Description: This limited release from Unibroue comes but once a year to mark the brewery’s anniversary. The first batch of the Trappist-inspired ale was created in 2007 to mark their 17th, and the name has stuck since. Rich, dark malts are aged in French oak barrels, and then refermented in the bottle with active yeast culture.
Tasting Notes: The last time I sampled a Grand Reserve 17 was 2012, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the flavor has changed somewhat with the passing of time. It could be the result of better aging with this bottle, but the sugary notes were more subdued this time around. While I got a whiff of brown sugar, the overall malt flavor was much more coarse. What really came through was an effervescent, yeasty quality with a nice, spicy finish. And of course, there was the notable alcoholic punch, but which was nicely rounded out. All in all, I was reminded of both Chimay and Trois Pistoles – two other fine examples of Belgians and the Belgian-inspired!
Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, effervescent, yeasty, floral hops, alcohol
Taste: Strong malt, oaky, tang, caramelized sugar, yeasty, spicy finish, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness and alcohol