Our second BrewView for the January 2015 BREWERY OF THE MONTH feature is for UNIBROUE’S NOIRE DE CHAMBLY (Black of Chambly / Chambly Black) Belgian-style Black ale. This was made possible by very special arrangement from Master Brewer Jerry Vietz.
We were very privileged to get our hands on a bottle and get the chance to taste this beer just before it makes its debut on draft for the US market in February 2015.
UNIBROUE has several beers they call “LIVING LEGENDS”, where the labels tell the stories of historical events that shaped the region of Québec, Canada.
HISTORY BEHIND THE LABEL – NOIRE DE CHAMBLY
New France (French: Nouvelle-France) was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763. At its peak in 1712 (before the Treaty of Utrecht), the territory of New France, also sometimes known as the French North American Empire or Royal New France, extended from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
The territory was divided into five colonies, each with its own administration: Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland (Plaisance), and Louisiana. The Treaty of Utrecht resulted in the relinquishing of French claims to mainland Acadia, the Hudson Bay and Newfoundland, and the establishment of the colony of Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) as the successor to Acadia.
France ceded the rest of New France, except the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, to Great Britain and Spain at the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War (the French and Indian War). Britain received the lands east of the Mississippi River that lay between the Thirteen Colonies and Louisiana, which included Canada, Acadia, and parts of Louisiana, while Spain received the territory to the west – the larger portion of Louisiana. Spain returned its portion of Louisiana to France in 1800 under the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso, but French leader Napoleon Bonaparte sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, permanently ending French colonial efforts on the North American mainland.
FOUNDATION OF QUÉBEC CITY
In 1608, sponsored by Henry IV, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec with 28 men, the second permanent French settlement in the colony of Canada. Colonization was slow and difficult. Many settlers died early, because of harsh weather and diseases. In 1630, there were only 103 colonists living in the settlement, but by 1640, the population had reached 355.
Champlain allied himself as soon as possible with the Algonquin and Montagnais peoples in the area, who were at war with the Iroquois. In 1609, Champlain, along with two other French companions, accompanied by his Algonquin, Montagnais and Huron allies, travelled south from the St. Lawrence valley to Lake Champlain, where he participated decisively in a battle against the Iroquois, killing two Iroquois chiefs with the first shot of his Arquebus. This military engagement against the Iroquois solidified the position of Champlain with New France’s Huron and Algonquin allies, bonds vital to New France in order to keep the fur trade alive.
For the better part of a century the Iroquois and French clashed in a series of attacks and reprisals. He also arranged to have young French men live with the natives, to learn their language and customs and help the French adapt to life in North America. These men, known as coureurs des bois (runners of the woods) (such as Étienne Brûlé), extended French influence south and west to the Great Lakes and among the Huron tribes who lived there.
For the first few decades of the colony’s existence, the French population numbered only a few hundred, while the English colonies to the south were much more populous and wealthy. Cardinal Richelieu, adviser to Louis XIII, wished to make New France as significant as the English colonies. In 1627, Richelieu founded the Company of One Hundred Associates to invest in New France, promising land parcels to hundreds of new settlers and to turn Canada into an important mercantile and farming colony.
ROYAL TAKEOVER AND ATTEMPTS TO SETTLE
In 1650, New France had seven hundred colonists and Montreal had only a few dozen settlers. Because Indians did most of the work of beaver hunting, the company needed few French employees. The severely underpopulated New France almost fell completely to hostile Iroquois forces. In 1660, settler Adam Dollard des Ormeaux led a Canadian and Huron militia against a much larger Iroquois force; none of the Canadians survived, but they succeeded in turning back the Iroquois invasion. In 1627, Quebec had only eighty-five French colonists and was easily overwhelmed two years later when three English privateers plundered the settlement. In 1663, New France finally became more secure when Louis XIV made it a royal province, taking control away from the Company of One Hundred Associates. In the same year the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal ceded its possessions to the Seminaire de Saint-Sulpice. The crown stimulated emigration to New France by paying for transatlantic passages and offering other incentives to those willing to move, and the population of New France grew to three thousand.
