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