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Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve | Unibroue

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Unibroue 17 Grande RéserveUnibroue 17 Grande Réserve

Brewed by:
Quebec, Canada | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This French oak aged, bottle refermented dark ale has a remarkable and complex flavor profile. Its Grande Réserve appellation is a fitting endorsement of its exceptional aging qualities.

Added by MasterSki on 12-30-2011

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Reviews: 262 | Ratings: 1,098
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2013 vintage opened in May 2016. A total gusher to start with, foam all over. Once it settled down, what we have here is a dark Belgian ale with plenty of yeast, a champagne touch, dark fruits, lively carbonation and a thin mouthfeel. Drinks easy, but I don't think it is terribly complex.

Glad I tried, but would not revisit. La Fin Du Monde this is not.

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Photo of dd43
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Popped a 2012 bottle for a quiet dinner with the family. Poured a pretty opaque muddy brown with a light tan head that faded to nothing. Minimal lacing thereafter. Slightly too turbid for me to call it an attractive looking beer. Aromas of baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. An earthy quality as well, almost gourd like. Flavors added in Belgian candied sugar but not as big as a tripel or quad, less sticky sweet than that. Vanilla and cherry from the oak barrels this was aged in. There was a woody note that sort of dried out the finish, which was nice. I would call this a really good beer, but I'm not jumping on a world class bandwagon. It was well aged at over 4 years but I don't feel like additional time would have added any complexity. No oxidation that I could detect.

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Photo of sjccmd
3.99/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Savory malts, rich, and sweet in the aroma. Coriander, fruit cake, cinnamon, honey. Hints of french toast, perhaps some diacetyl. Dark fruit aroma increases as it warms. Oak and vanilla become apparent as well.

Dark brown with amber highlights. Light tan head. Good lacing and retention.

Rich sweet malts, dark fruit, some bitter chocolate. Vanilla oak character. The oak seems to mellow the fruit I typically find in Unibroue beers.

Medium body, high carbonation. The oak seems to add body. Somewhat silky, but bright and spritzy as well.

With the oak mellowing the fruit character, I feel like I'm missing one of the things I like about Unibroue. Still great, complex, but not cloying.

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Photo of JoLight
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: burnt orange/copper body, lots of bubbles steaming up the glass. Thick, light khaki head that retains very well and leaves nice lacing. (The yeast at the end clouds the color right up.)

Aroma: strong alcohol, black pepper; some kind of dark fruity aroma, like Pinot Noir.

Taste: Dark, heavy malt; a little dark cherries; a little prune or raisin; black pepper; Pinot noir.

Mouthfeel: thick, with some carbonation.

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Photo of TheDoctor
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Service: Bottle
Best before: Dec-8-2017 (consumed Feb-15-2016)

Pours an opaque ruddy brown with a massive, fluffy beige head that sticks around before dropping to a finger or so. Very good retention; lots of rings of lacing. (4.25)

Bright red fruits and some earthy yeast notes. Cherries, warm bread, slightly sweet, slightly tart, some oak coming through earthy berry/cherry aromas. (4.25)

Dark, crusty bread with bing cherries. Basically just cherry juice with some wood and some dirt and some rich crusty flavors thrown in. (4.5)

Fluffy, puffy froth with a nice full body and a slight finish. (4.25)

Really fabulous beer. This is a big one, meant to be sipped and savored. Pours lovely, drinks lovely, smells lovely. Would be hard to not guess that it was Belgian if you didn't know any better. Lots of berry kind of flavors. The wood comes through is a pleasing supportive role. All in all: a great beer. (4.25)

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Photo of Bcarlos
4.64/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Every year for the past few I've cracked open a bottle of Unibroue's Grand Reserve after sitting for a year in my cellar. I'm convinced this beer is meant for aging.

I had the pleasure of touring the Unibroue facility last year in Chambly and was interested to hear the back story to this beer. Originally, it was brewed as an internal-only brew, and grew some legs when the brewer entered it in a regional competition. Within a year, it had made it to the big stage, and took home best Belgian strong ale in the world in 2011 at the World Beer Awards.

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Photo of Haydn-Juby
4.74/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: A murky brown topped with a finger of beige head. A bit of lacing and decent retention.

S: Aromas of dark fruits - think apricot and over-ripe banana. A bit of clove and signature Unibroue yeast. Brown sugar.

