Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Total Score: 8.65/10 Clove1 Orange1 Peppercorns1 Tulipglass1

With R.E.M’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) blaring in my own private stereo, aka my brain, I approach the beer titan that is La Fin Du Monde, a brew with a reputation so mighty that a bottle of this in Australia retails for an eye-watering arm-and-a-leg $11.50 for a single 355ml bottle, when you know that it sells for at least 50% less than that in Quebec. Anyway, the life of an arm-chair jet-setting beer blogger is a pricey one… nonetheless I have it and I’m gonna review it, and there’s nothing I can do to quell the mounting hype inside my head.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed pale gold body with a boisterous 2 cm fluffy white head that settles to a thin lace on top. Not bad La Fin Du Monde, or shall we simply call you ‘La Fin’ (laughing) for the rest of the review? Yes? Good. 8/10.

S: Aroma is more Witbier than Tripel with notes of coriander, candi sugar, clove and orange peel, not that I’m complaining, I love a good sharp Wit (I’m thinking of brewing a Witbier and calling it “Shakespeare’s Wit”, too much?). Hints of tartness lurk in the background and give the impression of a nice complex flavour profile. 8/10.

T: The Wit characters give way to that classic Tripel sugar rush, as the pumping beat of Röyksopp’s Compulsion (playing on my actual stereo) drives that glucose-induced high into my bloodstream. It’s not a massive sugar-bomb though, there is a certain restraint to the sugar hit not oft seen even from Belgian brewers. Rounding out the sugar are those coriander/clove notes, pepper, some orange peel, and a mild citric bitterness. Finish is a balance between pepper spice and bitterness, très bien. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied, a tad lighter than expected from 9% ABV but decent enough, with a medium sharp carbonation. 8/10.

D: So the question on everyone’s lips RE: La Fin, are we laughing now? i.e. does La Fin live up to the “World Class” hype? Yes and no, it’s a great brew, no doubt about that, but for the price Belgian brews such as Tripel Karmeliet trump La Fin completely, that is to say – there isn’t enough happening in La Fin to make it that much more worth it compared to TK. If the price were to drop down to TK’s Australian retail price of $6.90 then we would have a competition on our hands. As it is I’m glad I had the chance to try this brew, and I’ll stick to TK for my Tripel fix for now. 9/10.

Food match: Poached Loin of Lamb with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree or Poutine.

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Victory Golden Monkey

Total Score: 7.35/10 Clove1 Coriander1 Coconut1 Tulipglass1

Victory Golden Monkey or Cercopithecus Kandti is a style of Old World Monkey Ale found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, it is brewed by Pennsylvanian-Belgian monks under licence of Victory Brewing Company and each bottle contains at least 0.5% monkey, as stipulated by the Brewing With Monkeys ACT 1988 which states that any brew with the word “monkey” in the name MUST contain monkey or artificial monkey flavouring… anyway that’s enough monkeying around Doc, on to the review.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy tangelo/golden body with a wispy white 1cm head that reduces to a thin lace on top leaving behind some slight protein-filled spider lacing in the glass. Ooo, tasty looking brew! 8/10.

S: Chock full of spice on the nose – coriander, cardamom, clove and green pepper followed by a decent T-Load (Truck-Load) of candi sugar and an orange/grapefruit citrus finish. This beer has bags of aroma and I for one cannot wait to tuck in. 8/10.

T: Flavour is a bit more balanced, sweet does dominate slightly, with a: Orange/clove/cardamom/coriander/candi sugar taste that was expected from the above aroma, along with coconut… yes – coconut – there’s this slight coconut flavour in there that I’m sure I’ve encountered before in Coronado’s Orange Avenue… not sure if it’s intended but it does distract from an otherwise Top-Notch Tripel [initialism: TNT]. Finish is astringent but balanced between sweet/bitter. 7/10.

M: Mid to light, borderline heavy, bodied with a sharp and creamy carbonation, a decent mouthfeel then. 8/10.

D: Plenty going on in the glass to keep the punters entertained, however there is that niggling coconut taste that detracts from the overall Tripelness of the brew, I mean coconut, really?! Coconut should not be making an appearance in a Tripel for reasons too numerous to list, but I will list the main reason anyway: It’s COCONUT FFS! In any case I suspect the off-flavour to be heat/date related – as the Coronado Orange Avenue I previously bought was out of date – I suspect Tripel/Witbiers take on a coconut flavour as they go stale. This brew wasn’t too overwhelming with coconut though and managed to charm me with its other flavours, hence the score: 7/10.

