BeerCast #65 – Bières en vacances!

Posted by on Nov 20, 2011 in BeerCasts, French Beer | No Comments

After our legislation-heavy 64th BeerCast, our intrepid podcasting heroes return with a slightly different, more carefree outing. MrB departed the island shores in July for his annual sojourn on the continent, and returned with a carload of French booze. Alongside the wine, Picon, and assorted liqueurs he also brought back plenty of artisian French beer – so we decamped to his Chateau in East Lothian and sampled a few. On today’s punctuation-heavy French BeerCast – La Johannique Blanche (5.0%), from the Brasserie des Râteliers; Cervoiserie Lancelot’s Bonnets Rouge (5.5%); Le Moulin de Saint-Martin Ambrée (6.5%), from the Brasserie of the same name; and finally the salt-water infused Mor Braz La Bière Cidrée (4.0%). On the panel today – Richarde, Grooben, and Monsieur B. Apologies for the sound quality, but stay tuned for the return of our annual feature – Can you Picon it?, after the end of the podcast…

1. La Johannique Blanche
Brasserie des Râteliers, Amilly, Loiret.
330ml glass bottle

Râteliers means ‘rack’ in French – for instance Râteliers a bicyclette [Bike rack]. There’s also the popular saying…‘Manger a tous les râteliers’ [make the most of what comes along]. Due south of Paris, the small town of Amilly is the location for the Brasserie des Râteliers. La Johannique is a Biere Blanche D’Orleans – their local Belgian-style wit. Clearly, if you’ve just read this paragraph you’ll realise we could find out very little about this beer.

What They Say
“This blanche highlights its origins from local ingredients, including grain grown in nearby Beauce and malted in Pithiviers, and honey from La Ferté St Aubin added for the secondary fermentation in the bottle.” [Beer Advocate reviewer BoitSansSoif]

What We Say
Richard – Bit of perfume, little bit of sweetness – very nice
MrB – It’s nice even though it doesn’t have much of a taste 7
Grooben – I wouldn’t have been able to pick out the honey 6

2. Bonnets Rouge
Cervoiserie Lancelot, Le Roc-Saint-André, Morbihan.
330ml glass bottle

You may not have heard of Morbihan – but it has an interesting secret. Of the 101 French departments, it’s the only one to not be named in French. Morbihan means ‘small sea’ in Breton – this area of north-west France has a proud heritage. Le Roc-Saint André (or Roz-Sant-Andrey to the locals) has a population of 861, but it also hosts a brewery – based in an abandoned gold mine, of all places. Cervoiserie Bernard Lancelot began in 1990, and are inspired by Celtic legends. Producing seven permanent, unfiltered, beers – Bonnets Rouge is named after the red hats worn by 17th Century Breton revolutionaries.

What They Say
“This beer at the slightly fruity flavor (brought by the elderberry), of malt, is embellished with a caramel note. It is also the elderberry which allows the beer to have its bright red color, a symbol of rebellion.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – Subtle and fruity, really good looking beer too 7
Richard – Nice and refreshing, nothing wrong with that at all 7
MrB – Slight sharpness to it, presumably from the elderberries

3. Le Moulin de Saint-Martin Ambrée
Brasseries Le Moulin de Saint-Martin, Saint Martin de Bossenay, Aube.
330ml glass bottle

If Le Roc-Saint André is small, then Saint Martin de Bossenay is positively pocket-sized. In 2003, a native Belgian father/son partnership opened a brasserie in the village of 385 souls. Part of the region of Champagne-Ardenne, it’s heavily into wine growing due to the chalky soil – and also produces a lot of barley. Named after the local windmills, the Brasserie produce three classic Belgian styles – a blonde, a brune, and an ambreé .

What They Say
“Bottle-fermented, a natural deposit of yeast formed there. Red beer with character a strong, color is both deep and intense. It is best eaten cold (6-8 °C). A more pronounced flavor than its cousin the white wheat, it remains a beer of thirst, but is also ideal to accompany dishes such as sauerkraut, grilled meat, chitterlings, endive gratin.” [Official Website][via Google translate]

What We Say
MrB – This is the best one so far 8
Richard – There’s a great malt component to this 8
Grooben – I’m a fan, it’s quite Belgian but doesn’t have the harsh Belgian-y-ness 8

4. La Bière Cidrée
Mor Braz, Theix, Morbihan.
330ml glass bottle

We end the podcast back in Brittany, in the town of Theix (or Teiz). A quarter of the schoolchildren here attend fully bilingual schools, learning local tradition as well as their regular syllabus. One export famed from this region is Breton cider – so we put to the test an apple beer, but one with a difference. Mor Braz are owned by a Morbihan couple, so proud of their locale that they actually add seawater extract to their beers – for a ‘surprising’ taste. Apple fruit beer with seawater? Oui, monsieur…

What They Say
“What is the mystery of Cider Beer? The originality and lightness of beer brewed from seawater extracts, the flavour of apple and the sweetness of sugary hints. This beer should be enjoyed cold, but not ice-cold.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – It’s a bit like a condiment flavour, very strange 6
Grooben – Not as salty as I thought. It’s kind of pointless 5
MrB – Salty cider? It smells of the sea. I like it, but I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because we’re Scottish, and appreciate salt 5

– (clockwise from top left) Richard, MrB, Grooben

BeerCast panel verdict
Le Moulin de Saint-Martin Ambrée 24/30
Brasserie des Râteliers La Johannique Blanche 20½/30
Cervoiserie Lancelot Bonnets Rouge 20½/30
Mor Braz La Bière Cidrée 16/30

  • Listen to the episode on Soundcloud here:

Please keep those comments and emails coming in, and check back in a couple of weeks for our next BeerCast – our fifth annual Christmas Special! Join the team as we get to grips with half a dozen festive ales, fit for the Christmas season. We promise to get the sound levels sorted out beforehand. Until then, enjoy your beer – and easy on the Picon.

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