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Unibroue, New Belgium, and Ommegang tasting at Inari

August 13, 2012

Unibroue, New Belgium, and Ommegang — August 17, 2012, Friday 4:00 pm until 6:45 pm (or until it's gone) $5 per person — Here is an eclectic combination of beers from three hot craft breweries. Unibroue and Ommegang represent the Belgian tradition, with a Tripel, Strong Dark Ale, and Quad. New Belgium tosses a little smug irreverence into the lineup with Tart Lychee, an interesting and original crossover style, and Red Hoptober, which is... well, we don’t know exactly what it is, but it sure is delicious. Come explore the best of Belgian and American styles.

Unibroue La Fin du Monde
FROM: Quebec, Canada

STYLE: Tripel

THE BEER: Unibroue is a Belgian-style specialist located in Chambly, Quebec. La Fin du Monde is the brewery’s Tripel. This is the strongest of the classic Belgian abbey styles, although it is lighter in body than Dubbel because it is fermented with Belgian candy sugar. TraditionTripels typically are light and ethereal, with graceful citrus and hard candy flavors. Unibroue practices bottle conditioning (bottling beer with a dose of live yeast to trigger secondary fermentation in-bottle, just like Champagne) on all of its beers.

ABV: 9%

Recommended Glass: Chalice or Snifter

New Belgium Tart Lychee
FROM: Fort Collins, Colorado

STYLE: Proprietary

THE BEER: This interesting brew comes from New Belgium’s experimental Lips of Faith series. Tart Lychee is blended from two batches, with each making up roughly half of the final product. The first batch is a wood-aged sour golden ale named Felix. The second is ale fermented with cinnamon sticks and lychee. This creates a lovely sweet/tart balance, with the bright flavor of lychee coming to the fore. Flavors of citrus fruit and strawberries abound in this delicious and unusual beer.

ABV: 7.5%

Recommended Glass: Chalice or Snifter

Unibroue Maudite
FROM: Quebec, Canada

STYLE: Belgian-style Strong Dark Ale

THE BEER: “Belgian Strong Dark Ale” is a catch-all category containing, predictably, strong, dark ales. The standard-bearers in the category are the likes of Chimay Blue and Delirium Nocturnum. Belgian Strong Dark Ales tend to be exceptionally malty, massive, and fruity, with fig and plum flavors. Hints of spice are common. It is not common for Strong Dark Ales to be fermented with actual spices, but Maudite is. Definite cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg qualities round out the fruity, malty body.

ABV: 8%

Recommended Glass: Chalice or Snifter

Ommegang Three Philosophers
FROM: Cooperstown, New York


THE BEER: Quadrupel, or Quad, is a term Americans use to designate any Belgian ale that is stronger than the same producer’s Tripel (the St. Bernardus Abt 12 Dubbel / Quad is a good example). In other words, not only is Quadrupel not an actual Belgian style, the term basically means nothing besides serving as an indicator of high alcoholic strength. It is misleading because the Belgian terms “Dubbel” and “Tripel” have nothing to do with strength; they refer to the proportion of malted barley used compared to a basic Trappist Ale (Dubbel = twice the amount of malt, Tripel = three times the malt). Three Philosophers is a strong, malty ale, comparable to a Dubbel, blended with a small quantity of Kriek, or cherry Lambic. Lambic is a Belgian ale that is fermented with native yeasts rather than brewer’s yeast. Lambics are often barrel-aged, blended, and flavored with fruit and sometimes sweetening agents.

ABV: 9.8%

Recommended Glass: Chalice or Snifter

New Belgium Red Hoptober
FROM: Fort Collins, Colorado

STYLE: Proprietary

THE BEER: Red Hoptober is a variation on New Belgium’s fall seasonal last year. It is a difficult one to classify, as it is quite dark in appearance, sort of a burnt plum color, but it is bright, fragrant, and hoppy on the nose. The palate confirms that this is a fairly light-bodied beer with a clean, crisp finish. Floral and pine hop notes contribute to a fresh all-round character. Red Hoptober is lighter and decidedly less malty than many entries in the fall seasonal category. At 60 International Bitterness Units (IBU’s) and only 6% ABV, this is a surprisingly quaffable fall brew.

ABV: 6%

Recommended Glass: Pint or Nonic