No AB-Inbev owned beers again today! It’s another independent supplied by trade only beer importer James Clay of Halifax. That’s the second one from them in the box, maybe they have a monopoly on sour beers in this case (Day 1)?
This is an unusual one that’s billed as a cross between a French bière de Garde and an English IPA? The brewery is a little unusual too. Based in Lille, it was originally founded in 1998 by a bevy of French actors after they made the film, Germinal. I’m no great cinematic aficianado, but I do know that Gerard Depardiue is the one who looks like his nose has been crudely made from plasticine. I also know he likes a gauge or two, so that bodes well. Anyway in 2002 it changed hands and name before undergoing the same process again in 2005 and now belongs to International Breweries and Beers, a French importer/exporter.
There are two Belleroses; Red (6.5%) and Blue (4.5%) which is only available on the UK market. I have the latter here and I might have just picked the stronger, original version given a choice?
There’s a nice head developing when you pour it out and there’s a slight haze in the golden coloured beer. The main aroma is sour and acetic, but when you taste it, it’s not as sour as you think it was going to be. The flavours I got were lemon, peppery, yeast, sweet caramel malt taste and a mellow sourness. It’s quite smooth and silky in the mouth and afterwards you get a wave of sweetness followed by a lemony bitterness.
Overall I thought it was a well balanced drink which matches up to the declaration of ‘Surfine’ on the bottle – superior, or of very fine quality. I didn’t think it was really a craft beer from a craft brewer though, more … something a little different from an obviously accomplished French brewer who only brew a couple of beers. It just shows you don’t have to brew zillions of wacky things to be good.
Verdict – fifteen beers left, I hope they will continue to be as good as this one which is definitely more ‘de garde’ than ‘de IPA’. Vive La France!