Saturday, January 21st, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut: A flight of Unibroue

Ron Swarner


For single-minded devotion to quality, purity and tradition, the Trappist monks of Belgium are hard to match, especially when it comes to ale. It doesn’t take much imagination to get carried away picturing them at their work. Seated at their rough-hewn tables, clothed in their coarse robes, they spend hours in the serenity of silent prayer and study. Then the word goes out it’s time to brew the beer and like so many elves, off they go to perform their sacred chores.

Unibroue founders André Dion and Serge Racine took beer brewing techniques used by said monks and brought them to North America. After acquiring La Brasserie Massawippi brewery in Lennoxville, Quebec in 1990, the Quebec team brewed their first abbey ale. A few years later, they were shipping their beer internationally.

Even after Sleeman purchased Unibroue in 2004, and subsequently by Sapporo in 2006, it has maintained the culture and flavor of a craft brewery.

Today, Peaks and Pints offers four Unibroue beers in its five-beer sample flight with the fifth being Blanche de Bruxelles Witbier because a Belgian beer in a tallboy can is rad.

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly

5% ABV, 10 IBUs

An ode to a city in the southwestern region of Quebec, Blanche de Chambly is not a traditional white beer. Pouring a light golden haze with a fine carbonation, the nose gives a distinct sweet and sour aroma, settled by a hint of coriander. The sweetness carries through to the taste with an additional yeast character, a signature of Unibroue, known for brewing beers on lees, which means it’s rested on the residual yeast deposits, fats and proteins that settle to the bottom of an aging vessel after secondary fermentation.

Unibroue Trois Pistoles

9% ABV, 16 IBUs

Soft brown in color, Trois Pistoles appeared milder than its name would suggest. Then you bring it to your nose — bam! The first blow arrives with the brown sugar smell. Pow! The second shot, a coffee bitterness. Boom! A sip of the beer packs a final punch with an alcoholic taste, balanced with a nutty sweetness.

Blanche de Bruxelles Witbier

4.5% ABV, 18 IBUs

Yeah, we threw this Belgian witbier in the mix because it’s one of the cleanest, crispest and lightest bodied Belgian witbiers around. This Belgian pours an incredibly clean, straw colored yellow with a big pillowy head, which diminishes quite quick. Despite being brewed with over 40 percent wheat, this witbier is surprisingly light bodied and refreshing. The aroma consists of some light banana esters, orange peel, coriander, and yeast. Very subtle notes of orange peel hide behind big coriander spice notes and Belgian yeast.

Unibroue Fin du Monde

9% ABV, 19 IBUs

The name translates as “The End of The World.” If this beer is any indication of the end of the world, bring on the apocalypse! This beer actually reminds us of the beach with the golden orange color providing the sunset, the pineapple and nut aromas giving it a tropical nose, and the strong alcoholic taste, followed by sweetness, completes the sense of drinking on the beach, minus the cocktail and the mini-umbrella. Even with its tropical vibes, La Fin du Monde upholds its light Belgian character.

Unibroue La Terrible


La Terrible is a dark brown beer on lees and is part of a collection of exotic and refined Unibroue beers brewed using 100 percent natural raw materials. It’s a process more common in wine than beer one that imparts a yeasty taste, which in this case comes across like warm, gooey bread. This style of brew costs more to make because it requires that the beer take up tank space for a longer period of time. It may be drunk as an aperitif or as an after dinner digestive. It’s a pleasant alternative to coffee.