Showing posts with label unibroue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unibroue. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Fuggled Beers of the Year - Darker Than Pale Lighter Than Dark Brown

How's that for a description of colours in this category? Suitably vague and broad of scope I would hope you agree.

Onwards then to the runners and riders

Virginia
  • Franconia Kellerbier - Port City Brewing
  • Rauch M?rzen - Port City Brewing
  • Alt Bier - Devils Backbone Brewing
Honorable mentions: Doppelbock - Port City Brewing; Bavarian Prince - New Realm Brewing.

As I mentioned in my last post, this year has been stellar from Port City, so it is no surprise to see them dominating the DTPLTDB category. I drank loads of the Franconian Kellerbier earlier this year, often while harvesting fresh green things from my garden, the experience was a series of delightfully rustic moments in the midst of this most odd year. 

When you compare a rauchbier to the glories of Spezial in Bamberg, you know you are drinking something, erm, special, Rauch M?rzen is just such a beer. A gorgeous drop of rauchbier that hits my sweet spot with unerring accuracy. 

Technically speaking, Devils Backbone Alt Bier was my first beer of 2020, from the zwickel at the brewpub while brewing Morana back in February. When finally Morana was on tap, and people were allowed to reserve tables in the Devil Backbone meadow, we did so. With double digit numbers of crowlers of Morana acquired, I was drinking the Alt Bier, revelling in the sense of normality with a version of altbier that could actually pass for a German beer. 

This years Virginia DTPLTDB beer of the year is Port City's Franconian Kellerbier, a beer so good it pretty uch made up all of my drinking for a couple of months in the summer.

Rest of the USA
  • Copper - Olde Mecklenburg Brewing, NC
  • Oktoberfest - Von Trapp Brewing, VT
  • 40 - Sierra Nevada Brewing, CA/NC
Honorable mentions: Winter Ride - JosephsBrau, CA; Yule Bock - Olde Mecklenburg Brewing, NC; Vienna - Von Trapp Brewing, VT.

Very much a tale of old favourites here. I wax lyrical about Olde Mecklenburg at length to anyone crazy enough to listen about the glories of decoction mashing, extensive lagering, and a commitment to making beers with malt, hops, yeast, water, and "nothing else". Whenever I have the opportunity it is Copper that takes up a fair amount of space in my fridge. 

For the second year in a row, I did a mass Oktoberfest tasting, and Von Trapp's eponymous beer is probably my favourite version of the style, though it didn't win the blind tasting. However, a ma? at Kardinal Hall on an overcast Friday afternoon brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise grim day. 

I know you are shocked, a top fermented, American hopped, IPA made it on my list of contenders this year, but it is Sierra Nevada and they are simply one of the best breweries on the planet, and in "40" they had the perfect beer to mark such an august anniversary. 

Sierra Nevada then, in their anniversary year take the honours as the best DTPLTDB beer in the rest of the US for 2020.

Rest of the World
  • Vintage Ale 2016 - Fuller's, England
  • Oktober Fest-M?rzen - Privatbrauerei Ayinger, Germany
  • Maudite - Unibroue, Canada
Honorable mentions: Orval - Abbaye d'Orval; London Pride - Fuller's.

With the lockdown in its infancy I decided to hit the cellar for some of the old ales, barleywines, and other assorted heavy hitters that had been lingering for a while. From those DTPLTDB beers the 2016 iteration of Fuller's Vintage Ale was the standout beer, and I am eyeing at least one more bottle of it before the year is out. 

Sure, I know Ayinger's autumnal festbier is not strictly speaking an Oktoberfest lager, it is though the one German lager of that season that I look forward to most, chewy, fully bodied, warming, echt lecker.

I renewed acquaintances with Maudite early in the year for an Old Friends post, such a nice beer, one that I have had a couple of times since, when the urge for a well brewed dubbel strikes (admittedly something of a great conjunction in my lager driven world). 

Not only was it the standout cellar beer of 2020, Fuller's Vintage Ale 2016 is the standout DTPLTDB beer of 2020 from the rest of the world. A worthy taker of the accolades.


Decisions, decisions...As ever it is tricky for me to choose one, but in reality given the amount of it I drank earlier in the year, and the fact I drove 60 miles round trip to pick up several unexpected 4 packs, the winner of the Fuggled DTPLTDB Beer of the Year is Port City's glorious Franconian Kellerbier, and I look forward to indulging in more in 2021.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Old Friends: Unibroue Maudite

From time to time I wonder if I have ever really got over the fact that my parents moved back to Scotland after about 6 years living in the Haute Vienne region of France. Don't get me wrong, I am glad to have somewhere to stay when Mrs V and I go to Scotland, but I loved going to the part of France they lived in.

