The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Archive for the category “French Beer”

Brotherly Love

Procrastination time. Instead of studying for next week’s exam, practicing before today’s bass lesson doing laundry or simply drinking beer, I’m blogging. I get to drink many of the beers that are featured in this blog thanks to my Excellent Little Brother. 3 or 4 years ago he did the right thing and got the hell out of Israel. He moved to New York, got a job that gets him to places – especially in my beloved fly-over states – and also travels a lot outside the city. He makes the most out of his time there. Home and away, he goes to liquor stores, finds stuff from my list and sometimes digs treasures on his own, and when he comes to visit, he packs the goods and delivers.

Over the years he learned to enjoy beer. Though not his main hobby or obsession, he’s been to brewpubs in town and away, and sampled anything from imperial stout to mead to sour ales – go him!

He brought Canadian beer when he went to tap maple one weekend in Ontario, and usually and naturally, he usually brings American beer. But living in NY, he’s got an access to almost everything that’s exported, so occasionally, there’s some non-American stuff around, like Hövels Original, Altbier from Dortmund, that was sadly after its best before date when it finally reached me. Cannot blame him, though! Despite the age, it wasn’t too bad. Clear brown with white head. Malty aroma with some instant coffee with milk and a little wood. Tastes slightly bitter, malty, and a little burnt caramel. Medium body, fairly carbonated and a little burnt aftertaste.

Excellent Little Brother also brought Hofbräu München Maibock. Brewed by the famous Hofbräuhaus in Munich, bought in Manhattan and drank in Tel Aviv, this Heller Bock pours clear and reddish with cream colour foam. Very malty, seedy aroma, bitter, slightly sweet and warm malty taste, then more bitterness. Medium-bodied, long, bitter, grainy finish. I love big malty beers, and this certainly was one.

Funny enough, he found me the bottle of French Biere de Garde CH’TI Ambrée when I was in Paris last September. We were emailing back and forth, me from my hotel room, he from Wholefoods. Clear dark amber with beige head. Sweet, honey aroma. Sweet honey mead-like taste. Medium body, sweet finish. Probably spoiled, but I kinda liked it anyway.

Our drinking bodies always say that I tend to like the beer my brother brings me a little more than they deserve. I can’t deny that.

Hövels Original, Hofbräu München Maibock and CH’TI Ambrée are beers #434, #435 and #436 I Must Try Before I Die.

Parisian Chic

So apparently I’m flying to Paris next week. Business meetings. I’m gonna miss Beers 2014 – the most important and fun beer event of the year here in the country – due to two intensive days with our French colleagues. But hey, me and Ms. Bazelet, my office-mate, extended our stay. Her motivation? I dunno. Mine? Tiki Pop exhibition at Muse’e du Quai Branly. And cocktails at some of the world’s best bars. And if time permits, hunt for a second hand luxury bag. Oh, and visit that amazing rum shop behind Jardin Luxemburg. Plenty of things to do in less than 24 hours and yes, beer hunting is not really on the agenda.

Why’s that?

As soon as my boss called to tell me about the flight, I opened the google spreadsheet that helps me keep track on this 1001 journey. Filtering the country column I found out that there are 24 French beers in this book. That’s plenty, for a country that isn’t necessarily known for its beer scene. Considering the 4 Norwegian beers, 12 Danish beers and 4 Swedish beers, all I can do is wonder WTF. Anyway, I already reviewed 8 of them here, I have another one in the cellar and here are two more French beers I drank recently (or not so recently):

Ch’ti Blonde that Nachum, beer training manager at work shared at a ratebeer tasting that the Beer Greek conducted at the brewery’s training pub is the first. It wasn’t so good. Clear gold with white head. A little grain and overripe fruit in the nose, floral and a tad bit sweet taste. Ligh body, sticky fruity finish. 6/4% abv. It wasn’t a good beer.

Jenlain Ambree‘s commercial description is “[t]he most widely-available of the bieres de garde.”. I liked it a little better, but still didn’t fall off my chair after sampling it. Hazy amber with dark white head. Sweet aroma, lots of honey and apple puree’. Tastes very, VERY sweet. Medium-bodied and sweet finish. All is overly sweet.

