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.
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.
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:
- Alex of Alex Tries It Out
- Cathi of The Brooklyn Ragazza
- Minerva of Much Ado About Fooding
- Lauren of Hall Nesting
- Jessica of Jessiker Bakes
- Sophia of NY Foodgasm
- Jennifer of Pastry Chef Online
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.