Craft Beer: Bullhouse Biére de Greengraves a moreish take on French biére de garde
BY the time you read this, I'll be in France. A holiday in the undisputed home of wine can be a tricky for a craft beer drinker, but the French have made their own contribution to the beer world and offer a discerning range of ales and lagers. So much so, that one local brewer has taken inspiration from a Gallic style for ne of their latest offerings.
The ever-experimental Bullhouse Brewing Company have taken a stab at a beer style which is rarely touched by modern craft brewers. These days, it seems to be a ‘juice-off' every other week, with a hop-crammed double (or even triple) IPA hitting the shelves. Now, I'm not adverse to a juice bomb myself and, indeed, neither is Willy up at Bullhouse (more on that later) but picking up a bottle of Biére de Greengraves was a pleasant surprise.
It is a north Down take on the French biére de garde, a traditionally strong, farmhouse ale. In much the same way that a Belgian saisons are brewed in the cooler months for summer consumption, a biére de garde (which translates as beer for keeping) is brewed and then cellared for a few months before being drunk.
Biere de Greengraves, whose name is a hat tip to the brewery's location on the Greengraves Road in Newtownards, pours a lovely copper colour with a lively carbonation. BE-256 has been used in the fermentation, which is a yeast that is often used in trappist brewing. That helps lend it that kind of sweet candy-like taste which you get in beers which have been brewed with brettanomyces.
On top of all that wild yeast flavour, is a moreish biscuity malt taste and hints of buttery toffee and hard caramel.
It isn't as heavy as a trappist beer, leaning much more towards an amber ale or mild English bitter in terms of the malt profile, but it's that brett-like flavour which gives in a nice balance. It's not overly strong for the style, coming in at a manageable 6 per cent.
As I said, Bullhouse have also climbed aboard the juice train with their hazy IPA which is simply called Jus. It certainly delivers on the hazy side, and it's dank and bitter but the promised juicy flavours come in a bit later and aren't overly pronounced. It's a smooth and refreshing IPA and packs a punch at 6.5 per cent.