Craft Beer vs. Regular Beer: How I Learned The Difference

2018-05-01T01:40:11+00:00April 26th, 2016|All, Beer Week|Comments Off on Craft Beer vs. Regular Beer: How I Learned The Difference

Craft Beer vs. Regular BeerThe exact beer I drank as I wrote this post. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Since we just announced we are one of the sponsors of Philly Beer Week, I’m going to talk about beer a good bit more than I normally do for the next month or so. Ideally, that’s totally your jam and you’re vibrating in anticipation right now. If not, this post might change your mind.

Last summer during Philly Beer Week, I embarked on a fairly lofty quest. My Untappd count was at 2331 and I wanted to get it up to 2500 by the last day of Beer Week. Now, when I talk about my count, I mean the number of unique beers that I have tried–that doesn’t mean that I drank a full pint of every single beer on that list. Many have been small pours and tastings, and personally I’m fine with that. There are Untappd purists out there who might not log tastings, but to each their own. Regardless, trying 169 different beers over the course of 10 days was a hell of a task, but I got by with a little help from my friends. By the 2500th beer, we were all bloated, dehydrated and exhausted, but dammit, we had done it.

I tell you all this because when people find out I’ve tried that many beers (actually, I’m up to 2788 right now, but who’s counting? Oh, wait…), it isn’t long before they ask me what my favorites are, but it’s often in a tone that says, “I mean, do you even like these beers or are you just drinking them because you’ve never had them before?” The answer is “yes,” but the explanation is twofold: 1) Yes, I will try practically any beer that I’ve never had before because I’ve rarely had one that was so bad I couldn’t finish it and because doing so made me realize there was so much more to love out there, and 2) Yes, I do like many of them–I even love some of them. Thankfully, Untappd allows you to rate each beer you log, so I can easily look up the ones I’ve rated the highest because there is absolutely no way I can remember how I felt about every single beer I’ve tried; sometimes I can’t even remember if I’ve actually tried it at all. [This is the part where some of you will be thinking, “Maybe you’d remember them if you hadn’t killed all those brain cells.” To that I say, “There’s nothing wrong with my brain sales. Sells. Shut up.”] However, there are a few beers that I can speak passionately about from sense memory, which may or may not be a thing I made up, and today I’m going to talk about the beer that made me realize they aren’t all created equal: La Fin Du Monde.

La Fin Du Monde (“the end of the world”) is a Belgian-style tripel ale brewed by Unibroue (pronounced “unibrew”) in Chambly, Quebec. It was first released in 1994, but I wasn’t lucky enough to get my hands on it until 2003. It happened when I wandered up to the Unibroue table at a beer festival in Las Vegas, where I was living at the time. Up until then, I thought Blue Moon was just about the best thing going in the beer world, and I felt pretty superior drinking it when many of my friends were drinking Bud and Miller. Then the wonderful Unibroue rep gave me a taste of La Fin Du Monde, and everything changed. It was layered and complex in ways that I didn’t have the words to describe, and it was so much boozier than any beer I’d ever had, but in a delicious and totally drinkable way. Of course, I had to tell everyone about my revelation, and everyone I gave it to loved it, even my friend who named his dog Budweiser and swore he’d never drink anything else.

But, La Fin Du Monde wasn’t just beloved by craft beer n00bs like my friends and me. It has been winning awards almost since its inception, including World’s Best Belgian Style Tripel at the World Beer Awards just last year. It currently has a Beer Advocate score of 96 and a RateBeer score of 99, both out of 100 possible points. I don’t know of very many beers that have maintained such a strong showing for that many years. It is best served in a tulip glass at around 40-55 degrees, per the brewer. Now, I’m not one of those Beer People who can tell you a lot about “mouth feel” and stuff like that, and honestly, I probably never will be. But what I can tell you is that La Fin Du Monde is slightly sweet, but not too much so, and has a slight bready quality; the flavors definitely open up as it warms in the glass. The brewer describes it as “mildly yeasty with a complex palate of malt, fruit and spice notes followed by a smooth, dry finish.” You can think of it like a drastically better version of a typical wheat beer, if that helps give it some perspective. However, at 9% alcohol by volume, this is not a beer for pounding. I think it is light enough in flavor for even a warm summer day, but you’re not going to drink a six-pack in one sitting (or if you can do that, we should get together later and make trouble).

So, if you’ve never been an adventurous beer drinker, La Fin Du Monde is great place to start. Also, if you’re going to dinner at a beer drinker’s house and you’re not sure what you should bring, you can’t go wrong with this beer. When you’re ready to try a few more things from Unibroue, I recommend Don De Dieu (“gift from god”), Maudite (“damned”) and Trois Pistoles (“three coins”), in that order.

What beer changed your life? Let us know in the comments.

Cheers,
The Block Captain


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