Food match: Big brews call for big foods – Bleu d’Auvergne, Pane Di Casa and Westfälischer Schinken – some of the best of France, Italy and Germany.

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Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Tripel

Total Score: 7.05/10 Bread1 Clove1 Orange1 Chalice1

OK: Sierra Nevada have made an Abbey Tripel in collaboration with the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux, California. This will be epic… or crap, we don’t know yet, but my experience drinking Sierra Nevada beers is that they never disappoint. In fact I still buy Torpedo on a regular basis, it has a permanent home in my fridge door next to Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen and Founders Breakfast Stout, with these three beers I drink [that was almost a semi-vague Lord of the Rings reference]. Can Sierra Nevada and a bunch of American monks challenge the might of the Trappist brewers? We’ll soon find out.

Poured from a 375ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.

A: Presents a hazed Tangelo body with a wispy thin white head that disappears quickly. Swirling the glass reveals some fine “legs”* on this Tripel, nice, here’s hoping the alcohol is hidden. 8/10.

S: All of the classic Tripel aromas are there: Clove, coriander, bready yeast, a (small) truckload of candi sugar and hints of pepper. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary style-wise… still this is up against awesome brews like Westmalle and Karmeliet so it better have an ace up its sleeve. 7/10.

T: Alright, well balanced off the bat, but there’s something missing… flavours of: Clove and pepper provide spiciness, the middle is big and bready, with dry water crackers in the mix. Finish is light bitter orange juice with dry crackers. Definitely the biggest feature in this brew is the dryness given the style. Most Tripels I’ve had, including the above noted ones are a lot sweeter – this is quite dry. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a slightly prickly carbonation. 7/10.

D: Not bad, but as I mentioned before something’s missing. I liked this but up against personal favourites such as: Westmalle and Karmeliet it doesn’t have enough going for it to make it a winner in my eyes… though I think it is a decent stab at a complex and difficult to replicate style by Sierra Nevada. Damn it is dry though… I’ve had less dry Japanese beers. Oh and this is a shockingly pricey brew here in Australia – I paid $17 for the bottle. I give them a ‘B+’ for effort. 7/10.

Food match: Water… seriously though: Something pheasanty, like pheasant.

*A wine industry term for the Gibbs-Marangoni effect, basically the differences in surface tension between alcohol and water create visible “legs” on the inside of the glass after swirling… this is of course a simplistic explanation.

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Trappist Achel 8° Blond

Total Score: 8.95/10 WhiteWine1 Butter1 CutGrass1 Chalice1

Well I do believe Achel is one of the last Trappist brewers to cross off my list, apart from Westvleteren – aka ‘The Grail That Is Holy’ and the new ones; Engelszell, St. Joseph’s and Zundert – but we pay little heed to them. Here’s a fact for ya: In 1917 during their occupation the German army dismantled Achel brewery to salvage approximately 700 kg of copper for the war effort, i.e. their First World War effort. Bit of a waste of time in hindsight. True story.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.

A: Slight hazed golden yellow body with a snow white 1cm head that sticks around well for an 8% ABV brew. Frankly this looks like a great Blond Tripel. There, I said it. 9/10.

S: Dry white wine grape upfront, quite a Champagne aroma, with hints of grassy hops, candi sugar and bread yeast in the background. Glad that Achel have differentiated their Blond from the other Trappist Tripels. 8/10.

T: Reminds me of a denser Duvel with a hint of Diacetyl (i.e. butterscotch) thrown in. I love Duvel – it’s still my highest rated beer – and Diacetyl has a time and a place, and this time and place is fine by me. The vinous grape notes mingle well with the green grassy “turf-like” quality of this Tripel, and the finish is a slight herbal bitterness that balances it out. Also with a brew at this percentage it doesn’t throw truckloads of sugar at you, it’s all rather well balanced. 10/10.

M: Medium bodied with a light but dense carbonation, this is where it’s at. 8/10.

D: This is definitely a tasty drop for a Duvel-lover, though lacking the brash-handed intensity of its non-Trappist cousin, Achel does manage to stand on its own two feet in the grand pantheon of Trappist beers. Overall how would I rate it in comparison to other Trappist Blonds? Well this to me is the winner over the next nearest Trappist Blond – Westmalle Tripel – albeit a slight winner, due to the Westmalle being overtly dry compared to this. Does that make sense, or am I slowly descending into madness? That is the Achel Effect. 8/10.

Food match: Chargrilled salmon with asparagus in lime vinaigrette and grated parmesan cheese (if you will) – see there is a time and place for parmesan cheese and it isn’t on a tiramisu Schneider Weisse!

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