Pint-Sized Reviews: Not all Canadian beer is Blue

[note: I'd started this post yesterday, not anticipating that meat would bring the pork again today. Awesome. So go read or re-read that recipe, then come back here and fantasize with me about eating it while drinking this beer]

The family is scattering to the winds this week, with the Boy off to the Carleton Summer Writing Program, the Mrs. and the Girl heading to Nuevo Mexico, and li'l old me staying here to work my fingers to the bone for Gov'nor Brown. So saturday night I was treated to an early birthday dinner. And what a treat it was:
*the Boy grilled a tri-tip to perfection
*the Girl made a delicious pot of pinto beans
*the Mrs. made sauteed spinach and, for dessert, a fantastic blueberry-peach crisp.

and for double-dessert, I treated myself to a bomber of the Unibroue Quatre-Centième Brassin Commémoratif belgian-style strong pale ale. So sue me for using the wrong glass.

This is an interesting hybrid brew. It pours a beautiful golden straw color with an effervescent white head that settles down quickly, leaving little lacing. The mouthfeel is soft and light, beginning with a champagne-like bubbliness that slowly dissipates in the glass. The aroma is firmly Belgian -- like a dubbel, but with a heady (yet still light) undertone of bready, biscuity malt. One reviewer nailed the taste -- reminiscent of their world-class La Fin Du Monde, but toned down. You never notice its weighty 7.5 pct ABV.

The Quatre-Centieme, brewed originally to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Quebec City, is the beer that proves that Unibroue is a truly great brewery, not by its greatness, but by its seeming ordinariness. To make my case is the Alström Bros themselves:

While Quatre is certainly not a bad beer, it simply smacks of past Unibroue beers and doesn't offer us anything unique--like the city it's supposed to be honoring. Fairly middle of the road, but Unibroue fans will no doubt want to give this one a try.

In other words, it's not world-class great like many of Unibroue's other products, so it is consigned to "meh". Seriously? No, this is a really, really good beer. It doesn't overwhelm the palate on any one dimension, it isn't way over the top, but instead is a delicious, drinkable, well-balanced Belgian ale. Most breweries would kill just to make a beer this good, but this one is snubbed as merely quaffable. Oy.

If you are curious about but unseasoned in Belgian ales, this would be a great place to start.

15 thoughts on “Pint-Sized Reviews: Not all Canadian beer is Blue”

  1. I'm a fan or Unibroue's offerings, but pretty often I feel like they're overrated. Don't get me wrong, I would much rather have anything brewed by Uni than say, for instance, coors but for the record, imho, Ommegang > Uni.

    1. Gees, that is a tough one. I think I would go Unibroue but I'd reserve the right to change my mind if there were an Abbey Ale in front of me.

  2. I ran out of beer yesterday and we're in full-on penny-pinch mode. Sigh.

    I'll also pile on with love for Ommegang, though it's not like anyone's going to show up and disagree.

    I've never had anything by Uni. That bugs me.

    1. I've never had anything by Uni. That bugs me.
      [Dido], though the aforementioned La Fin Du Monde is next up* on my list of tripels to sample.

      *Have a bomber of this in my fridge, just waiting to be poured.

      1. Westie is the probably the best tripel I've ever had. That particular beer, and the monastery it's brewed in, are the center of a planned bike trip through belgium for the good Dr. and I.

        1. I am extremely jealous...and (now) even more excited to open the bottle. I should think that this "planned bike trip" will require periodic updates to those of us back home in the basement?

          Last night, I enjoyed the best dopplebock I've ever had. Asked for a libation recommendation to accompany a steak off the grill and the man suggested the style. The selection itself was completely random fortuitous. Just amasing.

          1. I was hoping the link would take me to that beer. That isn't just the best dopplebock you've ever had. That is the best dopple there has ever been. Good work, palating, Corn.

        2. Damn, even I've never tasted the Westie 12. Hopefully the triple I send you does it justice.

              1. Glad you gents cleared that up - I had never heard of "Westie" before; had to check the repository. Now I'm even more jealous of your excursion to the continent (also good to know the westmalle in my fridge isn't a bad version of the style).

  3. I went on the Surly Brewery tour yesterday with a couple Algonads. It was a good time and a good warm up for seeing the Drive-By Truckers at the Basilica.

    1. Color me green. I wanted to do both of those things yesterday and ended up doing neither.

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