We just received a batch of beer from France. Why is this special? Because French beer other than Kronenberg is very difficult to find. Not only that, but what a lot of people don't know is that France is one of the world's greatest beer producing countries. France is like Ireland - it makes great beer but other than the big brands you never see it here. A wine importer (originally from France) that we work with noticed this and decided to import some beer himself.
I have had the chance to taste some of these beers and was pretty impressed. I was expecting the beer to taste just like Belgian ale. Not so! These beers are not as malty as Belgian ales and have other special qualities. One thing I noticed about all of them was a strong floral quality that was very attractive. Here is a description of each:
Brasserie Bourguignonne Ambree - This craft brewery is located in Burgundy, better known as a place that makes the world's best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. This amber ale has much of the floral characteristics I mentioned, is very soft and subtle on the palate but very complex.
Mandrin Biere au sapin - This beer is brewed with pine needles. Now before you make a face and go 'yuck', let me explain. My expectation was that the beer would taste like pine resin, but it didn't at all. It was very floral in an unusual but delicious way that I can't quite put my finger on. This one is for the beer lovers who think they've tried everything.
Brasserie D'oc La Mouska - This is an ale brewed with Muscat grapes. The Muscat gives it some sweetness and intense fruit flavors. I had this last night and it is amazingly delicious.
St. Rieul Grand Cru - A "Tripel" style ale, much like the Belgian variety. If you like Chimay or Tripel Karmaliet you really must try this.
La Sancerroise au Gruyt - From Brasserie Sancerroise, located in Sancerre in the Loire Valley, a place better known for making amazing Sauvignon Blanc. This dark ale is a secret recipe based on a medeival brew made with herbs and spices.
By the way, did I mention that these beers have never been imported into the U.S. before? The La Mouska and Mandrin au Sapin will be open for tasting at both stores this Saturday starting at noon.
UPDATE: I tried the St. Rieul Tripel last night. Wow! That is one of the best Tripels I've ever had. Right up there with Tripel Karmaliet. Very well balanced, malty but not overly sweet.