The deal with the devil is a story that permeates many cultures. It begins with the German legend of Faust, who traded his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures at a crossroads. Then, it is revisited with Robert Johnson, once again at a crossroads, who follows suit in exchange for unmatched prowess on the guitar.
The theme carries on with the tale of La Chasse-galerie or "The Bewitched Canoe" as it is also known. This is a popular French-Canadian tale of lumberjacks who sell their souls to the devil to get back to see their loved ones for Christmas in a flying canoe. If you take a peek at the label of today’s beer, you will spot said canoe and its crew of frantic lumberjacks as they try to avoid eternal damnation.
The early French settlers in Canada combined a French myth about a nobleman called Gallery with a First Nations legend about a flying canoe and the result was the bewitched canoe - a subtle variation and mash up of stories if you like.
In the same fashion, the beer itself is inspired by the lineage of abbey beers and Belgian dubbels and, like our lumberjack myth, it is essentially a subtle reworking of a well versed tale, or a beer story - if you like. We often talk about the seven basic plot structures of story and film and beer strikes me as similar. Even though we have seen an explosion of styles over the recent years, at the end of the day, they are almost always a reworking of just a handful of original key styles.
Let’s have a look at Maudite (which translates into cursed) and see how it tastes.
It pours a deep red that is reminiscent of the flames of hades itself (I am told) with a slightly off white head. The nose is as spicy as hell, with layers of orange rind and coriander, liquorice and caramel which are super enticing. The palate is superbly layered too with deep malts and gently bitter hoppy elements combining nicely. It's certainly a dubbel, and the abv is right up there, but you wouldn't know it to drink and you could certainly be led astray by this wicked little number.
So here the Belgian dubbel is taken to Quebec and subtly riffed on to generate something new yet familiar. This is how beer somehow stays constant and, yet, evolves at the same time.
Superb stuff and proof that you don't necessarily need to sell your soul to the devil to gain unlimited worldly delights - they are readily available for just $9.50 at Regional Wines.
Click here to buy Unibroue Maudite.