ClubGonzo’s Garde de Nöel

Garde de Nöel by ClubGonzo, Bière de Garde, 7.7% ABV, 21.8 IBU.

ClubGonzo's Garde de Nöel, batch no. 68.

ClubGonzo’s Garde de Nöel, batch no. 68.

It looks darker than it tastes!

It looks darker than it tastes!

Christmas is over, so it’s time to start rating a few Christmas beers! First one out is what ClubGonzo calls a non-Xmas beer, i.e. not the usual sweet malty stuff. Instead this is bière de garde, which is a beer style I hardly know at all (I’ve got no more than 3 bière de garde ratings on RateBeer!)

It’s a good-looking brew, with a large, off-white, creamy, long-lived head on top of a hazy medium amber body.

The aroma is strong with pleasant fruity yeasty notes, pale malt and a touch of caramel. It reminds me of a Belgian strong ale, a bit like a modest Duvel with more emphasis on the caramel. It certainly gives me the urge to take a sip!

It’s got a sweeter taste than I had imagined, and the bitterness is relatively light, so the overall impression is in fact a sweet malty beer. Not that far from a Christmas beer after all! The flavour is strong, and not surprisingly it’s yeasty, fruity and Belgian (to my untrained palate, it is of course French). But then, of course, I find some disturbing elements. Something somewhat reminiscent of… yep, you guessed it: solvent. It’s not extremely unpleasant, but enough to make the beer a bit demanding to drink.

The mouthfeel is nice (apart from the solvent thingy), it’s quite light on the palate for its moderate ABV, and the relatively high carbonation fits the light elements of the beer.

Conclusion: a dark-looking and Belgian tasting light French beer, with hints of solvent. 

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    10/20
Ratebeer score: 3.1/5.0

One comment on “ClubGonzo’s Garde de Nöel

  1. Well, I kinda disagree with you on this one. While the Biere de Garde is a rather widely defined style (like saison) it does have certain characteristics, mainly from the yeast, which I think I succeeded well in replicating. The malt base, however, could have been more complex in hindsight, leading to a perhaps more drinkable rendition of the style but certainly not as interesting as many others in the genre. My brewing friend Erlend Johnsen’s version, brewed last year, was better than mine in this respect. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with the result and was not able to detect any solvent or otherwise off-flavors in it, although it came across as a bit “green” – I suspect it may improve quite a bit with age. But we can both agree that it turned out to be more “Christmas”-like than I first imagined. 🙂

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