BREWVIEW ON UNIBROUE’S BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY

Many people have asked me since I started Belgian Beer Journal why Blanche de Chambly was not my first Unibroue beer that I wrote a BrewView on. The answer is simple: even though I enjoyed it since the early 90’s in my previous home base in the San Francisco East Bay, it was not available here in Redding, California until 2016, if you can believe that!!

The initial availability was as a result of a special Unibroue tasting that we held at Liquor Barn here in Redding in January 2016. We introduced Blanche de Chambly to Blue Moon drinkers who stopped by our tasting booth that day, and won new fans on the spot! Once I informed Liquor Barn management of this fact, they started carrying it. During that time in 2016, Belgian Beer Journal was already committed to several other BrewViews. We knew in the back of our mind that we would eventually write one on the Unibroue original- the one that launched a Belgian brewing revolution in North America.


HISTORY OF BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY

Unibroue made history in 1992 by being the first brewery in North America to release Blanche de Chambly – a Belgian-style White ale / Witbier, a beer style that was popularized in Belgium by Pierre Celis and the Hoegaarden brewery.

From the beginning, Andre Dion (the brewery’s founder) wanted to Unibroue to be different from the rest, and brew beers in the classic Belgian styles. The brewery chose a White ale  / Witbier as it’s first beer, following in the footsteps of established Belgian breweries who released a Witbier as their first beer, named after the town / city where it was brewed (Blanche de Louvain, Blanche de Bruxelles, etc.) Plus, the growing popularity of the style at the time helped with their decision.

Blanche de Chambly was an immediate hit with beer drinkers in the Québec region, and caught the attention of Québec’s legendary singer-songwriter Robert Charlebois.

Charlebois was so enamoured of Unibroue’s groundbreaking beer, he actually approached then brewery CEO / President  Andre Dion and inquired on actually purchasing the brewery. “The brewery is not for sale, however you are welcome to become a business partner” Dion advised Charlebois.

Shortly after that in 1992, he became one of Unibroue’s major partners. He then became vice president, and occasional spokesperson for Unibroue. The brewery used his face in much of the marketing, as Robert is a well-known personality in the Québec region. He held co-ownership with Unibroue until 2004 when Sleeman Breweries bought Unibroue. Master brewer of Unibroue Jerry Vietz mentions in our interview titled, “THE HISTORY OF UNIBROUE – AS TOLD BY JERRY VIETZ” that people in Québec to this day still ask Jerry if Robert Charlebois is co-owner of Unibroue! (Click here to listen to the interview)
Blanche de Chambly is still the best selling White Ale / Witbier in the Québec region. Its roots are steeped in deep Belgian tradition, and is one that the Québécois prefer, and us here at Belgian Beer Journal, for that matter!


BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION

Style category: Belgian-Style White Ale / Witbier

Brewed since 1992
Origin: Chambly, Quebec

Unibroue’s first beer and the first refermented white beer brewed in the Belgian tradition to be bottled and marketed in North America.

The Blanche de Chambly label features the icon of the city where it is brewed: Fort Chambly. It was converted from a wooden barricade used for fighting against the Iroquois in the middle of the XVII century into a stone fortress to combat the British army at the beginning of the XVIII century. With notes of dried orange peel and coriander seeds, this brew is a worthy representative of classic Belgian-style white wheat beers. To date, it has won more than 34 international medals, including being named “The World’s Best White Beer” on numerous occasions. Unibroue is proud to brew the most popular white beer in Quebec.

FACT SHEET

Fermentation
TOP

Style
BELGIAN WHITE ALE (WITBIER)

Color
PALE GOLDEN

SRM
4

Clarity
CLOUDY

Head
WHITE, CREAMY

Bubbles
FINE AND PLENTIFUL – LIKE CHAMPAGNE

Effervescence
SLOW AND SUSTAINED

IBU
10

Body
MEDIUM

Aftertaste
MEDIUM


OUR BREWVIEW ON UNIBROUE’S BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY

APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
5 % ABV,  we served it at 43° F in the signature Unibroue Blanche de Chambly flute.

With all of Jerry Vietz’s beers, they produce voluminous heads, and all pour a 3 to 4-finger height.

The picture that you see here was taken after 5 minutes after pouring, so the head did collapse a bit. The initial pour gave an easy 3-finger height head which was fluffy, with large and small bubbles. We did ensure the glass was “beer clean”. Blanche de Chambly is one of those Unibroue ales that some care must be taken while pouring, or you will have a head overflow!

The Brussels lacework the head left behind once it collapsed (it took around 10 minutes) was dense and patchy. During consumption, it held a 1/8″ height until the bottom of the glass.

NOTE: Unibroue has a very specific way they want you to pour their beers into a glass. They fully advocate incorporating the yeast at the bottom of the bottle into the glass. For more info (with a link to a video) of the Unibroue pouring ritual, click here.

AROMA / BOUQUET:
Budda’s Finger Lemon pith, Curaçao orange peel, whole Coriander seed, crushed cloves, freshly baked bread.

TASTE:
The aromas carry over into the taste, along with notes of Basswood honey and very faint hints of white flower.

MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
As this is a true bottle-refermented beer (Champagne method), Blanche de Chambly is super effervescent. It wakes up all regions of the mouth and soft palate upon first sip. The spritz level may shock those who are used to “tamer” witbiers!


FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

As you have most likely discovered from our previous BrewViews on Unibroue beers, the brewery is very culinary oriented – (with it’s own cookbook with recipes featuring their beers) and Blanche de Chambly is no exception. Here are some links to recipes from Unibroue’s website:

“COBB BOB” SALAD WITH CHEESE AND BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY DRESSING

RABBIT GRILLED WITH GARLIC CONFIT, DIJON MUSTARD AND BEER BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY

SHRIMPS GLAZED WITH ORANGE AND CORIANDER WITH BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY

GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWERS WITH BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY

Also, Blanche de Chambly makes excellent cocktails as well:

BLANCHE-ORANGE (MIMOSA)

CLEVER CLUB

COCKTAIL DES SPORTIFS

TROPICAL BLISS


OVERALL IMPRESSION

Because of its high effervescence level,  Blanche de Chambly can be paired with a wide variety of cuisines, and can be enjoyed year round. I can remember many occasions after tending the garden in warm weather, or at a picnic, where it was a welcome and refreshing drink. Because of it’s low ABV, it also makes a nice session beer.

Thanks to Unibroue’s excellent global distribution network, Blanche de Chambly is widely available at thousands of retail stores, pubs, and restaurants all over the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, and more.

Huge thanks go out to the following individuals for making this BrewView possible: Liquor Barn in Redding, California for carrying the line of Unibroue ales, and of course, Unibroue’s Master Brewer Jerry Vietz, for keeping the history alive with this unique white ale.


 


 LA BRASSERIE UNIBROUE
80 Des Carrières Street
Chambly (Québec)
J3L 2H6 Canada

Tel. : 450 658-7658
Fax : 450 658-9195
Web: http://Unibroue.com
Email : Info@Unibroue.com


BrewView author GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.

He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer!      Ecclesiastes 8:15