Unibroue Grande Reserve 17 2016

unibroue_17_2016Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec
Style: Extra Strong Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 35

Description: This Trappist-style ale is a limited release which is put out every year to mark the brewery’s anniversary. In 2014 (the last time I tried it), it garnered a number of accolades, which include two Gold medals from the 2014 World Beer Championship (for vintage 2013 and 2014), a Gold Medal from the World Beer Awards (2013).

Tasting Notes: The 2016 Reserve was an definite improvement over the last I tried, which was in 2014. Consistent with the previous vintages, it packed some strong malt, alcoholic warmth, notes of raisins, brown sugar, and some yeasty effervescence. But this time around, it was also less coarse tasting and has a subtler malt base. This made for an all-around more pleasant drinking experience.

Appearance: Dark brown, cloudy, thick lacy head and strong carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dark fruits, strong yeasts
Taste: Smooth, sweet malts, brown sugar, raisins, dates, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering sweet malt flavor, alcohol, yeasts
Overall: 8.8/10

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