Nord-Pas de Calais, France
Imported by: Vanberg and DeWulf
Available: AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI
Despite its reputation as a wine-producing nation, France has two regions with strong brewing traditions: Alsace and Nord-Pas de Calais or French Flanders, where the farmhouse ales called bières de garde are produced.
Alcohol (wt.): 4.8
Alcohol (vol.): 6.0
Original Gravity: n/a
Final gravity: n/a
Malts used: n/a
Hops used: n/a
I’m a fan of these idiosyncratic northern French ales, and this is one I enjoy, even though I wish it and others of its ilk were still bottle-conditioned, as they once were. Nevertheless, its bright, light copper colour is as attractive as its sweetish, perfumey and subtley spicy aroma. Equally enticing is a body which begins with a shot of ripe fruitiness—apricot and melon—before settling in to an off-dry, honey-accented flavour with rising alcohol notes and a soft, spicy hoppiness. I’ll marry France’s north and south and enjoy this with a bouillabaisse.
Extraordinarily pale in color with a joyous effervescence upon uncorking. Puts you into a celebratory mood. Fresh, zesty, yeasty, spicy aroma with an underlying malt tone. Great hop flavor balancing: a hairline balance between malt and dryness. Wonderfully drinkable with joyful overtones. Elegant to say the least. Noble aftertaste. A great palate refresher with moderately to delicately flavored food.
The cork pops, revealing a full golden beer veiled by a light haze. The fine quiet head quickly drops back. The aroma shows bready malt with an overlay of floral hops, herbs and a whiff of aniseed. Broad moderate bitterness gives way to a malty palate with a sweet lilt of fruit. The finish is soft and clean. This is a nice rendition of the pale style of bière de garde; it’s terrific with France’s stinkier washed-rind cheeses.