Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Don De Dieu

Chambly, Quebec

Style: Abbey Tripel
ABV: 9.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Tonight’s featured brew during this International Month comes from the remotest country on planet Earth: Canada. Even after a couple of months of study, we don’t know much about Canada. What languages they speak, what sports they play, what cheese they eat. We do, however, know of some beers they export. Most of these beers, like Labatt’s and Molson, are complete watery shit. But a select few are goddamned divine.

Tonight’s brew comes from Unibroue (pronounced YOU-nuh-BREW), located in Chambly, Quebec, and owned by Sapporo (Canada’s Sleeman bought Unibroue in 2004, and Sapporo bought Sleeman in 2006). All of their beers have a strong Belgian influence behind them, so much so that I’ve always thought of Unibroue as a poor man’s Chimay, and that’s not just because their Trois Pistoles is almost a dead ringer for Chimay Blue. Then I found out Unibroue’s head brewer, Paul Arnott, worked for 10 years at Chimay, and I felt all smug and self-satisfied.

But enough about me. Tonight’s brew is Don De Dieu, which translates as “gentleman (in the aristocratic sense) of god.” This is one of those touchstone beers—I distinctly remember exactly where and vaguely when I first sipped it. The reason it stands out in my memory is because of how light—even for a Belgian-style tripel—and spritzy it was. That was nigh onto 8 years ago, and I’ve had it only two or three times since then, so let’s see how well my palate and my memory line up.

It pours a glowing, slightly cloudy (yeah, it’s bottle conditioned) gold underneath a big, creamy white, tight-bubbled head. A beautiful beer in the glass, one that demands to be poured into a tulip glass or at least a snifter, for Chrissakes. That will help funnel the brew’s wonderul aroma right into your schnoz: Belgian yeastiness, an undertone of cloves, and a touch of faint malt waaaaay in the back.

The sip starts with a very light body and flinty-hard mouthfeel. Yeasty spiciness grabs to tongue, then fades out for a middle of soft maltiness. Finish is acidic spiciness underneath some tangy citric fruitiness. Overall the flavors are relatively subdued, and early sips before the beer warms are a little underassertive and too smooth.

Don De Dieu is an expertly executed Belgian-style tripel—the beer’s marketing material describes it as a “wheat tripel”—, but a little cleaner, a little lighter, and a little less complex than the real Belgian thing. For lack of a better word, it’s more “drinkable.” The only problem being tripels are actually almost too drinkable to begin with—mainly because of that ass-whomping ABV. And Don De Dieu is no exception, being 9 percent ABV and all. But that is it’s sole flaw. It is still a phenomenally great beer, only barely missing living up to the great Belgian masters. If you want to drink Belgian on a budget—or just want to enjoy a crisp, drinkable 9 percent beer—grab a bomber or four pack of this beauty from the nether regions of the world.

[Can you believe I reviewed a beer from Quebec and didn’t make fun of the frogs even once?]

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 15, 2010.
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