Browse Tag


Take three

Unibroue 2006 “Trois Pistoles” (Québec) – Overly-succulent, sweet, almost candied (in a licorice sort of fashion), and yet good. Worth aging? No. The froth is no longer integrated, and everything seems like it’s on the verge of collapse. (10/11)

Hiver one or the other

Dieu du Ciel! “Solstice d’hiver” (Québec) – Way, way, way back in college, I discovered that there were beers other than the mass-market dreck I’d…um, seen other people drink in high school, but of course wouldn’t myself because that would have been wrong. Ahem. Anyway, one thing led to another, and after college I was much entertained by bars with over a hundred taps and 400 bottles of the world’s many expressions and variations on beer. I remember the seemingly innumerable styles I liked right away, but I also remember the first exotic brew I hated: a burnt toffee-like concoction, syrupy and balsamic, that I learned was a Christmastime specialty of the brewery in question. Since then, I’ve learned that while I can appreciate light-toned winter ales (Long Trail’s version provided many, many cases of happiness), the dark, Euro-historical versions are just too much for me. This isn’t nearly as dense as that first dark-hearted monster, but it’s more than I can enjoy: sticky, a little charred, syrupy without letup. And yet, hollow and thin. Yes, that’s quite an accomplishment. I go on at this length to say that I’m perfectly willing to accept that this is much more about me than it is about the brew’s qualities, which might be more appreciated by others. (9/11)

Do you Monde?

Unibroue 2006 “La Fin du Monde” (Québec) – Dying. Flattening. There was no point in aging this beer this long, despite the suggestion that it would reward same. (5/11)


Unibroue 2004 “La Fin du Monde” Ale (Québec) – Vintage (stamped on the back of the bottle) included because, obviously, this is not the current release. Cellared it myself, in fact. (Why? Curiosity.) A bottle tasted in 1999 showed little development but fair degradation, and that has continued. Acids have come to the fore, there’s a soapy detergent quality, and the dominant fruit quality is of slightly spoiled lemon. There’s still texture, spice (though less than there was), sweetness, and a long finish that’s the beer’s primary appeal at the moment. But if any of Unibroue’s brews are capable of aging – opinions differ – I’m more and more sure that this is not one of them. And just a warning: these things throw a dozen snow globes’ worth of swirly sediment, so they need a good long standup before pouring. (2/11)

Unibroue 2004 “Trois Pistoles” Ale (Québec) – Not the current release, and aged my me, myself, and I. Unlike the same year’s “La Fin du Monde”, this has seen some changes rather than just erosion, though I don’t know if the net effect is worth the time and energy expended. It’s darker and moodier than at release, though the flavor profile is more or less along the same molasses-meets-spice-barrel continuum. On the other hand, it’s both broader at the bottom and more angular up top, creating a palate impression more triangular than the roundness of its youth. Since I think that angularity is the first sign of degradation to come, I’m going to finish the rest (a might stash of two more bottles) over the next short while. (2/11)

Pistol, pistol, pistol

Unibroue 2004 “Trois Pistoles” (Québec) – Tastes denser than it did in its youth, with more of a chocolate liqueur, spice-laden character than it originally possessed. Still quite heavy. Did it benefit from age? Well, it changed a bit. But is it better? I don’t know. (1/09)

Unibroue 2004 “La Fin du Monde” (Québec) – Unlike the Trois Pistoles, this beer did not benefit from a few years’ aging. Lemony and completely swimming with lees, this has tarted up but has also lost the layered richness that defines it. (1/09)


Unibroue “Quartre-Centième” (Québec) – Are these beers getting more boring by the year, or am I suffering from malty overstimulation? Should I blame corporate brewing? Is this an actual tasting note? No, probably not. (10/08)

Seigneur moment

[label]Unibroue “Seigneuriale” (Québec) – Takes the heady, spicy, sweet-heavy Belgian style to 11, which isn’t a good thing in this case, as the necessary uptick in complexity and balance is not achieved. It’s just too much. (8/08)

One eyebrow

[tanks]Unibroue “16” Ale (Québec) – All the elements are in place for this Belgian-inspired ale, but it’s just…I don’t know, it’s like a copy of a copy. I can’t put my finger on what’s missing, but something definitely is. (1/08)

TN: Ale, ale, the gang’s all here

[label]de Block “Satan” Red Ale (Belgium) – Deep brick-dried spice, fresh clay, a pleasant layer of hoppy dryness, and the memory of red cherries and apple seed. A complete, sophisticated brew. Delicious. (5/07)

de Block “Special Block 6” Blonde Ale (Belgium) – Spicy/fruity and suggestive of fat, but the actual experience is lively and fun. Perhaps even a bit goofy. This brew shouldn’t be over-intellectualized, but it should most definitely be enjoyed. (5/07)

de Block “Dendermonde” Abbey Ale (Belgium) – Weighty and cream-textured, with spice and lees dominating, yet surprisingly light on the finish. Balanced and fresh, which is not necessarily typical for an abbey ale. I’m not even sure it’s desirable, to be honest, but it’s a good beer, no matter what. (5/07)

Port “Lost & Found” Abbey Ale “The Lost Abbey” (California) – Sprightly for an abbey, but with all the spicy/leesy complexity one would want, here dominated by banana skins and strong yeastiness. It’s just the faintest bit watery, especially on the finish, but otherwise a very solid exemplar of the style. (5/07)

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly (Québec) – This is the worst example of this I’ve ever tasted…thin, insufficiently aromatic, and insufficiently interesting. Maybe it’s corked, though I don’t get the telltale aroma. (5/07)

Chimay “Première” Ale (Belgium) – Solid and dependable, but getting a bit boring, with frothy background to a featureless foreground. There’s spice, there’s texture, there’s weight, but – as the beer-swilling kids say – there’s not a lot of “there” there. What’s going on with this stuff? Or is it just impossible to rely on the lower-tier bottlings? (5/07)

TN: Harold & Maudite

[label]Unibroue “Maudite” (Québec) – Dark, raisined and slightly smoky, with good weight and balance, plus a peppery complexity and a long, smooth finish. (4/07)

  • 1
  • 2