The Quebec brewery Unibroue made its name in the early '90s with Blanche de Chambly, inspired by the Belgian witbier ales. Four years ago it came up with this impressive cousin at the other end of the color spectrum. It pours dark brown with a moderately high tan head (like most Unibroue brews, it's bottled on the lees), showing a yeasty nose with a whiff of pears and black pepper. On the palate, it's full of roasted flavors like black coffee or toasted walnuts, a bit creamy with a slightly dry finish.
It's not as sweet as you might expect from the dark color, and it's lightly hopped -- a flush of carbonation stands in for hops as the counterpoint to the sweetness. The effect is remarkably solid and balanced. In short, this is a great beer for cooler weather, but it's more than that. It obviously goes with grilled meats, but it would also be good with many other foods, starting with mild cheeses.
-- Charles Perry
Style: A dark beer of roasty flavors, moderate sweetness/bitterness and a solid, centered profile
Price: $5.99 to $8.99 for a 22-ounce bottle
Where to find it: Red Carpet Wine in Glendale, (800) 339-0609, www.redcarpetwine.com; Wally's Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, www.wallywine.com; Hi-Time Wines in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463, www.hitimewine.net; Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista, (310) 306-2822, www.beveragewarehouse.com; and Beverages & More branches (for locations, visit www.bevmo.com)