French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) - Southampton Publick House
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Ratings: 81 | Reviews: 67 | Display Reviews Only:
4.97/5 rDev +22.4%
I had this from a 750 ml bottle, poured in a glass for me when i came home from work. Quite a nice thing to come home to, don't you think? I was very impressed with this beer from SPH. Very.
The colour was a dark orangey-red, a bit cloudy, with a nice off-white creamy head that lasted a long time. It smelled fruity and spicy and outdoorsy, almost like cinnamon apricots maybe, it was good. It tasted even better! Similar flavours to the aroma, but more mixed in, tasted citrusy a bit... It kind of tasted like I was sitting on a back porch with a big field with various trees and fruit bushes and little streams all around me. It just had an outdoor feel to it somehow. The mouthfeel was excellent, very smooth and soft, and drinkability also was great, except for the fact that I won't be able to drink more of it, at least not anytime soon i'm sure.
All in all a tasty brew that I'm very happy to have tried.
02-11-2004 15:02:11 | More by erica
4.78/5 rDev +17.7%
Super gusher watch out....pours golden orange with a huge white head.
Smells of biscuit malt with a very belgian smell.
Tastes of white grape, apple and peach and a very nice sweet maalt aftertaste with some sort of saison yeast strain
Mouthfeel is light drinking with fairly hight carbonation
Overall another amazing offering from phil-era southampton. I can only hope they can continue this tradition of amazing beers.
11-27-2012 07:30:29 | More by joefuzz
4.72/5 rDev +16.3%
Wow, pours out a murky orange-brown color with an enormous white head of eggshell-consistency that slowly recedes into a stickly lace all over my tulip. Beautiful.
Smell is sweetly malty, with a light walnut scent and a huge fruitiness that has little hints of orange, apricot, kiwi, and lemon. A little bit of doughiness, but not really any yeasty/funky scents that I can pick up.
Taste is a subtle powerhouse. Big maltiness lets in fresh-baked-bread flavor, but it then gives way to the fruits. Apricot really lunges to the fore here, but there's also a nice honeydew/kiwi flavor that's very fresh, just sweet enough, and enticing. Other flavors include a little bit of cherry, some nuttiness, and a little bit of grassy hops, but only a tiny bit. Really a lot of neat stuff packed into this one.
Mouthfeel is well-carbonated, not quite spritzy, but lively enough to really do the fruitiness of the flavor justice.
Overall: Fantastic! I've had a lot of good beers lately, but this one is truly superlative. The flavor has so much in it, and I'm still tasting little delicious apricot notes twenty minutes after finishing. Quite a beer.
11-30-2005 03:33:07 | More by whartontallboy
4.68/5 rDev +15.3%
750ml bottle: No vintage date: 2002? This pours out a dark, somewhat cloudy, glowing orange colour. The head is fluffy, white, and everlasting, leaving sheets of Belgian lace down the sides of my glass. The aromas are grassy, herbal, farm-like, and hoppy with some medicinal hints thrown in for good measure. There is also a very background citrus-like fruitiness in the aroma as well. The overall aroma is subtle, but it is also excellent! The taste is less subtle than the aroma hints it to be. There is an excellent hit of caramel flavors (caramel malt?) followed by a fruity, citrusy middle, and finally a bit of an earthy, grassy, herbal hoppiness in the finish. The finish is dry, and does not linger long, but that is quite OK by me. The mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and damn indulgent, this stuff feels like silk in your mouth. The drinkability is also amazingly good. This is 6.6%abv? Holy shit! This is definately a good thirst quencher on a hot summer day in France, or a mild Winter dusk in PA.
an excellent version....highly recommended.
02-10-2004 21:51:52 | More by francisweizen
4.6/5 rDev +13.3%
Autumnal in color, with an expansive, creamy off-white head. The aroma contains more of a roasted, caramel malt character than I would have expected from other samplings of the style. It is offset, however, by a slightly musky straw-like scent and a hint of grapey sharpness. Caramel malt is strong in the flavor as well, and blends nicely into a subtle woody flavor at the finish. A bit sweet at the start, this beer develops a lot of complexity throughout the sip, including a (mostly) grapey fruitiness and a slightly alcohol-spiced finish. Full in the mouth, yet not at all overwhelming. This is a delightfully drinkable beer.
