Terrible Ale

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Written by Justin Hawthorne

There are two types of beer drinker: those who like beer, and those who drink from a can. For those who like beer, exploring the many wonderful options can be a source of excitement and trepidation. I’ve found that when perusing the beer selection I keep coming back to Unibroue’s Terrible Ale, and given that a single 750mL bottle costs more than a six pack of other quality options, I think the consistency with which I am drawn to Terrible says something very positive about it.

A bottle of Terrible Ale

Terrible Ale, in the good sense.

Terrible Ale comes in a glass bottle stoppered with natural cork that is tied down with cap and wire. I prefer to let mine approach room temp before opening as I find most stores keep their beer too cold. I generally use a large glass stein, but this ale would do well with a glass better made to hold aroma. It should definitely be poured though, drinking from the bottle results in a muted flavour and thin bitterness.

When poured it will form a thin caramel coloured head, and gives an impression of thickness and molasses. The colour of the body is opaque, black, and full of promise. A promise it delivers as it is a heavy beer, rich with fruit notes a fair amount of malt sweetness, enough yeast to skip the dinner roll, and just enough bitterness to say it’s there. Will pair well with red meat, especially brisket, and green cruciferous vegetables. No need for starchy side dishes. Would overpower most whitefish but would do well with lake trout. I usually have it by itself like a dessert liquor, sometimes pairing with a dark chocolate. The peppery notes complement a plain dark chocolate and they are both of similar complexity.

A word of caution, the alcohol content of Terrible ale is at the high end of what you commonly find in ales. Will definitely leaden your limbs and drinkers accustomed to beers of less than six percent alcohol by volume, especially drinkers of Budweiser, Coors or similar lagers should be advised this will probably not only ruin your enjoyment of those beers, but will catch you by surprise.

I would place Terrible between  La Fin du Monde (also from Unibroue) and Arrogant Bastard (from Stone Brewing)–in taste not quality as all three are excellent. It is slightly heavier than Arrogant Bastard, but much less bitter. It isn’t quite as mellow as La Fin du Monde, but a little sweeter.

Pros: Good, heavy, complex.

Cons: Pricey, very filling, can be a little too sweet.

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