Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve | Unibroue

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Unibroue 17 Grande RéserveUnibroue 17 Grande Réserve

Brewed by:
Quebec, Canada

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: 274 | Ratings: 1,139
Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer features rich malt and yeast aromas including prune, plum, fruit, molasses, brown sugar and a hint of tobacco. It pours dark copper brown filled with very fine bubbles that lazily rise to the surface and replenish a 2" light tan foam cap with a very fine bead. It has a mildly sweet, rich malty palate featuring stone fruit, dark dried fruit, fig, molasses, alcohol, spice, a hint of cola and some oak dryness on the finish. Malt and yeast flavors are high. Hop bitterness and flavors are low. The body is medium and the carbonation is above average. The alcohol is mildly warming but not hot or harsh. This is a good choice for sharing with friends.

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Photo of kevofficiel
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve 2015 from Unibroue. Got it from a friend.

Look: Dark, cloudy amber color with 3 fingers of foamy white head.

Smell: Raisin, bubble gum, brown sugar, chocolate, malt, cherry, a touch of vanilla. Wonderful smell.

Taste: Sweet bubble gum, brown sugar, malt, chocolate, dark fruit.

Feel: You definitely know that it is a 10% ABV. It kicks you right from the beginning, but after 2 min it is more smooth. Medium body.

So overall would I recommend it? Absolutely. It is one of the best, no the best but one of the best. I think the Unibroue La Resolution is the best but very nice beer overall.

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Photo of AustinWadkins
3.74/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark mahogany with a well carbonated opaque head that sits

Smells of rasin, stone fruits, oak,tobacco, leather, toffee, hint of alc.

Taste is sweet, malt, oak, plum, stone fruits, yeasty bread,

Overall an okay beer, not my favorite

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.66/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage served cold in a goblet

Classic BDSA/Quad dark brown color with hints of mahogany in there. Tons of carbonation with perfect tiny bubbles. Nose was vanilla, Caribbean rum, Angostura bitters, spice, leather, tobacco, raisins and prunes. Taste follows the nose but added a nice drying finish from the oak tannins. The oak additions really added a nice complexity to the beer. This is world class; enough said!

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Photo of stortore
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle into a tulip snifter. 2013 edition, had 10/7/16.

Had this in Feb 2014 without writing a review, got this bottle for $4 the same day I had it.

Pours a dark, cloudy amber, with a one and a half inch foamy head and a good amount of foamy lacing. Very active carbonation. The smell is Belgian yeast, oak, figs, raisins, cherries, some vanilla and malt, light toffee, light spices- clove, for one. The taste opens more with the malt, then oak, raisins, caramel, figs, some plums, yeast, light vanilla. Still light spices, cloves again, but more than the nose. Smooth, very creamy, a good, medium body, slightly too carbonated.

While this undoubtedly was not at its peak, it still drank like a champ. Really well crafted, well layered flavor and aroma. The oak barrels are very apparent throughout. This one is well worth your money.

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Photo of delta490
4.02/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(2015 Bottling) A murky reddish-brown with about a half finger of slightly foamy light tan head. It has decent retention and leaves dribs and drabs of slightly sticky tight head. The aroma is quite enjoyable albeit a little mild. It's got notes of dark fruit, caramel sweetness, and just a little yeasty tang. The taste is much the same. The body is towards the lighter end but it's mostly smooth with just a little carbonation.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Unibroue's 17 Grande Reserve (bottled in 2013) pours a nontranslucent brown color. The head is a billowy two inches in height, and recedes slowly leaving chunks of lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is big. It exploded out of the bottle as soon as it was opened. It is full of cherries and strawberries. There are some spices that are well integrated into the fruity notes. Cinnamon, light star anise, allspice. The oak is there too. It is also well integrated, and nicely accentuates the fruit and the spice. The taste is spicier that the aroma with more anise and allspice. The fruit is still there, but it is more of a background note. The oak is more center stage too. It doesn't dominate by any stretch of the imagination, but it does lead. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a silky texture, and appropriately high carbonation. Overall, this is a great beer. It looks great, and the complexity of the flavor and aroma lead to lots of contemplation.

