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Thursday, February 02, 2006

February 2006 - Winter Olympics

I have always been a huge Olympics fan and this month we will be celebrating the Winter Olympics, in Torino, Italy. Because there are only two Italian beers available in Memphis, we will also celebrate the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC Canada. Both beers from Italy are Pale lagers and taste very similar. We will be trying three beers from the Unibroue Brewery. Unibroue's expertise is Belgium style beers and should give us a range of beer styles to sample.

The 2006 Olympic Winter Games emblem portrays the unmistakable silhouette of the Mole Antonelliana. It is transformed into a mountain, among crystals of ice, where the white snow meets the blue sky. The crystals come together to form a web: the web of new technologies and the eternal Olympic spirit of communion among peoples.

GENERAL FACTS AND FIGURES

The first beer teh Memphis Beer Club will be sampling is from Udian, Italy, Berra Moretti is brewed by Birra Moretti (Heineken) brewery. This is a Pale Lager and is guaranteed by the mustached gentleman on the label. The story of the label is unique.

One day Commander Leo Menazzi Moretti saw a nice, mustached, old gentleman sitting at a table in the Boschetti Restaurant in Tricesimo (Udine). Commander Moretti believed that it was this old gentleman who embodied the character and personality of the actual beer - genuine, traditional and authentic. Commander Moretti didn’t let the opportunity slip but approached the gentleman and asked his permission to take a photo of the man drinking Birra Moretti. When asked what he wanted as a reward the gentleman replied “Cal mi dedi di bevi, mi baste” which in friulano dialect means, “a glass of what I am drinking, is sufficient for me”.

The first beer from the Unibroue Brewery will be the Blanche de Chambly, a Belgium White (Witbier). Unibroue is a brewery located in Chambly, Quebec, that was bought by Sleeman Breweries Ltd. in 2004. The company was incorporated in 1993, and has grown exponentially since then. They began exporting their beers to the United States (under the name "Unibrew") in 1994. The Blanche de Chambly was the first beer to be exported to the United States because of its 5% ABV.

Most of Unibroue's beers are bottled "on the lees", or containing yeast sediment. This practice provides additional fermentation after bottling, resulting in a beer which ages well if kept in the dark and unrefrigerated, and allowing it to be relatively cheaply shipped to international markets. The yeast gives Unibroue beers a striking cloudy appearance and provides a characteristic element to the taste. Its aroma and flavor are redolent with zesty orange and lemon and light fruity malts, backed up by hints of coriander, ginger and other spices, while the high level of carbonation gives this beer Champagne- like appearance and a spritzy mouthfeel.

Birra Peroni, a Pale Lager, is one of the most recognizable Italian premium beer brands both in Italy and abroad. Peroni, which is the most popular beer brand in Italy, is renowned for its sparkling character and fresh, well-balanced flavor of hops and malt. The Birra Peroni Brewery was founded in Vigevano in 1846. Brewed with heart and passion from simple, natural ingredients, it boasts 160 years of brewing expertise and heritage. Its quality and freshness are ensured daily by careful selection of raw materials (using only distichous barley sown in spring) and by the care taken in every stage of production, packaging and distribution.

The next Canada beer is La Fin Du Monde, "The End of the World". This Abbey Triple style ale was launched in February 1994, after 18 months of research. It is a 9 percent alcohol, triple fermentation beer. This type of beer was originally developed by the monks of the Middle Ages to be served on special occasions. With its champagne-like effervescence, it has a vigorous presence in the mouth, which accentuates its strong personality. Slightly tart, with the balanced flavors of wild spices, malt and hops, it belongs to the class of great Trappist beers and, in this regard, is a North American first. This beer is brewed to honor of the great explorers, who believed they had reached the end of the world when they discovered America.

The last beer from the Unibroue Brewery is the Maudite (the damned one), a Belgium Strong Ale. In November 1992 Maudite, was the first strong beer to be distributed in Quebec grocery stores. It contains 8 % alcohol and is also the first beer brewed in America that improves with age. When served young, it is very smooth, but when served after several years of storage, its flavor is reminiscent of port. Maudite is a mahogany-colored, rich-tasting premium beer that has a distinctive, complex taste. Because of the warmth it releases, this strong character beer must be served cool but not cold. Perfect with pasta, red meats, stews and spicy dishes, it also makes a good aperitif and after-dinner drink.

Maudite has a typically Quebecois name that is reminiscent of the legend of the Chasse-Galerie (the legend of the Flying Canoe). Legend has it that a group of lumberjacks struck a deal with the devil to fly home in their canoes, guided by Satan himself, to make it home in time for Christmas.

It has been argued that Unibroue, until they were bought by the Ontario-based Sleeman's, made beers for a sovereigntist and nationalist audience, and that their labels invoked myths and stories that appealed to a largely Francophone audience. To fill the void created when Unibroue was bought, a Quebec City-based group has entered into an agreement with the Montreal brewery, La Barberie, to produce a beer called "La Militante," which is slated to hit Montreal shelves by December, 2004.


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