Bière de Garde Reviews
Once brewed in early spring for warm-weather consumption, these French farmhouse ales are close kin to saisons. Bière de gardes further subdivide into brown, blond and amber versions, which vary in color and malt-hop balance, but all share similar mouthfeels, flavors and aromas. Aromas should be malty-sweet and slightly toasty; blond versions may have a hint of hops. A high malt flavor with toasty or toffee sweetness should tip the beer’s balance away from hops, though some bitterness should be present. Bodies are medium with somewhat high carbonation, and ABVs fall within the 6%-8.5% range. Though sweeter, maltier and less tart than their saison cousins, bière de gardes’ most distinct characteristic is a “cellar” note in the taste and aroma, a quality attained from aging in cold cellars with yeast and mold—bière de garde literally translates to “beer that has been kept.”
Pair: Keep tradition alive by pairing these brews with farmhouse fare; roast chicken or duck, a vegetable omelet and corn bread make excellent canvasses for bière de gardes’ effervescence and sweet flavors.