What is Biere De Garde?
Thanksgiving is only about a week away (I swear I don’t know where the time goes), so I thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about my top 5 Biere De Gardes, French for beer which has been kept or lagered. Biere De Garde is a traditional farmhouse pale ale that has its origins in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. Brewed in the late winter and early spring and kept in cold cellars for consumption later in the year, this keeping was primarily done to avoid problems with the yeast during the warmer summer months.
Biere De Garde and Saison
In many ways, Biere De Garde is a distant relative of Saison, with the main difference between them being that Biere De Garde has a rounder, richer, sweeter, malt-focused flavor, with a cellar-like, earthy, sometimes musty character that is difficult to replicate if you’re attempting to homebrew it, due to its indigenous yeast and molds. Another noticeable difference from this beer and Saison is its lack of spicing and tartness.
Biere De Garde Characteristics
Biere De Garde has a prominent malty-sweet aroma with a complex, light to moderate toasty character, and very little hop aroma, and if it is there it will be a bit on the spicy or herbal side. Appearance-wise, there is one of the widest ranges of color of all beer styles; some are light blonde, and some are dark brown, with any variation in between. Highly carbonated with a well-formed white to off-white head, Biere De Garde is one pretty beer. It tastes even better than it looks—it has medium to high malt flavor with a toasty, toffee-like sweetness, and that malt flavor will increase in the darker versions that you encounter. Hop bitterness will be low, but supportive, and there will be a smooth, lager-like character with some herbal and spice notes in the background. Smooth and silky, even though were talking about it in November, this is one of my favorite summer session beers when you need a break from all the pale wheat ales, Witbiers, and Hefeweizens.
Biere De Garde and Food Pairings
Now comes my main inspiration for talking about this beer—its amazing versatility with food pairing. It makes perfect sense that the indigenous beer style of France works so well with grub. Lamb and sausages are two big ones that immediately come to mind, and intense, fragrant cheeses are Biere De Gardes best friends; Livarot, Pavin, and Munster are three that are a match made in heaven. However, the biggest, grandest, and most perfect pairing is what you’re going to do next week—Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve talked about the herbal, earthy, musty notes in Biere De Garde, and these flavors match up incredibly well with what will be on your table. All those herbs that you’re going to use in your gravy, stuffing, on the turkey… they have very much in common with this beer.
Anyone who knows me well enough knows that one of my personal bibles is Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table, the last word on pairing beer with food. Upon first reading it years ago, one of the first suggestions in his book that I followed and took to heart was his suggestions with this beer and Thanksgiving dinner, and I couldn’t agree with him more. I outlined in a post last year how great this beer is with that meal, and encouraged everyone to ditch the wine bottles and go for the beer instead. I’m going to do the same again this year—it’s simply TOO good of a pairing to not try at least once.
[techtags:BIERE DE GARDE, BEST BIERE DE GARDE, BEER REVIEWS, THANKSGIVING BEERS]