Raven de Garde, and an intro to Bier de Garde

Do you like a Pale Ale, but seek one that’s a little bit funky? One that offers the kind of hop-forward attitude of a pale ale, but also a bit of the wild, untamed character of a Belgian barnyard? Well then, Raven de Garde Pale Ale from Black Raven Brewing might be what you’re looking for. The brewery releases this Redmond-brewed Bier de Garde on Saturday, January 17 at the brewery. See info about the beer and release below.

But in the meantime, let’s use this as an opportunity to learn a little bit about an old-world beer style, one you might come across at the upcoming Belgianfest on January 31st in Seattle. I’ll post more of this kind of stuff as Belgianfest nears.

Bier de Garde: By the simplest definition it is a Belgian-style strong Pale Ale. Perhaps more malty that we typically imagine a Pale Ale to be, and with notes of yeast-driven, old-world funk. By definition, the color is deep golden, copper, to light brown. It should clock-in at somewhere between 6% and 8% ABV. It should lean more towards malt than hops, with only medium to mild hop aroma and flavor. Of course, that is all subject to interpretation. This is America, after all, where we love our hops.

Translated, Bier de Garde means “beer for keeping.” Bier de Garde was traditionally brewed in northern France, near what is now the border with Belgium in the region known as the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. In name at least, Bier de Garde refers to a beer based on a French/Belgian farmhouse tradition: brew it in the winter or spring, when the weather is favorable for fermentation, with the intention of letting the finished beer keep for awhile (various amounts of time). How much attention modern American brewers pay to that tradition when producing a Bier de Garde varies: it may or may not be aged.

Farmhouse? Bier de Garde is one of two beer styles typically referred to as “farmhouse” or “farmhouse ale.” The other is, of course, Saison.  Farmhouse brewing is a romantic notion that has little to do with the way beers are produced today.

So think of Bier de Garde as a richer, stronger version of Saison. Or, think of it as a strong and slightly funky Belgian-style Pale Ale.

Here is the official release announcement straight from Black Raven about the pending release of Raven de Garde.

Black Raven – Raven de Garde
Strong Pale with Brettanomyces

Release date: Saturday, January 17th

This Northern France/Belgian inspired strong pale hybrid has gone through many months of secondary fermentation with the “wild” yeast strain brettanomyces lambicus. We then dry hopped this ale in order to meld bright fresh hop aroma and accent the aged wild yeast character. Pear and citrus hops play with tropical fruit, smooth earth, and light hay flavors from the wild yeast.

Available on tap and in limited release bottles:

375ml bottle ($6.99)

750ml bottle ($13.99)