Sunday, March 02, 2008

It was a damp, cool evening...

...and I had the taste for a robust Biere de Garde.

I picked up a 750-ml corked bottle of Ch'ti Brune a couple weeks ago and trying it out tonight. According to the brewery's website, this beer is made with roasted malts, but I don't taste any of the bitterness that can come from roasted grains. It is also aged for six weeks after primary fermentation at a near freezing temperature in stainless steel tanks. It's a fairly sweet beer, almost bock-like up front, but dry and a bit tart in the finish. Although I didn't get much of a pop from the cork, the beer poured a deep chestnut brown with plenty of carbonation. Once the foam settled (leaving behind some bits of lacing) I poked my nose in my tulip glass and discovered a pleasant musty "French basement" aroma combined with a touch of sourness. This beer tasted of dark dried fruits (prunes, raisins) with some oaky notes and then some caramel sweetness followed by the tart and rather dry finish. I've always enjoyed the Biere de Garde style of beer this time of year and this somewhat tawny example suits the cool, damp weather rather well.

The Ch'ti range of beers are made at a brewery in the village of Artois in Northern France, producing a moderately large amount of beer - 40,000 hectoliters - or about 34,000 U.S. barrels. The Ch'ti range includes a blonde, white, amber and triple. The blond appears to be the flagship beer which, according to the brewery's website, has been brewed since 1979 and is even available in mini-kegs! Pictured are Annick and Yves Castelain of the Brasserie Castelain which makes the Ch'ti range of beers. If the Ch'ti Brune is any example of the rest of the Ch'ti beers, I would definitely include a stop at the Castelain brewery or at least one of the Ch'ti Taverns if I ever make the trek to France.

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