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Photo of fission523
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 2013.

Pours a deep chestnut. Lots of carbonation from the bottom of the glass and a half inch beige head.

Nose is sweet, dried fruit, apricot, hazelnut.

Taste is sweet, smooth - butterscotch and toffee. Aftertaste remains sweet and nutty. Coats the entire mouth in a pleasant smoothness.

Very enjoyable, easy drinking. I would be interested in trying an older aged version to see if the flavors develop further.

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Photo of Kendo
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 version, consumed on 8/13/16, so it's nearly 5 years old.

A: Poured from the 750 ml, caged-and-corked bottle (which took a lot of work to open - the cork wouldn't budget and then we broke it off before using a corkscrew to open it) into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is chestnut amber, then a bit orangey-amber when backlit. Small khaki-colored head on top.

S: Some brown sugar, ripe apple and hints of plummy raisins.

T: First impression: ripe apples and raisins. Some prune. Tannins and vanilla from the oak too. Oddly enough, the 10% ABV is completely not noticeable, though I do get a drying feel at the end of the sip.

M: Very smooth and mellow. Carbonation lacking; it's almost flat.

O: Good. Curious as to how it would've tasted when younger, but it's clearly aged just fine.

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Photo of Flickerdart
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle labelled as "bottled in 2014," judging from the "best before" label in December. This makes the beer aged a year and a half.

Pours an opaque dark brown with a tan two-finger head. Nose is roasted malts and oak. Taste is very woody, with notes of bitterness - there is none of the sweetness I see in other aged beers. The texture is on the chewy side, and there is noticeable carbonation.

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Photo of Amguerra305
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle cracked in 2016. Poured dark brown with an off white head. Smelled like an orchard. Green apple was most prevalent but there were hints of raisin and plum. Taste was sweet with fruit notes. An underlying hint of caramel. I had cracked another 2011 a few years back and remember alcohol was very prevalent; it was almost nonexistent once it had aged. There is also a rather chewy sweetness to it. Moderate carbonation and medium mouthfeel. Overall this is a beer that does extremely well when aged. Really gets mellowed out and everything just kind of merges in to something new. Will have to buy another and have an equal amount of self control. I suggest you do the same.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
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 -2.8%
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 Beginner2
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A great ale (2013 vintage) and worth the price (which is high praise coming from a cheapskate like me.)
Looks like a Unibroue dark, full head and persistent bubbles.
Smells like vanilla, but the rest is too complex and too much work to un-pack... so I just enjoyed.
Taste is easier (but still no exegesis): roasted malt whose semi-sweetishness is balanced by 35 IBU.
Feel is full.

Reviewed in Roger Protz' "300 More Beers To Try Before You Die" (published 2013), a sequel to his CAMRA classic. As usual, he gives precise tasting notes and a well-researched review. Protz' also tells me something I did not know: that Unibroue was bought by Sapporo in 2006. Then he tells me something I did know about, perhaps, my favorite North American brewery: there "has not been any diminution of the quality or character of the beers." Certainly true for 17.

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Photo of sjccmd
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
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 +10.8%
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 +2.6%
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 +9.4%
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 +11.8%
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 -1.4%
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
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | 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.

Edit: Revisiting. 2014 vintage in 2017. Has been kept at cellar temperature for the past 13 months.

Caramel, raisin, cherry, and oak. Definitely smoother with age. This blew my buddy away who isn't as acquainted with craft beer. Upping taste and feel to 4.5. My previous complaint of the oak overriding has been lessened with age. Earthy, malty dark fruit goodness.

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.03/5  rDev -5%
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 +3.3%
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 +8.3%
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 +7.8%
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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Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve from Unibroue
4.24 out of 5 based on 1,139 ratings.
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