Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Belgian-style Ales of Une Année

Une Année is a small, Chicago brewery that focuses on traditional Belgian and French styles of ale. The brewery released its first beers just a year ago. This past summer they began distributing in Wisconsin. Last week, three of their brews landed on the shelves at Festival Foods in Oshkosh. Let’s check them out.

ENKEL is an abbey-style ale of a different stripe. This is an amped up version of a tafelbier, or table beer. Traditionally, tafelbiers were low-alcohol ales reserved for monks and family use; most often as an accompaniment to a meal. A typical table beer usually hovers around 3% ABV, but Une Année’s 5.6% take on the style nearly doubles that. It’s an interesting beer. Careful how you pour this one, if you rush it you’ll make a pillar of foam that’ll have you waiting longer than you’d like to get to the beer beneath it. The beer is hazy and pumpkin colored. It has a nice depth of aroma with some wild-yeast funk giving way to pineapple over caramelized sugar and pie crust. The scent comes together in the draw presenting more pineapple and a subtle, cake-like malt flavor. Like all of the Une Année ales, this beer is unfiltered and bottle conditioned. The lingering yeast adds a peppery bite to the beer’s pleasant, dry finish. I wouldn’t mind sitting down to about three glasses of this. It’s one of those beers that would seem to grow more interesting over the long term. To me, that’s the sign of a truly fine beer.

MAYA is a bit thornier for me. This is Une Année’s flagship beer. They describe it as a “Belgian Inspired India Pale Ale.” The aroma backs that up with a punch of hops in the nose that reminded me of dried apricots. Another voluminous head on this one, it slowly gives way to an opaque, golden beer. Those hop aromatics don’t carry over substantially into the flavor. Instead there’s a light, sugary sweetness that pops up momentarily before being driven under by a woody bitterness that might be as much a byproduct of the yeast as it is the hops. The finish is dry and that bitterness is lingering. It’s a 7.6% ABV beer, but you wouldn’t guess that until you’re well into it. This is far from my favorite style, but they do a good job of it. I wouldn’t want to drink two of these back to back, but I’ll have another before too long.

LESS IS MORE rounds out the Une Année beers currently being distributed here. I haven’t tried this saison, yet, but here’s the word from the brewery: “You’ll find substantial hop flavor, a complex yeast presence and a hint of orange... Low bitterness leads to a clean finish.” And that beer is 4.6% ABV.

All three of these are available at Festival Foods in Oshkosh. They’re being sold in 500ml (16.9 oz.) singles that go for $5.99 each.

No comments:

Post a Comment