And on the 8th and final night of Chanukah, we celebrated the season (and a month at a new job) with a very special Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve by Chambly, QC’s own darling, Unibroue. I’ve always had a really soft spot for Unibroue. I wet my whistle on their beers as a young adult, long before the Sleeman takeover happened. I remember product lines that they have fazed out years ago. And since we’re breaking rules this week during the #8BeersOfChanukah, I’m allowed to have this lovely from my home province.

Unibroue makes a very limited numbered run of their annual Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve run, an extra strong ale on lees, aged with French oak and bottle refermented. In case you’re wondering which bottle we got, we ended up with #2013-53861. This Belgian-style beer is great for cellaring – Unibroue mentions that you can age it for another 5-8 years. I’m not a patient person and I cannot wait to get into a beer that has taken home internationally 12 bronze medals, 17 silver medals, 68 gold medals, and 8 platinum medals. Heck, I deserve a medal for letting it sit in my fridge for over a week, I’m not sure how Unibroue is able to keep their paws off for the year it takes to produce this one. This is a top fermented beauty, and Unibroue recommends enjoying it in either a balloon glass or a chalice. We shared it between two chalices, and I definitely let loose a great calisse when we had our first sip. A 750 ml bottle at 10% ABV will set you back around $9.95 at the LCBO. The bottle was sealed with a cork, but it was really easy to get into this marvel.

Appearance: Dark, oaky and cloudy brown beer with a milky and creamy head. Lees settle at the bottom of the glass when pouring. I do love a good sediment.

Aroma: Smells like heaven and Belgium all rolled into one. Or are they the same, with all the beer, chocolate, and fries? Strong yeast aroma and warm pipe tobacco aromas.

Taste: Loads of chocolate and banana flavours, with strong roasted malts. A slight hint of sourness dilutes the sweetness off the initial flavours. Vanilla undertones from the barrel, along with lots of mocha flavours. A distinctive alcohol burn like a fine whiskey. Or from Kole’s notes: “It tastes like heaven!” There are a lot of flavours going on here that individually would not work, but as a sum of their parts, it’s a grand ol’ time.

Aftertaste: More mocha flavours on the aftertaste that linger, with a great hoppy finish.

Overall: This is another solid and delicious option from Unibroue. There is a reason that beer snobs love this brewery, and the seasonal offerings are no exception. Rush out and buy some. You’ll thank me.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com