For this weekend’s beer run, I decided to point my truck west instead of east and made the trek to Ottawa and Herman’s Package Liquors. Less traffic, more pleasant scenery of brown cornfields and high tension wires. I was on cruise control the entire way until the exit ramp. I even caught all the green lights going through downtown Ottawa. When I entered Herman’s my luck would change. Mostly due to a lack of knowledge (ignorance.)
They offered much of the same craft beers that I could obtain here in town, but they were classified on the shelves according to brewery location. There were sections for Colorado, California, the midwest and others. Many times they had beers that just been announced and were delivered that same week.
I scanned the shelves for something interesting and one caught my eye. It was Leffe Brune, a Belgian dubbel which I had never tried before. The first red flag was the price. It was cheaper than I expected.
I continued on and picked up some Unibroue Don De Dieu for Sunday and a sixer of Habanero Sculpin for my son. (Dunno about that kid sometimes.) I paid the man with plastic and he provided me a cardboard box for transport. When I got home, I realized my misfortune.
Through research, I discovered that Leffe was owned by InBev and the monastery that they so proudly cite on their website is basically nonexistent. Leffe is brewed over at the place that makes Stella Artois.
I didn’t know what to think, what to do. I couldn’t review another InBev beer two weeks in a row. Rather than cave to Big Beer, I decided to review my Sunday choice instead, Unibroue’s Don De Dieu. I’ve had the Don a few times in the past and enjoyed the hell out of it. But I’ve never shared my thoughts about it.
Unibroue is a brewery on Chambly, Quebec, Canada and all of their beers have French names and a story behind the names. Tonight’s example:
Don de Dieu (Gift of God) was the name of the ship that Samuel de Champlain sailed on his mission to “explore and discover the vast and perilous land of America” in the name of the King of France. His travels led to the founding of Quebec City in 1608 (a modification of the Algonquin word “kebec” which means “where the river narrows”).
Most of Unibroue’s beers are Belgian in style and of varying and unique tastes. Interestingly, to this very day, all bottles of Unibroue beers have a twist-off cap wrapped in foil. Pfft!
I’m ready for a unique taste right now so let’s begin.
The beer poured with an orange-yellow color and brought up a nice thick white head of foam. The liquid was translucent but I could see zillions of micro-bubbles percolating upwards. The aroma was slight and seemed to have a juicy flavor to it.
The first sip was an absolute delight. Medium mouthfeel with a nice, sweet fruit-like flavor similar to nectarine or apricot. The beer did not have any of the characteristics tastes of a Belgian tripel and was in the style of a Belgian golden strong ale. This was my kind of beer.
Unibroue’s website called this a triple wheat ale which would make some sense. Their taste descriptions are, to me, a bit far-fetched.
Complex aromas of vanilla and fruitcake, flowers, and honey. Smooth, complex flavor that is slightly fruity, malty, nutty, and yeasty, with a hint of unfiltered sake.
Sake? Really? Unfiltered sake to be exact. Pfft! I’ll cede the vanilla and honey. Yep I could tell those were in this beer. Smooth, yes. Complex flavor, yes. Fruity, yes. The rest are way off base according to my palate.
The label on the bottle stated that it was a triple wheat ale on lees. I’m led to believe that the beer was bottle conditioned but no lees or sediment appeared at the end of the pour. Then again, all of Unibroue’s beers are ales on lees.
Perhaps the most prominent flavor is honey. A nice, sweet and fruity honey that puts this beer in a class of its own. In my limited experience of tasting beers, I can say that I’ve not tasted a beer similar to this Don De Dieu. I’d even be hard pressed to classify this beer as a Belgian.
Mostly light crystal malts were probably used and a minimum of hops. Plenty of Belgian candi sugar. The yeast may be Belgian, but not the typical banana yeast that ferments tripels. What is most pronounced is that super sweet honey flavored goodness in every sip.
Don De Dieu, while is in Unibroue’s regular year-round beer schedule, it’s rare that I can find it around these parts in Flatland, USA. The others are there, Maudite, Trois Pistoles, La Fin Du Monde and their apple beer, Ephemere. The Don is hit or miss for availability.
If you are lucky enough to spot a four-pack on the shelf, grab it and treat yourself to some sweet fruity goodness. It just may make your mouth happy.
Style: Belgian Golden/Pale Strong
Taste: Fruity wheat beer with honey and sweet.
Smoothness: Easy going down.
Drinkability: Each sip causes the need for another.
Bang for the buck: On a par with others of the style.
Amount paid: $10.99 per four-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Yes and again and again.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Cloudy. Kinda fruity apricot maybe. Hmm. A little bitter but a little sweet. It’s actually pretty tasty. It’s pretty good. (BAM! My words exactly.)