Bière de Garde
The Bière de Garde, meaning “ beer for keeping”, is a French-style Strong Pale Ale which is traditionally brewed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. The origin of these beers comes from small farmhouses in Northern France and were traditionally brewed during the winter and spring months to avoid issues with the yeast due to the high heat of the summer. Today the beers are commercially produced, however, the majority of Bière de Gardes made are from small breweries. The beers brewed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region are entitled to use the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, “Pas-de-Calais / Region du Nord”.
These beers have three styles, blonde, amber and brown that range from a golden, copper color to reddish-bronze or chestnut brown. Bière de Garde beers are typically unfiltered resulting in a cloudy appearance. They have prominent malty sweet aromas with caramel and toasty elements. The commercial versions often contain musty, woodsy characters brought on by indigenous yeasts and molds that are difficult to replicate in small breweries or home-brews.
The flavor is often described as medium to high malt with toffee or caramel sweetness which gets increasingly complex as the beer color darkens. The malt taste overrides the hops and is evident into the finish, which is medium-dry to dry. The mouthfeel tends to be lean and possesses smooth, silky qualities that are accented by moderately high carbonation. They have an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) range of 6 - 8.5% and an International Bittering Unit (IBU) range of 18 - 28.
Two Brothers Brewing Company in Warrenville, Illinois created a Bière de Garde named Domaine DuPage French Country Ale. This family owned, artisan brewery produces European-style beers and we were lucky enough to feature them in our Craft Beer Club.