Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Unibroue Éphémère
By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 21, 2007 4:00PM
Last week, we went to Chalkboard, the new restaurant in North Center owned by former SushiSamba Rio chef Gilbert Langlois (we'll have a recap of the experience in "Your Friday Food Buffet" later this week). Now, Langlois and his staff have compiled a pretty impressive wine list, but on the day of our visit it was so warm. We wanted a beer that complemented the weather as well as the food. This wasn't a problem for Langlois and his staff. Chalkboard only stocks three beers, all of them by Unibroue, that amazing Quebec brewery.
Our server, a beautiful Nashville native named Lynn, suggested a bottle of Éphémère. Éphémère is a white ale brewed with apple must, coriander, and curacao. The result is an ale that teems with the flavor of Granny Smith apples, but with very little of the sweetness. Anyone who's had Woodchuck's Granny Smith cider can attest to what we're talking about. Ciders, to our palate, can be either too sweet or bone dry. We prefer something in between.
Éphémère pours with a thick white head that faded as quickly as the good weather on our visit to Chalkboard. Cloudy and opaque, no lacing was left on the glass. Granny Smith apple was the dominant flavor, but the coriander and curacao tempered the sweetness of the apple must and gave Éphémère an amazing balance of flavors that paired perfectly with both our macaroni and cheese appetizer and the Southern fried chicken entree. We would love to see how Éphémère stands up to some French onion soup, or sharper cheeses. The blend of spices and apple also called to mind subliminal suggestions of apple pie.
Éphémère was a perfect beer for us to wrap up a perfect day last week. Folks who aren't fans of sweeter ciders might want to consider buying a bottle at Warehouse Liquors in the South Loop, where they worship at the temple of Unibroue. It's also a delightful twist on white ales that puts flavored malt beverages to shame. Unibroue can do no wrong. It's one of a handful of breweries from which we've never consumed a bad beer. For a midwestern spring, you can't do much better than Unibroue Éphémère, Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week."
Éphémère logo from Unibroue Website.