Unibroue A Tout le Monde Megadeth Saison

Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec
Style: Saison
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description:  This saison ale was brewed at the request of Dave Mustaine, lead singer of heavy metal band Megadeth. It uses a cold (aka. dry) hopping technique and, to date, has the lowest alcohol content of any Unibroue beer.

Tasting Notes: This is not the first Saison I’ve had by Unibroue (the other being their Blonde de Chambly), but it is one of just a few new beers that I’ve sampled from this brewery in recent years. And it was a bit light in terms of alcohol and flavor – which is surprising, given the brewery’s reputation. But certainly came through in terms of it being crisp and refreshing. It also has the characteristic yeasty effervescence of a Saison, with hints of spice, lemon and a bitter soapy finish.

Addendum: This beer recently won a gold medal by the Beverage Testing Institute. With a score of 93 points, the beer qualifies as “Exceptional”.

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Dieu du Ciel Solstice d’hiver

Dieuduciel_solsticehiver_verreBrewer: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal, QC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of the brewery’s Momentum Series, which is an annual cycle of twelve seasonal releases. As their winter release, this traditional English-style barley-wine style ale celebrates the winter solstice with a winter warmer.

Tasting Notes: I’m a fan of barley wine, and I considered trying the Solstice d’hiver necessary having sampled the Solstice d’ete not that long ago. But I have to say this particular barley wine was too on the coarse and strong side for me. It’s got the usual notes of dark fruit and sugars and is a shade of brown so deep and opaque that it could easily pass for a stout. But the alcohol in this beer is so potent that it overpowers just about everything else.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, raisins, dates, sugars, strong alcoholic bite
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, hints of dates and raisins, brown sugar, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and alcoholic bite
Overall: 7.5/10

Les Trois Mousquetaires Grand Cuvee Porter Baltique

TM_PORTERBALTIQUEBrewer: Les Trois Mousquetaires, Brossard, QC
Style: Dark Lager
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 27

Description: This offering is a dark lager that was inspired by Porters of the Baltic Sea Region. It is fashioned using Pilsner, Munich, Cara 60/160, Wheat, Oat, Carafa, and Briess smoked malt (85% of which are sourced from Quebec), and bittered with a combination Perle, Centennial, and Summit hops. As part of their Edition Speciale 2015 (special edition), the beer is also aged for 3-5 years in bourbon and brandy barrels before being bottled.

Tasting Notes: This is the second Trois Mousquetairs product I have ever sampled, the first one being their Weizenbock, which I tried at the 2012 Winterlude Winter Beers and Ice Wines. Like that offering, this beer was mighty potent and very rich and malty. Beyond that, it was quite distinct. A dark lager base, which provides for a smooth start, quickly gives way to dark fruits, brown sugar, and notes of whiskey, all punctuated by a strong alcoholic punch to the gullet! These flavors linger for some time, and create to a general feeling of warmth and well-being. Just be careful, because nothing about this beer is for the faint of heart!

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dates, raisins, bourbon and alcoholic bite
Taste: Smooth malt start, alcohol, sugars, dates and raisins, bourbon whiskey finish
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness, whiskey bite, and strong alcoholic bite
Overall: 8/10

St. Ambroise 2014 Millésimée Vintage Ale

st.ambroise_millesime1Brewer: McAuslan Brewing, Montreal, QC
Style: Extra Strong Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 58

Description: The 2014 St. Ambroise Vintage Ale carries in the tradition of McAuslan’s Millésimée series, a once a year, seasonal vintage ale that is a little different every time. The 2014 is brewed using a combination of Munich and wheat malts, bittered with Cascade and Golding hops, and then served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: In what is fast becoming a tradition, I picked up a bottle of the 2014 Vintage Ale. And in honor of my recent trip to Ottawa, I thought I would make time for a review in between my usual rundown of Ottawa microbreweries and Ontario beers. I was definitely impressed with this year’s offering, which reminded me of last year’s. A strong malt base, which manages to still be drinkable and smooth, is packed with the flavor of brown sugar, dates and dark fruits, and has some accompanying notes of tropical fruit, made possible by a good hopping. Looking forward to next year’s!

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dark fruit, floral hops and citrus, alcohol
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, good tang, alcoholic bite, brown sugar, dates, passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, coarse malt flavor and alcohol
Overall: 9/10

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17 (2014)

Unibroue_17Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, QC
Style: Extra Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 35

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
Overall: 8.5/10