Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tasting Notes for My First Bière de Garde

On 5/31/15 I brewed my first attempt at a Bière de Garde.  I  developed the recipe you can find here by reading and researching the web and various books.  Very simple first attempt.  I used a yeast I hadn't used before and fermented it at cool ale temps.  I think my next attempt will be with a lager yeast.  After fermentation I moved it to cold storage for 6 weeks.  I kept it around 38-42F for the entire time.  After that I decided to keg it and see what the results were.

ABV: 8.0%
SG:  1.065 or 15.9°P
FG:  1.004 or 1.03°P
Apparent Attenuation:  94%
Actual Attenuation:  77%

Appearance:  Really clear, dark amber color.  Nice carbonation streaming up the glass.  Pours with about two fingers of a white/off white head.  That settled out to a thin puck that hung around as a drank.  Really tight bubbles.  Really happy with the clarity.  Not something I thrive on but glad to see it.

Aroma:  Light caramel and toffee with just a slight hint of spice and hay.  More of a dead grass, earthy thing but, it's actually really clean smelling.

Flavor:  Right up front you get the caramel flavors.  Not too sweet but there is a touch of underlying sweetness.  It finishes with a some spice, almost cinnamon maybe?  It's dry but still has a bit of residual sweet flavors like burnt sugar in there.  I bet that's from the long boil.  Mouthfeel is medium, medium-light.  A bit of alcohol sweetness but it's not much at all.  No real warmth from the alcohol present.  

Overall:  Although I enjoy the beer and it's a very easy drinker for an 8% beer, I want a touch more of a wild factor to it.  I believe there had to be some form of brettanomyces in the Bière de Gardes of old.  Keeping those beers stored as long as they did as well as using the equipment they had in the farms of the day had to introduce some form of wild yeast and/or bacteria.  I'd like to introduce a bit of funk to it.  Either by blending some old beer or by adding brettanomyces to the primary fermentation.  I've never done a lager fermentation with brettanomyces (or a lager fermentation at that!) but I think I may experiment with that.  Pitch my lager yeast and the bretta at the same time then let the beer then condition on an oak spiral from a previous mixed fermentation.  I could then blend if needed or keg/bottle as is.

I'll have a good many more Bière de Garde posts.  I'm becoming quite obsessed with this style as well.  Thanks for reading!


Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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