As you’re no doubt aware, Dec. 21, 2012 has taken on special significance as the day the Maya Long Count Calendar ends. For those of you who don’t know, calendar is a Meso-American system of timekeeping that is incompletely understood by historians. It is based on periods of time called Baktuns, which last 144,000 days. December 21st represents the end of the current Baktun. Those of an apocalyptic bent believe that time itself may end.
Of course, there’s always a slight chance that some calamity will occur. You might be trampled by a rogue llama while crossing the street - but it doesn’t really bear thinking about, so you might as well enjoy yourself.
This is exactly the tack that Quebec’s Unibroue brewery has taken on the subject.
Breweries often aim for synergy with calendar events. It’s one thing to brew a pumpkin beer for fall or a spiced ale for Christmas. It’s quite another thing for a brewery with a beer called La Fin Du Monde (literally, "The End Of The World") to find the same opportunity. While trivializing the potential end of existence in order to sell more beer might seem exploitative - and more than a little silly - Unibroue should be forgiven for two reasons.
Firstly, the campaign itself is masterful. It revolves around getting visitors to their website to take part in a toast at midnight on December 20th. This is clearly an event that some significant thought and has gone into, since the toast will be taking place at 178 locations across North America. Unibroue has even created T-shirts especially for the event, for those of you who require a memento of the apocalypse. It’s such a good fit that I would have been slightly disappointed if they hadn’t thought of it.
Secondly, if you had to choose a Canadian beer to go out on, La Fin Du Monde is a great choice even if you discount the pleasing irony. Unibroue has been making it for 18 years and it has never suffered from issues of consistency. It is the most decorated beer in the history of Canada, having garnered 105 international medals.
It’s a Belgian-style Golden strong ale, which undergoes a final fermentation in the bottle to allow for natural carbonation. You may wish to pour carefully as this process results in some residual yeast at the bottom of the bottle. It weighs in at nine percent and does not hide its alcohol, which is an integral part of the aroma. There are notes of honey, coriander, clove and apple blossom which remain through the spiky carbonation of each sip and through the lingering finish. It can be aged for up to five years, although, given the present circumstances, that information may not be of much help.
Finding La Fin Du Monde on tap is a rarity at the best of times. You may as well treat yourself treat yourself to a bottle?? and join in the toast. In the event that I’m wrong and we’re all doomed, I recommend paying for the evening with a credit card.