Our third BrewView for the January 2015 BREWERY OF THE MONTH feature is for UNIBROUE’S BLONDE DE CHAMBLY (Blonde of Chambly / Chambly Blond) Belgian-style Saison ale. This was made possible by very special arrangement from Master Brewer Jerry Vietz.
UNIBROUE has several beers they call “LIVING LEGENDS”, where the labels tell the stories of historical events that shaped the region of Québec, Canada. Blonde de Chambly closes the loop on the trilogy of the Unibroue “Chambly family” beer series.
HISTORY BEHIND THE LABEL – BLONDE DE CHAMBLY
As was mentioned in our BrewView for Noire De Chambly, King Louis XIV was looking to expand his kingdom in the new world. During the settlement of French immgrants in the area of the Province of Québec, Canada, this settlement effort was met with heavy resistance from the native Iroquois Indian tribes.
In 1665, the king sent a French garrison, the Carignan-Salières Regiment, to Quebec (read detailed story here) to strengthen the resolve of his settlement intentions. After many battles later, the regiment finally secured peace in the region in 1667. With the end to the Iroquois threat, King Louis XIV decided to offer the men of the regiment an opportunity to stay in New France to help increase the population. As incentive, regular officers were offered 100 livres or 50 livres and a year worth of rations. Lieutenants, alternatively, were offered 150 livres or 100 livres and a year worth of rations. Officers were also offered the incentive of large land grants in the forms of seigneuries. This offer was particularly beneficial to such men as Pierre de Saurel, Alexandre Berthier, Antoine Pécaudy de Contrecœur, and François Jarret de Verchères, who were granted large seigneuries in New France.
Although the majority of the regiment returned to France in 1668, about 450 remained behind to settle in Canada. These men were highly encouraged to marry, being offered land as incentive. As a result, most of them did marry newly arriving women to the colony known as Filles du Roi. The largest import of women to New France occurred during the 1660s and early 1670s, largely in response to the need to provide wives for the regiment. (Source: Wikipedia)
FILLES DU ROI – KING’S DAUGHTERS
The King’s Daughters (French: filles du roi; filles du roy) is a term used to refer to the approximately 800 young French women who immigrated to New France between 1663 and 1673 as part of a program sponsored by Louis XIV. The program was designed to boost Canada’s population both by encouraging male immigrants to settle there, and by promoting marriage, family formation and the birth of children. While women and girls certainly immigrated to New France both before and after this time period, they were not considered to be filles du roi, as the term refers to women and girls who were actively recruited by the government and whose travel to the colony was paid for by the king. They were also occasionally known as the King’s Wards, where “wards” meant those under the guardianship of another.
At its start, New France was a man’s world: the province of soldiers, fur trappers, and priests, it had little to offer women. In time, the colony became more agricultural, which allowed for more women, but as late as the mid-17th century, there was a severe imbalance between single men and women in New France. The small number of female immigrants had to pay their own passage, and few single women wanted to leave their familiar places to move and settle in the harsh climate and conditions of New France. The growth of population in the competing English colonies awakened concern among some officials about their ability to maintain their claim in the New World.
To increase population and the number of families, the Intendant of New France, Jean Talon, proposed that the king sponsor passage of at least 500 women. The king agreed, and eventually nearly twice the number were recruited. They were predominately between the ages of 12 and 25, and many had to supply a letter of reference from their parish priest before they would be chosen for emigration to New France.
Marguerite Bourgeoys was the first person to use the expression “filles du roi” in her writings. A distinction was made between King’s Daughters, who were transported to New France at the king’s expense and were given a dowry by the king, and women who emigrated voluntarily and using their own money. Other historians used chronological frameworks to determine who could be called a fille du roi. Research by the historical demographer Yves Landry determines that there were in total about 770 to 850 filles du roi who settled in New France between 1663 and 1673.
The title “King’s Daughters” was meant to imply state patronage, not royal or noble parentage. Most of these women were commoners of humble birth. As a fille du roi, a woman received the King’s support in several ways. The King paid one hundred livres to the French East India Company for the woman’s crossing, as well as furnishing a trousseau. The Crown paid a dowry for each woman; this was originally supposed to be four hundred livres, but as the Treasury could not spare such an expense, many were paid in kind. As was the case for most emigrants who went from France to New France, 80% of the filles du roi were from the Paris, Normandy and Western regions. The Hôpital-Général de Paris and the St-Sulpice parish were big contributors of women for the new colony. As such, most of the filles du roi were from urban areas. A few women came from other European countries, including Germany, England, and Portugal. Those who were chosen to be among the filles du roi and allowed to emigrate to New France were held to scrupulous standards, which were based on their “moral calibre” and whether they were physically fit enough to survive the hard work demanded by life as a colonist. The colonial officials sent several of the filles du roi back to France because they were judged below the standards set out by the King and the Intendant of New France.
