We are very fortunate that we are able to bring you this BrewView on BELLEROSE BIÈRE BLONDE EXTRA from BRASSERIE DES SOURCES. This particular bottle had been sitting on the shelves at our local LIQUOR BARN since November 2013- at least.
We had always noticed it, but decided to BrewView other beers from Belgium before it. Time and time again these past 20 months, we saw this lone bottle being ignored by beer enthusiasts, quietly aging on the shelves. So, when we saw it again this week (all by itself on the shelf with no price tag) it was like it had been segregated away from its bottled neighbors. We had decided that now was the time to BrewView this beer. It was like it had been waiting for us all this time to take it home. This BrewView was meant to be.
ABOUT brasserie des sources
Brasserie des Sources (formerly Brasserie Saint Amand) is located in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, (Flemish: Sint-Amands-aan-de-Skarpe) which is a commune in the Nord department in Northern France on the Scarpe river, very near the Belgian border.
First created in 1998 under the name of “Brasserie des Amis Réunis”, with the help of the European Union and under the instigation of an association of the actors and directors of the film “Germinal” (Association of friends gathered: Gerard Depardieu, Renaud, Miou-Miou , Claude Berri, Jean-Pierre Coffe), the brewery becomes “Brewery of Saint-Amand -les-Eaux” in 2002.
In 2005, after a very short closure and the resumption of Jean-luc Robert Butez (manager), the brasserie opens new under the name of “Brasserie des Sources” (Brewery of Sources / Brewery of the Springs).
The brewing equipment is installed in the building of the former slaughterhouses of Saint-Amand -les-Eaux. This equipment was originally purchased by the Association of friends gathered. (Source: Wikipedia)
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION FROM BRASSERIE DES SOURCES
Style category: Hybrid blonde ale
A cross between a French “Biere de Garde” and an IPA, Bellerose draws its inspiration from the 1950’s era, a period where beers were intensely hoppy and stoutly refreshing. Bellerose is brewed with three distinct hops from three different continents to impart distinctive aromas of citrus and litchi with a hoppy but refreshing aftertaste.
After less than one year of brewing, In 2011 Bellerose won a gold medal at the IBC (International Beer Challenge) in London, and was awarded “Best Ale over 5% in the UK. Again in 2012, Bellerose matches its performance by being awarded the gold medal in the “Top-fermented Lager” category, reaffirming its status as an exceptional beer. It is also the first time a French beer has been awarded consecutive gold medals at the IBC.
OUR BREWVIEW OF BELLEROSE BIÈRE BLONDE EXTRA
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6.5 % ABV. Poured into a tulip-shaped glass, and served at 45°F. Pours between a pale to a deep gold color, with a SRM value around a 5. The slightly off-white colored head pours an easy 3-finger height, and has a super dense, rocky density with small and large bubbles. As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is a super patchy, spider web thickness. 7-8 minutes later, it still had a 1/2″ dense head on it.
The meniscus (slow rising) was somewhat hard to view due to the intense amount of yeast chunks floating in the beer. Take a look at the pictures below to see what we mean! There was very gentle bubbling to be observed as well, but it was not easy to see.
For those inexperienced beer drinkers, many will be put off by the intense sight of thousands of yeast chunks floating in their beer. There are times when this can be a sign of the beer’s proteins falling out due to old age, and becoming stale, oxidized and musty. Or even worse, yeast chunk floaties can be a sign that the beer is infected or spoiled. There are times however, that it can also be a good thing. (Here’s a great article on the subject of “Floaties” in beer). Given the age of this bottle, we were ready to take our chances.
The rim color variation does not vary at all. When looking at the beer with the yeast in suspension, it almost looked like how a massive amount of white sugar poured into a glass of water looks before it descends to the bottom of the glass. In this instance, the yeast did not sink!
AROMA / BOUQUET:
When we popped open this beer, we were bracing ourselves for the worst- we did not know if the beer was going to smell bad or not. We definitely got fortunate with this bottle! Wow- there was a faint funk to the aroma (some may say that this is a sign that the beer was bad, but we know the difference.) There were aromas of deep grassiness due to the triple hops. Earthy, very slight horse blanket and hay. Around 16 minutes into drinking time, the biscuity, fresh baked bread, old peach stone / apricot stone aromas intensify.
There was an intense yeast aroma to it, mixed with a malt backbone. For those beer drinkers who are familiar with beers made with high quality French malts, the bouquet was distinctive. Very aged peach stone, apricot stone, floral litchi. This was definitely one of those beers whose aromas improved over time, as it was exposed to the air. So far, so good…
Now came the moment of truth! Up to this point, there were no offending factors in the aroma / bouquet of the beer, but what would it taste like? Happy to say, the initial taste was excellent! It had that sophisticated French malt taste perfectly married with an intense hoppy dryness and extremely spicy yeastiness. The maltiness had a biscuity character- reminiscent of boxed Animal Crackers and faint vanilla. The grassiness and ever-so-slight funkiness made Bellerose a well balanced favor profile. What a great surprise!
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The initial sip offers a very delicate tickle of the tip of the tongue, but then the hop dryness and fresh yeast spiciness hits the sides and the back of the roof of your mouth. Medium bodied, the Bière de Garde character of the beer gives a “round” feel on the top of the tongue. The aftertaste and finish is dry, spicy, and a ever-so-slight hint of funk. The drinkability factor of this beer is very high, and definitely invites the drinker to take that next sip…
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Rich, washed rind cheeses, blue veined cheeses, goat cheese, or very sharp white cheddars. Charcuterie platter with nice cuts of meats, paté or terrine with crusty peasant bread or sourdough. You could even enjoy this with chicken salad.
ENTRÈES: Moules en frite (of course!) pastas with white cream sauces- (the beer will help to cut the buttery richness), sushi, grilled Mahi Mahi, Weisswurst with sauerkraut.
DESSERTS: Tart, lemony desserts are in order- Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pie Bars, Lemon Sugar Tea cookies, Lemon cheesecake. Also, if you can get your hands of fresh litchi berries, that would be a must! A nice box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers would be awesome to pair with this beer!
This turned out to be an interesting experiment, and a great adventure to BrewView this beer! We were a tad bit nervous in trying this particular bottle due to its visual aesthetics, but were richly rewarded for stepping out in faith!
We feel BELLEROSE BIÈRE BLONDE EXTRA is a beer brewed at world-class caliber, and will stand up to the Belgian greats in its style category. Now you know that you could cellar this beer for at least 2 years. Our sample was handled over and over by the Liquor Barn employees moving it to various locations on the beer shelves, exposed to light- not harsh lighting, but it was exposed to light. Imagine if a young bottle was properly cellared away from light at the correct temperature, how much better the beer would be!
We are going to do our best to see if we can actually get the chance to interview Gerard Depardieu and discover his viewpoint of the brewery- past and present. We’ll let you know if we are successful!
We’d like to try a younger version of BELLEROSE, but the nearly 2-year old aged version was an experience in sensory overload. Hooray for us that no one else was smart enough to pick this beer up off the shelves- they did not know what they were missing out on! Like we said at the beginning, this BrewView was meant to be. A must have, seek this beer out for sure. Santé!
2 avenue du college