Search This Blog

Monday, February 24, 2014

Une Annee Brewing's Quad

  • Style: Quadrupel. God I love a good Quad (although "God I love a good Quad" is not an official variation category)
  • ABV: 11.0%
  •  Ease to locate: Une Annee is a pretty new Chicago brewery just celebrating their 6 month bottling anniversary.  They are rather easy to find in Chicagoland beer stores (and the simplistically minimal label makes them stand out brilliantly on a crowed craft shelf)  Like many of the baby breweries, they keep their fans very well updated on deliveries through social media.  Here's a link to Une Annee Facebook and a link to their Twitter account.
  • Color: A soft, mahogany brown with amber undertones that is slightly see through
  • Head: A fluffy two finger head of ivory carbonation which results in a decent amount of sticky lacing 
  • Aroma: A well done nose with notes of plum, dried cherry and toffee.  Light, fruity esters remind you of it's Belgian origin.   A hint of peppery spice rounds out the nose.
  • Mouthfeel: Not quite full bodied, but almost.  A good amount of carbonation dries it out just enough to keep it from going over the edge.
  • Finish: Long and satisfying with the warmth from the alcohol trailing it's way down your throat in a comforting, almost "there, there" sort of way.
  • Food friendly: Yep.  Belgian beers are wonderful with food (Tripels and Dubbels are easier to pair, but Quads can work well too.)  Try it with a fancy dinner plate of roast beef or with something as simple as a fig jam grilled cheese sandwich (What? Fig jam grilled cheese sandwiches are not typical Wednesday night meals for you???)  Pair it with buttery or nutty cheese, such as Harvarit or with Blue cheese, such as Irish Cashel Blue.

Apple Users link: Hey, Mom. I'm looking pretty darn good, actually. In comparison, I mean.

A few months ago I made the mistake of introducing the Down the Hatch matriarch (AKA my 80 year old mother) to La Trappe Quadrupel Ale.  By introducing I mean innocently pouring her a small taste one night from the twelve ounce bottle I had opened for myself.  And by mistake I mean now having to deal with every beer that I've poured for her since not measuring up to that (rather expensive compared with what I'm used to paying for a four pack) Quad.   "It's a nice beer, but it's not as good as..." is exactly what I've heard with every single beer pour since that fateful night.  I should have known better.  My entire family really only totally agrees on three beer styles, Belgians, Belgians and more Belgians.  Dubbels. Trippels. Strong Ales. Golden Ales. They're not really picky.  Just as long as said beer pocesses a pronounced fruity ester and the sweet nectar  of the gods' candi sugar, the family unit is a harmonious place to be.  I started out in much the same way, my first real favorite craft beer being a St. Bernardus Abt 12.  In fact, way back before I even knew what a Quad or an Abbey ale were, I would actually go into a store and ask for the Monk beer with the blue label.  Oddly enough, it always worked.  So it was with a resigned sigh that I cracked open an Une Annee Quad one night at the dinner table.  I needn't have worried.  

My Une Annee Quad poured a soft mahogany brown liquid with rich looking amber undertones.  A thick, fluffy two  finger ivory head formed.  It slowly settled to a half finger head that eventually fell to a thick film which covered the surface of the beer for the rest of the drink. Clumps of delicate bubbles clung to the snifter's glass which resulted in a lovely show of Belgian lace.  Basically, this is how I like my Quads to look.  The nose didn't disappoint either.  Abundant notes of rich plum, tart dried cherry (which always smells a bit sweeter to me than fresh) and lots of toffee character rose from the glass in an appealing, we're all in this together, sort of way.  A whiff of fruity esters were there as well, but not as much as I though there would be.  A tiny bit of phenolic spice played around the edges of the nose too, layered under all of the chewy, sweet, rich, fruity elements.  It wasn't an easy to distinguish  spice note, but offered a good counter balance to the other elements.  The taste followed the nose almost exactly.  The plum and toffee added to the lightly sweet richness of the flavor while the dried cherry gave a bit of a chewy quality to the mouthful.  The expected, yet also very anticipated, fruity esters came out to play.  The fig forward ester taste was  heavier on the tongue than on the nose. The phenolic spice note off set the richness of this beer in a very welcoming way. Some Quads, by their very nature, have an element of heat from the higher alcohol quantity.  Une Annee's heat was more of an impression than a separate quality.   Personally, this is exactly how I prefer my Quads.  I don't need that throat burn to know that this baby has been aged for a bit.  The mouthfeel was almost full bodied, but lightened slightly by the abundant carbonation.  I liked the heavy carbonation.  I felt that it helped to dry the beer just enough to make it easy to drink.  A long finish ended the swallow.  The boozy heat, which can easily be over done in a Quad, was more of a warm, comforting presence on the finish.

I love to serve Belgian style  beers with food.  They just go hand in hand with so many meals.  Try serving this  Une Annee Quad with a fancy dinner of Roast Beef Brisket and Potatoes Au Gratin.  The bottle is such a simplistic and classy design that you can pour it for your fancy guests with just as much pride as you might with an expensive bottle of wine.  I double dog dare you to try that with a bottle from Clown Shoes or Flying Dog (Host: "More Tramp Stamp or Raging Bitch anyone?"  Me: "No thank you.  I prefer my misogyny with desert.") My favorite comfort food is a simple grilled cheese sandwich.  Easy to make, even easier to make interesting.  This Quad would be wonderful with just about every variation you can imagine from Grilled Cheese With Peanut Butter to Inside Out Grilled Cheese (which might just be the most brilliant thing I've ever seen.)  As to my mom's reaction to Une Annee's Quad?  The only thing that disappointed her about this beer was the empty bottle.