In Chambly Quebec there is one of my most favorite breweries, Unibroue. For so many years they have treated me to exceptional beers of varying styles all with a unique and quintessentially Quebecois style; which is really Belgian inspired. The Chambly Noire is based on Unibroue’s first bottle conditioned beer, the Blanch de Chambly (also one of my favorite wheat beers, brewed since 1992), but this time dark malts have been used to give the beer deeper flavor characteristics, and also a near pitch black, yet still effervescent appearance.
Since 2005 when it was first produced, it has definitely become one of the worlds most unique wheat beers offering up all of the same refreshing and champagne like characteristics, but it is black as night. It is available in 750ml corked bottles, as well as 341ml capped bottles at 6.2% abv. While the Blanch de Chambly is available at the LCBO, the Chambly Noire is not. Because of this, every time I am Quebec I make sure that I grab at least a couple 750ml bottles; this beer was made to be enjoyed with friends! It is also the perfect beer to give to someone who believes that all dark beers are heavy. Guess again!
The Chambly Noire, properly pronounced “shahm-blee-nwahr”, pours with verve and excitement like you would expect from any wheat beer. Carbonations rushes to the surface creating a tall beige to light brown head just over an inch high. The head is very fluffy and airy, and doesn’t last long. Within one minute there was only a slight film of head left on the beer, and after a few sips, almost nothing.
The beer itself as I mentioned earlier is black, and completely opaque. If you hold it up to the light there is a slight ruby hue that tries to shine through, but it is not strong eanough to overpower the dark malts. The nose shows much more richness than a normal wheat beer, but still has all the usual suspects. Upfront there is a sweet wheat-like toffee scent which blankets light coffee, roast, sweet delicate fruit, and cola. Overall though the aroma is not very strong, you really have to dig deep to pull that much out of it. It is after all a wheat beer, so we should expect it to be light and airy. Nonetheless, it does show much more depth than the Blanch de Chambly.
When you are enjoying it it is very obvious that it is a wheat beer. The mouthfeel is crisp, light, effervescent and utterly quenching. There are lots of wheat characteristics found here in light sweet fruits, sweet earth, vanilla, and creamy light malts. But there is also a wave of dark malts paired with roast and yeast that comes out on the sides of you tongue. There is a hint of coffee, and a richer toffee than you would normally expect. It all comes together very well forming a wheat beer like none other. There is almost no hop found on the palate, but the beer’s bottle conditioning creates a fantastic clean, crisp and quenching finish. It’s actually a lot of fun, because you will rarely have anything like it.
The Chambly Noire will pair very nicely with grilled fish, smoke meat, lighter roast meats, sandwiches, or light chocolate. Be sure to serve it cold between two and four degrees Celsius, and do try it on a hot day, it will cool you down remarkably!