Almost half of the filles du roi were from the Paris area, 16% from Normandy and 13% from western France. Many were orphans with very meager personal possessions, and their level of literacy was relatively low. Socially, the young women came from different social backgrounds, but were all very poor. They might have been from an elite family that had lost its fortune, or from a large family with children to “spare.” Officials usually matched women of higher birth with officers or gentlemen living in the colony, sometimes in the hopes that the nobles would marry the young women and be encouraged to stay in Canada rather than return to France.
INTEGRATION INTO NEW FRENCH SOCIETY
The women disembarked in Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal. After their arrival, their time to find husbands varied greatly. For some, it was as short as a few months, while others took two or three years before finding an appropriate husband. For the process of choosing a husband, and the marriage, most couples would officially get engaged in church, with their priest and witnesses present. Then, some couples went in front of the notary, to sign a marriage contract. Marriages were celebrated by the priest, usually in the woman’s parish of residence. While the marriage banns customarily were to be published three times before a wedding could take place, the colony’s need for women to marry quickly led to few filles du roi having marriage banns announced. It is known that 737 of these filles du roi were married in New France.
The marriage contracts represented a protection for the women, both in terms of financial security if anything were to happen to them or their husband, and in terms of having the liberty to annul the promise of marriage if the man they had chosen proved incompatible. A substantial number of the filles du roi who arrived in New France between 1669 and 1671 cancelled marriage contracts; perhaps the dowry they had received made them disinclined to stick with a fiancé they found themselves dissatisfied with.
An early problem in recruitment was the women’s adjustment to the new agricultural life. As Saint Marie de L’Incarnation wrote, the filles du roi were mostly town girls, and only a few knew how to do manual farm work. This problem remained, but in later years, more rural girls were recruited.
There were approximately 300 recruits who did not marry in New France. Some had changes of heart before embarking from the ports of Normandy and never left, some died during the journey, some returned to France to marry, and a few never did marry. (Source: Wikipedia)
CREATION OF THE BEER: BLONDE DE CHAMBLY
BLONDE DE CHAMBLY was first brewed by Unibroue in June 2010 in the memory of the Filles du Roi (see story above). The principal goal of brewing this beer was to close the loop of the “Chambly” family of beers. The first “Chambly” beer was also the brewery’s first beer in 1991-1992: Blanche de Chambly. That beer launched a brewing revolution being the first Belgian-style ale brewed in North America. The second beer in the Chambly trilogy was the Noire de Chambly in 2005, and then finally the Blonde de Chambly.
THE BEER AND LABEL- BLONDE DE CHAMBLY
As Master Brewer Jerry Vietz told us, “It made sense for us (Unibroue) to work on a pale ale to complete the trilogy of the Chambly family. After the White ale (Blanche) and the Black ale (Noire) were released respectively in 1992 and 2005, we thought it would be nice to a blonde ale that would be more sessionable.”
“We wanted to brew a beer that was around 5% ABV, with a higher drinkability featuring a balance between hop and malt flavors, with a nice clean crisp finish, but still preserving the notoriety that Unibroue beers are renowned for,” Jerry also adds.
When it came to the time of the label design for Blonde de Chambly, the marketing team decided to continue with the “softer” look of the Chambly labels that the Noire de Chambly inherited in its second design. The label features attractive, soft looking women to merge perfectly with the profile of the beer:
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Unibroue style – Belgian-style Saison
Color: Dark golden
Head: Off white and generous
Bubbles: Like champagne, fine and abundant
Effervescence: Strong and sustained
Nose: Lemongrass, wildflowers, and fresh hops
Flavor: Crisp acidity of lemongrass followed by sweet honey and notes of pepper, with a sharp, floral finish
Aftertaste: Medium with dry finish
Suggested serving temperature: 4°C – 6°C/39°F – 43°F
Suggested glass: Footed flute
2010 : Canada brewing awards (Bronze medal in Saison Category)
2011: Silver Medal (World beer Championship- Chicago beverage testing institute)
2011: Gold Medal (Mondial de la bière Montréal)
2011 : Gold medal World beer Awards London UK (World’s Best Standard Pale Ale)
2012: Silver Medal (World beer Championship- Chicago beverage testing institute)
2012: Gold medal World beer Awards London UK (Americas best Belgian style blonde ale)
2013 Gold Medal (World beer Championship- Chicago beverage testing institute)
2014: Silver Medal (World beer Championship- Chicago beverage testing institute)
2014: Gold medal World beer Awards London UK
ABOUT THE LEGEND
Here is Unibroue’s own interpretation of traditional Belgian Saison ale. Traditionally brewed to help field workers cool off on long summer days, Saison ales were highly refreshing—even served warm in the days before refrigeration. Blonde de Chambly pays tribute to the Filles du Roy, the women who came to Nouvelle-France to marry soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, among others. They settled on the fertile lands defended by Captain Jacques de Chambly and gave birth to many of our ancestors.
OUR BREWVIEW OF UNIBROUE’S BLONDE DE CHAMBLY
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
5% ABV. We poured it at 40°F in the signature Unibroue Blonde de Chambly flute glass. Pours a medium to a dark golden color. It easily poured a voluminous, white colored, dense, rocky, creamy 3 1/2 – finger head with large and small bubbles. Excellent head retention; the story is the same- before we even took the first sip, the head hardly collapsed. After about 9 minutes into drinking, it still held almost a 1/2 inch head. Rim color variation- no variance.
