Unibroue – ‘La Fin du Monde’ – Christopher Arisz
Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde is an extra strong ale. Made in Chambly, Que., this beer certainly holds its own amongst Belgian-style brews and craft beers of the like.
When poured into a Ducky’s glass you accidentally took home last semester, the ale has a golden but opaque appearance. It has a surprisingly light and retentive head.
A very malty taste is dominant, and is the defining feature of La Fin du Monde. It is, however, accompanied by hints of sweetness. The yeast also gives a distinct spice, making for a deep flavour. While this solution creates a complexity, the ale remains relatively light (not near the complexity of a dark ale of similar strength) and stays true to its golden characteristic.
As for the feel, the carbonation is weak. The finish is quite dry, but this only complements the malts to make a raw, rough aftertaste that comes with the bottled yeast sediment. After a sip, your mouth is left feeling dense. Commendably, this golden brew doesn’t let you forget its strong nature.
At 9 per cent a.b.v. in a 750 mL bottle, consider this a quality alternative to other economic, bang-for-your-buck beers this St. Patrick’s Day—this ale is well worth taking the time to enjoy as a pre-drink.
The spirit of the season: Irish whiskey – Daniel Marcotte
Whiskey, or at least its modern iteration, was likely first produced in what is now Ireland. Hell, even the word ‘whiskey’ derives from the Gaelic uisge. Why, then, do we drink this age-old liquor only on St. Paddy’s Day – often in the form of $3.50 Jameson shots or by sloppily dumping some Bushmills into an expired pint of Guinness – while its neighboring cousin, Scotch whisky, enjoys year-round exaltation as ruler of top-shelf spirits?
As is often the case, part of the answer is British imperialism. After the Irish War of Independence, Britain restricted the newly founded Republic of Ireland from exporting to Commonwealth countries, causing many smaller distilleries to go under. On top of that, the American prohibition further stifled Ireland’s international market. By 1966, what very few Irish whiskey distillers remained joined together under one banner, only to be scooped up by giant corporations like Pernod Ricard and Diageo only a few decades later. In other words, Ireland never really got a chance to develop an economy and culture of whiskey in the 20th century; today, there are little more than a dozen distilleries in Ireland, whereas Scotland boasts well over 100.
The 21st century, however, shows promise for a rebirth of Irish whiskey. Of the aforementioned Irish distilleries, six have been founded within the last five years, meaning that their first whiskies are being put on shelves and maturing in casks as we speak. Teeling’s newly bottled small-batch variety, for example, is being hailed for its malty caramel flavour and notes of allspice, thanks to their decision to age the spirit in old rum barrels. Writer’s Tears, another newcomer to the emerald aisle, is a bright and brassy dram gilded with notes of honey, vanilla and citrus peel. Nearly 100 years after its growth was severely stunted, Ireland’s whiskey is finally getting the creative attention it deserves.
In terms of flavour, Irish whiskey differs in fundamental ways from other whiskies. Whereas Scotch gives precedence to the malting process, Irish whiskey focuses on the distillation process and includes some unmalted grain. This is why high-quality Scotch whiskies are called single malts and high-quality Irish whiskies are called single grain or single pot still whiskies. Scotch whisky is known for its earthy and smoky flavours due to the peat used in the malt—although some Irish whiskeys like Connemara use peat to extraordinary effect. Irish whiskey, on the other hand, is characteristically lighter and grainier in flavour.
When it comes to cocktails, Irish whiskey is remarkably versatile; it can hold its own against rich and complex liqueurs, while its crisp, mellow characteristics make it well-suited to pairings which harsher whiskies would muddy or overwhelm. Try highlighting Irish whiskey’s sunny, flowery, coppery flavours in a Dublin minstrel: one ounce of whiskey shaken with a half-ounce each of green Chartreuse liqueur, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice. If a warming toddy is more your style, try adding a couple ounces of Irish whiskey to a hot mug of steeped ginger root tea, then sweeten with a bit of honey and top it off with a lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick. With so many tempting options as both a sipper and a mixer, it’s time that Irish whiskey assumes its rightful place alongside the go-to liquors of the world.
Royal Reserve Canadian Rye Whisky – Brendan Carroll
A good rye whiskey is a thing of beauty, but also a thing of pure myth. One can always hope it exists, but it never will. When one realizes that the void beauty leaves cannot be filled, Royal Reserve in all its splendour, is there. As far as price goes, this is literally the cheapest rye on the counter—the quarts are plastic for god’s sake. Writing tasting notes out for R&R (its street name) would be a waste of words, as there truly is little to write about in terms of the taste of this whiskey.