The 10 beers now reviewed here and the one beer at the cellar leaves 13 beers to hunt. Not a big deal. You’d think that a short trip to the supermarket, a visit to a specialty beer store and sitting in a bar or two would set you up with 80% of your list. It did in Switzerland, so why not in Paris, that has better beer options? Well, that’s because most of the remaining beers are obscure brews from even more obscure  breweries that god knows how they are in the book, Well, I’m not a god, but considering the weird choice of Dancing Camel ‘Trog Wit – a draught-only served at the brewpub 2 weeks every year – to represent the entire beer industry of Israel, I gather that curating is somewhat better for classic beer countries, such as England, Czech Republic and the US than for the rest of the world. Breclouise Biere Au Cognac may be extremely hard to find – as far as I know it is no longer in production, but it was available at some point.Biere des Naufrageurs Miel isn’t even on ratebeer! It may be under a different name, this I have yet to check,but the brewery’s most popular beer on the site has a total of 7 rates! How can A Beer I Must Try Before I Die not exist in the world’s best beer database? I’ll never cross the 1001 line, but fuckit. I’ll keep hunting cos the journey is the destination, isn’t it?

ch-ti-blonde jenlain

Anyway, as I was typing and bitching, I began mapping beer spots in Paris. Hopefully there will be a beer shop close to the museum or to that coveted Celine purse. Meanwhile, Ch’ti Blonde and Jenlain Ambree are beers #351 and #352 I Must Try Before I Die.

 

Bières de France. Seven of them.

It’s time for another omnibus entry and this time 6 beers from France, out of the 25 that are in the book. Quite an impressive number for a country that isn’t really known as a beer destination. However, many months ago we realized that 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die isn’t up to par with the current beer trend. Suffice to say that France has more than twice representatives in the book than Denmark. Well, again, with more than a little help from our friends we pulled up some goodies.

langelusThe Beer Greek, who gets paid to do beer business and traveling to SIAL Food Show in Paris is a part of his job, brought Annoeullin L’Angelus Bière de Froment that has a beautiful, rustic label, depicting a peasant couple in a wheat field – very Bière de Garde-ish. It was a weird beer. Pours clear straw with apple, vinegar and a little fuel aroma and a very sour taste that surprisingly has some candy sweetness too. The body is light and the texture feels somewhat oily – weird.

Like a true, devoted beergeek, Teva Boy was on the lookout for cool stuff to bring and drinketoile during a romantic winter getaway to the City of Light.  Thiriez Etoile Du Nord is an alright Saison that he shared at a tasting. I got to drink the bottom of the bottle, which is usually fine by me, as I like the yeastiness. The cloudy, weird, hay-like colour of the liquid in my glass was due to all this goodness. I smelled cookie dough, raisins and jasmine. And tasted mild, lingering bitterness with some cucumber. Smooth texture, light-to-medium body, leafy green vegetable finish make Etoile Du Nord a fresh, springy beer, though we tasted it in the winter.

biare-de-brie-ambraceBière De Brie Ambrée has a cute name, cloudy-opaque muddy brown colour with a dissolving frothy cream-coloured head, earthy, grass and spices aroma, and it tastes like Belgian ale: yeasty, sweetish and good. It is full bodied, carbonated and has sweet finish. I like it alot.

3 Monts is from another family-owned brewery, St. Sylvestre. Clear light golden colour and a 3-Montsfrothy white head, straw, sweet and some corn aroma, vegetal, sweet taste and a light body makes it an OK, thirst-quenching drink.

CuveeDesJonquillesCuvée des Jonquilles by Brasserie Au Baron is my favourite French beer. A fine Bière de Garde, that paints the glass in cloudy pale amber protected by a big white head, it smells of sugar, spice, allspice and other nice aromata such as yeast, flowers and earth. The taste is fruity, faintly sour. Medium body, fizzy, long finish. Balanced and good.

