Unibroue Eau Bénite

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Brewery: Unibroue
Quebec, Canada
ABV: 7.7%
Rating: 4.2 Stars

A Devil in Angel's Clothing
by andaryl | Jun 26 '01

The Bottom Line Excellent version of a Belgian Tripel. Strong, malty, peppery, fruity with a slightly bitter finish. A must try for any beer fan and a good introduction to Belgian ales.

Unibroue, situated in Quebec since 1990, is more than just another craft brewer. They don’t produce the usual range of porters, stouts, hefeweizens and IPA’s. Unibroue instead concentrates its efforts on brewing interpretations of Belgian style ales, which has any beer fan will tell you is home of some of the greatest ales in the world. I should also add, that this is only my second beer from the brewery, but from what I’ve read elsewhere they do a very good job of it.

Unibroue beers are produced to higher than usual standards, borrowing much from Belgian techniques, and are bottle-conditioned. There are currently 16 beers in the portfolio, all curiously named after Quebec folklore and history, and probably the most interesting label art in the industry.

Eau Bénite
Brewed since 1996, Eau Bénite translates as “holy water”. I’m not sure if there is a story behind this, or if it just a link to Belgian monks who happen to produce the world’s best beers. The beer is a “triple” (a name derived from an old Belgian classification system and relating to alcohol strength) and true to its style has a 7.7% ABV. The keg version of this ale is surprisingly only 5%, which makes me wonder how the two compare. The beer is bottle-conditioned and triple-fermented.

The Angel
This is another classic label from Unibroue. It looks like an angel sitting in a small bathtub, but upon closer view you’ll notice that it’s actually the devil in disguise. There’s an amusing tattoo on his left arm that says “I Love Quebec”.

The Devil Inside
Eau Bénite gives a fairly lively pour, with plenty of foam and a pale orange body that is pretty hazy. I was looking on another website, and three people mentioned over carbonation but it looked pretty light and just adequate to me.

The nose is interesting. There’s an obvious peppery spice as well as a maltiness, but then something of a floral orangey blend. There’s something else, herbal or medicinal that I think was coriander (not 100% on this as I’ve only smelt coriander in beers before).

The palate is pretty light, delicate, soft and smooth with just a little carbonation.

The first part of the taste is pretty simple, fairly clean and malty with just a little fruity orange. The majority of the beer’s character is packed into the second half of the palate where it turns a little sharper. There’s a good peppery spice as well as a delicate light fruitiness with the briefest hint of raspberry, It finishes off slightly dry, with a good bitterness thrown in and a little bit of a tang. The aftertaste mellows out pretty quickly leaving you mostly with malt but also a little citrus.

Now That I’ve Been Possessed…
Eau Bénite is nicely balanced, very well rounded and pretty easy drinking for such a strong brew. It’s very similar to St. Bernardus, the only Belgian Tripel I’d tried prior to this, but certainly lighter. I’d also add comparisons to a wit beer I just received from Holland, “Gulpener Korenwolf.”

There’s a great complexity to this beer that is surprising when you consider it’s so light and refreshing. The devil disguised as an angel definitely befits the character of the beer.

Should You Buy It?
This is another great Belgian interpretation from Unibroue, and certainly worth any beer fan trying out. It’s not too difficult a beer to introduce to mainstream drinkers either

I wouldn’t pair a strong ale with food but the brewers recommend salmon or ham dishes “where the salty-sweetness of the meal is complemented by the clean bittering of the brew.”

Where & How Much?
Unibroue beers are available across the States as well as Europe and Australia although you’re more likely to find them in specialty stores than your local supermarket. Also, I’ve seen different beers on the shelves at different times, but from what I’ve heard I would check out whatever I find. They are currently in the process of expanding their distribution networks. I also noticed it popping up with a number of online merchants when I was looking for information. Check out www.totalbeer.com.

There are 2 bottle sizes, 330 ml and 750 ml. I paid $2.19 for the small one, which considering the limited availability of this style is a very good price.

The Rating Game
Pour: 5 Palate: 4 Aroma: 8 Flavor: 8 Overall: 17
Score: 4.2
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