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French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) - Southampton Publick House

Not Rated.
French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde)French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

81 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 81
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 24
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Southampton Publick House visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Bière de Garde |  6.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-17-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 81 | Reviews: 67 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jcalabre
2.17/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I must say thanks to herbjones for sharing this with me. This pours a cloudy orange with a big white head. The flavors, the aroma, are like wet grass, barnyards, etc. For me, these characteristics aren't too appealing. I just didn't like this beer. Oh well.

jcalabre, Jul 06, 2003
Photo of iatethecloudsfor
3.25/5  rDev -20%

iatethecloudsfor, Jan 04, 2014
Photo of wertschy
3.25/5  rDev -20%

wertschy, Dec 21, 2012
Photo of dwarbi
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Cloudy, murky beer. Light brown in color. The aroma is weak. There's almost nothing there. If you whiff real hard, you can catch some hints of fruit, but it's a chore. Tastes primarily of cherry. Smooth. Good mouthfeel. As the beer drains, it creates a sour taste in the mouth. Kind of like drinking milk.

dwarbi, May 22, 2003
Photo of kennyo
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

had this on tap at the Collins Bar. Poured a hazy coppper color with a little head that disappeared after a minute or two. The aroma was sugar, bready/yeast, spice/cinnamon. aste had some malt, some toastiness, a little hop bitterness on the back of the toungue. THis beer is very drinkable but nothing special.

I seem to almost be disapointed with Southhampton beers on tap, I've never been to the brewery, but I'm almost always happy with their bottled product

kennyo, Jan 10, 2007
Photo of Lnedrive14
3.45/5  rDev -15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

I keep trying these Saison-type rustic ales, and I keep not liking them. I guess I'm just not a fan of the style, so take the review with a grain of salt, I suppose.

A: The most beautiful beer I have ever seen. Amazingly fluffy white head that sticks around for the perfect amount of time. A hazy copper color with maybe the smallest hint of cranberry.

S/T: Very fruity - even has that sort of fruity "bite" that you get after a crisp granny smith apple. I found the taste to be a bit harsh - not inviting like I like my beer. Medium body, low hop bitterness. Not sure what I felt this brew was missing.

M/D: Mouthfeel was great - medium to high levels of carbonation. I could feel the brew on my tongue for quite a while after swallowing, a sensation I rather enjoyed. Drinkability was very low - I enjoyed the brew a bit at the beginning, but the beer was just way too harsh on the palate. Stinging.

Lnedrive14, Apr 10, 2006
Photo of Darkmagus82
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – Poured a very hazy yellow-amber colored brew with a one finger just off white colored head. The head faded relatively fast to give a light level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was rather light overall. It consisted of a toast and bready aroma mixed with a lighter fruit and some notes of a spiced aroma of nutmeg, clove and allspice. With these are some light honey sweetness and a good dose of yeasty smells.

Taste – The taste starts out of a toasted bready and yeasty flavor with a lighter orange citrus taste. As the taste advances, more orange citrus and some apple flavors come to the tongue and mix with some light honey flavors. Soon some spiced flavors of nutmeg and coriander as well as a lighter banana and pepper flavor come to the tongue. These flavors bring the flavor profile to its end where they mix with a light herbal and floral note to leave a somewhat light yeasty and fruity spiced flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer was on the thicker side for the abv. with a carbonation level that was on the lower side. The body and lower carbonation made it more of a slower drinker then it normally would be, but were overall very nice for the yeasty and lightly spiced flavors of the brew.

Overall – A decent brew, although nothing really to exceptional for the price. It had a good level of complexity, but in some ways was a bit too complicated and confusing as some of the flavors really did not transition and meld together well. One to try, but not really one I would go to back to again and again.

Darkmagus82, Dec 04, 2012
Photo of yourefragile
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

yourefragile, Jan 27, 2013
Photo of jfcaa193
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

jfcaa193, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of kkipple
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bomber courtesy of UncleJedi. 2008 vintage.

Cracked the day after Christmas because I was just too stuffed to drink it yesterday. Into my big goblet it goes!

Try as I might, I just can't get much of a head on this one... there's a slight light brown foam that dies immediately and then retreats to the edges of my glass, leaving just a little bit of lace behind. Pity, because most Biere De Gardes can do better... the beer is a fine Christmassy amber-orange, though.

Aroma is interesting - a decent amount of caramel and sweet, dense malt up front; all kinds of subtleties below, but they're tough to tease out. There is some booze and a hint of sourness. Sort of a wassail-ish apple thing going on, some orange and indeterminate spice, a musty sort of fruitiness that's neither easy to pin down nor unenjoyable (got all that?). The end of the bottle brings some yeasty bits that add even more character and roundness. Overall: Quite nice.