The meniscus is medium rising- the Brussels lacework the beer leaves behind as the head (finally) collapses, is even sheeted. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). There is a heavy cloudy haze to the beer, due to the Unibroue bottle conditioning and extremely heavy yeast sedimentation- “Beer on Lees.” There is a gentle champagne-like bubbling visible in the glass.
We held up our ear to the glass, and the amount of C02 that was being released from the head almost sounded like as if you put your ear up to a seashell- it had that echoing.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
Immediately, you get grassy, citrusy (lemon) aromas. Fresh hops mixed with lemongrass. A bouquet of honey that was pollinated with wildflowers is evident. You get cooking herb notes from the hops- faint celery seed. There is a light pepperiness as well, but in the background. This breaks away from the standard Saison bouquet. There is a faint “funk” to it, but very delicate. Overall, a pleasantly fragrant beer.
The first few sips of Blonde de Chambly give you lemony tart flavors, but the tartness is not harsh, it is soft. We understand Jerry Vietz’s description of Blonde de Chambly being a “hybrid” of a Saison and a Pale Ale. Hop dryness blended with honeyish sweetness. if you drink Saison and Pale ale beers, you’ll see what we mean.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The mouthfeel is very effervescent, and champagne-like. The beer tickles the front of the tongue with its sparkle. It is almost a bordering a Méthode Champenoise beer in texture. Great crispness- quenching, refreshing. Lemongrass is definitely in the finish. The way we can describe how it feels, is like a “soft” champagne. The dryness and tartness linger, leading you to take that next sip.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Goat or washed rind chesses with Three-cheese bread made with Blonde de Chambly. It would pair well with light and fresh garden salads.
ENTRÈES: Jerry suggests Vietnamese Phở with lemongrass and ginger infused in the broth. White fish, mild sausages such as Bockwurst or Weisswurst also pair very well. Moules-frites are a no brainer with Blonde de Chambly. Check out this recipe from Unibroue: Mussels with Pied-de-Vent cheese and Blonde de Chambly.
DESSERTS: Any lemon based, tart dessert would be an excellent accompaniment with Blonde de Chambly. Fresh white table grapes as an after-dinner snack would be great.
For more food recipes from Unibroue using Blonde de Chambly, click here.
BEER COCKTAILS MADE WITH BLONDE DE CHAMBLY
Blonde de Chambly is perfect ingredient for making refreshing cocktails! Try these recipes from Unibroue:
BLONDE DE CHAMBLY is incredibly easy to drink, and VERY sessionable. This would be a great beer to introduce to your friends that drink white wines or enjoy blonde beers. There is a sophistication to this beer that even champagne lovers would enjoy. It would make a great introduction to Saison style beers, but is not limited there. It crosses so many boundaries- Belgian Golden, Pale Ale, Saison, it is a trifecta of tastes.
At only 5% ABV, BLONDE DE CHAMBLY is the golden colored beer in Unibroue’s portfolio with the lowest alcohol content. It is not a typical Saison; Master Brewer Jerry Vietz never brews to copy a “style”, he puts his own unique twist on it. It is a very inviting and pleasant tasting beer. Perfect for a nice Sunday brunch.
We were very impressed with BLONDE DE CHAMBLY… Yet another winner from Unibroue! What makes our BrewView EXCLUSIVE is that we were able to taste Blonde de Chambly even though it is only available in Canada– it is not in any export markets. That being said, it is a great motivator to visit Unibroue at the Chambly Beer Festival (Labor Day Weekend 2015) held just outside the grounds of the beautiful Fort Chambly, just 1 kilometer from the brewery. Needless to say, this beer another must have- if you live outside of Canada and are visiting Chambly or Québec, pick up some bottles and send them to your home! Keep in mind, Blonde de Chambly is not meant to be aged for very long periods of time- enjoy it while it is as fresh as possible… Santé!
Huge thanks go out to the following individuals for making this BrewView possible: (In chronological order as we created business associations with them) Martine Geoffrion of DDMG Communications in Québec, Canada for initially contacting us, Andrew Murphy of Unibroue in Portland, Oregon (for sending us samples of this excellent beer), and of course, Unibroue’s Master Brewer Jerry Vietz for generously giving of his time and insight!
VIDEO: UNIBROUE’S MASTER BREWER JERRY VIETZ DISCUSSES BLONDE DE CHAMBLY
Below is the fifth EXCLUSIVE interview (and the third for the JANUARY 2015 BREWERY OF THE MONTH feature) that Unibroue’s Master Brewer Jerry Vietz graciously granted Belgian Beer Journal. For our discussion regarding BLONDE DE CHAMBLY, Jerry elaborates about the history behind the Chambly name and label, its flavor profile, and much more. There are some very cool pictures in this very informative product video… click on the You Tube video to watch and listen…