Church-Key Brewing has announced the release of their newest beer, Church-Key Biere de Garde. This 7% abv farmhouse ale is the first example of the style brewed in Ontario, and has been made using hops from Prince Edward County and Northumberland County barley. It is currently available on draught at Volo and will soon be available in 750ml bottles.
More information about this unique beer style appears below.
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Biere de Garde – The Best Kept Secret of French Flanders
The Northern region of France, known as Nord Pas-de-Calais, shares a border with Belgium, one of the greatest brewing wonderlands in the world. As is the custom of French Flanders, beer is the traditional drink, a love that displays the style and finesse of the people, along with their dedication to artisanal tradition. This is the center of bieres de garde, or beers for keeping, the ales that were brewed to last throughout the summer months.
Like the saisons of Belgium, these bieres de garde were farmhouse ales brewed for the farmers and their fieldhands, but were vastly unique in flavor. They were intense, invigorating, strong and stored in traditional champagne bottles.
You might interpret the champagne bottle, with cork and wire hood, to be a statement about an elitist cultural attitude toward beer in this region of Europe. However, the champagne region of France lies fifty miles to the south, and the convenience of using the same bottles led to the tradition for biere de garde.
These beers may be flattened gold to intense amber in color, the result of lightly kilning the barley malt. They generally have an earthy character, with anise, exotic spices and herbal wood undertones. You may find a sweetness or fruitiness in the center, along with flavors of biscuit, and the warming splash of alcohol. It has a rounded smoothness, the result of the process of warm fermentation, followed by cold maturation.
Bieres de garde are the ideal complement to the well stocked table in the Nord Pas-de-Calais. These marry well with the famous moules-frites, waterzoi, coq a la biere, Maroilles cheese tarts, and carbonnade flamenade.