In 1665, he sent a French garrison, the Carignan-Salières Regiment, to Quebec. The government of the colony was reformed along the lines of the government of France, with the Governor General and Intendant subordinate to the Minister of the Marine in France. In 1665, Jean Talon was sent by Minister of the Marine Jean-Baptiste Colbert to New France as the first Intendant. These reforms limited the power of the Bishop of Quebec, who had held the greatest amount of power after the death of Champlain.
The 1666 census of New France was conducted by France’s intendant, Jean Talon, in the winter of 1665–66. It showed a population of 3,215 habitants in New France, many more than there had been only a few decades earlier, but also a great difference in the number of men (2,034) and women (1,181).
Talon tried to reform the seigneurial system, forcing the seigneurs to actually reside on their land, and limiting the size of the seigneuries, in an attempt to make more land available to new settlers. These schemes were ultimately unsuccessful. Very few settlers arrived, and the various industries established by Talon did not surpass the importance of the fur trade. (Source: Wikipedia)
THE BUILDING OF FORTS ALONG THE RICHELIEU RIVER
The regiment’s service in New France began when a third of them were ordered to build new forts along the Richelieu River, the principal route of the Iroquois marauders. Fort Chambly formerly known as Fort St. Louis at Chambly, Fort Sainte Thérèse, and Fort Saint-Jean at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, were along the Richelieu River and were constructed as ways to limit Iroquois nation attacks on citizens of New France. Fort Sainte Anne in Lake Champlain was near the river’s source. All of the forts were used as supply stations for the troops as they were deployed on their two campaigns into Iroquois nation land in 1666.
Fort Chambly as constructed in 1665 was the first wooden fort constructed in New France and had a rudimentary wood wall system with a building in the center of the fort. Inside, and near the center building, were small buildings for the troops. (Source: Wikipedia)
After minor repairs, the fort was burned by the Indians in 1702, but was reconstructed in 1702. By then it was already known as Fort Chambly. However with the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701, the war between the French and Iroquois was over. Also at this time the War of the Spanish Succession broke out, and boiled over into the colonies of France and England. Thus, to defend against a more powerful European attack, including the threat of cannons, Governor Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil ordered that the fort be rebuilt in stone in 1709-1711.
The engineer responsible for the design and construction of the new fort was Josué Boisberthelot de Beaucours. He also oversaw major improvements carried out on the fort between 1718 and 1720, modifications he felt would greatly increase the fort’s defenses. (Source: Wikipedia)
CREATION OF THE BEER: NOIRE DE CHAMBLY
NOIRE DE CHAMBLY was first brewed by Unibroue in 2005 in the memory of those brave soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. The principal goal of brewing this beer was to extend the “Chambly” family of beers and to continue the Chambly story. The first “Chambly” beer was also the brewery’s first beer in 1991-1992: Blanche de Chambly. The beer launched a brewing revolution being the first Belgian-style ale brewed in North America.
THE FIRST LABEL: CHAMBLY NOIRE
Initially, the first label was a bit darker, with it’s image depicting an aggressive Jacques de Chambly leading his men into battle:
THE NEW LABEL- NOIRE DE CHAMBLY
As Master Brewer Jerry Vietz told us, “Noire de Chambly is a smooth tasting beer. When we introduced the 3rd beer in the Chambly family trilogy (Blonde de Chambly in 2010) we took this opportunity to change the label from Chambly Noire to Noire de Chambly. The new artwork, the new graphics, softened the image as well, which goes along with the smooth taste of the beer.”
