I was originally planning to bring the Castelian St. Amand Ale for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, but ended up grabbing a bottle of the Jenlain Ambree (yet another notable French Biere de Garde) instead. It was definitely worth doing.
Jenlain, according to their own website (Brasserie Duyck), was the first brewery to package beers in 75 cL champagne-style bottles with wire-fastened corks. The Ambree is an unpasteurized biere de garde made from 3 different French barley malts and 3 different Alsatian hops. The 7.5% ABV is very very smooth.
Appearance: Lovely burnt caramel color with plenty of carbonation bubbles and a nice off-white head that thins out after a few seconds.
Aroma: Mild, caramelly, ever-so-slightly hoppy, faint hint of fruit — peaches? and a whiff of hay to finish.
Flavor: Much more complex on the tongue than on the nose. A certain lagery quality reminiscent of Warsteiner (I seem to remember Castelian also exhibiting this lagery-ness), caramel/burnt sugar tones, a sharpness that says, “drink with farmhouse cheese!”, and some rustic farm qualities: fresh grass, hay, nuts, herbs.
Palate: fantastically spritzy without being too champagne-like. Wonderful feel.
Overall: it’s no St Amand (still my favorite Biere de Garde, thus far) but more complex than Castelain.
The Ambree was truly excellent with Thanksgiving Dinner — and what I especially appreciate, it was equally good with the main course and the dessert: it paired faultlessly with the turkey & dressing, gravy, veggie casseroles, and sweet potatoes, and then turned around and sang in harmony with the pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple crisp! Vive la biere francaise!