Another Reason to Love Those Canadians: “La Terrible” from Unibroue

20 Apr

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!


7 Responses to “Another Reason to Love Those Canadians: “La Terrible” from Unibroue”

  1. james April 21, 2008 at 10:45 am #

    I once had a sip of Terrible from the glass of a very drunk man at a beer closet in Orange. Boy, was that guy drunk.

  2. Shea April 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm #

    I have actually never tried this one, despite living in both Toronto for 24 years and Vancouver for 3. But, except for these guys, Canada really can’t hold a candle against US beer sorry to say. I’ve never been to Montreal – I hear it’s great. If you ever go, you should definitely check out the Jazz fest – it is THE time to be in Montreal and I hear the best jazz fest in North America.

    Congrats on Law School. Get ready for hell! 🙂 Just remember, after first year life gets better.

  3. Katie April 22, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    I LOVE their beer, La Fin du Monde. Used to drink it at La Note all the time :).

  4. The Beer Babe April 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    Thanks for the comment. I chose the beer for the same reason, and enjoyed it. I haven’t run into another bottle lately, though, and I’d love to pick one up. I live in New England, so getting Unibroue is a little tricky, but possible if you know where to look. Do try their La Fin du Monde, it is an excellent beer as well, and I think you’d be just as impressed. It tastes like nothing else.

  5. Jonas Hedegaard February 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Hey – I’m a guy from Denmark, googling this beer. I had it for the first time a few weeks back at a bar in Coprnhagen called Apoteket (check it out if you ever go to Copenhagen, great place, managed by a bunch of friends of mine). This beer is probably the best beer I’ve ever had (and I’m a big connoiseur of beers [even though I probably miss-spelled connoiseur]) – when I tasted it for the first time I litterally got goosebumps all over. It is just that good. So I finally remembered that I wanted to google it to find out where I can get it for store-prices…

    So if you get the chance – check it out!

  6. vinicultured February 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    Hey Jonas,

    Thanks for the comment. If I ever find myself in Denmark I would imagine I’d be in Copenhagen; if that is the case I will definitely check out Apoteket.

    Yup–this is an awesome beer. Glad that seems to be the consensus out there!

    Joon S.


  1. Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde « Vinicultured: A Wine Blog - May 31, 2008

    […] 31, 2008 · No Comments I had posted a few weeks previously about Unibroue’s “La Terrible”.  I felt that it was one of the best beers I had ever tasted.  One of the reasons I loved it so […]

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