Monday, March 14, 2011

"For he goes birling down and down the white water..."

"A log driver's waltz pleases girls completely..."
Beer: Unibroue Raftman
Brewery: Unibroue (Chambly, Quebec)
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

 Another quick Unibroue review that didn't quite fit in with my Chambly theme from the last post.  Raftman is this Quebec brewer's salute to the men who worked as lumberjacks and log drivers in the throughout the province's history.  After chopping down huge timbers from upriver, log drivers would guide them through rapids and narrows along the route to the saw- or pulp-mills further downstream.  This was best done by balancing upon the logs themselves - literally walking on water - to breakup troublesome logjams using huge poles or rods.  An exceedingly dangerous occupation that somehow warranted a cheesy 1979 National Film Board of Canada animated short that featured an annoyingly catchy version of Wade Hemsworth's "Log Driver's Waltz."  If you live in Canada and watched the CBC at some point (i.e., everyone), you've seen this amusingly irritating film.  Naturally, the "Log Driver's Waltz" was the first thing I thought of when looking at the Raftman label, and thus that damned song has been in my head for the entire weekend.  Because I don't want to suffer alone, here's the link to that animated short.  I fully expect all of you to be humming this song by the end of the day...

On to the beer itself.  The Unibroue website states that this beer was brewed using whisky malt and should thus have a smoked whisky character to it.  We shall see!

Poured into a Chimay goblet.  Pale amber-copper, slightly opaque with that yeasty sediment.  About an inch of fluffy head quickly recedes into a thin, but sturdy ring. Lacing when the glass is tilted.

The nose is that distinctive Unibroue yeast, peach, apple, vanilla, and something I guess you could call smoke, but really it's probably my nose playing off the beer description because whatever it is, it isn't very strong.  Still, a nice smell to the brew.

Tastes like the typically good Unibroue fare, although I was a bit underwhelmed.  Nothing really stood out for me in this brew - the smoky, whisky flavors I was anticipating just weren't there, and if they were, they were so well hidden I can't really say I'm being honest about them.  Still, a not-so-fantastic Unibroue is still fantastic.  Easy to sip on a cold, dreary late winter's afternoon.

Slight sediment to the mouth, crisp carbonation, medium-bodied.

While this log driver's waltz won't please this beer blogger completely, it still was a decent beer.  Seriously, I'm not knocking it - a fridge full of them would be damned fine by me.  Because of the low ABV, this would make for a great session brew - something you could drink lots of without going off the deep end.  It also of the beer style I most like to drink so it's hard to knock it, but when I see Unibroue's website describe Raftman as a "a peat smoked whisky malt ale," I was expecting a great deal more than what was there.  (Grade: B+)

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