A Beer Fit For The Devil Himself
In 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.
This 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.
- Container: 750 ml brown glass bomber, with cork and cage
- Alcohol: 8% by volume, 6.40% by weight
- Color: 20 SRM
- Bitterness: 26 IBU
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.
Some Final Thoughts
- Incredibly complex nose and flavor profile
- Surprisingly crisp for a beer this sweet
- Great bottle design!
- 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
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
- Complex aromas and flavors
- Outstandingly crisp- no hint of the 9% alcohol content
- Amazing quality
- Can be overwhelming for unseasoned beer drinkers
- 9% alcohol content can sneak-up on you
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?