Beer Month, and the Return of Worthwhile French Beers

3 04 2013

Longtime readers of this blog (and pretty much anyone who’s ever met me) know how much I love beer.  So when I saw (via the always awesome Jenni, aka Pastry Chef Online) that Sophia of NY FoodGasm had gotten a group together to blog about beer this April, well, obviously I asked if I could participate. And, gracious hostess that she is, Sophia welcomed me to the group.

BeerMonth-logo

For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a project for Paris By Mouth, which has had me buying lots of beer in shops and bars (great work if you can get it!). But despite all the tasting, I was so focused on the places themselves that I never took any notes on specific beers. So last weekend Nick and I decided to go on an adventure in our own city, and rode bikes all the way across town to the Butte aux Cailles neighborhood in the 13th, a place we’d heard about but had never been. We wandered the cute, village-y streets and happened across a charming little organic shop with some beers in the window.

Brasserie Artisanale du Luberon

Naturally, we bought a bottle of each and brought them home for tasting.

Now, perhaps I should mention that Nick expressed some doubt about organic beers in general, which I dismissed as remnant of a bias we may have developed years ago, when the only non-industrial French beers we could find were usually organic, and tended to lack a certain finesse. At any rate, I figured they were worth a try.

The Brasserie Artisanale du Luberon make only organic-certified beers, which they neither filter nor pasteurize.  The beers are fermented at high temperature (15-24 C, or 60-70 F), which places them in the ale category, which includes the French bière de garde, as these are classified. The beers all undergo secondary fermentation in the bottle, which leaves quite a bit of yeast sediment in the finished beer.

We started with the blanche, which poured out hazy yellow with a foamy, fine-textured head. It smelled fresh and citrusy, and much drier than your typical blanche (or “white” beer), which tend to be on the sweeter end of the spectrum. On the palate, the citrus flavor was extremely light, with a slightly yeasty finish. It was ultimately pretty tame, and not terribly memorable.

Moving on to the blonde, I found that it had very little head to speak of over the cloudy, light straw-colored liquid. On the nose, hints of hop and sweet malt, with a nice round malt flavor once I took a sip. It finished with lightly bitter hop for balance, marred by a touch of astringency in the back of the throat. Overall, a crisp, refreshing beer, just a touch too strong (in both taste and alcohol content) to be a session beer.

The ambrée, again, showed almost no head on the pour. Cloudy (that’s non-filtration for you) and a dark gold-amber color, with a faintly yeasty smell which I identified as medicinal and Nick called farmhouse-y, this one tasted of toasty, sweet malts and had a clean finish.

Finally, the brune, an amberish golden brown beer with, still, no head. The aroma hinted at chocolate, malt, and maybe floral hops. The flavors leaned toward dark malt, a suggestion of licorice, and finished with a balanced bitterness.

In a nutshell, these beers were fine, well-made but without much distinctive character. But I probably wouldn’t seek them out again, and they sure didn’t do much for my argument in favor of organic beers.

So, we kick off beer month without much of a bang, I’m afraid. But I’ll be here all month long, blogging along with these fabulous women:

There will be recipes featuring beer (check in on April 12th and 26th, and at the NY FoodGasm Facebook page on April 20th), brewery visits, beer reviews, beer dinners, and who knows what else!

On this day in 2009: Spring is Here! (a celebratory risotto)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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13 responses

3 04 2013
Lauren

Excited to have you in the group!

3 04 2013
Jenni Field (@PastryChfOnline)

Yay! So glad you’re in on the action, Camille! and I think you are Awesome too. Always have. So there. :)

3 04 2013
Hannah

Now this, this I like. Far more than choux pastry explorations ;)

P.S. Does chestnut beer exist?

3 04 2013
Michel

I like wine so much that I rarely drink anything else. Maybe if you find a fabulous beer and write about it, I will give it a try. Have fun during beer month.

3 04 2013
researchingsandiego

This is going to be fun… I can’t wait until we can go explore some So. Cal. breweries as well!

4 04 2013
Bachelormum

I’m from Australia and according to many aussies every day is beer month. I look forward to your posts :-)

4 04 2013
Inger Wilkerson

Wow I can’t believe I didn’t know about Beer Month. I think that you should keep trying organic beers until you find some that you like. And then you should try some additional non-organic for comparison. Should be a great month ;-)

4 04 2013
croquecamille

Lauren – Thanks! I’m excited to participate!

Jenni – Aw, shucks!

Hannah – It does! They make it in Corsica, in fact. :)

Michel – I love both wine and beer, but if forced to choose, I think I’d pick beer. :)

researchingsandiego – Oh, me, too!

Bachelormum – Ha! It’s been a perpetual beer month around here, too, lately. ;)

Inger – I’m pretty sure I already have, but I’ll take your suggestion to keep trying more!

4 04 2013
Sophia @ NY Foodgasm

So excited to have you involved! Are there any native French beers you have tried that you really like? Would love to know!

4 04 2013
croquecamille

Sophia – There are many! You can find the Worthwhile French Beers archive here.

11 04 2013
Anne

Not sure about beers, but I have also explored this little area.. and have some great photos ..

12 04 2013
Beer Brioche | Croque-Camille

[...] impetus for developing this recipe was Beer Month, and this is the first of two beer recipe link-ups. Here’s what the others have [...]

12 04 2013
croquecamille

Anne – It is really a cute neighborhood!




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