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

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Unibroue La Resolution

La_Resolution_Unibroue_410x4351Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly QC
Style: Spiced Ale
ABV: 10%
IBU: 21.5

Description: This limited-release beer was inspired by a special recipe that brew master Jerry Vietz concocted for his friends, and which is now available for a limited time. This spiced ale is extra strong, and like all Unibroue products, is refermented in the bottle using active yeast cultures.

Tasting Notes: This is the first time since I tried Unibroue Grand Reserve 17 about two years ago that I’ve had anything new from this brewery. And this was a certainly familiar territory, coming from Unibroue. Despite its strength, this beer is rather mellow in character. The spices are present, but subdued, the rich malt strikes a nice balance between strength and sweetness, and the yeast backbone provides some nice effervescence.

Appearance: Deep brown, near-opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malts, figgy pudding, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, allspice
Taste: Roasted malt, good tang, brown sugar, mild yeast, notes of allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeasts, malt bitterness, spices
Overall: 8.5/10

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17

Don’t I feel privileged! It seems that I came into possession of a bottle of Unibroue’s Grande Reserve 17. Back in 2007, Unibroue commissioned this specialty brew in honor of their 17th anniversary. Seems a bit random, but who am I to complain?

Having looked into this beer’s background, it was apparent that it was not widely distributed. How to explain then how I just found it in a Cowichan Bay Liquor Plus right outside of town? I guess they got that distribution problem licked! Needless to say, I was intrigued, bought myself a bottle, and began sampling as soon as I got home.

To break it down succinctly, this is an extra strong brown ale (10% alc/vol) that is refermented in the bottle (much like all of Unibroue’s products) and also aged in French Oak. In many ways, I was reminded of Trois Pistoles, another extra strong brown ale made by Unibroue which has been known to kick things up a notch! But of course, they go a step further with this special reserve, aging it longer, and in oak, which makes for a stronger, suppler taste.

Appearance: Dark brown and translucent with a thick head
Nose: Sugary with notes of spice and toffee
Taste: Sweat malty taste, notes of molasses and brown sugar and spice
Aftertaste: Lingering spiciness and mild bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Yeah, I’ve come to approve of just about anything Unibroue produces. But that’s only because they have never disappointed me with any of their products. This latest installment in the growing lineup of Unibroue products that I’ve sampled only adds to the ball.