09-09-2005 02:04:55 | More by mzwolinski
4.6/5 rDev +13.3%
Who are these guys? If they distributed in Michigan, I think I might drink 90% Southampton. This is amazing. Again.
Tarnished, dirty penny color. Tiny bits of coagulated sediment. Fairly large but not at all compact head. Nose is filled with almost wheaty aromas -- lemon and caramel slathered lemon, almost like bananas foster. Except its beer. Bits of herbal farmhouse randomness lend it aromatic authenticity.
Very light. Like drinking a cloud. If this were a cake, it'd be the fluffiest Angel's Food you'd ever had. Incredibly smooth and easy to drink. Loads of varied fruits. Sweet melon fruit salad with lemon spritz as it warms. Caramelcorn is present regardless of temperature. The last 5-10 sips really present a funky barnyard sourness that lurks under the surface.
Too damn good. This is *absolutely* what the Trois Monts "Grand Reserve" should be.
04-08-2004 00:38:46 | More by marburg
4.53/5 rDev +11.6%
By far the best thing about this beer was it's incredible smell. A full-bodied aroma with strong strawberry characteristics. Southamton's Biere De Garde, now becoming a popular follow-up to the well accepted US Saisons - prove they take this seriosuly.
Pours with a radiant orange hue and clean white head. Subtle and small carbonated bubbles remind us of handcrafted qualities. Sour fruit front followed by clean, dry, earthy finish.
06-07-2005 01:41:09 | More by NoLiberty
4.5/5 rDev +10.8%
Vintage 2005. Pours a beautiful deep amber orange like a blustery fall afternoon with a two finger bubbly white head on top. Simply lovely with massive active carbonation rising up in the glass. Aromas of light nutty caramel malts initially. Light fruity aromas follow with a simply wonderful fresh yeasty aroma. I get a slight sourness along with some mellow earthy, herbal hops.
First sip brings a light nutty caramel maltiness with a tasty earthen yeast aspect. Slight sourness midway through each sip along with a nuanced herbal hoppiness on the way down. Extremely fresh, elegant and well built...this is a treat to drink. Finishes clean with a lingering spicy nuttiness and an all around hand crafted appeal. Make sure you spend some time with this one as there's a lot of joy to be had from it.
Mouthfeel is smooth, spritzy, light and easy to drink. A tasty treat that I could no doubt drink all day. Easily the best Biere De Garde I have ever tasted. Definetly a brew worth seeking out and another fine accomplishment from Southampton. I'm very glad I still have another bottle of this one for future enjoyment.
11-25-2005 03:57:26 | More by orbitalr0x
4.5/5 rDev +10.8%
Note: Although my bottle has no mention of either "French Country" or "Christmas Ale", I can only assume that this "Biere de Garde - A French Farmhouse-Style Ale" is the same beer.
750ml bottle. 2005 edition - no month listed. The bottle opens with a crack, similar to that of a bottle of sparkling wine; and pours a heady, off-white pillow of froth above a hazy robe of orange-hued chestnut. The head retention is astounding, obviously buoyed by the teeming, efferevescent bubbles from beneath, and it maintains a complete surface covering throughout the glass and leaves some nice lacing along the way.
The yeast character is dead on (similar to a 3 Monts), with notes of minerals and hay; over a distinctly caramelish malt base that's enlivened by some deep, Bordeaux-like character of grape and alcohol. Despite its carbonic zest, it's surprisingly cottony-soft and smooth across the palate - to the point that you almost forget that it's liquid.
The aroma does an impressive job of indicating what's to be found within, although it's certainly a bit richer. Upfront, some notes of dark fruit, apple, and alcohol appear; laced with sparkling notes of minerals. Grassy, straw-accented, and toasty swashes of caramel-soaked malt appear across the middle, tweaked by a subtle note of dark-skinned, tannic fruitiness. It's full but not overwhelming; and sweetish but only slightly (...far from candyish); backed by a solid bitterness and peppered with mildly spicy and herbal hops.