During our 2008 Christmas trip we went into the Leclerc supermarket in La Souterraine, as ever I made a bee line for the beer aisle, where I noticed a few bottles of beer that looked markedly different from the massed ranks of French macro pale lager. Naturally I picked up a couple of each, and some Orval, hoping to try local French craft beer. Those bottles were all Unibroue, and I didn't read the back label at first, so only at my parents' place did I learn said brews came from Canada.

From that moment on I knew that Unibroue beers would be something I would enjoy from time to time when Mrs V and I jumped over the Pond, and so it has been, though usually their tripel, La Fin du Monde. Over the years I have found my tastes shifting ever further away from big hitters, as you probably know if you follow Fuggled with any sense of regularity. Having recently been reminded that I quite like the occasional dubbel, I figured I'd resurrect the Old Friends series and get myself a 750ml bottle of Maudite, Unibroue's dubbel...


First things first, I love the fact that the label is still basically the same as it was in 2008, showing the chasse-galerie of French Canadian lore, which may, if my reading is correct, itself be a version of ancient Wild Hunt stories. Any way, the beer...


This is an interesting one when it comes to describing how it looked on pouring into my goblet because so much depended on the light. Sat looking out of a window, sunlight streaming through, the beer was a deep dark copper, with red highlights, but sit with the light behind you and it appears to be a muddy brown. Whether light is to the fore or behind, the head is slightly off white, rocky, and lingers, leaving some delicate lacing down the sides of the glass.

The aroma is dominated by spices, hardly surprising as this is a spiced ale according to the label, mostly I was getting nutmeg and ginger, with a touch of clove. It immediately put me in mind of the fruit cake recipe I make each Yuletide. Lingering among the spices was a touch of molasses. some grassy hops, and just a hint of dried fruit. All of those characteristics carried on over to the flavour department as well. The fruitcake motif was reinforced, and augmented, with prunes, brown sugar, and just a light trace of banana as it warms - I drank it at the recommended 50° but inevitably it warmed as 750ml of 8% booze is not something for chugging fresh from the fridge, unless you are a philistine of course.


Maudite is definitely on the sweeter side of the spectrum, but the hops that are there give it just enough of a scrape to make drinking the entire bottle anything but a syrupy struggle. While a hefty beer for sure the alcohol is not really all that intrusive, it could even be called dangerous as it lies well integrated in the background. Overall a lovely beer that it was delightful to spend some time with again after many years, and having re-established contact I think I'll go hang out with the accursed crew of the flying canoe again some time soon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fuggled Review of the Year - Pale Beer

As I said on Friday, for this year's review posts I am sticking to three very broad categories of beer - pale, amber and dark. What I didn't mention though was how I planned to draw up my shortlist of three beers for each category, from which the over all winner would be selected. I thought long and hard about this question. Well, ok then, I decided to do the first thing that popped into my mind. The three beers will be as follows:
  • best from Virginia
  • best from the rest of the US
  • best from the rest of the world
So, without further ado, the contenders for the Fuggled Pale Beer of the Year (a prize still unburdened by history or monetary value) are:
  • Devils' Backbone Trukker Ur-Pils
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo 
  • Unibroue La Fin du Monde

If you know me, you know that Bohemian Pilsner is one of my favourite styles of beer. It is a style of beer that is very easy to get wrong, and exceedingly difficult to right, despite the simplicity of the ingredients. I will continue to maintain that only a triple decocted, 100% Saaz hopped brew can be called a Pilsner, anything else is just pale lager. It might be very drinkable, it might even garner rave reviews, but it is not a Pilsner. When I read on the Devils' Backbone blog, written by the brewer, Jason, that he was planning to make a Pilsner based on a recreation of the 1842 recipe devised by Josef Groll, I was immediately intrigued. That Jason then invited me to come out and help brew the beer made it all the more special for me - I say "help" in the broadest possible sense, that sense being the helping by not getting in the way, as much as possible. When the beer was lagered and available, avail myself of it I did, with gusto. It was simply an excellent version of one of my favourite styles. As I have said before, if I had been served that in one of Prague's many fine watering holes, I would have been delighted. There really is no higher praise.

This is quite possibly the grossest heresy you will ever hear from a beer lover living in the USA. I am not a hop head. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate hoppy beers, but I think that a lot of "craft" breweries focus too much on the little green cone to the detriment of the malt. For an IPA to get into my list of beers always in the cellar, it needs to have a good malty body to stand up to the hops. Enter, then, Sierra Nevada's quite simply gorgeous Torpedo. I think the thing I like most about Torpedo is that it isn't just another grapefruit bomb, the dry hopping with Citra lends it a more tropical fruit flavour which I find very appealing and a refreshing change from the Cascade/Amarillo dominated IPAs of this world. Balanced and yet nicely bitter, Torpedo achieves those three elements of good beer in my world, balanced, complex, drinkable.


