Merry Christmas everyone! Belgian Beer Journal is proud to bring you our CHRISTMAS BREWVIEW HIGHLIGHT for 2014. By very special arrangement, we are BrewViewing ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY from Unibroue in Chambly (Québec) Canada!
From the very beginning, Unibroue has carved out a special niche in the beer world with top quality products and a brand rooted deep in Quebec culture. It made history by becoming the first North American beer maker to use a brewing method inspired by the two-centuries-old tradition developed by Trappist monks in Europe—particularly in Belgium. Over the years, Unibroue has remained faithful to its origins even as it has grown to become an icon of the brewing world. Unibroue products take you on a journey filled with legends and fabulous tales. (Source: Unibroue)
Unibroue was founded by business partners André Dion and Serge Racine who had acquired 75% of La Brasserie Massawippi Inc. of Lennoxville in 1990. The two purchased the remainder of the shares at the end of 1991 when they transferred their interest in La Brasserie Massawippi Inc. to Unibroue.
By 1992, La Brasserie Massawippi Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Unibroue. Afterward, it changed its corporate name to Brasserie Broubec Inc. and in July 1993 merged with Unibroue. It was bought by Canadian brewer, Sleeman Breweries Ltd., in 2004. Sleeman, in turn, was purchased in 2006 by Sapporo. Unibroue’s beers are distributed globally. (Source: Wikipedia)
Unibroue is among the most highly awarded breweries in North America. Its beers have earned over 240 international medals to date.
UNIBROUE’S MASTER BREWER- JERRY VIETZ
In 2007, Unibroue promoted Jerry Vietz as its brewmaster. Jerry brings a wealth of technical and practical knowledge to the company. He joined the brewery in 2003, and began to work on such projects as R&D and automation. He also holds a certificate in Brewing and Malting from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a Diploma in Brewing (Institute of Brewing & Distilling U.K.).
As Director of the Brewing Department and Brew Master, he has been responsible for all aspects of Unibroue’s brewing department, including among others, process optimization, staff management, planning, maintenance, maintaining and improving quality standards, and ensuring the consistency of the liquid. He has also been in charge of new liquid development since 2007.
Jerry states, “I’m very passionate about fermentation in general. I’m not afraid to mix all kinds of stuff, to try new things. I’ve had the chance to experiment with a wide range of raw materials. I really believe that anything that contains carbohydrates can turn into something very interesting when it goes through the fermentation process, depending on the way you manage it. Each cereal, fruit, or sugar has a different profile and they need to be processed and managed differently in order to get a liquid with the desired characteristics.
I tell people I make “flavorful beers”—that’s the category I brew. For me, the important thing is to express myself through the beer. I brew with passion and I hope that people take as much pleasure to taste my beer as I have to create them!” (Source: Unibroue)
Below is the EXCLUSIVE interview that Jerry very kindly gave Belgian Beer Journal. This is an in-depth and personal conversation about the artisan who masterminds all the Unibroue beers. The video discusses Jerry’s passion for brewing, how he became a brewer, his love of being a husband and dad, and his personal hobbies and interests when not working at Unibroue. You’ll also see some rare footage of Jerry playing guitar- (one of his many passions). Click on the video link to see what we mean!
ABOUT ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY
Technically not a “Christmas” ale, ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY was released in Canada in April 2014 as a Summer refresher. It was not released in the United States until late October 2014. ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY was originally released in 2001 as an “Ephemeral” ale- one that comes and goes with the seasons. According to Unibroue’s Master Brewer Jerry Vietz, the brewery decided to release it in response to numerous customer requests that remembered the ale when it was first released. After a ten-year hiatus, Unibroue wanted to re-release it in time for the upcoming 2014 holidays- (Thanksgiving and Christmas) to pair with your festive meals. It is an excellent accompaniment to various holiday dishes… it is a very complex and delicious ale indeed!
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Unibroue style – Belgian-Style Witbier / Fruit beer
As its name suggests, Éphémère is an ephemeral ale that comes and goes with the seasons. It was developed as a series to feature a seasonal fruit in a refreshing, lightly spiced white ale. It first appeared in the Spring of 2001 and has since been celebrated on a variety of seasonal fruit ales featuring apple, cranberry, blackcurrant, peach, and raspberry. Ten years after its first introduction, the cranberry version is making its long-awaited return to the U.S. market in 2014. Of course, this new Éphémère will only be available for a limited time.
“I’m especially proud to say that we are one of the few breweries in the world to referment 100% of our ales directly in the keg, one keg at a time. This is also the case for our Cranberry Éphémère,” says Brewmaster Jerry Vietz. “This festive version of the Éphémère is a white ale flavored with fruit and spices, with fine bubbles and a white lacy head. It has a delicate cranberry flavor, with just the right balance of sweetness and acidity.”
