapy white head that really sticks around. Phenomenal retention and a bunch sticky lace. Lots of fruit notes in the nose, apple, pear, honey and some earthy hops. Taste follows for the most part, light bitterness and more fruit, again the apple and pear are prominent, and potentially some honeydew melon? Slightly sweet malt backbone lies underneath, bready. Good stuff. Medium carbonation and smooth going down; a touch watery. Moderate lingering bitterness. Another winner from Charlevoix.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2010 01:05:07 | More by liamt07
Photo of spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance - The beer pours an amber colour with a fair size foamy/fizzy off white head. There isn't much carbonation showing. There is a lot lacing to be seen, and the head stuck around for a few minutes.

Smell - The beer has a slightly off-putting scent. I can't put my finger on it, but it is something along the lines off a wet fish/dog. I can also pick up on some caramel and some hops

Taste & Mouth - Thankfully the beer doesn't taste like it smells, I can taste a sweet honey and some hops. Also some caramel and some floral notes. There is a fair amount of carbonation, I wouldn't mind a little bit more, but it is still decent.

Drink - An above average beer that is worth a try - not the best I've ever had; but still a fairly good brew.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2010 00:41:09 | More by spinrsx
Photo of MattyV

Ontario (Canada)

2.73/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle dated 9:37, April 21, 2010... poured into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy copper orange with a dense, off-white meringue head with excellent retention.

The aroma seemed a little off-putting at first; I was hit with a strange yeasty sour milk smell. Once I could get past that, bready/caramel malt and earthy hops were also detected.

The taste followed the aroma, with the bready malt slightly dominant over the caramel and spicy hops. I could also pick up the off-flavour noted in the aroma, but it wasn't quite as dominant as it was in the nose. I'm wondering if I got an infected bottle, or if it was stored in poor conditions at the depanneur. Aside from that, the malt and hops were well-balanced and close to what I expected with the spiciness from the hops lingering just slightly in the aftertaste.

Moderate to low carbonation, somewhat thin mouthfeel.

The off-flavours definitely affected the drinkability of this one, but the sour-milk notwithstanding I can see this being a nice session beer being well-balanced, flavourful and not too heavy.

I'm pretty disappointed in this one given the positive reviews I had read prior to purchasing this on my last trip to Montreal. The beer was stored unrefrigerated in the store so I'm wondering if it was caused by poor storage or something else. Will have to pick up another next time in la Belle Province to see if I have a different experience.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2010 00:13:27 | More by MattyV
Photo of kwjd

Ontario (Canada)

4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep orange colour with a hint of amber. Thick white head with great retention and small amount of lacing. Smells of earthy hops and lots of caramel and bread malt. Quite sweet taste, but has lots of bitterness still, more than the IBU would seem to imply. Very balanced and delicious. I typically use Fuller's ESB as my baseline for a good ESB, but I think I prefer this one.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2010 22:09:52 | More by kwjd
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La Vache Folle - ESB from Microbrasserie Charlevoix
86 out of 100 based on 80 ratings.