Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Belgium Brewing Le Fleur, Misseur? Ale

New Belgium Brewing is a socially conscious craft brewer in Fort Collins, Colorado that produces some great beers, including the one that the brewer is probably best known for, ... Fat Tire.  New Belgium beers are distributed primarily out west and in the Midwest.  Whenever I am traveling and I see a New Belgium beer on the menu, I am more likely than not to order a bottle to enjoy with dinner.  

A few months ago, when I was strolling the aisles of a Binny's Beverage Depot outside of Chicago, I came across a rather interesting beer from New Belgium ... the Le Fleur, Misseur? Ale.  On the bottle, the brewer writes that it is "a beer worthy of misspelling," and beckons the consumer to "learn why this beer holds a special place in our history at New Belgium."  Intrigued, I bought a bottle to try.

New Belgium produced Le Fleur, Misseur? Ale  for its employees to celebrate the company's fifteenth anniversary.  According to the brewer, the name of the beer originates from an experience of the brewery's founder, Jeff Lebesch, while sitting on the side of a road in Belgium.  A kid passed by, picked a flower, and offered it to Lebesch.  Hence, "Le Fleur, Misseur?"

The key to this beer is Brettanomyces or "Brett."  Brettanomyces are wild yeast that were once the bane of brewers, dooming beers by creating what most considered to be "off-flavors."  Note that I said "most."  There is a sizable contingent of brewers -- mainly the Belgians -- who actually welcome Brettanomyces into their beer.  Over the decades (and, indeed, centuries), they have been able to use "Brett" in the production of some great beer styles, such as Lambics and Geuze.  Perhaps, the most well known "Brett" beer is Orval, which is produced by Trappist Cistercian Monks.

More and more American craft brewers are experimenting with Brettanomyces to produce "wild beers."  New Belgium relies upon "Brett" to provide its Le Fleur, Misseur Ale with its unique aromatic characteristics and taste.  The brewer suggests that the aromas include flower, fresh bread and honey.  I could smell the flower, the bread and honey were a little harder for me to pick up from the beer.  As for taste, the brewer suggests pineapple clove or honey, with an herbal finish.  I definitely got the herbal finish, as well as some of the clove and honey. 

The beer pours with a thick white to off-white foam, that lasts for quite a while.  The beer does pour a nice deep golden color.  The nose and taste of the beer are different -- in a very good way -- and can lead one to overlook the fact that the beer is made with Pale, Victory, Wheat, C-80, Carapils and Oats malts, as well as Target and Willamette hops.  The beer has an ABV of 6.2%.

One would ordinarily think that pairing food with a "Brett" beer would be extremely difficult because of the favors produced by the yeast; however, the brewery provides food pairings recommended by different people on its website.  Many of the ideas sound very interesting, such as Ancho Chile Seasoned Buttermilk Fried Chicken Drizzled with Honey and Served on top of Blue Corn Waffles; Basil Crusted Pork Loin with Candied Pears and Pasta with Wild Mushroom Ragu.

I am a big fan of "Brett" beers and, in my opinion, New Belgium has definitely "tamed" the wild yeast to produce a great beer.  I would definitely recommend this beer for those who love craft beers and, in particular, those who are open to different tastes in their beers.  I found this beer at a Binny's Beverage Depot outside of Chicago, Illinois.


For more about this beer, check out the brewery's website.  For more about Brettanomyces, check out Wikipedia.

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