I will be attending law school at George Washington in the fall, which puts me right in the middle of the Eastern seaboard. I will be across the river from Virginia, a few hours from New York, and a few more after that from Boston. And, if so inclined, I will be able to take a flight or a long drive up to that hallowed land: Montreal.
I’ve had a fascination with Montreal ever since my brother, who went to school in New York, took a trip there and came back in love with its architecture, its food, and its French-Canadian girls (“Their accents are SOOOO hot!” he raved). As this recent New York Times article shows, the food in Montreal–poutine aside–is excellent. I leave the matter of beautiful women up to you, the reader, to determine first-hand.
But now I have another reason to venture up north of the border: beer.
I think most people think of Molsom or Labatt when they think of Canadian beer. This is unfortunate and may be as misguided as those who might think of Coors or Miller Lite when thinking of American beer.
My brother and I picked up a bottle of “La Terrible” from Unibroue the other day while browsing for a light spring drink (see: previous post on vinho verde). The reason for our selecting La Terrible wasn’t terribly scientific: my brother took one look at the bottle and said, “That looks cool–let’s get that bottle.” But I can’t blame him–the bottle DOES look pretty cool.
And the name embodies the rationale behind something like “A Boy Named Sue”: if you name your beer “The Terrible”, it has to be pretty damned good.
Unibroue is not based in Montreal per se but is in a town just about half an hour to the east (Chambly). What’s important to note is that this is a Quebecois beer (or a beer from Quebec, at least).
La Terrible is a Belgian strong dark ale, brewed with the lees (yeast and other sediment left at the bottom of the bottle). And it IS strong… terribly strong, in fact, coming in at a whopping 10.5% ABV. I was a bit afraid to open it because the drinking dynamics in my family pretty much necessitate that I have to drink most of whatever bottle we open up. But heck, it was after work, I had just come back from the gym, and I had nothing to do and no heavy machinery to operate. We popped the cork off the Terrible and poured it into a wine glass.
Very dark, though translucent. Actually a very nice burnt caramel color. It had a nice, substantial head.
The nose was fruity, with some malt and chocolate. Very fresh for such a strong-looking beer. Upon drinking, I was hit with its texture: a bit more viscous than I was used to in my beers, with a sort of winy finish. Beautiful, beautiful flavor. Raisiny, with a not-unpleasant note of copper. A bit of tartness, almost sharp, that was leavened with the beer’s smoothness.
What was remarkable was that it was not a hot beer at all, as one could reasonably expect from a beer with 10.5% ABV. I couldn’t taste the alcohol at all–rather, I couldn’t taste the alcohol more than I would be able to in any other dark beer.
This is a beer for wine drinkers. It is complex, possesses a great nose and a fruity, winy taste, offers a fascinating mouthfeel, and has a smooth, satisfying finish. It also has a price similar to that of wine ($8.99).
Upon drinking, I pronounced to my family that this was “the most delicious beer I’ve ever had in my life.” That is a pretty strong statement and since making that statement I’ve reevaluated my words–still, I’ve determined that this is a very quality, very delicious beer, one that I would drink again and did, in fact, drink again this past Saturday. But that is another story for another posting!