In the nose I detect something remarkably similar to the Brett funk of Orval (as explained in this column a couple weeks ago). But as soon as you take a sip, any hint of Brett is gone. Notes of grape, apple and pear wash over your taste buds, but there is no fruit used in brewing La Fin du Monde. These flavors are produced primarily by the yeast during fermentation, with the hops also making a contribution. The fruitiness hints at some sweetness but this is actually a pretty dry beer considering it clocks in at 9% ABV.
This brew (and tripels in general) makes a fantastic “starter beer” for white wine lovers. The color is comparable, and the flavor profile is somewhat similar. It's not particularly bitter and the alcohol content is comparable to that of lighter white wines.
But fear not, Macho Guy Who Wouldn't Be Caught Dead Drinking a Glass of White Wine. It's still beer and it's still made with barley and hops and no grapes. La Fin du Monde has a much better claim to being a real man's beer than the mass-produced light beer you might have had too much of in college, as it has twice the alcohol content. Sip this one slowly and appreciate the complexity, which largely derives from the special yeast strain.
Also of note: This beer is is re-fermented in the bottle, producing natural carbonation. This is commonly called “bottle conditioning.” All mass-produced lagers that dominate beer sales worldwide are filtered and pasteurized. As Unibroue says, this removes the soul of the beer. So La Fin du Monde is a beer bottled with living yeast and a little extra sugar that gets converted into alcohol and CO2 in the bottle. That is why this beer ages well and will mature over time, as is the case with most of Unibroue's portfolio. You'll also see a little yeast in the bottom of your glass as you drink it. Don't worry — that's the same stuff people buy in pill form at the vitamin store: brewer's yeast. It's good for you, and by drinking bottle-conditioned craft beer you're coming by it honestly.
Note this beer is highly versatile for pairing with food. You almost can't go wrong, but I'd recommend trying it with chicken Parmesan.
“Hopped Up” is a weekly brew review by Danner Kline, founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to email@example.com