The finish is dry and lingering with notes of minerals and spice that dance a waltz over a subtly astringent combination of dark grape skins and subtly woody, toasted, caramel-accented malt. As it winds down, it becomes more apple-ish and the alcohol in noted, but subdued. It's interesting, kind of like a halfway broken-in wild stallion. And surprisingly, considering that the alcohol is apparent at least to some extent right out of the gate, it never builds to become more than a pertinent component of the beer (although it's strength can be felt!).
Overall, it's a bit darker and more caramel-accented than most of the larger, commercially available brands; but it's certainly far from authentic. This is exactly the type of beer that you might find from a smaller house-brewery along the northern border. Very well done! Enjoy it with venison or a darker meat alongside lightly buttered vegetables on a cool night; or as a relaxing goblet as the sun goes down on a warm summer's night.
02-13-2005 16:09:49 | More by NeroFiddled
4.5/5 rDev +10.8%
Corked and caged 750ml bottle
Dirty penny in color, with good clarity and a creamy tan head that holds well. Fair amount of sticky lace. Aroma is a soft and malty blend of caramel, apples, damp wood, yeasty spiciness, hay, a hint of pear, and faint barnyard. Well carbonated, with a light and airy body.
Caramel malt and white grape skins arrive first, followed by a wonderful balance of ever-growing peppery spiciness and apple/pear-like fruitiness. The tail end has some metal, fresh hay, damp wood, and barnyard, rounding out the palate with an underlying hint of sour funkiness which gets stronger towards the bottom of the bottle. Late hit of hop flavor and bitterness. Dry finish. The apple and barnyard notes last and last The body gets a touch thicker and creamier as it sits, from both the CO2 leaving the solution and the yeast slowly finding its way into my glass.
Overall, a well-crafted and delicious example of a rare style that rarely finds its students sticking to the guidelines.
05-22-2004 16:43:14 | More by MJR
4.47/5 rDev +10.1%
Biere de Garde
French Farmhouse-Style Ale
Southampton Biere de Garde is our version of the classic style of amber ale brewed at small traditional breweries in the Pas de Calais region of France. Brewed with imported malt, French Strisselspalt hops and re-fermented in the bottle for a most authentic character. Made with care and patience in Southampton, Long Island, NY USA.
Presentation: 750ml flat bottomed brown flask sealed with a thumbed cork and cage, with a gold cap which in turn has a gold sticker that says 2005 on it. The cork took some extracting. No strength or freshness but a state Original Gravity of 16.8° Plato.
Appearance: Dark amber body with a fire laden brazen copper clear centre. Well carbonated and lucid, the thick dirty white head stays around. Slow bubble bursts eventually reduce the carpet covering to a thin ¼ even though the halo remains a nice looking bushy expanded foam. Finely dissolved conditioning. Solid presentation.
Nose: Malty throughout with a husk laden finish. Grainy with a powdered malt essence. As it warms some dark fruits sneak through, some oxidized apple slices and caramel. A sharp bitter tingle slaps the finish; this could be the Strisselspalt hops.
Taste: Toasted malts with a light sprinkling of caramelized toffee apples. Finish is dry with some sweetness intermingled with a lovely grassy feel. The yeast plays nicely on the malts and the cheeks pick up the Strisselspalt hops long into the finish. Light spicy bitter feel as I work my way through the 750ml. Strong satisfying start which drives like a tank right through to the finish. This one never wavers.
Mouthfeel: Starts with a lovely soft carbonated malty entrance, the middle is dark and fruity with tannic hints. I think I get the alcohol once the swallow goes, but it mingles with a nice spiced dark fruity feel on the cheeks long after the beer is swallowed. The ending has a characteristic dry powdery feel, so often due to the use of mineral laden water in the UK, but I am not sure if that is the case here or not.
