Beer Review 0033: Unibroue Don De Dieu

Don De Dieu, or “Gift of God” is brewed by Unibroue in Chambly, Quebec, Canada. It’s a Belgian strong ale, coming in at 9% ABV (alcohol by volume). Like all Unibroue beer, this one has a fanciful (some of the tales are not true, some have a gain of truth, this one is 100% true) but interesting story behind it:

Don De Dieu was the name of a ship Samuel de Champlain sailed on a mission to explore America, as commissioned by France. Along the way, he founded the city of Quebec in 1608, which led to the inspiration and creation of this beer.

The beer itself, while categorized as a Belgian strong ale in style, is broken down further by classifying it as a triple wheat ale that is refermented in the bottle. This beer can be aged for two to three years, after which it begins to lose flavor. If aging, store the bottles upright in a dark place with a cool temperature (less than 61˚F).

Brewed since 1998, Don De Dieu has won several awards; most recently, this beer took home silver at the 2011 World Beer Championship put on by the Chicago Beverage Tasting Institute, and gold at the 2011 Mondial de la biere (Festival of Beer) in Montreal.

Purists may snarl at how I poured this beer, but I care not; most “beer experts” say you should leave the last swallow in the bottle so as not to get yeast that has settled in the bottle in your beer, but I throw caution to the wind and usually just pour everything in my glass. I want it all! That’s what happened with Don De Dieu, and the results it produced were breathtaking. This elixir poured golden bright with smoke ring waves of yeast that eventually completely clouded up the clear brassy beer. The effect achieved here was like a lava lamp, simple but beautiful. The head was average and extremely frothy and fizzy, which diminished quickly and left a thin haze over top the drink. There was no lacing to report, which was kind of sad.

In the aromatics department, holy wow! The scent of this beer literally filled the room; I could smell it from several feet away. Waves of perfume and fruit, specifically oranges, pineapple and bananas. There were spicy notes and a large yeasty sweet bread contingent, with some minor hints of clove and apple. Very complex and a treat for the snout senses. A perfect score!

As I took several sips, Don De Dieu rewards with oranges, oranges and more oranges. Right off, an orange blast mixed with clove and spice, followed with a thick yeasty bread finish that turned twangy orange — think about eating an orange, but eating a bit of the rind with your slice — sort of a soft, bitter note. The mouthfeel on this one was thin but creamy and fizzy. Ever had the soda Orangina? The two are similar in feel…

This beer is very drinkable; despite it’s higher alcohol content, none of that is detected in taste or feel. I thought the flavor duration was a bit short but the balance between sweetness, sour and acid were perfect and made an overall pleasant, refreshing and complex strong beer that one would likely return to time and time again. A gift from the beer gods for sure!

Unibroue Don De Dieu, 92 points. Price: $9.99 US for four pack.

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