French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) - Southampton Publick House
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Ratings: 81 | Reviews: 67 | Display Reviews Only:
3.78/5 rDev -6.9%
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.
04-06-2008 03:28:06 | More by Sammy
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
4/5 rDev -1.5%
Thanks to Gregc for sending me down this growler as part of growlin at the moon. I served this one tonight for my sons birthday party and it seemed to be a hit all the way around. Served chilled and poured into several pint glasses, this one was consumed on 12/20/2008.
Nice pour here with a medium amber color that had a slight bit of haziness to it. Intresting tone here for sure as it was bordering on being a bit brighter. There was a nice head of white that came up over the top and settled down gradually into a little pillow.
The aroma was light, hints of grian, light hops and a touch of light peach and pear fruit notes. Subtle would be the ideal word here. There was a very nice flavor here, nothing really huge, just very light and drinkable. Nice touches of light grains and small doses of light fruit, mixing well and with subtle yet adequate carbonation, the whole thing seemed to come together quite well.
Overall a very solid little beer here, something I would have no problem at all enjoying a little more often. Quite nice and a winner at the party tonight.
12-21-2008 04:02:07 | More by mikesgroove
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 rDev -1.5%
The beer pours a copper color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a sweet crystal malt scent along with a slight, dry mustiness. The taste is good as well. It has a dry, musty flavor that goes down easy and finishes with some caramel sweetness. It's moderatly bitter with little in the way of yeast esters. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking Biere de Garde. It's true to style and full of character. Nice work.
05-11-2009 22:04:49 | More by WesWes
4.03/5 rDev -0.7%
2004 Bottle Date, Sampled July 2004
Pours a hazy amber color. It has a well endowed thick tan head that is kept afloat by a pretty good amount of carbonation. There is an enticing aroma that is a mix of fruit and subtle spices. I get aromatic notes of pear, apple, fig, and a bit of bready yeastiness, though the fruitiness certainly dominates the aroma. This is definitely a very enjoyable nose.
The taste is much different than the nose, or at least I was lead to believe the beer would taste quite a bit different than it does. The taste is quite malty with a finish that reminds me of biscuits and lightly toasted whole-grain bread. There is almost a chalky quality to the palate of this one, it seems to boost the body and make this beer seem a bit fuller. This is certainly interesting, I was expecting much more yeast character; more fruitiness, and more spiciness. This is one of those Biere de Garde's that goes for the cleaner flavor profile and relies more upon the malt character. The malts in this beer really shine, without the amped up malts this would be a flabby beer because of the restrained yeast character. As this beer warms up I get some nice fruitiness up front, with notes of pear and apple.
07-28-2004 20:14:14 | More by Gueuzedude
4.1/5 rDev +1%
Cloudy amber in color with a 1/2" head. Some light lacing occurs during the session. The aroma is an interesting combination of sour/tart fruit, yeast, malt, and bread. Many flavor components with this brew - tart apples, cranberries, yeast, caramel, and earthiness. Mild bitterness rounds this out.
Smooth and crisp at the start, with a smooth mildly tart finish. Nicely drinkable and quite enjoyable while sipped over a period of time.
08-24-2004 23:07:42 | More by Gavage
4/5 rDev -1.5%
On tap at Earth Bread + Brewery...
Appears a semi-transparent amber with a small, off white head that sticks around for nice retention. Scattered traces of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of floral hops, a touch of grass, malty caramel, toffee, and maybe a touch of ripe fruit.
Taste is of the aromas with a standout flashing of apple and earthiness.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, fizzy, and chewy in the finish.
01-06-2010 19:59:24 | More by weeare138
4.05/5 rDev -0.2%
On-tap at The Farmhouse in Emmaus. This isn't far removed from a Belgian pale ale or amber, but there's a little something extra in the flavor. It's a literally flowery, like rose petals. Beyond that, the beer has an array of subtle flavors that range from dry biscuity malts to light citrus rind hops, and fruity caramel. This beer is not the richest, but the mellow complexities are quite nice. Certainly worth a try.
01-16-2009 02:10:35 | More by tempest
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
4/5 rDev -1.5%
22oz bottle purchased as a single from Spirit Haus, Amherst, MA.
Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" light beige head over the clear copper brew. Head recedes gradually, with heavy coating lace. Aroma is moderately sweet, with spicy yeast character. Taste is sweet upfront, lightly spicy in the middle, which kicks up towards the end. Mouthfeel is clean, and drinkability is good. This one was discounted for being a "leftover" of the Xmas season. I'll a 20% discount on this any day.
02-13-2009 23:34:08 | More by ppoitras
3.78/5 rDev -6.9%
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.
12-20-2009 17:15:25 | More by biegaman
4.22/5 rDev +3.9%
On tap at the Drafting Room the other day.
The beer pours a copper amber color with good head retention and lacing. I don't get a lot on the nose, just some sweet malt and underlying spice. On the palate however, this beer is just terrific. The beer is almost viscuous and is fairly sweet. I get lots of cherry, vanilla, apple and orange, with maybe a hint of chocolate and vanilla. The flavors change/develop as it warms, and each sip is different then the last. The mouthfeel is fairly full, and frankly the beer seems more boozy then it really is. Maybe it's the sweetness, as this beer is quite rich and seems somewhat alcoholic (not in a bad way).
A little bit of this goes a long way, but have to say I really enjoyed this one. It reminds me a bit of the Mad Elf, though there's not as much cherry flavor. This is a great beer for the winter. Very good stuff.
12-15-2008 17:54:20 | More by John_M
4.13/5 rDev +1.7%
Crystal clear copper with a fizzy beige cap that settled into a solid collar and thin skim of bubbles. A bit sticky with decent head retention. Biscuit malt aroma with a hint of caramel, stone fruits, and light hop aroma. Very mellow. Low bitterness with light caramel sweetness and some grain character, less fruitiness than in the aroma but still with a nice peach undertone. Hops and a bit of spice appeared in the finish, perhaps a hint of warmth too. Lingering herbal hop notes. Medium bodied yet just short of a sticky, viscous texture. Ample carbonation gave it a lightness without the fizzy rush of overcarbonation. Very well balanced, quite elegant overall. Very drinkable and quite tasty.
12-26-2008 02:15:49 | More by DrJay
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
4.43/5 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
4.68/5 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
4.47/5 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
4.72/5 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
4/5 rDev -1.5%
Pours a lightly hazed amber, decent head and retention. Scent brings musty wet hay and spicy yeast before notes of toffee and roasted nuts present themselves. Taste follows scent with an initial push of musty hay, dried grain, moderately spicy and lightly bready yeasts, nice dry toasted nut and toffee flavors throughout. Rustic comes to mind. Medium bodied, lightly grainy on the palate yet smooth. Overall a very nice seasonal offering that doesn't make it all about the spices.
12-15-2011 14:35:45 | More by rfgetz
3.9/5 rDev -3.9%
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.
11-22-2008 02:30:36 | More by Gmann
3.5/5 rDev -13.8%
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.
12-04-2012 01:52:46 | More by Darkmagus82
French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) from Southampton Publick House
90 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.