Drinkability: When I first tried a French Biere de Garde it took me by surprise, it was cloying, malt laden and dour. That was a commercial version. Subsequent craft versions revealed all that is appealing about this rarely produced style in France. So its nice to try a US-version that has an authentic background, even down to the ingredients. Once you acclimatize to the style it is a very drinkable brew, and the SPH offering is no exception.
Overall: Pretty much on the nail and exactly what you will find in Northern France from the smaller Artisanal producers. A Big New Years Thanks to BA Rapapoda for this one, a mighty fine treat and a great way to start 2006. Cheers Mate, or should I say Mon Ami.
**I hope I have this Beer Review entered properly. If so it seems to me that the listed entry is very confusing (I almost missed it) and ass-backwards being as the Biere de Garde is the prominent text and the smaller text French Farmhouse Style Ale is in much smaller text below that. And I cannot find any mention of the word Christmas Ale anywhere!!! Someone needs to alter the way this beer is listed to avoid duplicate entries I feel.
01-09-2006 06:27:44 | More by TheLongBeachBum
4.47/5 rDev +10.1%
It pours a clear and vivid coppery amber, with Alka-Seltzer in a hot tub carbonation madness. Four fingers of light tan head swell even more to an ice cream cone dome. True Belgian lace gracefully adorns the inside of the glass.
The aroma is chiefly yeast, initially at least, and it's tangy and slightly doughy, and there's also tart apple, nutmeg, and clove. Underneath is a husky malt character, full with toffee and dark berry and alluding to a fine malted sweetness. A mere feather of alcohol tickles the nose.
Upon sipping, with a connoisseur's emphasis on sipping, the malt is mildly sweet but flush with caramel and toffee, as well as dark cherry and earthy beery maltfruit. A soft, grapish vinous touch slides in, complete with a low buzz of alcohol. Slices of green apple and a clove/nutmeg duo play off a low-key biscuit grain visit, reminding again of the beer's malty character. The finish slopes slowly from subdued sweetness to a crisp, dry, and refreshing finish. It's simply complex and and craftily wonderful.
Medium bodied, it starts creamily, coating and swirling, then leaves a glimmering crisp glow in its wake.
This just may be the prettiest beer I've laid eyes on. And the better news is that laying my mouth on it was quite a pleasure as well. It has mellow twists and turns, an intriguing yet innocent complexity, and a cozily manageable ABV that makes drinking it damn near an Elysian dream. Words can't thank The Man adequately, so I'll let my actions speak volumes and try to get my tongue to the bottom of the glass.
01-05-2007 16:29:37 | More by Foxman
4.45/5 rDev +9.6%
Appears a fairly clear bubbly amber with a tall tan head. The head stays at about a half inch cap fluffy cap the whole time, while leaving rings of lace. Aroma is a bit musty and funky with a good amount of fruitiness and spices. There is a bit of sweetness as well and yeast as well. Taste is pretty strong with spice and the musty funk. A bit doughy and there is a slight tartness towards the end. Quite a variety of flavors in the mix here. There is also a slight spicy hop bitterness and this finishes with a lingering spice and funk. Mouthfeel was crisp and bubbly with loads of carbonation. This keep me coming back for more to try and figure out all the flavors. Overall an interesting complex and tasty brew I would definitely have again. Good stuff thanks for the bottle steve.
03-03-2005 13:31:02 | More by meathookjones
4.45/5 rDev +9.6%
Pours a beautiful amber/brown with a nice head, which goes down into a long-lasting lace. Smell is of some hops, which the bottle tells me is of some French variety.
Taste is a tale of two different tastes. Subtle, but dominant, hops at first. Some other notes. After a few wine glasses (maybe due to warming) it acquired a sour characteristic. Reminded me of a young La Folie. Was this aged on oak?
Mouthfeel was perfect. Subtleness made it quite drinkable.
I had this with thanksgiving dinner. While a good match, more herbal characteristics (which may have been there but I thought I was imagining them) would have made it a better thanksgiving match.
11-25-2005 16:09:34 | More by GeoffFromSJ
4.43/5 rDev +9.1%
A: Huge thick fizzy head that fades to a thick creamy lacing?/head. This copper auburn beer is downright gorgeous.