T: Slightly sweet but very well balanced. Very much like the aroma. It's complex on the palate and delivers notes of caramelized dark fruits. No abrasive alcohol, and the beer drinks incredibly smoothly. A bit of clove. Almost like a fruitcake in beer form. I don't get much oak, except for maybe just a slight toasty note in the finish.

F: Just about perfect but maybe a bit lacking in carbonation. I feel as though just a bit more would help dial back the sweetness. Not syrupy at all despite the high abv.

O: An absolutely fantastic beer. I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a truly world class Quad, or anyone looking for a great beer in general. Rarely do you find a beer sitting at 10% with an ABV so well hidden. The oak note is forgettable but the beer overall is extremely complex and something to be relished.

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Photo of CanadianBacon
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - This beer pours a beautiful hazy dark redish amber color with 2 fingers off white foamy head that leaves a thick film when it disappears.

Aroma - Dark fruits, plum, raisin, fig and dates are all there followed by caramel, toffee, brown sugar and fresh baked bread.

Taste - oak hits the palate immediately followed by all the dark fruits, brown sugar, toffee, and fresh baked bread in the back of the mouth, the bitterness from the oak stays throughout.

Feel - this is a medium bodied beer, the carbonation is sharp and prickly , bitterness isn't strong but is definitely there.

Overall - This is a very well executed beer all around, the flavors and aromas come together to create a mouth watering smell and taste. This beer tickles the senses and is perfect of that belgian fan who lives barrel aged products!

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Photo of mkh012
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled on Christmas Eve 2015. This bottle's got about a year of age on it. I plan to age another one an additional couple years and re-review it.

Dark brown, hint of red when held up to the light. Small tan head dissipates quickly. Smells of dark fruits, chocolate, a slight almost metallic funkiness I can't put my finger on. I get chocolate, toffee, and raisins on the first sip. Almost no alcohol present.

My only real gripe with this one is, the more I drink it, the more the oaky, woody notes come to the forefront and the less I notice everything else. A solid brew, but not as mindblowing as other Unibroue selections. The oak crowds out the sweeter notes. I imagine some age will change this for the better. As it stands, a B+/A- for me.

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. Too complex for me? I'm a simple guy! This is another beautiful pour from these masters of beer appearance - dark garnet with half-finger of lasting, clingy tiny mocha bubbles. Aroma has wood, spice, and slight vinous notes. After the first sip, the wine aroma becomes dominant, I suppose due to some olfactory action. The flavor is immediately winy with tangy dark fruit lingering amongst the notable wood. I like wine and I like beer, but I'm not sure this is what I'm looking for.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Medium brown color with an off-white head that dissipates to a thin layer. Good lacing as the beer drains. Nose is big Belgian malt. Chocolaty, candy aromas, a touch of spiciness. Really nice. Flavor is likewise. Really nice, big Belgian malt, some hoppy dirtiness. Dried fruit, prunes or something in that ballpark. Body is really phenomenal. Silky, creamy, somehow with really busy carbonation. Excellent beer, another delicious Unibroue.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Fills a PBGC Aromatic Glass with a clear, old copper (SRM 17-20) beer. The creamy head reaches one inch before depositing a fine coating of khaki lace.

The aroma is a complex mix of spices (mace, clove, cinnamon, ginger) evocative of holiday memories. Dark fruits are also present, including raisins, dates, figs, and dried cherries. A light oak aroma accentuates the spices which dominate as it warms.

The flavor profile follows the nose while emphasizing the fruit. There is a nice, sweet/acidic balance with light bitterness. A lingering finish taunts one to take another sip.

Warming alcohol tends to lighten the body from medium to light while vigorous carbonation roughens a silky texture.

This is an exquisite new world rendition of the style. It elevates the experience of reading or quiet conversation on a cold Autumn day while watching leaves rustle and fall. Bottle number 2012-12623.

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Photo of SenorBiggles
4.57/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This is a brown ale that has strong competing flavour components coming from its sweet maltiness, high ABV, further sweetness and woodiness coming from being barrel-aged, and what tastes to me like a bit of wild yeast/brett-ish sourness. Fortunately, it manages to keep them all very well-balanced and without tasting like an experiment in extreme flavouring like many barrel-aged beers. In particular, the sweetness of the beer is much less prominent than the other Unibroue high-ABV dark ales I've tried (e.g., Trois Pistoles, Terrible), which lets more subtle flavours shine through. I'm not sure it has the flavour complexity to live up to its awarded title of "Best Dark Ale in the World", but I have a hard time thinking how they could have further improved it.