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Unibroue style – Belgian-style Black ale
WORLD BEER CHAMPIONSHIP (Chicago beverage testing institute):
2010: Gold medal
2011: Silver medal
2012: Silver medal
2013: Silver medal
2014: Silver medal
CANADIAN BREWING AWARDS:
2011: Bronze medal
WORLD BEER AWARDS:
2012: Gold medal (Americas best Belgian-style Dubbel)
2014: Silver medal
ABOUT THE LEGEND
This dark ale was created in honor of the brave soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, with their famous black musketeer hats. In 1665, King Louis XIV sent the regiment to New France to defend against the Iroquois. He had a number of strategic forts, including Fort Chambly, built along the Richelieu River, which led to the legendary Iroquois peace of 1667, ensuring prosperity for the colony.
Officers and soldiers were encouraged by the King to stay. A number of them married Filles du Roi (Kings daughters) and raised families. Many French Canadians are the direct descendants of these intrepid forebears.
Noire de Chambly has an opaque black color with a beige-colored foam. Its roasted malt character is complemented by spicy, mildly smoky notes and surprisingly clean dry finish.
OUR BREWVIEW OF UNIBROUE’S NOIRE DE CHAMBLY
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6.2% ABV. We poured it at 45°F in the signature Unibroue tulip-shaped taster glass. Pours a very dark mahogany / dark brown color. It easily poured a voluminous, light beige colored, dense, rocky, creamy 3 1/2 – finger head with large and small bubbles. Excellent head retention- 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- to medium brown.
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.”
AROMA / BOUQUET:
Immediately, you get notes of spice and smokiness, some coffee bean nuttiness from the roasted malts. There is a gentle backbone of herbs, and unsweetened dark baker’s chocolate. In the background, the yeast also adds to the bouquet, but in a way that smells like fresh baked, home made dark pumpernickel rye bread. After about 10 minutes, the coffee notes express themselves more.
We found Noire de Chambly to immediately express a nice roasted malt character right off the bat. The spice notes we detected were star anise, faint peppercorn, with dark chocolate.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The mouthfeel of THIS Belgian-style Black ale is what sets it apart from many other beers of the same style. Master Brewer Jerry Vietz puts his signature effervescent sparkle in it, but not overly so- it is delicate; appropriate for the style. It hits the sides and the back of the tongue upon swallowing. Light to medium bodied, the finish is very smooth as Jerry has said. The aftertaste is very light smoke, deep malt, and faint walnut, which all linger at the back of the throat. Because of the effervescence level, it gives your mouth a “fuller” feel than what the beer actually is.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Smoked or washed rind chesses, charcuterie platter with nice smoked meats. Smoked nuts such as almonds, cashews would pair nicely too.
ENTRÈES: Fish and seafood- smoked salmon, monkfish, flounder, lobster, oysters, clams. Coquilles St. Jacques with fresh bay scallops. Poultry and game. There is a Rabbit pot roast recipe at Unibroue’s website that uses NOIRE DE CHAMBLY to cook with.
DESSERTS: A wide range of chocolate desserts, or simply pieces of high quality dark chocolate- try finding chocolate that has been smoked over alder wood! Unibroue’s website has a recipe for crème brûlée using Noire de Chambly.
NOIRE DE CHAMBLY is incredibly smooth and easy to drink, which makes it a great introduction to dark beers. Yet the flavors are complex enough to please the most experienced beer drinker.
At only 6.2% ABV, NOIRE DE CHAMBLY is the dark beer in Unibroue’s portfolio with the lowest alcohol content, making it a very sessionable beer. We feel it sets itself apart from the other Belgian-style Black ales on the market.
NOIRE DE CHAMBLY will be available in the United States in February 2015 on draft only. Needless to say, this is another must have from Unibroue! Buy several bottles- enjoy it when you purchase it, and cellar some bottles. This beer can be aged from 2 – 5 years, (possibly longer) if cellared properly. Store bottles upright in a cool dark place at a stable temperature between 46ºF and 61ºF.
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 NOIRE DE CHAMBLY
Below is the fourth EXCLUSIVE interview (and the second 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 NOIRE 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…