Monday, January 12, 2009

Festive Ale a Winter's Tale

In the deep mid-winter snow lay all about
 Ale is sleeping deeply, waiting for a spout
Micro brews near Montreal 
add some seasonings of the seasons
cloves and spice are very pleasing.
A Festive Ale  throughout a gale
Is just what rev's the revelers, 
one and all.

I'm not much of a poet but good beer is something to be poetic about.  I like Belgian beer, so this Trader Joe's festive Vintage Ale 2008 hits all the right notes, for me.  Dark and sinewy hopps with floral shadings, and spicey notes to tickle the nose.  The head is a beautifully creamy mass of dense bubbles:  Certainly better than the sparkling wine I had on New Year's Eve.  

This Ale is made in Quebec, near Montreal, by Unibroue.  Unibroue makes a wide range of beers, but the focus is on Belgian-style beer such as Maudite (The Damned), Le Fin de Monde (End of the World) and Don Dieu (Gift of God).  Okay, that's hard to live up to if you are a brewer. You are either damned or blessed by god, and if you don't get it right, well, it is the end of the world.  Which brings me to another beer I like, Dead Guys, by Oregon's Rogue Brewery.  Creative names.

The Trader Joe's Vintage Ale is more in keeping with their happy-go-lucky outlook.  Most of Unibroue's beer is bottle, like some wine, on the lees, which means on the yeast sediment.  In beer this helps it age and also gives the beer a cloudy appearance, which enhances the flavours.

The Unibroue site is worth a visit, the way they recommend tasting beer rival the wine course methodology I'm used to. 

 "Pour the beer delicately and move the glass progressively away from the bottle while it fills up, in order to create a proper head of foam, the head must be 3 to 4 centimeters on average," Unibroue instructs.

Good advice!  I won't tell them my last glass of Vintage Ale, poured into a wine glass, spilled over and went up my nose, I had 3 to 4 inches of foam.

I do agree that good beer does deserve to be treated in the same manner as good wine, with attention to detail and respect.  What are you tasting, smelling and savouring?

I was at Trader Joe's this week and they still had a few bottles,  750 ml for $4.99.  Good price and winter isn't over yet.

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