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Photo of DanfromVan
4.57/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Looks- first up, this is a 2011 vintage, my local beer store threw a case in the "deeply discounted" bin so I grabbed 6 bottles at 5.00 ea. Looks a little cloudy on first pour and settles down a little but never clarifies.
Smell Sugar, Alcohol and a peachy flat earthiness
Taste: a calmed down fruit explosion laced with long lasting apricot/peach/citrus notes. Warms up ok to change the flavour, but definitely stalls out as it is a little past its prime....don't get me wrong ..this is tasty..probably mainly from the fruit/ABV kick..This is a a sweet licorice of a beer that I could quaff again and again..
Would try again as I have another 5 bottles to go...next one has got to be shared with a friend...
one other note: fair amount of sediment in all the bottles.
Mouth feel: thinner than I expected

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Photo of GuitarIPA
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L - dark brown with foamy, tan head, and good retention
A - terrific - wine (Chardonnay? - don't know wines), oak, dark fruit and caramel
T - follows nose, with grape finish
F - lighter body than expected, but great carbonation and pleasantly sweet finish more than make up for it

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Photo of kevinlater
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked & caged bottle into small snifter. 2014 vintage, bottled/brewed on feb 21 2014, best before feb 21 2019. consumed oct 23 2015

a: opaque dark brown-mahogany with some deep orange hues under a tan head

s: really spicy with some strong alcohol. dates, vanilla, clove, caramel, wood, almond, overripe banana. interesting and complex, kind of gives off a rum-like vibe. higher temperature yields more prominent vanilla oak notes as well as apples and cherries

t: strong clove with lesser caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla up front. quite sweet. these flavours lead into a well-blended combination of dates, overripe bananas, some raisins, and a touch of chocolate. alcohol is present. the finish is toasted oak-y with a lingering vanilla presence, and slightly vinous. more fruit notes as the beer warms, as well as cooked apple

m: medium mouthfeel with low carbonation, lingering sweetness all around

o: complex, wonderful not-so-in-your-face barrel characteristics. undeniably "good" but not really my thing

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Photo of chinchill
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a cork and cage 750 mL bottle into Belgian snifter. This 2011 bottle has a best by date of 12-12-2016.

Pours with a dark, hazy, reddish brown body covered by a modest size light tan head that has little retention and leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma: Alcohol esters, mixed dark dried fruits including raisins, cinnamon(!), clove, and fruitcake.

Flavor: Rich and complex with light cinnamon and clove, faint yeast, mixed dark dried fruits and hints of brandy, molasses, and fruitcake. Bitter-sweet.

Feel: Medium-full body. Nicely smooth, Alcohol warming for sure, but it avoids the bite you'd expect from a 10% brew.

Overall: This is a unique, appropriately complex Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It's drinkable for a 10% ale. Worth seeking out. It was allowed to warm for about 30 minutes but still improved with further warming.

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Photo of mwilbur
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter. Bottle 2014-09132. Best by 02-12-2019.
A: Pours a dark, murky brown with 1 inch light tan head. Good retention. Faint lacing.
S: Booze soaked raisins, cinnamon, sweet malt, light molasses, clove, and maybe a hint of all spice.
T: Cinnamon and sweet malt hit first, closely followed by the booze soaked raisins. Bready yeast, clove, and a hint of light molasses. With warming, oak notes emerge.
M: Medium body...drinks much lighter than you'd expect from a 10% brew. Sweet (malt and spice) throughout. Decent lingering on the palate.
D: A highly drinkable 10% brew. Sweetness is a big component of the beer. A solid offering from Unibroue.

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Photo of Secondfiddle7
4.92/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is an exceptional beer for special occasions. Oak aged. Strong but not boozy. Rich, flavorful, and buttery smooth. Perfect beer to share with a friend. Gets smoother and more buttery as it warms. Drink in a tulip glass and allow it to warm and breathe. I buy a case, give several bottles as gifts and age several for myself. I've aged a few bottles three years, and I've planned plaintive evenings around this very special beverage. Expensive at $150 a case, it is the priciest beer I buy, but I go back once a year for another.

