I’ve written before, here at The Brewclub, that French bière de garde is probably my favourite beer style, although a good, modern, IPA comes close.
Traditionally dark, strong and sweet, bières de garde are brewed in northern France for storage and enjoying through the dark winter months. My personal favourite, when I can get it, is Jenlain Ambree, but Thornbridge brewed an excellent bière de garde in ‘Jehanne‘.
My hope is that Jehanne becomes a Thornbridge regular brew, and not just a one-off.
Another well known bière de garde is Ch’Ti, brewed by the Castelain Brewery in Benifontaine, about sixty miles inland from Calais, and when I saw Ch’Nord on a supermarket shelf my initial thought was that Ch’Ti had rebranded and grabbed a bottle.
In fact it’s from the Brasserie Gayant in Douai, a family run brewery, founded in 1919, and a further twenty miles inland from the coast.
Bottled and labelled as a bière de garde, when I uncorked the 75cl bottle, the nose was nothing like I expected.
The nose and flavour has a tartness that’s reminiscent of a ‘Saison’ brew, which I confess is one of my least favourite beer styles.
Behind the tartness there are fruit elements, mango, banana and citrus and a lingering candy sugar threat of 7% alcohol.
I suppose it’s unfair to rate this against an expectation, but on a cold February night I was (no pun intended) bitterly disappointed. I struggled to finish the 75cl bottle.
On regaining my objectivity, however, I decided that this is worthy of two and a half Brewclub stars.
I will, however, seek out a bottle of Ch’Ti to review.