Back in the 1990s, I went to Québec to visit a friend who was studying there.
I was introduced to two things that remain fixed in my memory: first, the boîte à chansons, the francophone version of coffeehouses that played a significant role in Quebec assuming its own unique cultural identity; and second, a beer with more alcohol in it than I’d ever heard of – La Fin du Monde.
La Fin du Monde (The end of the world) is produced by Unibroue, which was started out as a craft brewer in the 1990s in Chambly.
It’s since been swallowed up twice over, first by Sleeman in 2004, and then by Sapporo in 2006. But let’s choose to ignore their corporate owners and focus on the beer, shall we?
Unibroue produces a couple of dozen beers, mostly in Belgian styles. La Fin du Monde is a triple top-fermented golden ale that has been produced since 1994.
At 9% ABV, it’s still a pretty strong beer, and like many of the Unibroue products contains yeast sediment in the bottle that allows the beer to continue to ferment, or bottle condition.
The brewery also suggests they can age up to five years in a dark cool place and will improve.
The beer is a bit of a departure from convention. There’s sparkles on the tongue, which I think is from the higher alcohol content.
It’s a cloudy gold colour in the glass, almost gauzy to my eyes; that’s from the yeast sediment in the beer. And there’s a ton of coriander and spice – almost clovey, nutmeggy – in the taste.
Others say that it looks like a Belgian tripel beer but that it tastes less bitter and more spicy. I can’t say, because I don’t know my Belgians well enough, but it is definitely not a bitter beer, which can also be deduced by its 19 IBU.
It’s a bit ironic that Unibroue also produces a series of beers called Ephemère, because this beer is a bit ephemeral itself. For something with a much alcohol as it has, it just sort of disappears once you’ve drunk it.
La Fin du Monde has, apparently, won more beer awards than any other Canadian beer. And deservedly so, I say.
Despite buying it in rather unwise quantities that first time, it’s stayed in my heart and a summer without a few La Fin du Monde under my belt is not really a summer.
- ABV: 9%
- IBU: 19
- Style: Belgian tripel
- Taste: Sparkles, coriander and spices with some cereal undertones
- Rating: 5/5
- Untappd reviews