Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Beer for Keeping

One of the great things about collaboration beers is that you can buy a beer from a brewery that you love -- like New Belgium -- and learn about breweries that you did not even know about  -- like Brewery Vivant.  I have reviewed a few great New Belgium beers, such as the Grand Cru Abbey Ale and the Le Fleur Misseur? Ale.  Those beers made me a big fan of New Belgium and I always keep an eye out for their beers.  

That is how I found the Bière de Garde, which is a collaboration between New Belgium and Brewery Vivant.  Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brewery Vivant draws its inspiration from the small farmhouses in Northern France and Southern Belgium.  They have transcribed that inspiration into beers such as the Farm Hand Farmhouse Ale and the Solitude Abbey Style Ale.  

For this particular collaboration, the brewers at New Belgium and Brewery Vivant chose to brew a Bière de Garde.  This style, which translates into "beer which has been kept or lagered," originated in Northern France in regions such as Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Artois and Picardie.  Farmhouses would brew a Bière de Garde in the spring and cellar the beer so that they could enjoy it during the summer.  This was a far better way to enjoy beer than trying to brew during those hotter months, when the heat added a sense of unpredictability to the fermentation of the yeast.

There are three variations of the Bière de Garde style.  According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, there is the brown (brune), blond (blonde) and amber (ambrée) styles.  The New Belgium/Brewery Vivant Bière de Garde fits neatly within the blonde style, with a nice yellow or gold in color.  The brewers produced this beer with pale, Munich and C-120 malts, as well as Target and Sorachi hops.  The brewers also used orange peel in the production of the beer. 

The brewers describe the aroma as being "[f]ruity orange and lemon peel, lots of spicy phenolic yeast flavors (clove, peppercorn), fresh herbal tea, fennel, some tropical fruit notes, cellar-like notes."  I could definitely sense the orange, as well as the lemon peel (which most likely came from the Sorachi hops, which do a great job adding citrus aromas and flavors to beer). There were some faint clove and spice flavors in the aroma.  As for the taste, the brewers suggest sweet fruit, citrus tart and mineral.  I definitely got the orange citrus flavors, which were clearly prominent in the light, dry and crisp body of the beer, as well as in its finish.

The Bière de Garde bottle may be a little suggestive of the ideal pairing for this beer.  Draft Magazine suggests that a Bière de Garde style beer can be paired with roast chicken or roast duck, as well as a vegetable omelet or corn bread.  The brewers at New Belgium suggest a pineapple soup or mixed paella. 

This beer is definitely worth a try, if not just to sample a beer from the Bière de Garde style.  This beer caught my eye at a local grocery store, where it sold for about $12.99 a bottle.

ENJOY!

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