Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of our favorite holidays and we hope you have a great one too. What’s not to love? There’s good times with family, delicious food and even better, delicious beer. This year, why not try something a little different and bring a bottle of Biere de Garde with you to the turkey day feast.
Biere de Garde is a classic French beer. Yes, French. And you thought they only made wine. It’s produced in northern France, in the hop growing region near the Belgian border. Much like a Saison, the beer was brewed by farmers in the winter break before spring-time planting. Also like Belgian Saison, the beer was kept and consumed during the summer months until the weather cooled off and brewing activities restarted in the fall, its name even means “beer for keeping.”
The first thing you’ll notice is a sweet malty aroma, maybe even a little toasty. You shouldn’t pick up any hop aroma though. Unlike some styles, Biere de Gardes have a wide variety of color, from golden blonde to reddish amber. Biere de Gardes are malty beers, with flavors ranging from toasty to toffee to caramel sweetness in the beginning, but finishes clean and dry, with hints of herbs and spices.
All of those flavors make Biere de Garde the perfect Thanksgiving beer. Don’t take my word for it. Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, says the same thing in his book The Brewmaster’s Table. According to Oliver, Biere de Garde is not just a good Thanksgiving pairing, it’s the perfect one. The beer works well with the nuttiness of the turkey, the herbs in the stuffing and the caramelized, crispy turkey skin, plus the carbonation helps cut the fat and cleanse the palate.
While Biere de Garde will never be as popular as IPA, you should still be able to find it at any good beer retailer. Be extra thankful if you can find Biere de Garde from Brasserie Duyck, Brasserie Castelain or Brasserie St. Sylvestre. If your local beer store doesn’t have the import varieties, there are great domestic ones too. Ask for Schlafly’s Biere de Garde (our 2014 choice) or Ommegang’s Biere D’Hougoumont (our 2013 selection).
FYI, if you can’t find a Biere de Garde, a nice spicy Saison would pair well with your Thanksgiving dinner too. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Belgian Tripel or big American Barleywine in the mix.