BY GREG SIERING
Perhaps my greatest joy in drinking beer is finding the right style to fit the situation and my mood. There’s nothing like enjoying a refreshing wheat ale on a hot summer afternoon or a rich Vienna lager while eating some good sauerbraten. When the drink and the setting are in harmony, it’s easy to feel like you have discovered Beervana. I recently found myself in that situation while sitting at the bar at The Uptown Cafe, enjoying a glass of an exquisite beer named La Fin du Monde.
La Fin du Monde is a Belgian abbey tripel, a flavorful and potent style originally brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium. The beer I enjoyed at the Uptown was created by Unibroue, a brewery in Chambly, Quebec, Canada. Its name is a testament to early French explorers who believed they had reached “the end of the world.”
The beer pours apricot-gold and somewhat hazy, with a dense, white head driven by a continuous stream of tiny bubbles that rise from the bottom of the tulip-shaped glass. The glass’ shape not only accentuates the foam but channels the beer’s rich aroma—spicy and fruity, with a slightly bready character. On presentation alone, you can tell this beer is special. The first sip confirms it.
La Fin du Monde starts with a slight honey-like sweetness accompanied by hints of citrus and the traditional clove-and-pepper spiciness derived from Belgian yeast. Some people sense a hint of banana or even bubblegum, but those flavors are only subtle notes in the beer’s complex character. All of these tastes rest on a light backdrop of the wheat malt, with no noticeable hop flavor. The beer is medium-bodied, and its initial sweetness is balanced by a finishing dryness aided by high carbonation.
The beer is deceptively potent—9 percent alcohol by volume (hence the “tripel” appellation)—and goes down smoothly without noticeable heat. One interesting side effect of that high alcohol content is how the rich flavors carry in the breath. After a deep sip, exhale slowly through your nose and you will be delighted with the full sensory experience this beer has to offer.
All of this is to say that La Fin du Monde is an excellent beer to sip and savor. Don’t be in a rush, because as it warms in your glass, the flavors and aromas shift slightly. And while La Fin du Monde can be found in stores across town, I find it particularly delightful to enjoy in an environment like The Uptown. The warm, dark wood and brick in the bar; the Motown playing over laughter and quiet conversation; and the availability of delicious food all complement this beer. La Fin du Monde particularly goes well with seafood and rich desserts (such as The Uptown’s crème brulee), making it a perfect match of beer, location, food, and mood.
My suggestion is this: The next time you want to spend some time relaxing with a friend while trying an outstanding beer, order a glass of La Fin du Monde and settle in for a delightful experience.