La Vache Folle - ESB
Microbrasserie Charlevoix

La Vache Folle - ESBLa Vache Folle - ESB
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #36
Ranked #21,228
3.87 | pDev: 9.82%
Microbrasserie Charlevoix
Quebec, Canada
Very Good
La Vache Folle - ESBLa Vache Folle - ESB
Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 115 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Rutager:
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Rutager from Canada (BC)

4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

Feb 10, 2011
More User Reviews:
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flipper2gv from Canada (QC)

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Nice amber color with creamy off white head that lasts for a long time.

S: Very herbal like. Floral smells coming too. Citrus is strong too and there is a bit of malty sweetness caramel somewhere there.

T: Comes out with a good malty sweetness. Some woody/earth type of taste comes as the beer gets warmer. Citrus are present like in the smell. Floral hops finally kicks in, nothing overpowered.

M: Nice medium carbonation with creamy feel. Body is medium-light, just how it is supposed to be.

D: Just as good. Since it is so well balanced, it makes it easy to drink.

Overall a very straightforward beer, nothing exceptional. Only a very solid beer that represents very well the style.

Jan 24, 2009
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jbonapar from Canada (ON)

3.35/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light amber hue with a nice thick foam that quickly dissipates.

unfortunately, after translating the French, we realized that they brewery recommends Drinking the beer 9 months after the bottling date, we opened ours 3 months after the date.

Tate is alight caramelly bitterness. Some floral overtones.

An average bitter at this time, however, its our fault for not reading the French on the bottle. We'll get another one and age it appropriately and try again!

Jan 09, 2010
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wordemupg from Canada (AB)

4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into Unibroue glass mar15 2010

A crystal clear orange/amber with a small amount of tiny bubbles that slowly float up to a big off white head that has great retention and leaves some chunks of lace

S lots of bread and biscuit to go along with a fair bit caramel and a little bit of citrus

T not far from the smell only with a little metallic flavor I can't place, nothing nasty though just unusual. good balance just enough hops to keep the malts in check

M not quite full but thick enough to please, low carbonation but not flat by any means, no real issues in this department

D what can I say this is a solid well rounded beer that I'll be drinking again

picked this one up in a la vache folle mixed pack with the milk stout that's one of my favorites and the new single hop dipa with amarillo. the dipa's up next and if I like it as much as the simco this is going to be a good night

Mar 16, 2010
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NightINgale from Russian Federation

4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
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!

Apr 17, 2012
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MeisterBurger from Canada (ON)

3.24/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Holy fuggle! This started to erupt out of the bottle the second the cap came off. Pours a highly carbonated mess, medium amber, with decent head retention and chunky lacing. Lots of yeast sediment.

Smell is metallic, candied oranges, with caramel and hops, a slight boiled green beans smell to it.

Taste is sweet malt, a little nutty, grainy and piney bitter in the finish, a very earthy green leaf bitter. The balance leans towards the bitter.

It's a little overly carbonated for my tastes, and it has an odd leafy bitterness to it that prevents me from loving it.

Jul 14, 2009
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MattyV from Canada (ON)

2.7/5  rDev -30.2%
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.

Sep 05, 2010
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Glory from Canada (QC)

3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
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 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


Feb 11, 2011
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Dawkfan from Canada (AB)

3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a clear copper with a slightly off white soapy looking head. Coats the glass nicely! My second pour didn't have the same clarity as the first.

S- Biscuity caramel malt. Spicy earthy/grassy hops.

T- A fair bit of biscuit malt up front, which fades to a caramel middle. Earthy hops in the finish, spice sits on the tongue and lingers with a hop bite.

M- Medium body with an appropriate amount of carbonation.

D- Yet another nice beer from Charlevoix. The bitterness sticks around for awhile, something that I think a lot of ESB's are missing. A nice example of the style IMO and one that I'll revisit again soon.

Jun 09, 2010
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kwjd from Canada (ON)

4.18/5  rDev +8%
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.

Aug 11, 2010
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bylerteck from Canada (ON)

4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Jun 09, 2011
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eat from Canada (QC)

3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled July 22, 2009 and recommended to be consumed within nine months of bottling. 30 IBU. Attempted translation of the label:

"La Vache Folle Extra Special Bitter is a red beer, generous on all levels. A powerful nose of floral hop scents and a mouthfeel supported by a marked bitterness which "little" beers don't possess... Thumb your nose at the usual. Go for it, be a cow!"

