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Belgian & French Ales
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Belgian & French Ales

 

While there are certainly more subcategories that fit into Belgian & French ales, farmhouse ales are the most prevalent. They also happen to be the only Belgian & French ales we've featured in Alcoholmanac Magazine thus far. Therefore, they are all we've written about. More will come, but for now, here's a bit on farmhouse ales:

Farmhouse ales are generally categorized into two recognized styles — saison and bière de garde.

Saison, with an ABV ranging from 6-8.5%, boasts a refreshing, acidic tartness with a moderate to heavy hop bitterness balancing the scale. A low to moderate alcohol warmth and a bubbly mouth allows delicate fruits, spices and a touch of earth to play over your tongue in a complex dance that even wine aficionados can enjoy. Back in the day, the saison style served as the field hands brew and was around 3% ABV. That meant they could chug away at their daily ration of a whopping 5 liters, keep hydrated and not get drunk. Though I’m sure more than a couple enjoyed a good buzz.

Bière de garde, also with an ABV ranging from 6-8.5%, is separated into three categories: blond (blonde), amber (ambrée) and brown (brune). The blond has a taste profile similar to the saison style due to their common heritage, but the darker you go, the more malt dominates the hop and the more pronounced the sweet caramel and toffee becomes. Bières de garde also tend to have a slightly more earthy profile and silky mouthfeel due to the generally increased malt.

 

 



Blanche de Bruxelles PDF Print E-mail
Featured Beers - Belgian & French Ales

Blanche de Bruxelles | Recommended by Dave McGraw for Alcoholmanac Magazine

 

Blanche de Bruxelles

Brasserie Lefebvre | Quenast, Belgium

4.50% ABV


Recommended By Joan La Rosa
Written by Dave McGraw

This bottle- (or can-)conditioned wit pours a honey yellow, which invokes a sense of calm when staring into its cloudy depths. Fill your glass slowly to avoid chewing on sediment, but don’t be afraid to drink it, either; it adds to the flavor! Allow the creamy, near perfect head to settle and it rewards you with the subtle aroma of citrus and hints of caramel. This instantly drew me further into this beer, reminding me of summer and filling me with the radiant happiness of memories spent under the sun. While having a moderate mouthfeel, lemon and buttery notes slowly dissipate with a delicate sparkling carbonation. Fresh is an understatement. The golden boy logo is, well, err ... relieves himself *ahem* encouraging you to relieve your thirst with this sessionable, delicious bier of summer.

 
Brasserie Du Bocq Blanche de Namur PDF Print E-mail
Featured Beers - Belgian & French Ales

Brasserie Du Bocq Blanche de Namur | Recommended by Dave McGraw for Alcoholmanac Magazine

 

Brasserie Du Bocq Blanche de Namur

Du Bocq Brewery | Purnode, Belgium

4.50% ABV


Recommended By Dave McGraw

As it pours from bottle to glass, the wheat beer settles a very cloudy dull yellow in which you won’t be able to see though until the glass has been drained. Pouring slowly does little to reduce the tenacity of this extremely thick headed brew. Watching this head degrade from a big, creamy monster into a graveyard of effervescence is one which brings about more joy than perhaps it should. Then again ... On the nose, the beer greets one with a well balanced aroma of musty yeast, a touch of orange and a suggestion of spice. It’s smooth at the forefront of the palate, but soon explodes with a carbonated depth charge of orange and an alluring blend of coriander and licorice. Finishing clean and refreshing, Blanche de Namur reminds me of a farmhouse ale in some ways and leaves imbibers with a lust for more.

 
Stillwater Existent PDF Print E-mail
Featured Beers - Belgian & French Ales

a picture of Stillwater Existent farmhouse ale

Dog Brewing Company
Westminster, MD


They Say:
“Deep & dark though deceptively dry, braced by a firm yet smooth bitterness and accented with an earthy hop and mild roast aroma. This is an ale for you to define ... “


We say:
Labeled simply as a Farmhouse ale, we think this could easily fit into the bière de garde style. The unmistakable smell of malt and caramel was strong as we put our noses over this dark mahogany brew. Its sweet, thick flavor reminded us of prunes and roasted coffee but also had some subtle tart citrus notes. Ending slowly with a slightly dry finish, this might be a beer to enjoy on a cool summer eve rather than a hot summer day.
 
Foret Saison PDF Print E-mail
Featured Beers - Belgian & French Ales

a picture of Foret Saison

Brasserie Dupont
Tourpes, Belgium


They Say:
Nothing

We Say:
This organic bottled-conditioned farmhouse ale poured smoothly into our glasses and produced a tight white head over a light golden body. Strong citrus and apple aromas with subtle accents of malt and bread hung over the top of the glass. Sweet and effervescent, the beer contained a tasty medley of banana, tart apple and allspice and finished with a slightly dry bitter-sweet mouth. Definitely a good choice for a refreshing summer brew.

One thing we need to mention is that in our experience, the flavor of a beer in a green bottle can be varied. The amount of light let in by the semi-opaque glass can sometimes lead to unexpected or adverse flavors, especially in bottle-conditioned beers.


 
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