We also gathered our French loot: From our weekend in Switzerland we brought Adelscott,adelscott Scotch Ale made with peat-smoked malt. I’m a sucker for anything smoky but was quite surprised to learn that this is a Heineken beer because smoked beer is not something you’d expect the giants would play with. Well, this beer pours clear dark golden (whisky colour?) with white ring. It has honey and malt aroma that is slightly grainy and has notes of pipe tobacco which I quite like. It tastes very sweet and a little smoky I guess I would’ve liked it better if it was very smoky and a little sweet. Light body, sticky, pipe finish and smooth carbonation.

Last for this entry is Gavroche which is another Bière de Garde brewed by St. Sylvestre, but gavrocheunlike 3 Monts, tasted pretty nasty. The Beer Greek tried to convince me to ignore what I tasted. He had tried the beer before and my bottle was clearly damaged during storage or shipping or something. I’m on a run and I have over 700 beers to complete my mission; no time to wait and no money to spend on another bottle :/ my sample smelled of spoiled cheesecake – an aroma that can’t be described as good or appropriate but it was nothing compared to the taste – sour, lemony and unpleasing. The beer must be old. The 1001 book tells stories about hop spice and roast and dark fruit but I don’t need a book and in this case a Beer Greek to tell me the beer’s off – it really stood out. I’m ticking this one and hope to bump into another, better bottle, though I can’t count on it.

These 7 French brews were beers #235, #236, #237, #238, #239, #240 and #241 I Must Try Before I Die.

Somebody Put Something in My Drink

Water, yeast, malt and hops are fun, but an unexpected ingredient (that is NOT Special-K) can take the beer to new and interesting directions. Over the past year we drank a bunch of beers with fun additions,  here are a few of them:

The first on the list is Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA that Dagan brought back from AHA that took place in Seattle, Elysian Brewing Co.’s hometown. This is a beer flavoured with jasmine flowers. It tastes bitter, but in a jasmine tea sort of way (assuming you don’t add sugar to your herbal tea; if you can tolerate bitterness in beer, you should enjoy your tea as is), very mild. The beer smells like white tea with jasmine and that sweetish soda aroma. The truth is that I didn’t like it that much.

Hell or High Watermelon Wheat by 21st Amendment is the brewery’s summer beer – a wheat beer brewed with 200 lb. fresh watermelon. Not sure whether they add whole watermelon or if they get rid of the rind and only add the red fruit, but its aroma reminded me of the inner part of the rind, the white part. It’s a bit tarty, a bit fruity, slightly bitter and quite refreshing. Note the beautiful, detailed illustration on the can.

Pietra is a Vienna lager from the island of Corsica, France, where chestnuts grow and milled into flour. Chestnut flour is added to Pietra’s mash and provides a unique, local twist as well as fermentable sugars. The result is quite pleasing, with chestnut aroma and sweet, nutty taste. Yet there’s something very ordinary in this beer and despite the unusual ingredient Pietra is a decent session beer.

The book lists a beer brewed by California’s Nectar Ales: Hemp Ale. Here, sterilized, THC-free hemp seeds are added to the mash. You won’t get high drinking this beer, but nevertheless you may face difficulty when searching for it. The label on my bottle reads Humboldt Brown, with a secondary title in small typeface “ale brewed with hemp”. The six-pack package proudly states the original name. Maybe it’s a regulatory/ moral compromise? Anyway, this beer is far from being a gimmick. It has a rich malty, cocoa aroma and tastes hoppy and sweet at the same time with chocolate finish.

And lastly, a beer I’ve been looking forward to try since I opened the book for the first time. Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. Garlic, tomato, oregano and basil in a liquid form? Hell yeah! We sampled it in a ‘specialty beer’ tasting in December. This beer has light body and its special ingredients are very apparent: garlic and oregano aroma and dominant spicy taste that doesn’t leave much room for beer itself. No hops, no malt. It’s a cool gimmick, but not much.

Finally, a much-appropriate song:

Avatar Jasmine IPA, Hell or High Watermelon Wheat, Pietra, Hemp Ale and Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer are beers #182, #183, #184, #185 and #186 I Must Try Before I Die.

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