S: Caramelized and biscuity malt flavors tickle my olfactory nerve.
T: Creamy caramel beer but with a dry astringent finish. Very mild malt sweetness that is very pleasant and palatable with biscuit malt carbo's that are particularly yummy. Yeasty character is mild but complex and notable despite no real phenols or esters.
M: This beer has a heavy light body with pleasant dextrin character despite the dry crips character of this highly attenuated beer. Medium to sharp, vigorous, carbonation.
D: This is a drinking beer. Its smooth crisp character is enticing enough to keep the desire constant but simple enough to not hold you back from drinking this beer as a session beer. In fact I personally could drink this beer all night long.
Notes: Not the most complex beer that I ever feel in love with but this is an amazing brew none the less. The toasty caramel malt character reminds me of and rivals the best octoberfest style beers I have had. Definitely the best winter sessonal I have had all winter 2007-2008. An excellent beer. Thank you Phil.
My bottle is in a 750 mL bottle. It has a red label and it says Joyeux Noel 2007 French Country Christmas Ale a Biere de Garde-style Stong Ale. Just thought I'de mention that since there seems to be a lot of variety.
01-31-2008 02:37:22 | More by BeerLover729
4.43/5 rDev +9.1%
Poured from 750ml bottle(room temp) a very bubbly medium gold with a large head of foam that grew as the beer was sitting in my New Belgium goblet.
The smell is very fruity and sugary sweet, with notes of, and I'm serious here, blueberry? One of the best aromas I've ever encountered in a brew.
The taste is *so* different....I'm sensing a candy bar with nougat flavour, like a milky way bar, only in liquid form. I know that it's the malts used in this ale that are creating this most unique sensation but I have to shake my head as to how the brewers accomplished it!
Oh yeah, btw, there *are* some hops flavours present and they're doing a fine job but..what the malt is doing in this brew is simply amazing. I just might sip on this 750 all day long!
Bottom line: Here's a brew that's so different from anything I've tasted before, it's scary but...don't be afraid to try it. The adventure is worth it!
03-26-2006 18:24:10 | More by Bitterbill
4.4/5 rDev +8.4%
Rich deep copper. Massive extremely fine beige head settles slowly to a full rocky cap that laces nicely.
Initial nose is a mouth-watering combination of moderate sweetness and moderate sourness. With a bit of time it snaps into focus with a distinct toffee edge that verges on burnt sugar leading the way. Oodles of yeasty bready malt lurck beneath. Toffee morphs more to tart cherry with time, though the burnt note remains.
Lighter and livlier on the palate than the malt dominated nose would lead one to believe. Complex maltiness is the defining character, but there is a lot going on, all kept interesting by a refeshing acidity that pokes through here and there. Long, lingering finish that exhibits excellent balance.
Lovely soft caressing bottle-conditioned mouthfeel. The beer just foams gently into every nook and cranny of the mouth. Obviously, highly drinkable. An outstanding and flexible dinner companion, but well worth quiet contemplation on its own as well.
Many thanks to MJR for the kind present. 2004 edition from 750 ml.
06-14-2005 02:24:32 | More by Realale
4.4/5 rDev +8.4%
Thanks goes out to plaid75 for this brew.
Got a nice POP! on opening.
Poured into a chalice a very nice cloudy golden orange/mahongny color, high carbonation, nice one-finger plus creamy tan head, you are left with some nice small islands and sticky lacing. The nose is malty, slightly yeast, spicy, apples, blueberries, and some caramel. The taste is tangy/sweet, malty, fruity, with some caramel. The finish is dry, with a nice bitter finish. Medium body, a very nice well rounded/complex brew. Very drinkable, this is an awesome brew, I'm starting to really like this style. Highly recommended.
09-03-2007 18:36:19 | More by Wasatch
4.4/5 rDev +8.4%
Pours a hazy golden amber, with a thick white head. The head dissipates into a mist about halfway through the glass, but provides quite a bit of aroma. Very powerful.