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Photo of asaf
4.89/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I loved this beer! I bought a bottle of it for Rosh Hashana, and I impressed my guests with this one. L- it has a murky, cloudy brown/burgundy color, very aesthetically pleasing. S- it has a very sharp alcoholic smell, and then a wooden smell, T- the taste is really rich, it's an alcoholic start but then a sweet malt and oak taste, it reminded me a tiny bit like Newcastle. But not even close. F- very strong mouthfeel, O - one great beer!

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Photo of thepenguin
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage 750ml poured into a Teku glass

L: Pours a murky deep brown, creating a dense khaki head with small foamy bubbles and good head retention.

S: Dark fruits with an interesting lemon note stand out. Befitting the style, a lot of doughy malt pulls through as well with some chocolate, spice and citrus. The oak is pretty restrained, coming through with just a hint of vanilla and general woodiness.

T: The flavor of this beer gets deeper and richer as you get further into the sip. Nondescript dark fruit and bread upfront, followed by figs, raisons, and a distinct chocolaty finish. Just enough bitterness to hold it all together. Not a lot of oak character aside from some slight vanilla and wood spice, though this does pop a bit more as the beer warms.

F: Medium body with moderate carbonation, and just a slight warming in the finish. Incredibly drinkable for the ABV.

Overall: This is a very tasty beer that will not disappoint fans of Unibroue’s BSDA lineup. I’d like to see the oak play a stronger role in its character, and perhaps in the next iteration the brewery could try another maturation method besides oak spirals or else let the beer sit a bit longer, but I’d certainly buy this again and look forward to seeing how it develops over time.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottle #118024 poured into a St. Bernardus Chalice. Best before 12-12/2016. Opened on 08/27/2015. Cellared at 53 degrees in a fridge lying on its side. Bottle agitated lightly and then stood upright 72 hours before opening.

Smells heavenly. Well matured notes of Belgian style yeast- with a touch of citrus rind and a hint of clove tea, peach skin, dry bread crust, and a touch of bubble gum.

The flavor is deep and subtle, like a well aged BSDA should be. Caramel, the ghosts of warm spices, dark bread and hints of raisins hit me first. The flavors are so melded it is hard to name anything in particular. It is as if there is only one flavor here- Grande Reserve 17. I am rarely at a loss for words with beer.

The mouthfeel is actually thinning a bit I suspect, and I think it would be the first to go in the long haul with aging. The carbonation is going strong, and the overall flavors are still wonderful.

Conclusion: My first of this beer, so I never tried it fresh. I bet it would have been tasty but overwhelming then, as it is still a big boy at this advanced age. Well worth a try if you can find a bottle. Another fantastic beer from a brewery that I seldom try but am always impressed by.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a snifter.
(A)- Pours a deeper mahogany color with a good head of off-white froth that stuck around for awhile.
(S)- Some deep spiced raisin. Almost rum-like with some coconut and pecan.
(T)- Lots of dark fruits (plum, raisin, cassis, prune). Met with a light cinnamon/coriander spice.
(M)- A good carbonation level. I like the feel this has; almost like a mulled spice wine but more on the fruit end of it.
(O)- I like the play on flavors with this one

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Photo of badgustav
4.81/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look - deep brown and hazy. Deep tan head which abates slowly
Aroma - sweet and malty, raisin, oak, and vanilla
Flavor - rich malt, sweet raisin, a very slight alcohol note. Malt balances well with the raisin, not cloying. Slight bitterness, possibly from CO2
Body - medium-full

Pleasant and drinkable, not overly sweet though may get more so as it ages.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Updated review: finished the bottle the next night. Not sure if it was because of the slight extra oxidation, or the warmer starting temperature, but I got a much more complex taste this time around: cherries, toffee, rounded oak, lime, smoke, bourbon, light-roasted coffee. The feel is also a more medium-bodied, and isn't so ephemeral. Original review below.


2013 c&c bottle (best before 2/28/18) into a Teku at fridge temp.

Look: dark brown, almost purplish, with a huge light tan head that settles down to 1cm. (4.25)

Smell: pumpkin bread still in the oven, eggnog, sweetness reminiscent of Abt 12. (4.5)

Taste: something a bit savory that I attribute to the oak; pumpernickel, apple, spices. (4.0)

Feel: surprisingly light, fluffy body. Dryish finish, sort of disappears save for a slight lingering bitterness. (4.0)

Overall: the aroma on this is very good, but the taste just doesn't quite match. Would be interested to try this closer to its best-by. (4.25)

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Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve from Unibroue
94 out of 100 based on 262 ratings.