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La Maudite

August 25, 2009

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A Beer Fit For The Devil Himself

Anthony Says:


Maudite 1In addition to being one of my preferred first-wave punk bands, The Damned also happens to be the English translation of one of my favorite Canadian craft brews: “La Maudite”. A product of Quebec based Unibroue brewery, this Belgian-style strong dark ale derives its sinister moniker from the legend of La Chasse Galerie (The Flying Canoe). A staple of Quebecois folklore, La Chasse Galerie tells of a group of colonial era lumberjacks who made a pact with the devil in order to return home to their village in time for Christmas. In exchange for a pledge of their souls, the lumberjacks flew across the winter sky in a canoe helmed by the devil himself. The story ends variously with the lumberjacks returning home safely after having tricked the devil into preserving their souls, or with the canoe crashing to the earth after one of the lumberjacks invoked the name of god. Such ominous imagery notwithstanding, I can assure you that drinking one these won’t result in an eternity of fire and brimstone. Nevertheless, Maudite is a devilishly good beer.


Firstly, much as previously mentioned in our review of La Fin Du Monde, Unibroue’s bottling aesthetics are incomparable. Featuring a handsome image of a flying canoe, backlit by a crimson moon and crowned with a gothically inspired orange serif script, Maudite is no exception. In terms of visuals, the aesthetic pleasure of Maudite’s bottle design is matched only by the actual appearance of the beer: pouring a shade of deep mahogany with a thick lacing of pearl white foam. Much like several other Unibroue offerings, this is a beer brewed “on lees”, meaning only partially filtered and therefore containing a higher concentration of proteins and yeast. This becomes apparent in Maudite’s almost impenetrable cloudiness, and the noticeably darker color where the yeast settles in the bottom quarter of the glass.


The nose of this beer is complex bordering on indescribable. The overall aroma is something akin to a rum-ball crossed with scents of coriander, nutmeg, cloves, candied pears, figs and brandy. While the presence of alcohol is palpable- as one might expect from a brew with an 8% ABV content- it is nicely balanced by an effervescent twang of yeast. Quite honestly, Maudite is one of the most incredibly aromatic beers I’ve had the pleasure of trying. You could easily spend a good 20 minutes just absorbing its aromas and scents without even stopping to take a sip.


While the nose may suggest a sort of fragrant potpourri, Maudite has an equally dynamic flavor profile to match. The initial flavor here is of spicy cloves and coriander, followed by rich bready malts, bitter dark chocolate and sweet wine-like fruity esters: most notably apricot, pear and raisin. Following a mild flourish of alcohol warmth, Maudite finishes in a light peppery tartness that is pleasantly dry. A relatively high carbonation imparts a surprisingly crisp mouthfeel, which also helps to cleanse the sweetness of the malts off the palette and therefore prevents Maudite from feeling overly syrupy and thick.


Maudite is one hell of a brew- no pun intended. This is the beer I give to friends when they question the merit of sophisticated beer drinking. Unfortunately, while they usually concede that the complexity of Maudite is on par with the most refined whisky or cigar, they are usually slightly turned off by the sheer richness of its nose and flavor profile. Perhaps the best analogy can be drawn from the world of single-malt scotch whiskey. When introducing a newbie to scotch you would probably want to serve her a milder Speyside, rather than a fiery peat-rich highland or Islay variety. Much in the same regard, Maudite is not the type of beer that is well suited to the uninitiated; the complex array of aromas and flavors typical to this style of beer can simply be overwhelming.
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Gatlin Says:


Maudite 2This beer is all about class- the curious name immortalizing a French Canadian legend; the artistically decorated bottle; the fancy cork and cage. It doesn’t end there. The qualities of this beer in terms of appearance, smell and taste, are on another level as compared to most brews. This beer proudly and triumphantly ventures into wine drinkers territory and does so without compromise. If you are looking for something to enjoy alongside a fine and robust dinner, this is likely your best bet.


Technical Rundown:

  • Container: 750 ml brown glass bomber, with cork and cage
  • Alcohol: 8% by volume, 6.40% by weight
  • Color: 20 SRM
  • Bitterness: 26 IBU

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Poured into a tulip glass, Maudite conjured up an amazing, white to off-white, 2½ finger head. The head receded to a small-bubbled film in a moderate amount of time and left some minor lacing. The body of this beer is a sight to see: deep ruby, burgundy, mahogany. Maudite is cloudy with little to no visible carbonation.


The smell of this beer can only be described as insane. I had to sit, smell and think for at least 25 minutes before I could even begin to comprehend its complexity. Grapes, berry, apricot, sweet fruits, rum, chocolate could all be identified. Overlaying everything is a very persistent yeastiness that is bready and lightly musty.


The taste wasn’t quite as awe inspiring as the smell, but was nonetheless outstanding. Grapey, wine-like berriness, with subtle hints of dried fruits, registered right away and then faded into a lingering yeasty spiciness. Perfectly balanced and complex, yet totally refined. Maudite would make a perfect substitute for a fine red wine.


Julien-chasse————————-


Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Incredibly complex nose and flavor profile
  • Surprisingly crisp for a beer this sweet
  • Great bottle design!

Cons

  • Bomber bottle unwieldy- not always available in standard sized beer bottles
  • Incredibly complex nose and flavor profile (!)
  • Strong flavors can make this an awkward beer to drink- probably better consumed on occasion

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4½ stars with a caveat. For the more experienced beer drinker, Maudite is undoubtedly a near world-class brew. Unfortunately, it would rank far lower for those less acclimated to this particular style of beer. Scoring poorly in overall drinkability, Maudite would perhaps be best served to neophytes as a dessert beer paired with something spicy or tart


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Complex aromas and flavors
  • Outstandingly crisp- no hint of the 9% alcohol content
  • Amazing quality

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for unseasoned beer drinkers
  • 9% alcohol content can sneak-up on you

f

A solid 4½ star Belgian strong dark ale. Maudite would easily have achieved a 5 star rating had it not been for the many exemplary brews included within this style of beer. Nevertheless, it is perfect for someone looking to pair a robust dinner with an equally robust beverage


So, What’s On Your Mind?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2009 12:05 pm

    Nice review of a very good beer! I don’t think I’ve read a bad review about this stuff, or about anything that Unibroue makes. Funny you mention the label, it was the sole reason Liz picked this beer for reviewing off the shelf. She’d never heard anything about it before trying it!

  2. Charles permalink
    December 25, 2010 5:58 pm

    Very good review, even though I have yet to try it. My girlfriend got me a bottle of Maudite for Christmas. However, she (nor I, for that matter) had never even heard of it before. She was afraid it wasn’t my favorite beer, so she proceeded to buy me a large bottle of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, as well as a six pack of Stone’s IPA.

    I now have some nice beer sitting in the fridge, and I’m really looking forward to trying the bottle of Maudite.

    I’m thinking about marrying this girl.

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