Every once in a while at Trader Joes, we get something interesting in the beer section. Since we hardly ever get new beer, "interesting" pretty much means anytime we get something new in from Unibroue.
In case you've never heard of Unibroue before (I laughed at the name because I thought it was pronounced "uni-brow," but really it's "uni-brew"), they're a brewery based out of Quebec that makes a lot of beers with labels that look like they were painted by artists of the Revolutionary War. I'm not sure how Unibroue and Trader Joes got together, but Unibroue makes our Trader Joes Seasonal Ale every year. Last year's was a little disappointing, but there have been a few that were really amazing. Until the Seasonal Ale comes around, every once in a while, we get these taster packs that Unibroue releases that showcase a few of their beers. A few months back, I tried one and loved all of the beer inside, so I'm hoping the one I got last week is just as good. First beer to be reviewed- Chambly Noire.
This beer labels itself a Belgian Dark Ale and dark it is. On the pour, it comes out a jet black with slight chocolate tinges around the edges. The smell wasn't overpowering after the pour, so I let it warm a bit. Once it warmed, the nose was full of spices and lemon. There was also a smell of vanilla and a kind of surprising smell of (I don't know what else to possibly call it) root beer.
The beer is a deceptively dark beer in that the flavor is nowhere near what you would expect just from looking at it. The flavor is full of lighter notes that you don't often find in a dark beer. Lemon and spice notes make up the main body and there is a full yeast presence that let you know that you're drinking a Belgian style beer. The closest beer I can compare this to would be Allagash Black, but I think the Allagash may be a bit better. I think the only thing I really didn't like about this beer was the way it felt in my mouth. The feel was really watery and wasn't really doing it for me. Overall though, I'm excited to try the rest of the beers in the taster.
Final Grade: B