I have to say, I haven’t had much luck with the beers of France. First there was that CASTELAIN BLONDE BIER DE GARDE (5/10) that I’d heard so much about; then the ST. SYLVESTRE GAVROCHE (4.5/10), the less said about which the better. It’s not that I don’t like the French; au contraire. It’s just I remember reading this great article in THE CELEBRATOR once about French beers, particularly the bier de garde style, and it got me so excited I was ready to break out the Benjamins for a crateful of every French country farmhouse ale I could get my mitts on. So far I’m not finding that any of the hyped-up ones deliver. I suppose, as we’ve said before, there’s no accounting for taste.
I ordered a JENLAIN AMBREE two nights ago during a fine visit to LA TRAPPE with my buddy Damian. This, too, is a bier de garde; supposed to be one of the best. To me it was a thin, very malty beer with everything dialed down to very pedestrian levels. Earthy, but not in a flavorful way. Caramel-ish, but way off in the fog somewhere. Malty and musty and only slighty yeasty. It’s really like a European red ale without the character or full-bodied excitement that might conjure up for you. It's the best French beer I’ve ever had, but only because the other two were so weak. I’ll keep trying. It’s my job. 6/10.