We don't get too many good Canadian beers around here, despite the fact that we're just across Lake Ontario. Unibroue is easy to find (thanks to Sapporo), and MacAuslan is around as well. These are both based in Quebec, as is Dieu du Ciel. I don't recall seeing anything from Dieu du Ciel before, so was quick to snathc up Solstice d'Hiver, their winter seasonal barley wine at 9.8% ABV. The label has two scales from 0 to 9 with a couple notches between the 1 and 2 on the second one. So what does that mean? Drink by mid-2011?
The label also reviews the beer. "Brown in color with flaming red highlights...delicately sweet and liquor-like...a very bitter beer." It's weird to describe your own product as "very bitter," especially since it's not that bitter. It probably fits about midway between Anchor Old Foghorn and SN Bigfoot in this regard. Resiny hop bitterness comes through at the end, following an initial big, thick malt sweetness of cherries/berries and caramel. Maybe it's a fruit punch with a grapefruit juice finish. The alcohol is noticeable but not overwhelming.
Barley wine fans have to give this a try. Send more good beer to Western New York, Canada! In return, we'll let you host the Bills for another one of their nine losses next year.