For an enjoyable way to learn about French Canada, drink some of Unibroue's wonderful Belgian-style ales. All of the labels and names are inspired by Canadian historical figures and folklore.
Canada has a wonderful history. You really should take some time out to read up on the history of the explorers who discovered "New France," because it really is fascinating.
Or, for an even more enjoyable way about learning about French Canada, drink some of Unibroue's wonderful Belgian-style ales. All of the labels and names are inspired by Canadian historical figures and folklore.
If the fantastic artwork on Unibroue's labels and the history behind it doesn't impress you, the beer will.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a Unibroue beer that is anything but top notch. All of the beers (except for three available in Canada only) are bottled-conditioned, fermented in the bottle.
"In order to enjoy our beers, you can't take just one sip and make a judgment on it," said Richard DelMonico, New England region manager for Unibroue. "You have to drink more of it. You're going to get a little bit of sparkle on your tongue from the live yeasts."
Unibroue, based in Chambly, Quebec, was started in 1990 by founder Andre Dion. He originally created Unibroue not as a brewery, but almost as a giant distributorship for Canadian beers.
But when that didn't work out like he thought, he bought a brewery and decided to make Belgian-style ales because bottled-conditioned beers stay fresher longer than other styles.
"One of the first things he ran into with the existing brands this brewery was brewing was it was getting old on the shelves," said DelMonico. "He said, 'I'm not going to do this if I can't sell fresh beer,' so he looked for a style of beer that had a longer shelf life."
Unibroue's most popular beer is La Fin Du Monde, which is French for "The end of the world."
"It was brewed in the honor of European explorers who came to New France who thought they discovered the end of the world," DelMonico said.
La Fin Due Monde is a tripel ale, full of a "chorus of fruit, spice and hop notes," DelMonico said.
Unlike many breweries that fear different yeast strains may blend together, Unibroue uses four or five different yeasts. Most of the company's beers have at least two different yeasts in them.
"For us to have that many yeasts makes it very difficult. It takes a lot of managing, but in order to get the exotic flavors and esters we get from our beers, that's what is required," DelMonico said.
Another beer that takes a hint from history is the Don de Dieu, which means "The Gift of God." The Don de Dieu was a ship commanded by Samuel de Champlain who set out from France to explore the St. Lawrence River and founded Quebec City.
"It's a great beer; complex, a little bit fruity, nutty, yeasty," said DelMonico. "It has complexity yet, at the same time, it's very easy drinking, but you know something is going on because of the alcohol. You get a little hint of warmth from the alcohol."
Maudite (pronounced mode-zit), is the brewery's hoppiest beer, a strong red ale. The beer features several different hop varietals, malts and spices. DelMonico said the goal is to combine a "myriad" of flavors to make a "perfectly balanced" ale.
The brewery's first beer was the Blanche de Chambly, which is a Belgian-style white ale. It was the first of the style ever brewed in Canada, DelMonico said.
The Ephemere is similar to the Blanche de Chambly, except for the addition of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples.
"When it's hot and you're looking for something to refresh your palate, this is good," said DelMonico. "It's lightly spiced and it's just a wonderful beer."
Another year-round beer is the Chambly Noire, which is a dark Belgian ale.
"It's very drinkable. You're getting all of the wonderful flavors of caramel," said DelMonico. "It's black. It has a very refreshing body."
Other Unibroue beers to look out for include La Terrible, a great Belgian dark ale and the Quatre-Centieme. Also, any of Unibroue's anniversary ales (they are in dark bottles with the word Unibroue followed by a number), are all worth trying.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/.