Sunday, April 25, 2010

(26 April '10) Office Hours with the Publican: Help me inventory our French Bieres de Garde by tasting a few of them.

Longtime observers will note that I've spent eighteen years at the Public House touting French Bieres de Garde, a personal favorite. The reaction has tended to be underwhelming, for reasons that I've never really understood, but that's okay.
We're coming upon an ordering cycle from Shelton Brothers, which imports all the French beers described below. In turn, the list below is reprinted from the Pizzeria & Public House's everyday beer list. In essence, both in the sense of the beer list and the approach of Bastille Day (my annual French beer showcase, this year as last slated for Bank Street Brewhouse on July 14), it's inventory time. It's time to see what we have in stock, how it tastes, and what needs to be ordered for Bastille Day.

What better time that Office Hours to achieve this? The only drawback is the absence of food, with which Bieres de Garde pair so well, so maybe we'll throw a large pizza into the mix tomorrow night (my treat). For $5, we'll deal you in. Some or all of the following will be included, depending on what's there.


France’s famed Bieres de Garde originally were produced by farmhouse breweries located in the north of France, near the Belgian border. Climactically and historically, it is a transitional zone, where wine-making meets brewing, and Bieres de Garde came about as the thoughtful solution to the problem posed by summertime heat, which rendered brewing almost impossible in the age before temperature-controlled fermentation.

The farmers brewed ale during cooler weather, bottled it in used wine and champagne bottles, and cellared the bottles for drinking during summer until the heat subsided and brewing could resume. Bieres de Garde had to be sufficiently ample and alcoholic for cellaring, but not too heavy in body for warm-weather drinking.

Also, they were intended to accompany food (it’s France, after all!), hence the deep and complex maltiness of the style’s better, more enduring examples. There are hoppy types, too. Either way, you needn’t wait until warm weather, because Bieres de Garde pair superbly with pizza any time of year. Average alcohol content of the bottles listed below is 7.5% abv.


Duyck Jenlain Ambree 25.4 oz 12.00
Since 1922, a classic malty, amber example.

La Bavaisienne 25.4 oz 17.50
Brown, malty and sweetish, but with a finishing hop balance.

La Choulette Ambree 24.4 oz 15.25
First brewed in 1885, later revived. Try with Greek lasagna.

La Choulette Sans Culottes 25.4 oz 15.25
“Without trousers.” Tawny golden, elegant with food.

Page 24 (Brasserie St. Germaine)
Reserve Hildegarde Ambree 25.4 oz 12.50
Hoppier than most, with Brewer’s Gold and Strissel Spalt hops.

St. Druon de Sebourg Abbey 25.4 oz 14.50
Golden, and brewed with Alsatian malt, hops and special yeast.

Thiriez Blonde 25.4 oz 17.25
From the village of Esquelbecq, leaning toward a spicy Saison.

Thirex Xxtra 25.4 oz 17.25
Hop laden: The eccentric Bramling Cross hop from Kent.

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