Where Royal Reserve really shines is in its ability to get the drinker drunk, no matter what. Using the common mixes for whiskey – ginger ale, lemonade and sour mix – someone new to this drink can find themselves quickly overwhelmed. When topped up with Sussex ginger ale (or even Canada Dry if you’re a heathen) and a twist of lime, the alcoholic burn of a double or even a triple shot of this rye is hidden almost entirely.
If you like whiskey, there is absolutely no need to ever drink Royal Reserve unless you are either broke or have generally just given up. If you do so choose to venture into the darkness of this drink, do be careful, because even with all its positive qualities, it is a double-edged sword. The ability for a liquor’s taste to be masked by some soda and citric acid can lead to some very interesting nights. In your future endeavours to drink your pains away, always remember that Royal Reserve is right there on the bottom shelf, but as always drink relatively responsibly, and if you think you’re okay to have another, please wait five minutes. Please.
Moosehead – ‘Moose Light Radler’ – Ben Holmes
The radler, comprising light beer and citrus juice, is the ultimate refreshing beer on a hot summer’s day—of that there is no question. With baseball season around the corner, there is nothing like drinking a few ice-cold radlers while watching your team begin their race for the pennant. However, why deprive yourself of this sweet, citrusy nectar for six months of the year, just because gloomy skies hang over Sackville? With one sip of a delicious radler, all the memories of soaking up the sun, hanging with friends and freedom from school work will instantly come rushing back. This beverage should be enjoyed all year round; it tastes great and is sure to put an extra spring in your step, especially after an arduous week of midterms.
There is a large variety of radlers to enjoy, but you can’t go wrong with Moosehead’s iteration: A beer infused with a touch of grape, lemon and grapefruit juice, all the while maintaining an a.b.v. of 4 per cent. Other distributors, such as Rickard’s, produce equally delicious radlers. However, the alcohol content can be lower than 3 per cent, potentially leaving you the sober one at the party even after downing a six-pack.
As radler season is fast approaching, you will wonder why you have been depriving yourself of one of the most delicious beers on the market. The idea of a seasonal beer is bewildering to me – if it tastes good, why wait?
Cocktails – the ‘Brass Monkey’ – Kael MacQuarrie
Everyone loves partying, but at some point in your life you are going to be faced with a legitimate problem: You are running out of funds, but the party isn’t stopping. How is a young student supposed to provide themselves with the necessary liquids if they don’t have the cash? The answer is one that we all dread: Colt 45, a malt liquor that tastes like is someone left apple juice out in the sun for a bit.
Though it may taste like something someone already drank and expelled from their body, there is an easy workaround to turn a Colt into something drinkable once again. Sip your Colt until you have drank about a quarter of the sickening liquid, then pour your preferred brand of orange juice into the beer until it is full again. This new drink, while not amazing by any means, is significantly easier to slam into your system than a regular, non-brass monkey Colt.
Flying Monkeys Brewery – ‘Chocolate Manifesto’ and ‘Acadian Groove’ – Allison Grogan
If you’re not feeling like tossing back a six-pack for St. Paddy’s Day (or you want something additional to wash it all down) Flying Monkeys provides a couple of sweeter selections to treat yourself to:
Acadian Groove—Since it got dropped to $4.00 a pint at Ducky’s for two weeks straight, I’ve had some time to formulate an educated opinion on this beer. The verdict: it’s good and it’s sweet—possibly even a little overwhelmingly so. Depending how you’re feeling, this “imperial maple porter” is a great one-pint-only beer. Compared to its Picaroons maple counterpart, it tastes a bit more like drinking straight maple syrup, but if that’s what you’re looking for in a beer, it’s a great choice. I forgot to mention it’s 10 per cent a.b.v., but if you’re in the mood for a sugary buzz, this one’s for you.
Chocolate Manifesto—For a smooth chocolate gift, try this milk stout from Flying Monkeys. Similar to Acadian Groove, it’s likely not a beer you want to consume a lot of in one go; however, it’s perfect for dessert or for a one-beer evening. Though it’s certainly rich in flavour, its sweetness is a lot subtler. Complete with nutty undertones and a creamy finish, Chocolate Manifesto is a stout that will keep me coming back.