Flavor is a mixed bag, sadly. This has all or most of all the components of a great Biere De Garde but they never coalesce into something wonderful. There's a good amount of layered sweet malt with some toasty and caramel flavor: okay. Fruity esters (dates?) and some spicy notes (booze, pepper) work in here, as does some Belgian-barnhouse flavor, but the whole thing never really comes together for me... it's a bit hard to explain, but it's a bit of a a chore to drink. It's doesn't taste "complete" but rather like flavors are being checked off without any idea as to how they work as a whole, drinkable beer. Try it and see for yourself.

Mouthfeel? Medium. Carbonation seems a bit low for what this is. Finish is dry caramel, spice and warm, soured apple. Odd.

I really wanted to like this one, but (like a lot of Southampton Brews) this just isn't doing it for me. French Country Christmas Ale *seems* like this should work, but ultimately does not. Simply a fair Biere De garde, and that's a pity.

kkipple, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of JohnQVegas
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler into chalice.

Pours cloudy dark copper with a big, foamy, long lasting off-white head.

Nose is a bit bready, spicy yeast, sweet.

Taste is sweet, bready caramel malt and candy sugar, balanced by a spicy, peppery bitterness with just a hint of tart fruit. Finish is clean, mildly bitter spicyness, and with a lingering big, round, yeasty bready malt note.

Carbonation starts out crisp, becomes creamier as the beer warms, with a nice, medium-full, creamy body.

Excellent beer.

JohnQVegas, Feb 05, 2009
Photo of magine
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this brew into a Duvel glass.

Pours a nice dark amber, with small carbonated head and minimal lacing.

Smells of sweet fruits and yeasts, some floral undertones. Spicy.

Taste sweet and spicy and has a nice balance of malts and yeasts.

This is a good winter beer with good drinkability.

magine, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of longpondbeerman
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Half Time in Poughkeepsie, NY, we brought home a growler for, what else, Christmas. However, we couldn't wait, so we gave ourselves an early gift. The French Country Christmas Ale poured a rich and deep reddish amber with a thin khaki head. Grassy, but in a fresh sweet way, and hoppy to the nose, there is also a hint of maple syrup underneath. Frankly, I found the taste a touch thin and static--a disappointment, really, given what I found to be the complexity of the aroma. The malts dominated (figs, prunes?), the taste settled smoothly, but it never evolved, and the carbonation seemed too demanding.

longpondbeerman, Dec 22, 2005
Photo of pjkelley82
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%

pjkelley82, Dec 22, 2013
Photo of gcare02
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%

gcare02, Jun 13, 2014
Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

They did not nail the style, likely intentionally. A fine Belgian near sticky yeasty ale with good malting and a significant but not bold spiciness. Fairly easy to drink after a warm (finally) day and went well with the food. Lightly orangey with lots of foamed bubbles. In a word, sweetish Belgian yeast.

Sammy, Apr 06, 2008
Photo of hoppymcgee
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had on tap at The Gate in Brooklyn. This is the 2008 vintage poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Translucent brown with a white ring lining the inside of the glass.

S: A little nutmeg, coriander, and other spices. Nothing crazy, maybe the beer is too cold for the aroma to come out?

T: Malty and mellow. Slight hints of egg nog? Maybe I'm just thinking about Christmas.

M: Nicely done here. Perfect carbonation - works well with the ABV.

D: Awesome. Because of the lower ABV and lack of heavy malts and spiciness, this one can be had all night.

hoppymcgee, Oct 09, 2010
Photo of biegaman
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The French are known for having an impeccable taste of fashion - and their beers are no different. This French-inspired bière de garde has a dashing and lustrous amber colour, one readily associated with Egyptian amulets. It is clear and its surface accentuated by a thick white crown and a pond of fizzling bubbles. Christmasy? No. Classy? Yes.

The bière de garde aroma is rarely described as dynamic, so an average example of an average aroma doesn't give a lot to write about. There is some caramelization, a touch of must, but no real hops and only a very low amount of esters. It's a tad spicy and herbal but is really lacking in the richer, deeper aromatics. Still, with warmth it grew on me.

A lot of the distinct charm of this farmhouse French style comes from indigenous yeasts and molds, ones that commercial versions like this simply cannot replicate. There is a notable cork-like, very dry (and almost astringent) character but it's nothing near the must of an antiquated, authentic French example. Think watered-down Armagnac.

The flavour is comprised basically entirely of toasty, toffee-like malts. It is both sweet and dry. The body has a lean, medium-light volume with a slight tartness on the finish. The beer drinks smoothly, with no detectable alcohol what so ever. Its soft water certainly helps to enhance its subtle floral and herbal notes. I like it but have yet to lick my lips.

