Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fourquet Fourchette featuring Unibroue Beers in Chambly, QC

Hey! I'm the Bigger Half! And in
Quebec no less! (in front of
Fourquet Fourchette)
After a lovely, leisurely drive up through Northern New England, and over the US/Canadian border, we had strategically planned out a first stop that would be a good use of time between arrival in Canada and check in time at the hotel. The stop that I speak of is on the island of Chambly, the home of Unibroue, the maker of Fin du Monde. Fin du Monde is a triple-style golden ale which holds a soft spot in my heart as the beer that made me admire all things beer, desire more knowledge on the science and many varieties of beer, and certainly want to explore interesting local breweries as I travel.
Barley and beer theme throughout
the restaurant
There is restaurant run by Unibroue in Chambly, a stones throw from the Fort of Chambly, located on the river and built in the style of a rustic 18th century Quebecoise trade house or inn. It is called Fourquet (French for the mashing rake used by beer makers) Fourchette (French for fork). It's warm and inviting, especially on a cold day as this, and while perhaps a little quirky, none of the quirkiness is out of place. Themes of grains and barley are scattered throughout the restaurant, and frankly, the beer speaks for itself.
The restaurant dining room
Upon arriving around 3 pm, oddly the restaurant was empty, though most definitely open. After a few moments of wandering around, a lovely lady descended the stairs, greeting us in French. We were soon on our way to a table next to a large picture window overlooking the river, with menus of beer and other beverages, and a one page food menu, boasting house made sausages and charceuterie, salads, smoked fish, and other delectable hearty snacks.
The bigger half ordered the flight of beers, and though we've both tasted them all previously as they are widely available at the local package store back home, we've never had them on draft and tasting so fresh.
Blanche du Chambly: A Belgian Style White Ale. This beer is light and refreshing, delicious during summer and appropriate for any lighter foods, such as a nice white fish. It strikes me as a good session beer, with a clean flavor complemented by hints of orange and clove that one could enjoy leisurely for multiple glasses.
From right: Blanche du Chambly, Ephemere, Noire Chambly, Maudite,
Fin du Monde, Trois Pistoles
Ephemere: A White Ale that seasonally changes to feature different fruit accents. The most popular of the fruit flavors is apple, which we've had before. But today, they had a Cassis Ephemere on tap. The sweet smell of cherries beckons one to drink, and while the smell is sweet, the beer still retains its integrity as a beer, not giving way to the more syrupy cloying taste of the occasional fruity beer. Honestly, the Ephemere is the beer that you introduce to a girl that you really like at a party - because it's beer and its fruity and it shows that you might have a little more sophistication past the world of Keystone Light.
Noire Chambly: A Black Ale. This is a smooth beer that tastes of chocolate notes at the end, and toasted grains throughout. Although it's not my favorite of these beers, I can imagine that it would be a lovely glass of beer to accompany any number of desserts, or various braised dishes.
Maudite: An Abbey, Double-Style Ale. This is a strong ale with bold flavors of coriander, caramel, clove. It has a slight hint of burnt sugar, but in that good way, and then there is a kick of a finish, maybe a touch spicy to satisfy someone that really enjoys a beer with a distinct, assertive flavor profile. Hell, I'll just say it. Enjoy this beer with steak.
Fin du Monde: Triple Blond Ale. This beer won my heart years ago. Everybody who loves beers, regardless of what style they tend towards after the fact, has a beer like this that really provided for an aha moment, with worlds of other beers to explore. It was just so darn interesting compared to all the Sam Adams and shittier still beers I'd consume previously. The beer was sour, both in a tart way, and with the flavor that is most pronounced from say a sour dough bread's yeast. It was prominently fruity, but not girly. There were spices complimenting the tartness of an obviously alcohol heavy brew... and while drinking it, I kid you not, all I could think about was how good it would go with a snack of Stilton or a triple creme blue. Ahhh memories.
Trois Pistoles: Quadrupel style ale (Quad). This is a dark beer, and one of my brother in laws' favorite styles of brews. Perhaps its the high alcohol content, or the sweet after taste that lingers on? Maybe it's the figs, or the smooth finish... whatever it is, this is another strong offering from the Unibroue brewery.
So the thing that really amazes me about beer-centric restaurants and brew houses in Quebec versus those found in the United States is how wonderful the food is. It is one of my greater pet peeves in life that when I go to a little brew pub in the States the menu is more than likely all too big, and always featuring some sort of ingredient that, you know, comes in from the exact opposite end of the earth. The nachos will be inevitably soggy, the pizza just plain bad, and whatever other "bro food" that they have available will basically want me to go pitchfork babies.
Why is this such a travesty? Because with our neighbor to the North, they get it so utterly right. This brew pub features local ingredients, even as the frost has set in, offering up an array of local, house made charcuterie, home made soups, Quebecoise cheese, local smoked fish... you get the idea. A pride in the land on which they brew their beer is also greatly reflected in the menu, and as a result, they don't feel comfortable shoveling out crap food.
The Raftman Plate: featuring
smoked doug (center left)
So what did we have... let's see... there was the Plate Raftman, named for one of the beers available at the brewery. On top of a delicious, crunchy little salad of mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, the restaurant featured several slices of their in house charceuterie. The star of the plate was the smoked, thin-sliced duck. I don't know if I've ever had something like this before. It was rich, and flavorful, kissed with the aroma of wood and charcoal, having been smoked to a perfect, tender pink medium. Salty local ham, creamy duck liver mousse, and a decadent duck rillette also shared the plate with the smoked duck, and we took pleasure in sipping beer and snacking on the various local meats along with some crusty bread with Quebec butter.
Soup a l'oignon
In addition to the Raftman plate, I also gave in to my primal urge to consume French onion soup, and sat wide-eyed and eager as it arrived at the table. The soup was delicious, with a lighter broth than you would normally expect in an onion soup; I suspect it was made with the Blanche du Chambly, though I could be wrong. The restaurant added thick slices of rustic bread as croutons and generous amounts of local Quebecoise cheese, lovingly melted and bubbling as it arrived at the table. Soupe à l'oignon has been a life long obsession of mine, and I am completely tickled that a restaurant run by a brewery can make such a substantial legitimate version.
Seriously, would you trust Beer Works to make you a charceuterie plate or a decent French onion soup? I wouldn't, and that's a tragedy.  But it also puts into perspective a) how wonderful the beer at Unibroue actually is and b) how proud they are of their home to produce house made food that complements the beer so well. This was a fantastic start to our exploration of Montreal.


Fourquet Fourchette
1887 Bourgogne St.
Chambly, Quebec

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