Castelain Bière de GardeSeptember 1, 2006 Nord-Pas de Calais, France
Brasserie Benifontaine Nord-Pas de Calais, France Imported by: Vanberg and DeWulf Cooperstown, NY 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 Color:n/a Bitterness: n/a 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.
- Stephen Beaumont
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.
- Charlie Papazian
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.
- Garrett Oliver
Stephen Beaumont boarded his first plane at the age of 15 and hasn’t looked back since, obsessing about travel to the point that he gets nervous if he doesn’t have a ticket or two stacked on the corner of his desk. When he’s not running around in search of new taste experiences, he makes his home in Toronto, where a new cultural experience is only as far away as the next neighborhood.
Author of the New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, founder of the Great American Beer Festival and a Beer Examiner at www.examiner.com, Papazian is a leading voice in beer and brewing.
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.
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