If you’re thinking I wrote the brewery name in the headline twice for SEO purposes, you’re only 25-percent correct. I was really going for a play on the Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald duet “Let’s The Call the Whole Thing Off,” which features the line, “You like Tomat0, I like Tomahto.”
The whole point being that prior to a few months ago I had no idea how to pronounce the name of Jerry Nelson’s Belgian beer-inspired brewery. For a while I was saying Ooh-nee Annie, which then became Oohn Ah-nee before I finally settled on the correct pronunciation (with Karl’s help); Oohn, Ah-nay.
We were forwarded a few bottles of Jerry’s creations, compliments of the brewery and its distributor Wirtz Beverage, and can confidently report that — while the name may get a little lost in translation the quality of the beer certainly does not.
The back story of Une Année is a good one. Jerry is a former Marine and picked up the homebrew bug while serving overseas. He returned to Chicago, became an architect and used those skills to build his own brewery; as in the entire brewing system. Jessica Murphy of Girls Like Beer Too has a great writeup on Nelson and Une Année, which is undoubtedly worth a read.
Une Année’s beers, while Belgian-inspired, have a definite American twist — particularly noticeable with its Maya Belgian IPA, named for Nelson’s daughter.
The beer opens with a spicy, earthy nose balanced by copious amounts of passion fruit. The hop profile is aggressive making this more of an American-Belgo-IPA as opposed to the other way around; citrus, grapefruit pith and guava aplenty up front with underlying tones of banana and bubblegum making for a fun twist on a Belgian IPA.
Equally hop-forward and unique is Une Année’s collaboration with Dryhop Brewers; a Belgian Golden-Strong Ale dubbed The Devil’s Reign.
It smells as heavy as the 9-percent ABV implies with a significant citrus hop presence on the nose blended with the distinct aroma of canned pears. Hops greet the palate along with pear juice and orange zest. Banana bread and brown sugar provide a balanced sweetness to take a bit of the zing out of abundance of hops.
If you’re looking for a break from a hoppy brew then the Less is More Session Saison is more your speed.
Less is More packs the true-to-style flavors of a Saison in a sessionable 4.6-percent ABV package. The nose is a mix of lemon rind, orange peel, cracked wheat and spicy, black peppercorns. Citrus forward with a touch of lime juice and orange zest, Less is More drinks smooth and finishes parching and dry. Let it sit for a few and you’ll swear you’re drinking a melted Orange Creamsicle ice cream bar.
Along with the aforementioned offerings, Une Année has also unleashed a Tripel, Quad, Wheat Saison, Black Saison and a monstrous Russian Imperial Stout — Airing of Grievances — on Chicago.
With more and more breweries entering the market, Une Année does more than enough to set itself apart and has seemingly found a balance between crafting both approachable beers and challenging ones.
On a side-note, while I didn’t set out to do so, I think I successfully created a polar opposite to Phil Montoro’s weekly beer and metal reviews. Fun.