Beer Review 0026: Unibroue Trois Pistoles

Trois Pistoles (Three Coins) is brewed by Unibroue in Quebec, Canada. The beer is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, noted for its higher alcohol content, complex flavors and significant spice.

This beer, as most beers from Unibroue, has a fanciful fantasy story behind it (this one involves a “good devil” in the form of a black horse who is sent to help build a church but if it becomes unbridled, it flies away. Check this video for more on the legend.) but in reality the beer is brewed to honor Trappist monks.

Unibroue recommends drinking this one on a cold winter day; here we are at the start of spring and it feels like a cold winter day, so I decided to put this one up for review on March 27.

This beer is a bottle conditioned brew and can easily age five to eight years if stored properly. It is also recommended that you turn the bottle upside down before you open it to distribute any settled yeast and allow this to stand outside of refrigeration for a little while before you enjoy it.

Trois Pistoles pours with an average head that quickly dissipates to a respectable light tan cover that contrasts with a very unique looking liquid. The beer itself is a tawny chocolate brown color that is muddy with yeast sediment; swirl it in your glass and you achieve an effect similar to that of a radar image of a hurricane. Carbonation bubbles are plentiful and glide to the surface to burst. My glass had no lacing to speak of.

The aromatic story is of two different tales. On the cold pour, a heavy citrus scent is present that mixes with a malty backend of grassy grains; although there is some grain, it’s not a thin grain like found in many adjunct lagers. There’s also a distinct presence of alcohol, which is to be expected considering this one is 9% ABV (alcohol by volume.)

Now, allow Trois Pistoles to warm up and you will get a similar but different result. The malts become more toasted and chocolate, while notes of port and candied cherries can be detected. Very lovely. It’s also quite spicy.

The first thing noticed as liquid hits palate is how highly carbonated this is for a dark beer — it approaches soda carbonation. There’s an immediate tart spice blast with citrus (oranges) that changes to maltiness when swallowed. I noted a warming sensation from the alcohol, then a change to toasty malts, caramel and chocolate, and then an even longer warming finish that was like sweet orange juice with a bite, but not quite as acidic.

To say this beer is complex would be one of the understatements of the year. While each sip is the same, the changes it goes through while on your palate makes Trois Pistoles a remarkable beverage that has scored high enough to rank as a Classic beer on my rating scale. If you’ve ever had Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde, a beer that I reviewed here, Trois Pistoles is its maltier cousin.

Unibroue Trois Pistoles, 95 points. Price: $3.99 US for one bottle.

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