One of my favorite brewing styles is Belgian. And one of the most beautiful things about Belgian brewing is that these days, you don’t need to be a Belgian to brew like one. Unibroue, located in Chambly Quebec, has been brewing Belgian Style beers since 1990. Unibroue prides themselves on using only the finest natural ingredients, absolutely no preservatives, only partially filtering and bottle conditioning the majority of their beers.
Among their lineup of unique and exciting beers is the Ephemere Cassis, a wheat beer brewed with blackcurrant. Blackcurrant is a berry native to central and norther Europe, as well as Asia with a tart, mildly sweet deep raspberry like flavor. The Ephermere Cassis is really a thing of beauty. It is crisp and refreshing, sweet yet dry, and exceptionally quenching. It is a treat every time I open a bottle, and people are always stunned by its color and appearance – “I had no idea that beer could look like that!”
The Cassis is available all across Quebec, scattered throughout the United States, and its sister beer the Pomme is occasionally at the LCBO in Ontario usually for the Christmas release. It comes in corked 75oml bottles and a 341ml capped bottle; both bottle conditioned and 5.5% abv.
It pours like a wheat beer with huge effervescence, life and exuberance raising a pillowy and airy white and lightly pink head a good several inches off the surface of the beer – which is striking. It is a deeply opaque pink to red – fully deep with carbonation racing through it. Its really a gorgeous beer – its a very luminescent heavy red which glows into the white head. The nose is quite simple – sweet and light with ripe raspberries, strawberries and generic fruit. There is a faint note of wheat and vanilla in the background.
When you first sip the Cassis, the immensely delicate and excited carbonation plays off your palate and tickles you with flavors of fresh strawberries, light raspberries, and a meaty dark berry – the blackcurrant. Soft vanilla is floating in the background with light malt and wheat, but only ever so lightly. The Cassis does not make its presence known with power, it is a gentle soul trying to tease you into a relaxed state of fresh a fruity enjoyment.
It is really very light and wet on the palate. It has massive quenching and refreshing characteristics, mostly due to the bottle conditioning and its champagne like effervescence. But it is also dry and savory, balancing out the sweet tart flavors of the blackcurrant. Really it is a delight to enjoy, but I do wish it was richer. There are no hops to be found, the malt is really extremely light, and the fruit is more of a compliment to the mouthfeel rather than the star.
Enjoy it directly out of the fridge or ice bucket on a hot summer day on its own, with white fish and mango salsa, fruit salad, or light oil based pastas.