Many brewers recognize winter as the perfect season for strong, spiced ales and you are likely to see many strong seasonal ales on the shelves just in time for your holiday table.
Personally, I cannot imagine my holidays without one of the delicious ales from Unibroue, my favourite brewery. I hope that you, too, will find the excellence in Unibroue beers and make them an essential part of your holidays and your general beer diet!
From Unibroue Brewery (one of Quebec’s best breweries!) comes Maudite: one of my ultimate favourite ales to enjoy during the winter. Luckily, it’s not seasonal and can be purchased at any time of the year…
The name Maudite – meaning “The Damned” – comes from the folktale Le Chasse-galerie, or “The Bewitched Canoe.” This French-Canadian folktale tells a story of pioneer lumberjacks who struck a deal with the devil on New Year’s eve in order to fly their canoe across the sky. The bewitched canoe flew the lumberjacks back home to see their sweethearts and then back to work the next morning.
The Pour: In Unibroue’s best traditions, Maudite is a strong bottle-conditioned, red ale with a rich mahogany colour. This beer’s colour and fluffy white head makes it look incredibly appetizing in a snifter glass. (Unibroue includes pictures of a suggested serving glass on the label.) It looks so appetizing that a friend of mine actually said, “wow, it looks like a dessert.”
The Nose: The aroma is spicy with hints of coriander and dried fruit.
Body and Mouth-Feel: The palate is sweet and warming with a complex taste of dried fruit, malt and spices. Full body with a medium amount of carbonation that is just perfect for this ale. At 8% ABV, this beer is exceptionally smooth and the only thing to give away the high alcohol content, is the warming feeling the beer gives you on its way down.
Finish: Sweet, smooth finish, typical for all Unibroue brews.
Overall, Maudite is an excellent companion for casual sipping as well as dinners. Specifically, Maudite is a great dinner companion with stews, red meat and spicy dishes.
One of the best things about Maudite – and a primary reason why I would include it as a holiday pick – is that it would make a great Christmas gift. Aside from the regular 6-pack format, Maudite also comes in a fancy 750mL corked bottle that you could take to a dinner, or present as a gift. According to the brewery, Maudite (along with Unibrou’s other strong ales) was the first beer to be brewed in North America that can be stored and aged. Folks at Unibroue indicate that the ideal age for their strong ales is between 3 and 5 years. And an aged Maudite will evolve its flavours to something deeper and more complex, reminiscent of Port. The best way to age Maudite and other strong ales is to keep it in a cool (but not cold) place, away from sunlight.