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

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French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde)French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde)
82 Ratings
French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde)French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde)

Brewed by:
Southampton Publick House
New York, United States

Style: Bière de Garde

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-17-2003

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 82 |  Reviews: 68
Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage.

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.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of palma
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage

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.

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Photo of Realale
4.44/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of NoLiberty
4.54/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.83/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of frank4sail
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark peach colored with a pale beige tinted head. This dissapates to a fine persistant sheen. Herbal fruity nose. Inital taste of tropical fruit touched by metalic sweet malts and grapefruits. the finish also has hints of nutmeg, sour plums and cinnamon. Quite complex but quite medium bodied. A nice regal selection.

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Photo of Crosling
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Soft, mellow aroma of wood, peach, cherries, butter toffee, toasted malt and wood, along with a slight tartness.

Loads of various fruits, mainly red apple and cherries along with a slight tartness and malt notes of caramel and toast. Sort of "Fantomesque" in its yeast flavor.

This is a great beer, but after spending about a month in France over the summer and becoming very familiar with the biere de garde style, I think they definately missed the style on this one. There just isn't enough toasted malt flavor and there is a little too much tartness. Still very good though, whatever style it is.

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Photo of Gavage
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of ark57
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of MJR
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of marburg
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of erica
4.97/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.68/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of jcalabre
2.21/5  rDev -45.2%
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.

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Photo of dwarbi
3.22/5  rDev -20.1%
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.

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Photo of inebrius
4.29/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A front porch baguette and cheese eatin' brew. Pours a clouded streaming amber under whipped butter. Monumental nose of honeysuckle in full bloom, beach walks at dusk and fruit-flavored marshmallows. A draught is honey-roasted peach on barn board with a side of soil covered garden greens and fallow field stones. I mean earthy, like when you were a kid and played in the lake and dug in the dirt and ate roasted corn and tasted the day on your lips. Playful across the buds. A fine brew. Thanks Loren!

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French Country Christmas Ale (Biere De Garde) from Southampton Publick House
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 82 ratings
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