Name: Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve (2016)
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Brewery Location: Quebec, Canada
Can / Bottle / Draught: Bottle – 750ml
From The bottle: The bottle for this particular year does not carry a label, rather it was imprinted with branding without influencing the drinker with preconceived taste hints. The content of the bottle speaks for itself.
Website: The brewery (Unibroue) describes this year’s creation as a complex bouquet of roasted malt, hops and aromatic spice notes with vanilla undertones, intensely malty, slightly sweet and hoppy with mocha & cocoa accents and a subtle oaky finish.
Color: Dark chocolate and caramel towards the head
Head: Lingering, slow rising, beige, consistent
Aroma: Vanilla, mineral, leather, a hint of dark cherries
I often try beers on a whim outside my favorites. As I was walking down an aisle in LCBO searching for a seasonal brew I came across “Unibroue 17 - 2016”. It was a very understated bottle, having recognized the brew house I decided to bring one home, this was one of the best beer purchasing decisions I have ever made.
I have always enjoyed a bottle that has a cork top and cage, this shows the brewery has taken the care to source out the material and present a well-dressed bottle worthy of the contents and vice-versa. When I twisted the cage and released the cork I was introduced to what became my favorite dark ale; the neck housed a slight cloud from the carbonation, immediately I took notice of the strong aromatics and knew I was in for something special. As a side note I would recommend a tulip glass to really experience the nose.
I have distaste for “rushed” porters and stouts, one can taste the burnt malt and imbalance in the finish, often the carbonation is over the top and foam impatiently rushes to the lip of the glass. I was truly impressed by the way this ale poured, the bubbles were miniscule and did not rush the head. I would say the pour described the lingering taste of this fine beer.
The nose is complex and aromatic: I identified hints of vanilla, dark cherries, mineral and surprisingly leather.
The taste is equally complex with slow roasted malt, and very well balanced hoppyness and mineral vs lingering hints of chocolate, and caramel.
This beer is easily found in the larger LCBO stores but unfortunately it is only brewed once a year, this however gives the brew master a chance to improve on something already very special. I am personally buying a case before this particular 2016 stock runs out.
I would highly recommend you try this beer even if you are not a dark ale fan, it will make a believer out of you. Unfortunately you will be spoiled as you will likely find most porters and stouts to be rushed after this; not all brew masters understand perfection comes at a cost.