Unibroue, La Fin Du Monde

Grade: B+

Appearance is light golden, fairly clear with some particulate in suspension. The head dissipates quickly, although this might be due to my careful pour. There is a layer of sediment in the bottom of the bottle that is the result of bottle conditioning, which I tried to leave behind. When I opened the bottle to begin with, it gushed slightly, which wasn't an encouraging sign. Some banana and slight spice in the nose, a little bit of bready yeast feel as well, though not overt at all. Almost no hop character to speak of, and the malt aroma is clean but present. Fruit notes stayed mostly subdued, though the banana and spice blended nicely.

Mouthfeel is medium, meandering towards heavy. The slightly heavy mouthfeel is counted rather aggressively by the high level of carbonation, which tingles on the tongue and adds that acidic bite. The banana and clove/spice in the nose carries through to the taste, which balances quite well with the malts. There is a slight bready, toasty note from the grains here, indicative of Belgian pale malts. The alcohol is barely perceptible, but there. The sips are warming as you drink. The carbonic acids from the high carbonation makes me feel like it is a touch cidery, which might be a hint of the cane sugar that is used in most traditional golden strong ales. It finishes rather dry, leaving some of that sparkling character on the tongue that you might find from a champagne.

Most don't think of Canada when they think of beer, or at least they think of Molsens and Labatts. Unibroue has flown under the radar for many years, however their Belgian ales are possibly the most true to the traditional style that our continent has. Aging the beer in the bottles with the yeast, letting it carbonate naturally instead of with tanks of co2 is what sets them apart. Not only that, but the European (particularly French and Belgian) brewing traditions that they have absorbed, in relation to types of malts and yeast are closer to Belgian roots than many American brewers can claim.

I have to say that, while I can't drink many Belgian Golden Strong Ales, I enjoy drinking them immensely. The ingredients are few, but the heritage and quality of those ingredients make this beer what it is. The only reason for the B+ rating is that, with the explosion of beer consciousness in America, you can readily find Belgian beers (from Belgium) right next to Unibroue in many stores. And while Unibroue puts out an excellent product, Belgians still have the market cornered on Belgian beers.

In the meantime, I think I'll have another Unibroue.