So there’s this quasi-conspiracy theory that’s been floating around and it goes something like this… whenever the U.S. is looking to scapegoat someone for U.S. problems, the first choice is to turn to our neighbor to the north: Canada. Is there any validity to these claims of misplaced Canadian blame? Well, the creators of the popular TV show South Park certainly thought so when they embraced the notion as a major theme in that series’ first feature film by including an Academy Award-nominated tune called simply “Blame Canada”. However, satirical humor aside, the U.S. actually did assign a certain degree of blame for the great Blackout of August 2003 to Canadian power plant deficiencies. Not to mention four months later when the U.S. Department of Agriculture blamed Canada for introducing a cow to the states that tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalitis (a.k.a. mad cow disease). And who have the states recently pinned for an upsurge of marijuana-related U.S. hospital emergency room visits? Yup, you guessed it Canada (it seems that Canadian, hydroponically-grown marijuana contains 10-20 times the THC levels of soil-grown, potted (excuse the pun) U.S. marijuana).
Well, we’d like to do our part in sending a little well-earned praise up to our northern friends, for it is Canada that has brought us the beers of Unibroue. We’re basically in love with every single beer this incredible brewing establishment has ever created, and we believe that when you taste their mind-blowing “La Fin du Monde,” which we’ve sent you this month, you’ll want to extend a hand across the world’s longest unprotected border and say “thank you” to our Canadian friends.
About 25 miles east of downtown Montréal, in the suburb of Chambly, on the banks of the Richelieu River, lies the now world renowned Unibroue Brewery. In 1990, founders André Dion and Serge Racine saw great potential in the craft-beer market, and set out to start a brewery. They were faced with a challenge, however, in that it was very difficult to obtain a brewer’s permit in Quebec. In order to bypass this, Dion and Racine acquired the financially faltering La Brasserie Massawippi Inc., and began distributing their products, slyly burking the problem of obtaining a new brewer’s permit. Within two years, they transferred their interest in La Brasserie Massawippi Inc. to their newly founded company, Unibroue. By 1992, La Brasserie Massawippi Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unibroue, and in 1993 changed its corporate name to Brasserie Broubec Inc., merged with Unibroue later that year, and officially became the corporation as we know it today.
So there’s your Business 101 lesson for the month—courtesy of the savvy entrepreneurs of Unibroue. But business acumen means very little in the microbrew world if you’re not selling great beer, and in order to slake this need, Unibroue became associated with a master Belgian brewer in the spring of 1992 and launched its first bottle-conditioned beer: Blanche de Chambly. During the next four years, Unibroue developed and marketed six other incredible beers in the Belgian tradition. To some it comes as a surprise that these rich and robust brews come from Canada, a nation not particularly well known for their microbrew expertise (just think Molson Ice). However to us at the club, it’s not a big shocker—one could reasonably expect that the French heritage of the Quebecois could easily contribute to this assortment of champagne-like, Belgian-style brews.
But you need not be of French descent to appreciate these remarkable beers, a fact highlighted by the numerous prizes and distinctions that have been awarded to Unibroue’s beers. Among its most important achievements, Unibroue was classified among the ten best breweries in the world in 1995 and 1996 by The Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago, which is one of the highest accolades that can be bestowed in the brewing industry. Hey, what are you waiting for? Give your La Fin du Monde a try, and savor a truly great beer. Thank you Canada!
For more information about Unibroue and their many exquisite brews, check out their web site at http://www.unibroue.com.