Hazy and golden-amber in colour with a good cover of foamy white head, receding to a ring around the glass. Decent lacing.

Fresh, light smell. Honey, floral hops, yeast, minerals. A little buttery/lactic as it warms. Smells really nice but there's not nearly enough. I'm almost snorting the beer up my nose to pull anything off it.

This is quite a bit different from other ESBs I've had before. It doesn't have the characteristic hop profile I'm used to. If I didn't know it was an ESB, I'd be inclined to guess it was a strange sort of pale ale. It's tasty anyhow. Fresh and simple and mostly consisting of a fairly high hop presence, floral in character, and a honey-like sweetness. Nice balance between bitterness and sweetness. The aftertaste leaves more of an ESB flavour than while the beer is in your mouth. Dry finish, no alcohol noticeable.

Great medium body with moderate carbonation.

I don't know if I'd call this an ESB, based on my experience with the style, but it's a damn tasty brew. Another Charlevoix I wish I had discovered while I lived around the corner from an endless supply of it in Montreal. This would make a great session beer. Extremely drinkable.

Mar 12, 2010
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MaliciousMatt from Canada (QC)

4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
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!

May 12, 2011
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Yoonisaykul from Canada (QC)

3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hard to read but I'm pretty sure this was bottled october 22nd 2009. They say you can keep itfor 2 years but should really drink it before 9 months.

A- Consistent white head with a little yellow in it.Lots of bubbles. Slightly hazy amber. Lacing is shy.

S- Cheese and chocolate. Floral hops. Candy malt. Fresh cut leaves.

T- Bitter and sour right off the bat. A bit of clementine. Dairyness to it (don't think i was influenced by the label) Tastes and feels really fresh

M- Everything is medium here. Feels great. Not watery.

D- 500ml bottle and I'd still have two more. I'd also buy it again if I didn't see anything new.

Nothing special. Just a good drink.

Jan 26, 2010
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liamt07 from Canada (ON)

4.11/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Oct 17, 2010
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Long813 from Canada (ON)

3.08/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dated: 2009 OCT ** 11:29. ** are blurred.
From: Zorprime, 500 ml

A: Cloudy copper body with two fingers of white head. Head dissipates rather quickly and leaves minimal lacing.

S: Pretty weak aromas consisting of biscuity malts and hops. Faint notes of cloves.

T: Following the aromas, it's pretty weak. Biscuit malts and mild hops are dominant. Hints of cloves at the end.

M: Light bodied and medium-high carbonation. Watery texture and leaves a faint bitter aftertaste.

D: Thanks again to Zorprime. This beer didn't hold up quite as well as the other I image. The flavours and aromas are very faint. Not off putting, but it doesn't do anything for me. I'd like to try this fresh.

Jun 21, 2010
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keithmurray from Connecticut

3.41/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into a chalice

beer pours a nice deep bronze colour, fluffy white head that lingers long

aroma - slight floral notes, some minerals, yeast, toffee

taste - hops up front, nice malty flavor, toffee adn caramel on the back end

mouthfeel - carbonation is sort of light, a bit bitter on the front end, light to medium body

drinkability - at 6%, getting this all down shouldnt be a problem

overall a decent representation of the ESB style

May 20, 2010
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VbolieuV from Canada (QC)

3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Was expecting an amber beer but it's golden in color with a nice head that stays there for a while. Not much hops in the smell, mainly grain maltiness, with some caramel malt but not much. In the mouth it tastes a little more of caramel malts. Dry finish with a nice carbonation. Not the best ever but not bad either.

Jul 22, 2015
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mattsander from Canada (AB)

4/5  rDev +3.4%

May 05, 2014
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Molson2000 from Canada (ON)

4/5  rDev +3.4%

Sep 13, 2012
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joemcgrath27 from Canada (AB)

4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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

Nov 27, 2011
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spinrsx from Canada (ON)

3.32/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

Sep 13, 2010
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Digimaika2 from Canada (ON)

3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

Apr 09, 2011
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fostachild from Canada (ON)

3.76/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Nov 05, 2011
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Matt1516 from Canada (QC)

3.31/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

Dec 27, 2010
La Vache Folle - ESB from Microbrasserie Charlevoix
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 115 ratings