BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Belgian-style Quadrupel / Abt
Brewed since 2002
In 2002, when the SAQ requested an exclusive new high-end product, Unibroue responded with Terrible. Given its dark colour and 10.5% alcohol content (a first for Unibroue), we knew that this Belgian Quadrupel-style ale might very well be greeted with reticence.
So we gave it a name that would evoke terror and worry, but also something extraordinary, formidable and awe-inspiring. From here on out, no other beer can ever be called Terrible.
La Terrible’s nose has rich notes of fruits and spices with a strong presence of malted and roasted caramel. The aromas carry over into the flavor profile along with Madeira wine notes. The finish is warming and alcoholic.
DARK BROWN WITH CARAMEL HUES
THICK AND PERSISTENT
OUR BREWVIEW ON UNIBROUE’S LA TERRIBLE – 2015 & 2016 VINTAGES
APPEARANCE – VINTAGE 2015:
10.5% ABV. To the eye, it has a dark brown color (almost black) with a creamy, cotton ball density, very light tan colored, 3-finger height head with large and small bubbles.
Served at 58°F in the old label Unibroue tulip-shaped tasting glass, it took about 5 minutes for the head to collapse down to a 1/4 inch height – still considered great head retention time for an ale that has such a high ABV. percentage.
The lacework the head left behind on the sides of the glass was even sheeted- (we did ensure the glass was “beer clean.”) The meniscus was medium to slow rising. The rim color variation is negligible.
When held up to bright light, you can see very faint, deep reddish / caramel hues. It is truly a beautiful beer to look at when poured properly. Unibroue has a special pouring ritual that they suggest following to enjoy their ales in the best possible way. Click here to see a video on the specified ritual.
APPEARANCE – VINTAGE 2016:
10.5% ABV. Nearly identical to the 2015 version (liquid color / head color). Served at the same temperature (58° F). The head retention held up a few minutes longer until it collapsed down to the 1/4 inch height… totally characteristic of Jerry’s strong, dark ales.
The lacework the head left behind on the sides of the glass was super dense- patchy and thick. (we did ensure the glass was “beer clean.”) The meniscus was the same as the 2015 version- medium to slow rising.
When held up to bright light, the faint, deep reddish / caramel hues were also present.
AROMA – VINTAGE 2015:
Rich notes of dark fruits and spices. Aromas of figs, dates, raisins, milk chocolate, Tawny port, sugary aged dark rum, deep caramel, bread pudding, faint cherry cordial. The yeast aroma factor is extremely bready, almost marzipan in character.
AROMA – VINTAGE 2016:
The aromas were very similar to the 2015 version, however with notes leaning more towards coca-cola and tootsie roll chocolate.
TASTE – VINTAGE 2015:
The aromas carry over into the taste- rich baking spices, tawny port, sugary dates, milk chocolate, sweet caramel malt, coca cola, rum cake, with Madeira wine notes.
TASTE – VINTAGE 2016:
The taste totally echoes the 2015 version, but leaning more towards the dark rum, molasses, dark baker’s chocolate and deep caramel flavors.
MOUTHFEEL – VINTAGE 2015:
Medium to heavy bodied, the spicy phenols are still very prevalent with this version of La Terrible. The finish is a mix of black pepper, dark chocolate, and Dr. Pepper. There is a definite warming, alcoholic hit, with the signature Unibroue effervescence that awakens the whole mouth.
MOUTHFEEL – VINTAGE 2016:
Also medium to heavy bodied, the spicy phenols are more aggressive than the 2015 version. We love that the effervescence level in a dark ale with this strength is one of the hallmarks of Jerry Vietz’s ales. This version completely assaults the olfactories, the soft palate, and the taste buds with rich complex aftertastes that linger.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS
(Since the two ales have similar components, we will suggest dishes from Unibroue’s recipe list from their website for both versions)
Pair with aged cheddar (2-3 years) rich Blue cheese, Goat cheese, washed rind Trappist cheeses, Comte, Morbier.
Roast beef with Portobello mushrooms, blackened pepper-crusted Ribeye steak marinated in La Terrible (for at least 4 days) cooked medium rare, over a Cherrywood smoked flame. Marinated shellfish. Artisanal pizza with fresh herbs, mushrooms, greek olives, with a balsamic fig drizzle.
Plum pudding, Rum cake, Chocolate Mousse, Jamaican Rum Truffles, Chocolate – Chocolate chip waffles, Grilled fig Sundaes with Balsamic fudge, classic Bread Pudding.
OVERALL IMPRESSION – VINTAGE 2015:
In our estimation, this is easily one the the world’s top ales brewed in the Belgian Quadrupel style.
This is one of the ales that you will find yourself craving on a weekend evening when you can sleep in the next day, not having to report to work. It’s powerful, the aroma and taste complexities evolve during consumption time. Don’t rush through this one; you will be richly rewarded.
La Terrible could easily age 10 years plus, even though the bottle says up to 5. The spice and dark fruit components would develop into deep, rounded out rummy flavors.
One of our favorite Quadrupels, it’s one of the ales that we go to on a regular basis when it is not sold out at our local retailer, Liquor Barn of Redding.
A multiple medal winner over the years, La Terrible is sumptuous enough for the heartiest of meals, yet can be used as an after dinner digestif. This is one of those beers you must enjoy before you die.
If you can find the old silver label bottles, pick up all that you see on the shelves. They will be rare to find; the last time we saw any was back in 2016. Of course, Master Brewer Jerry Vietz has some in his private stash!
OVERALL IMPRESSION – VINTAGE 2016:
As awesome as all the times we’ve experienced La Terrible up the last bottles of the old label, there was one problem: the bottle label was so very difficult to photograph! When I spoke to Master Brewer Jerry Vietz about this, he agreed and simply said “Wait until you see the new artwork coming out for La Terrible and the other specialty ales we make!”
Indeed, when the new label was first presented, we were overjoyed and shouted, “Halleujah!” The new labels are so much easier to photograph and look beautiful. We love the design with its rich new colors, new font, and finished with Jerry’s signature to top it off.
Although we could go on and on about the bottle’s new look, we are here to give our overall impression of the 2016 version.
Recently, my good friend and Wine Sommelier Alan Koziol and I sat down to enjoy a bottle of the 2016 version. My goal was to reacquaint him with this world classic (at that time, it had only been just under 2 weeks since I had my last bottle) and looked forward to hearing his impressions of La Terrible. Although I have been tasting beer since 1981 and have a well developed palate, his tasting skills and palate are way beyond mine.
We unanimously agreed that the 2016 version had aged quite well for being just over 1 year old. The differences between this bottle and the 2015 version were quite striking; it is a testament as to how incredible the beer develops in just an additional year. The 2016 version is much more available, and is one of Unibroue’s top ales.
There are devotees (like myself) that enjoy it on a regular basis, when the occasion calls for an ale on a rainy day, or a slow beer session with your friends. It’s also sexy enough for a romantic evening with a loved one. A must have… pick up as many bottles as you can at your local retailer. Enjoy some now, and allow the others to age slowly. Pay a bottle a visit once a year from your collection and buy a up-to-date bottle at the same time to do a vertical tasting like we did. It will be a very welcomed reunion and a cherished event. Ask my friend Alan- he thought so!
ADDITIONAL LINKS- AUGUST 2017 BREWERY SPOTLIGHT
Telephone: (450) 658-7658
Fax: (450) 658-9195
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