Tuesday, August 25, 2009

56. Unibroue Raftman

Raftman is brewed by Unibroue in Chambly, Quebec. I’m happy to see this beer back—I used to get it in the 750ml bottles when I was living in Buffalo in 2000, and then it disappeared and I couldn’t find it anymore. And believe me, I tried: I got a lot of “they aren’t shipping that anymore” or “we haven’t been able to get that recently,” which I interpreted as the nice version of “go away and buy some other damn beer.” So I did, but I always hoped it would come back, as it was the first beer I ever had with whiskey malt in it, and I liked the spicy characteristics it added—this was, after all, well before the current rye craze, and finding decent Belgian-influenced beers required more money than I was sporting as a lowly graduate student. Plus, the outdoorsy dude on the label made me laugh—it was so very different from the other Unibroue labels.

Raftman has a yeasty malt nose, a burnished tan color, and a plentiful lacy white head. It begins with a soft, rounded spicy malt front with rye notes and progresses into a clean, crisp refreshing middle before finishing with a bit of a bite and some creaminess, but an overall clean conclusion. Medium-bodied, Raftman has a zesty mouthfeel: slightly spicy with a decent carbonation bite and some yeast ester characteristics. A smooth, well-balanced beer—the interesting mix of Belgian and New World influences that play out in this beer make Raftman eccentric yet accessible, but not overdone.

From Unibroue’s website: “Launched in March 1995, Raftman is a beer with a coral sheen that is slightly robust. It contains 5.5 percent alcohol and combines the character of whisky malt with the smooth flavours of choice yeast. It has a subtle and exceptional bouquet that creates a persistent smooth feel. Raftman complements fish, smoked meat and spicy dishes. It is brewed to commemorate the legendary courage of the forest workers These hard working men knew when to settle their differences and share their joie de vivre with a beer and a whisky.”

ABV: 5.5%


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