Aroma is very strong, and quite believable. Slightly hoppy, with a sourness to the malt. Sweet belgian aroma, with plenty of esters, namely pineapple and apple. Strange hop aroma.
Flavor is much less sour than expected, with a pervasive belgian candi sweetness, coupled with hints of pineapple, apricot, and raisin. The beer starts out mildly sour, tapering down to a saccharine sweetness, and finishing fairly dry. Impressive in the way it changes flavors so seamlessly. Light alcoholic warmth in the throat, and almost no aftertaste. Mouthfeel is terrific, with small, tightly knit bubbles. Very authentic, better than the imported versions I've tried thus far. The hops are wierd. They taste almost like hallertau, but not quite. Herbal, but strange. Must be a breed I'm not familiar with. Very good beer. A pleasure to drink.
08-06-2003 03:46:40 | More by UnionMade
4.38/5 rDev +7.9%
It pours a beautiful copper/amber that is mostly clear and has a nice head and some decent lacing. The aroma is mostly earthy hops, but there is a faint woodiness to it as well as some detectable malt. It has a good malt backbone and is slightly tart with some cedar/wood notes and a dry, bitter finish. This is fantastic. I wish I bought more bottles of this beer.
06-03-2004 17:50:11 | More by ark57
4.33/5 rDev +6.7%
Appearance: Pours a relatively clear amber color with a decent head that drops to a film and leaves a bit of lacing here and there
Smell: Cereal grains, orange peel and a hint of clove
Taste: Opens with a orange peel and holiday spice flavor that is joined by an herbal bitterness at mid-palate; after the swallow, there is an underlying sweetness that joins the herbal flavors
Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation
Drinkability: The version I am drinking is a contract brewed bomber that says "French Style Christmas Ale" on the label; perhaps the recipe has changed over time but I view this more in the Winter Warmer camp than a Biere de Garde, despite what the label says; having said that, I really enjoyed this beer
12-04-2008 01:55:51 | More by brentk56
4.33/5 rDev +6.7%
Bomber poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, Southampton French Christmas is a ruddy bronze, with a large, creamy, auburn tinged off-white head that has long last leaves lighter, foamy lace. Recently received in trade from Beerisheaven (thx again!) and served at cellar temp, I'd planed to bust this out for Thanksgiving, but never got around to it. A few days later, it paired very well with a plate of leftovers.
Smell is soft, sweet cereal grains, oranges, cinnamon and mint, with light, clean alcohol vapors.
Taste is very nice, a light caramel / toffee maltiness, citrus esters, herbal hops and a drying, sharp, bitter finish. Wow! At first sip it was a bit underwhelming, but once I had a few more, I was super impressed, and really appreciate it's subtle delicacy. This might be the best BdG I've ever had, out of quite a few!
Mouthfeel is dry and creamy, but with a medium body.
Drinkability is extremely good, with a great taste, lighter and dry, it goes down very easily. Still, it's got enough depth that pondering is rewarded. Refreshing and satisfying, it paired well with the left-over turkey - perhaps not perfect (a bit to brawny), but very tasty. I also tried it in direct comparison to an at least 1.5 year old bottle of Sans Culotte, it was so vastly superior I couldn't have another sip until I had savored the last drop of this.
12-02-2008 07:18:05 | More by ccrida
4.3/5 rDev +5.9%
Appearance: Pours a hazy amber/copper. Creates a heafty tan, creamy looking head that lasts forever.
Nose: dark caramel malt, burnt sugar, raisins. Some light Christmas spices as well.
Taste: This beer reminds me of a light winter warmer. Malty overall, with some subtle clove and nutmeg spices throughout. Toasted malt flavor and stong earthy/peaty notes overpower any hops trying to peek through in this beer. Finishes semi-dry with a bit of licorish in the aftertaste. I like.
Mouthfeel: Creamy on the palate with some sugar stickiness after each sip.
Notes: This beer is nothing like Southampton's other Biere de Garde, Biere De Mars. The Mars is lighter (both appearance and taste-wise) and has much more fruit and hop flavor.
09-07-2005 04:22:47 | More by palma
French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) from Southampton Publick House
90 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.