In the past, I’ve written here at The Brew Club that, on balance, probably my favourite beer in the world is Jenlain, brewed by the Duyck brewery in northern France. Well on a recent expedition to UtoBeer (it’s meant to rhyme with Utopia) in Borough Market, I stumbled across a couple of bottles of Jenlain’s Christmas brew ‘Jenlain Noel’.
Bizarrely, while it had been brewed and bottled in Northern France, these had been imported from Massachusetts, so there goes my conscience regarding ‘beer miles’ for a while.
What is particularly interesting about Jenlain, is that while their brews are rich and spicy, they don’t actually use any fancy ingredients, just three different French barley malts and three varieties of ‘aromatic Alsace hops’ (I know, and water and yeast, you know the score).
It pours a rich dark amber, slightly darker than Jenlain’s regular Ambree brew, there’s not a lot of head, and very little lacing or nose. What nose there is hints towards malt and warming spices.
The flavour is warming, rich and malty, spicy – I detected hints of allspice, nutmeg, caramel and orange. That these complex flavours can be created without resorting to adding additional ingredients makes this a really impressive example of the art of brewing.
I’m giving this 4½ stars, making it by far my favourite ‘Christmas’ beer, but on balance, I still prefer the regular Jenlain Ambree; although with a 750ml bottle coming in at the equivalent of $11.25, I have to save that for special occasions.
And I confess, even at a heft 6.8% ABV, I couldn’t resist opening that second bottle of Jenlain Noel!
Bob the Brit