Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly

After a long break from the blogging experience, I return with a unique offering of a traditional Belgian-style White (or Witbier) from one of Canada's finest breweries, Unibroue. Brewed in Quebec and imported by Unibrew USA, which I was surprised to read Shelburne, VT. It's the first bottle-refermented white beer in North America.

Alcohol Content: 5%
IBU: ? (low)
Malts: Presumably Pilsner, Wheat
Hops: ?

Price: $12/ 4-pack 12 oz bottles
Medium: Flute glass

Aroma: Spicy phenols are very prominent, with clove being the most obvious and hints of vanilla in the background. Floral, perfume-like hop aroma is low and aids in complexity. Coriander spice notes are moderately less assertive compared to yeast-derived phenols. Bready yeast character and honey-like sweetness provides balance to the tart fruitiness of curucao oranges. Lemon zest also very prominent, perhaps derived from a large proportion of wheat (malted, flaked, or unmalted).
Appearance: Pale golden with moderate haze as to be expected from large proportions of wheat. Fluffy, mousse-like white head forms instantly and remains throughout the session (great retention and belgian lace). Re-fermented in bottle, so yeast was decanted when pouring into a glass to preserve its elegant appearance. Carbonation is champaign-like, effervescent with fine bubbles continuing to stream for several minutes.
Flavor: Only hints of honey-like sweetness in the beginning, morphing into a yeasty or bready character about mid-palate. Then the bouquet of flavors really shine. Tart lemon-zest and orange citrus is complemented by spicy phenols (mostly clove). Floral, perfume-like hop character lingers and possibly contributes spicy notes (if one can differentiate this from the yeast-phenols). Vanilla is subtle. Wheat provides a light flavor contribution. Balance is towards the tart-like citrus and bready yeast character. Bitterness is very low.
Mouthfeel: Very light body, perhaps too light even for this "champaign of beer" style. Carbonation is explosive and lends a tingling sensation. Subtle warming effect possibly from phenols (think pepper) as opposed to alcohol, which remains only at 5%. Very dry palate and finishes short.
Overall Impression: A very refreshing and light beer that is intended to be enjoyed fresh. However, Unibroue suggests aging up to 2 years if you wish to. Could use a touch more body despite its refreshing nature. The bottle-refermentation/ conditioning process could have lead to a higher than intended carbonation and thinner body - aiding in really drying out the beer. This beer characterizes a Belgian yeast strain and possibly a short lactic fermentation period which would promote the acidic character (unlikely). A great example of the style.

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