9% ABV from a bomber
When most people think of beer drinking in Canada, they probably imagine two hosers like the McKenzie Brothers pouring can after can of Labatt or Molson down their faces while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. And, admittedly, Labatt and Molson are solid enough beers. For getting wasted while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. But, surprisingly enough, there are some world class brews coming from America, Jr. And, it all begins with Montreal’s Unibroue brewery which produces what might be the country’s best single beer in La Fin Du Monde (which my Francophile friend tells me means “End of the World”–nice!).
Not just that, but La Fin Du Monde is extraordinarly accessible in the Northeast U.S. That’s partly due to the fact that La Fin is “bottle conditioned.” This means that the beer isn’t fully fermented and contains yeast sediment (“on the lees” it’s called) which allows for further fermentation after bottling. This allows for several things. First, it lets the beer be cheaply shipped and stocked, making it very accessible in outside markets. I pick up bombers of La Fin and several of Unibroue’s other quality beers for around $6 a bomber at my local supermarket. In fact, La Fin is quite possibly the “high-brow” beer I drink the most. And, at that cheap of price and with that high of ABV, you can make your night end nicely for an amazing cost.
Bottle conditioning also produces beer that is perfect for cellaring. Filtered beers have a short shelf life and necessitate tacky “born on” dating because once their compounds begin breaking down the beer becomes unpleasant tasting. Most folks would counter that most of your filtered macro beers already are unpleasant tasting. Remember kids, filtering something does not always make it better, despite what Brita may have us believe. The live yeast inside an unfiltered bottle-conditioned beer acts against these processes, giving the brew a longer, if not infinite, shelf life in which the flavor will continue to get better and better and the taste more and more complex as it ages.
These points are all moot for me, however, as my career record for the longest I’ve ever gone without drinking an amazing beer I’ve purchased is some ten days. And that was only because I was ill during that time and only able to consume egg drop soup. Plus, living in a fifth floor Manhattan walk-up, I don’t exactly have room to stow countless beers while they age. And, I certainly don’t have a cellar. Rather, I do have a cellar but it’s a communal building one where we deposit our trash and recyclables, maintain a menagerie of vermin, and provide a creepy, dank place for our perverted building super Chet to bring hookers home to. I can just imagine what would happen were I to start “cellaring” my La Fins and top-fermented trappist ales down there. Let’s just say, I know one bum that would greatly appreciate going from drinking Boone’s Farm to aged Orval.
As mentioned, bottled-conditioned beers have yeast sediment in them. So, if you open the beer early you will literally see chunks, for lack of a better word, of products floating in the beer. It’s like the fresh-squeezed pulp of the industry. You unadventurous people that exclusively drink macros will probably be freaked out and think you have a rotten, tainted beer, calling the company to file a complaint, but it is in fact nothing to worry about.
Pouring the goldenrod La Fin out, the head of the beer is like a primordial soup, with so much activity occurring in the foam. It’s like a lab experiment. You could probably look at it under a microscope and see organisms interacting and fucking each other! But not to worry–the yeast sediment is incredibly tasty with very earthy flavors, and, best of all, it’s packed with Vitamin B! Did someone say health beer?! In fact, in some countries, it’s a ritual to separate the sediment from the beer and drink it as a shot.
Sweating my balls off in my bedroom as a busy weekend comes to an end this was a perfect beer to wet my whistle. Technically a tripel, La Fin smells great, one of the best and most odoriferous beers I’ve ever encountered. It’s incredibly tasty, incredibly malty, incredibly yeasty of course, incredibly everything. It’s creamy, buttery, full of fruit hints like apple and pear. And it has a spicy and peppery finish. Near perfect. Got to be about the most drinkable 9% beer on the planet. I really can’t imagine someone disliking this beer.
If the world was truly coming to an end, you would certainly go out in style with a La Fin Du Monde as your last tipple. The French name reminds me of my favorite Latin saying: Bibamus, moriendum est. Death is inevitable, let’s get drunk.