27 December 2010

Off garde

I always expect something a bit rough-and-ready from a Bière de Garde, something that tastes convincingly like a sullen gallic farmer just lashed it up in the back of the barn, replete with raw grainy flavours, lots of murky haze and more than a whiff of some wild fermentation. It's hardly surprising that something much tamer arises when a large US craft brewer turns its meticulous attention to the style.

Flying Dog's Garde Dog is properly hazy all right, and the pale orange colour is certainly more attractive than any murky brown. The nose is exciting and enticing: sourness first followed by citrus zest and a sprinkling of herbs and spices.

The intrigue ends there, however. On tasting I got quite a thin and rather under-carbonated beer which exhibits a certain amount of the spice that was promised on the nose, but not enough for my liking. The citrus zest is just about present too, but it ends up dominating the flavour in the absence of anything else.

Now, a big part of this could be a freshness issue: I noticed that my bottle was only a month away from the expiry date, so I could well believe there were all manner of subtle and interesting things going on in it when it left Maryland. What I got, however, was an easy-drinking refreshing mid-strength (5.5% ABV) beer, and perhaps that's all it's meant to be. I can't complain too much really.


  1. A bit weak for a Bière de Garde innit?

  2. Perhaps, but well within the ballpark, I'd say. I don't recall seeing any that were much over 6.

  3. Any attempt to codify the "bière de garde" style is doomed to fail. Because it really is no style, just a very elastic denomination.
    It is mostly a geographical denomination for anything brewed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area, which is neither a pale lager, nor spiced, and is malt-accented, although the colour can range from straw to brown and the ABV fall anywhere between 5 and 9% or so. Most arr top-fermented, but not all. And the hopping can vary greatly too.