Fin du Monde and you could feel fine

My first post of the year and I chose to talk about the one that just finished. 2016 was talked about as the worst year ever. Politicians, the EU, liberals have all come in for a serious bit of a kicking this year. Icons such as Muhammad Ali and David Bowie passed on. As if that wasn’t enough, we said goodbye to George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds before year’s end.

A great many people may be adding REM’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” to their Spotify playlists. The thing is, they obviously don’t feel fine. That’s their prerogative. More than a few could be found whining, whinging and wallowing into their beer over the past couple of months.

Fatalists could always turn to the appropriately named Fin du Monde. Over the past six years, this Québécois Tripel has been making inroads into the US beer market. First in bottles, it’s becoming more and more prevalent on tap. It certainly helps if your brewery’s owned by Japanese brewing giant, Sapporo.


Of course, craft beer hardliners pour scorn on such tie-ups and mourn each new acquisition by macro-breweries. Each is viewed as nudging them closer to the end of the world. It’s a kind of “once they’re gone, they’re gone!” mentality. Some of course are more likely to be “missed” than others. Lagunitas and Camden Town are two that enthusiasts are wrestling with their consciences over. Pilsner Urquell still tastes great. It was owned by SAB Miller but following 2016’s mega merger with AB InBev, the iconic Czech brewery was sold Asahi. Some great beer can survive such takeovers.

Unibroue’s Fin du Monde pours a hazy yellow and golden colour. Initially, it has a good frothy head which gives way to a thin band of bubbles that permeate the sides of the glass. A rich blend of banana, clove & orange peel best describe the aroma. Pleasant orange citrus notes encapsulate the flavour. Effervescent and dry occupy the mind prior to a bitter and slightly warming finish.

Post-Brexit anxiety has seen a rise in Irish passport applications from the UK. An influx of businesses and people is likely. Similar nervousness in the US may cause a spike in people moving north – for four years at least. Remember the George W Bush years? So it’s perhaps no bad thing to mention that Canadian beer’s not too shabby. Although, Americans might like to know our beer’s not bad either and the winters are a whole lot milder.

Divided we stand, united we fall?

Those who follow me on Twitter may be puzzled by the occasional tweet about Belgian football. It’s a result of having lived in a Brussels suburb and my local pub was a lively spot during league matches. The Belgian Pro League was simply referred to as the Jupiler League. The AB InBev mass produced, cheaply sold and even cheaper tasting lager has become synonymous with football. Jupiler has also become the title sponsor of the Dutch second division (no doubt to annoy Heineken).

This is a country where it used to be joked that the only Belgian was the King. But recently more and more Belgian flags can be seen. The current public displays of affection for the tricolour stem from a period spanning 2010 & 2011. For a world record 589 days, Belgium was without government. Once the initial hilarity had worn off, frustration and fear for the country’s future set in. A great many people took to hanging Belgian flags from their balconies or outside their homes.

Always check the hashtag to ensure that it doesn't say something else
#ALLINRED or FALLINRED – Always check the hashtag to ensure that it doesn’t say something else

Many of the flags, however, were Jupiler-branded. This is thanks to the beer’s lock on sports sponsorship. It can be hard to source an unadulterated flag. This has only been compounded by two Olympics and two major international football championships. The beer’s association with Belgian national football team has definitely capitalised on the recent patriotic trend. This has been in a similar vein to Budweiser renaming itself ‘America’ in the US over the summer.

Its recent promotion tying-in with the 2016 European Championships hits a little too close to home. The #ALLINRED campaign was stamped prominently on all its material. Unfortunately, the font left it reading a tad too close to FALLINRED. That’s precisely what the over-hyped and definitely under-performing de Rode Duivels, les Diables Rouges or die Roten Teufel (take your pick) did. The team flopped in the tournament that many tipped them to win.