“Our Cranberry Éphémère is a great addition to holiday get-togethers”, says Sylvain Bouchard, Unibroue’s Beer Sommelier, “blending in perfectly with traditional Thanksgiving flavors. Surprise your guests with this delightfully refreshing beer. Serve Cranberry Éphémère with triple-cream cheese, poultry, or chocolate desserts with berry coulis, or try our succulent Cranberry Éphémère Pork Roast.”The new Cranberry Éphémère is now available as a limited time offer seasonal release in the United States, in 750 mL bottles and on tap in various bars and restaurants — but only while supplies last. Now is the time to bring new flavor to your Holiday celebrations.
OUR BREWVIEW OF UNIBROUE’S ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
5.5% ABV. We poured it at 40°F in a tulip-shaped glass (unfortunately we didn’t have the proper UNIBROUE glass!) Pours a light / medium golden color (as it is a Witbier in base style) It easily poured a voluminous white colored, dense, rocky, creamy 4-finger head with large and small bubbles. Excellent head retention- as we write this, the beer has been poured for about 6 minutes, and it still held a ¾” inch to almost 1” head… simply fantastic. Rim color variation- no variance.
Visually, there is a gentle champagne bubbling in the beer. The meniscus is slow rising for a 5.5% ABV beer- excellent sign. 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 cloudy haze to the beer, due to the Unibroue bottle conditioning and extremely heavy yeast sedimentation- “Beer on Lees.” We love that you can put your ear to this beer (as with all Unibroue beers) and hear the beer sparkle and fizz! This is what The Beer Hunter Michael Jackson was referring to when he said you can “Listen to your Beer.” 10 minutes into drinking, the cranberry fruit aromas express themselves much more. The herbal notes begin to appear- so very subtle.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
Intense tart aromas- There is a beautiful mix of cranberry skin, lemon, coriander pepperiness, with an underlying curacao orange peel bouquet.
Classic Witbier flavors- coriander, curacao orange peel with a soft delicate cranberry flavor. We found that the cranberry flavor gave the beer a very subtle funkiness to the beer. Although the beer was not fermented with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis yeast, the flavors give way to a subtle funk- hard to achieve without Brett yeast, but it is achieved here.
The spiciness of the coriander adds to the cranberry flavors in a way that the flavors masterfully stack upon one another. The hoppyness is extremely gentle; this is more of a fruit-forward tasting beer. This is a beer which its flavors evolve throughout drinking time. As the beer warms up about 5 degrees Fahrenheit more, the spice that exudes is Star anise… our best guess. There is almost a sour / wild beer character as the beer warms as the yeasts play off of the fruit. Masterful balance.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Immediately, this beer hits the very front of the tongue and wakes up your tastes buds even more, then hits the sides of the mouth. And when you swallow, it coats the back of the mouth with its high carbonation level and intense effervescence and tartness. The fruit does linger in the finish, but not too intensely. This beer has a champagne dryness and effervescence in its finish.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Caramelized Onion-Cranberry Cream Cheese Bites, fennel sausage with Wensleydale cheese with cranberries, puff pastries stuffed with cranberries and brie, crab meat cream cheese and cranberries stuffed in mini phyllo shells, cranberry feta pinwheels.
ENTRÈES: Blood orange and Éphémère Cranberry Chicken Wings, Éphémère Cranberry Pork Roast. (Recipe links from Unibroue). Turkey or ham served with a side of cranberry compote made with Éphémère Cranberry instead of liqueur, along with the classic side dishes- green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup, etc., ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY MEAT PIE (recipe from Master Brewer Jerry Vietz)
DESSERTS: Cranberry Upside-Down sour cream cake, crustless cranberry pie, cranberry nut tarts, cranberry pudding, cranberry orange cookies, apple, cranberry and pear crisp, cranberry eggnog tarts.
There are very few beers brewed today where the flavor profile becomes more complex and enjoyable as it warms during consumption time. You can tell that the Master Brewer, Jerry Vietz, took this into consideration as he developed this beer.
Éphémère Cranberry is yet another winner in the line of excellent Éphémère beers. This is a beer that must be sought out, due to the fact that it is ephemeral- It comes and goes with the seasons.
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 the samples of Éphémère Cranberry), and of course, Unibroue’s Master Brewer Jerry Vietz for generously giving of his time and insight.
Éphémère Cranberry is highly recommended, and a world class product. Don’t delay- get this beer now while you can!
VIDEO: UNIBROUE’S MASTER BREWER JERRY VIETZ DISCUSSES ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY
Below is the second EXCLUSIVE interview that Unibroue’s Master Brewer Jerry Vietz graciously granted Belgian Beer Journal to talk about ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY. He discusses the motivation behind the initial creation of the beer, food recipes using ÉPHÉMÈRE CRANBERRY, and Unibroue’s cocktail- THE CRANBERRY CODDER. We discuss our BrewView tasting notes (listed above) in this very informative product video.