Monday, February 7, 2011

451. Jeffrey McElfresh Bière de Garde

Oh snap! That moment of transcendent magic we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: Jeffrey McElfresh Homebrew Drinking Week Part II. This is the best sequel in the history of forever, or at least since humanity emerged from caves and abandoned hunting and gathering for the joys of agrarian life. The downside, of course, is that that particular part two was also on the way to humans eating paint chips, but that’s a different story, and not so good an example of the vision of a triumphant sequel that I am trying to sell here. As well, it is possible that the next installment of JMHDW will be ever better (not to be confused with WWJD II)—it could be in the reciprocally sequel-appropriate 3D—but the possibilities are just too fantabulously awesome to even contemplate, so I’ll stick with the here and now of JMHDW II. My lord, I’m giddy with excitement, so let’s get down to brass tacks...


McElfresh Bière de Garde pours a delicate tannish caramel brown with delightful orange highlights that are the color of Johnny Rotten’s Public Image Ltd.-era hair. The head is made up of miniscule white bubbles that quickly reduce to a ring, while the nose is a complex mixture of toasty and caramel malt sweetness with creamy and bready components as well, but stops just short of having dark fruit notes (malt, not ester derived). Really, the nose is quite divine. Flavors open with toasty and toffee malt sweetness; the middle is creamy but also a bit drier on the palate, with no discernable hop bitterness—if it is there, it is very light. The finish features a touch of Belgian candy sweetness and smaller hints of darker fruits like plum and fig, but it is also dry with a touch of bitterness and/or alcohol flavor that lightly lingers. The medium body is slightly undercarbonated, which would be my only real complaint about the beer, leaving it a bit soft on the mouth (although it does reciprocally enhance the soft toasty malt components of the beer). While I am unsure of the exact strength of the beer, the alcohol is well hidden—it is most certainly a malt forward beer. The strength is the malt complexity coupled with the cleaner finish. As the beer warms, there is an increase in caramel flavors across the profile as well as a larger manifestation of the darker fruit flavors in the middle and end of the beer (I mean, hell, I got a 22 of this beer, so it took me some time to work through it). While certainly delicious now, I’d be interested in seeing the long-term effects of some additional garde-ing—I think the malt complexity would get richer and more complex even though this is a lighter version of a Bière de Garde. Nice work, Jeffrey. You’re in effect like alternate side of the street parking rules.

P.S. I’m officially skipping work tomorrow as part of my secret silent plan to make JMHDW an officially recognized national holiday. Who is with me? Come on, where’s your faux indignation and half-assed civil disobedience now? All y’all are a bunch of Western Marxists, aren’t you?


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