Thursday, May 30, 2013

564. Brewery Vivant and New Belgium Lips of Faith Biere de Garde

So we’ve got both a collaboration beer and a Lips of Faith beer, all in one bottle. Did I also mention it is a biere de garde? Which, while not precisely a saison, is pretty much saison’s kissing cousin. Throw some chickens on the label, and this beer becomes downright irresistible, even before it gets opened. Who can fight that much confluence of goodness? Certainly not this crowd. While we’ve never had a beer from Brewery Vivant, if New Belgium says nice things about them, that’s good enough for us. And New Belgium? They’re pretty much golden around our way. We could chiggity-check the books for backing, but we’ll let this one stand on its own.

Lips of Faith Biere de Garde pours a clear, bright golden straw: with the long lasting white head, lacing, and profuse bubbles, it’s like liquid sunshine in a glass. The nose is juicy ripe fruit and citrus with pear and apple hints; there is a bit of husky malt hidden behind the yeast character followed by just the slightest hint of tartness, although that may be more of the yeast fruitiness. As it opens up, there is some creamy mustiness that borders on earthiness—you know, your usual Belgian rusticity in a glass. Flavors start sweet although the beer is very dry as a whole—the residual Pilsner candy sweetness gives way to fruit and a touch of bitterness in the middle, although the malt is in charge. In the finish, there are hints of lemon zest and dry cracker along with an impression of nuttiness. There is also some alcohol flavor and warmth, which increases as the beer warms, although so too does the juicy yeast character. The initial mouthfeel is creamy and dry; as it warms, the creaminess remains, but the dryness gives way to alcohol warmth and a slight sharpness in the back of the throat. While this is an enjoyable and certainly well-made beer, it could use better balance between the size and the flavors: as it warms, the subtlety starts to fade and the residual sweetness turns towards stickiness, and the juxtaposition between the dryness of the beer and the gumminess in the mouthfeel becomes uneven. Coupled with the increasing alcohol presence, this disjunction detracts from the overall impression of the beer—it comes across currently as almost a young and brash tripel. Part of this may stem from the style; Biere de Gardes are intended to age, and some of the rougher edges might disappear with time, but, well, we’re drinking it now. Still, something certainly worth trying—the quality is there, it is just young and rough around the edges. Sorry, we just couldn’t resist the sweet siren song of a new Lips of Faith beer any longer. You know y’all been there before, haven’t you? 

From the bottle: “Famous in Michigan for their Farmhouse Ales, our friends at Brewery Vivant introduced us to their Biere de Garde ale yeast strain. From there, we imagined a slightly tart, intentionally  dry beer with hints of bergamot citrus that pairs perfectly with French cheeses.”

ABV: 9.0%


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