For my best Rest of the World beer, I head over the border to Canada and Unibroue's wonderful La Fin du Monde. Admittedly there was a late charge in the form of Unibroue's Don de Dieu which I polished off last night, but I followed that up with another bottle of La Fin du Monde, and the winner was easy really. For a 9%abv beer, La Fin du Monde is very drinkable, smooth and laced with banana aromas - almost as though they had been soaked in spiced rum. I first had some Unibroue beers by chance a few years back in France, and still count it as one of my favourite beer discoveries.

Three excellent beers then, but in the immortal words of Connor MacLeod, there can be only one, and that one is:
  • Devils' Backbone Trukker Ur-Pils
Authentic ingredients, traditional methods and a spectacular result. This is what craft brewing is about in my opinion, and the Trukker Ur-Pils hit the mark in every conceivable way and is thus the Fuggled Pale Beer of 2010.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Lazy Look at the Cellar

For some reason, my brain has all the activity of an arthritic slug today. I am sure the cause is not having worked in the Starr Hill tasting room on both Saturday and Sunday, and being asked what specialty beer I would brew to follow the Double IPA which is currently gracing the taps - my answer was a Baltic Porter, something hefty and akin to either the Pardubicky Porter or Primátor's lovely Double from back in the Czech Republic. Part of the reason could be the lack of beery joy since June 1st as I decided to take a month off the beer, so rather than witter on today, I thought I'd just put some pictures up of my cellar and some of the delights that await for Thursday and beyond.


The Cellar, large amounts of homebrew in there, and a case of Budvar to boot.


Stout - my favourite beer "style"


A sample of my Unibroue collection.


Some more dark beers, perhaps to save for the rainy days of autumn and chill of winter.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting It Emphatically Right

A couple of months ago I had a gripe about the standard of a large number of breweries' websites, though admittedly I then balanced that with a piece about a couple of website which I think are very good. Well, Unibroue's new website is just about the best brewery website I have seen, anywhere.

It looks great, is easy to navigate and is packed full of interesting information for the beer lover, including where you can find there beers, I think just in North America though because I know I can get them at the (it is I.....) in La Souterraine. Anyway, here are a couple of screenshots to prove my point, and I for one am happy that the great beers at Unibroue finally have a website worthy of them!




Thursday, November 26, 2009

Slacking off

Mrs Velkyal, myself and a friend from England have driven down from Charlottesville to Columbia, South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Of course making sure I had plenty of good beer was in order, thus a trip to the local booze store was in order, and the beer for the next few days comprises:
  • Starr Hill Northern Lights (bought from home admittedly)
  • Unibroue La Fin du Monde
  • Unibroue Les Trois Pistoles
  • Unibroue Maudite
  • Unibroue Ephemere (made with apple juice, coriander and curacao!)
  • Budvar
A good triumvirate of beers there for the holiday, and I am sure some stuff will make it's way back up the Interstate.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eau Canada!

Some countries are inextricably linked with beer; Belgium, Britain and the Czech Republic for example. Other countries bring to mind wine; France, Australia and Argentina. Others are linked with spirits; Ireland, Russia and Poland. One country I had never thought of in connection with alcohol at all was Canada. That was until I saw beers from Unibroue in the L’Eclerc in La Souterraine. A quick text message to Beer Culture’s Evan Rail for his opinion of them and one of each available was soon in the shopping trolley.



Starting with the least alcoholic of the three, the 7.7%ABV Eau Bénite pours a dark gold with a big frothy head and lots of lovely bubbles. The nose was full of fruit and spice, and at the same time somewhat musty. Taste wise, the Eau Bénite continues the fruity theme from the nose, sweetened with honey and gingery spiciness. This beer put me in mind of the La Goudale I had enjoyed earlier in the holiday, although with a fuller body and a smooth softness in the throat.


Slightly stronger at 8%ABV, Maudite pours dark brown with a big cream head which hung around doggedly. The nose was dominated by licorice and gingerbread, the perfect Christmas aroma! The taste though was rather surprising, lots and lots of caramel, backed up by cloves – almost like a light Christmas pudding, with a very subtle bitterness underscoring the sweetness. Despite the somewhat hefty kick of alcohol, Maudite is very smooth and was like drinking liquid fudge.

Last up came the big hitting 9%ABV La Fin du Monde. What a magnificent beer this is, light amber and a thin white head, with a floral nose and touches of clove and banana. This was somewhat similar to the Eau Bénite but bigger, with a more pronounced fruitiness and refreshing spiciness. Again, given its ABV, this was a superbly smooth beer and not at all harsh.

Not only were the beers excellent, the labels were very well conceived and executed – including on the back of the Maudite a recommendation of the type of glass to use – hence using one of my dad’s brandy snifters. I have learnt that Unibroue have a somewhat extensive range of beers, which I trust will be easier to find in the USA - rather than relying on a random meeting in France - so a quick plea to my Canadian readers, please let me know what other treasures you guys have been keeping hidden!

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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