I’ve made no secret of my love of Bieres de Garde here at The Brewclub, my favourite beer in the world is Jenlain from the Pas de Nord near Calais in France. Bieres de Garde (literally ‘beers for storing’) are usually sold in large champagne style bottles with wire caged corks.
My fondness for such beers has left my beer shelf with a rather interesting selection of brews in such bottles, some of these are Bieres de Garde others hail from Belgium and promise to perhaps be more exotic.
For instance this one – Bourgogne Des Flandres – from the Timmermans Brewery in Bruges, which is a few miles inland from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Timmermans was founded in 1781 when Henry Vanheyleweghen first brewed in the Belgian town of Itterbeek. The brewery was leased to James Walraevens in 1814 and the brewery named the ‘Brewery Mol’ on 1832. James’s daughter married Frans Timmermans in 1911 and the Mol brewery was renamed the Timmermans Brewery in 1934 after Frans’ death.
Timmermans (the word means ‘carpenter’) is probably the largest Lambic (wild yeast) brewer in Belgium, and a fair percentage of its brew is sold to other brewers to bolster their Lambic or Gueze brews. Timmermans Kriek (Cherry), Framboise (Raspberry) and Peche (Peach) brews are well known and quite widely available.
Bourgogne Des Flandres is initially brewed as a (top fermented) ale, then infused with Lambic ale, before being matured in oak, and then bottled. It was first brewed in 1989, at a Timmerman’s brewery in Bruges. That was a few years before the brewery was taken over by the Martin Group.
So, on to the beer… it pours a rich deep amber colour, there’s not much head and what there is fades with unseemly haste.
The nose is slightly sour, with hints of dark cherries; this tells me I’m not getting a Biere de Garde tonight!
And the first taste confirms this, it’s tangy – that’s the wild yeasts coming through – with underlying hints of those dark cherries, and perhaps plums lurking in the background.
It’s light, not full bodied, but at 5% ABV it’s deceptive.
I’ve seen this described as a ‘Flanders Red Ale’ and as such it should go head to head with Rodenbach Grand Cru or Duchesse de Bourgogne. This is perhaps a little unfair as both those potent brews would blow this out of the water.
This is more subtle, more restrained, and while I was initially a little disappointed with this brew, as I made my way down the 750ml bottle, I started to respect it for its restraint.
I’ll give this three stars, and wouldn’t be upset to see it on my beer shelf again.
Bob the Brit