First released in 2007, the Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 was originally brewed to commemorate the Quebec, Canada-based brewery’s 17th anniversary. The 10 percent ABV Belgian-style strong ale is brewed with American and noble hops, as well as a blend of malts before being aged in French oak barrels.
The label on the bottle has more information:
Inspired by the great Belgian brewing tradition of Trappist monks established over the centuries, Unibroue 17 was first brewed in 2007 to celebrate our brewery’s 17th anniversary. However, the overwhelming success of this specialty brew made it obvious that we could not let such a great ale slip into the anonymity of retirement.
So in 2011, we proudly brought back this French Oak aged, bottle refermented dark ale, with the “Grandee Réserve” appellation as a fitting endorsement of it’s exceptional quality for aging. Brewed only once a year, in limited quantities, and individually numbered “brasseur” bottles, this is truly a flavorful delight for the specialty beer enthusiast.
The Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 pours a murky reddish brown,1 and features almost no head to speak of as well as no lacing at all. It is no surprise after the pour, but there seems to be almost no carbonation visible in the glass, and the aroma from the top of the beer is a combination of grape skins, cinnamon, vegetation, oak, wine, currants. barley and leather.
The first taste of the Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 brings a multitude of flavors: strong oak, bananas, lemongrass, leather, cloves and sweet malt, along with a touch of yeast. There is a nice raisin sweetness on the finish, along with a noticeable amount of pepper that lingers after every sip. As expected after the total lack of head, there is almost no carbonation at all in the beer, and although that fact does not harm the profile in major way, it is a bit disconcerting. I am noticing a bit of an alcohol note on the finish as well, although it is not near strong enough to really affect the rest of the profile in any major way.
As it warms, the yeast on the palate and the spices on the finish become more dominant, and coupled with the receding amount of carbonation—that was not all that big to begin with—makes the beer almost undrinkable. By the end, it was almost like I was drinking a flat soda that had some yeast added to it, not a great profile at all.