Southampton Bière de Garde (this brewery's standard release in this style that comes corked and caged) is arguably my favourite example of the style to date; after sitting down to review it last spring it spurred me into a deep, several month long love affair with all things French: their beer, their cuisine, their music, history and literature...

I don't think this bière de garde, although it was good, will have the same kind of effect (which is just as well, because nothing could possibly make me love Christmas more than I already do). Southampton is a great brewery but the best of their offerings come in the 750ml corked and caged bottles; given the option, grab those over the bombers.

biegaman, Dec 20, 2009
Photo of treyrab
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised to find this one on my way back to Pittsburgh. Poured into my chalice...

A: Pours a hazy orange copper with very minimal head. There is ample carbonation floating up the glass, but this is nothing special to look at.

S: The smell is rather bland with minor spices. Tons of cinnamon and nutmeg, but really not malt to back it up in the smell. Some clove also comes though...very spicy.

T: The taste is similar to the nose. Very spice, but not much malt to back it up. Reminds me of the Southampton Pumpkin which had the same problem. Not much malt in here at all to balance all the spice.

M/D: The mouthfeel is not too bad, and is adequately carbonated.

Overall, this was an interesting beer that I may just need to get familiarized with the style.

treyrab, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of Rastacouere
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Superb white head, fully laced thrones above the sandy murky amber robe. Peaceful and balanced aroma in which no flavour takes the top on another. The bready yeast gently integrates peppery edges among the generous biscuity malt. Applesauce, grapes and pear reminiscent fruit notes unveil a vinous earthiness that evolves into serious cork notes, not in an unpleasant way in the nose, but perhaps a bit brash in mouth. Quite tart and clovey, the taste is pretty much in line with the aroma, there’s just more sourness than youd expect. Not as impressive as most Southampton, but still one of the good Bière de Garde I’ve had, so few have been as impressive as my enthusiasm for discovering more from this elegant style.

Rastacouere, Apr 21, 2005
Photo of mltobin
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in Brooklyn last month, from notes.

Appearance is a deep orange and copper tone with an off-white head. Its` nose has spice, honey and some caramel. The taste of this biere de garde contains some bread, light malts, hay and a small amount of fruit. It is all subdue, too much perhaps. Mouthfeel is low, dry finish. One of the better choices from this style imho.

mltobin, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of gfreed
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Handsome malty-brown color with a bubbly head; quite malty in the nose with definite overtones of peach and strawberry, maybe even raspberry. The taste had less fruit than the aroma but was still very fruity with apples and plenty of malt before a light but sharp hops whack at the end. Decent body with light carbonation; very brisk and tangy. Despite the ABV, I didn't find the alcohol to be particularly present. A decent find, not spectacular but quite nice, especially the berries in the aroma.

gfreed, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of Gmann
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Out of the 22oz bomber. Pours an exceptional clear and pretty copper color, nice fluffy egg shell colored head that settled fairly quick into a light ring. The aroma is fairly light, a sweet toasted malt with a touch a hoppy spice. The taste is of a toasted malt with a sprucey hop bite, lemon rind and a tart cranberry like fruitiness. The brew sits well on the palate, slightly chewy, prickly carbonation, finishes with a spicy sweetness. A nice and spicy biere de garde, more of a hoppy spice than yeasty spice.

Gmann, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of damienblack
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich medium brown the shade of dirt, or tree bark. Billowing lace making for a very lively looking beer. Scent is heavy of malts, with traces of tart berry (think raspberry, maybe a bit of strawberry).

Rich and malty, billowing to encompass the taste buds. A lot of people taste this as dry, it doesn't seem overly dry to me, but it does seem nice and crisp. Not too overly sweet even though there is a strong malt component, with not a lot of hops on the other end of the spectrum. A little thin in the middle, not much to bridge the gap after the initial malt. Tastes some of strawberry, peach, mild fruit. High drinkability as expected, it all blends together fairly well. I had no expectations going in to this, but now that I've tried it, I'm impressed. It isn't amazing, but what I presume to be a pretty good representation of a dry, yet sweet ale.

damienblack, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of daliandragon
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was everywhere back on Long Island when I went home for the holidays. I picked up a growler on tap at St James Beverage and carted it down here to Carolina to try. This pours a light orange amber with little but a tiny cap for a head. The nose s malty and sweet with caramel and a hint of dark fruit.

I remember taste testing this against the Harpoon warmer with the owner's brother at the filling station. I liked the texture of this one as opposed to the spiciness of the Harpoon. This one has a thick, syrupy coating and a smooth, warm, fruity finish. This improves as it warms, with hints of apple and grapes but a light, delicate flavor, in contrast with the mouthfeel. A touch more carbonation would probably help but that could have been lost in the growler fill or the four days it took me to open it. Very good, not great but worth trying.

daliandragon, Jan 04, 2009
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French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) from Southampton Publick House
90 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.