Monday, February 18, 2013

Biere De Garde - A Farmhouse Ale of a Different Color

Today I brewed a Biere de Garde. This is a style that I have wanted to brew for some time now, but I just haven't gotten the chance to do it. Biere de Garde is in the same family of beers as Belgian Saison. Biere de Garde is a farmhouse ale from Northern France. Both of these beers were originally brewed on small farms to supply the local population with beer to drink after working long days on the farm, or so the story goes.  Biere de Garde is a tough style to find commercial examples of. Luckily, the Lost Abbey here in San Diego makes a very nice example of the style in its Avant Garde. Avant Garde is brewed with Lost Abbey' s house lager yeast, fermented at hybrid ale/lager temps. Since commercial examples are so tough to find, another important resource is Markowski's Farmhouse Ales. This book does a great job explaining Biere de Garde, which can be a very difficult beer to describe, since very few commercial examples exist and very little is known about the original versions of the styles. In general the more modern versions are clean and malty, with a moderate hop profile. Markowski argues that much like early Saison's,  Biere de Garde was a farmhouse product, and probably was brewed with what ever grain, hops and yeast were available to the brewer. In addition they probably had some contamination of wild yeast or bacteria. I couldn't decide which route to go with, modern or traditional. Since the few commercial versions I have tried were the modern version (excluding Jolly Pumpkin's Biere de Mars). I wanted to ferment the beer with White Labs French Ale Yeast but since it wasn't available at the LHBS, I went with another neutral ale yeast, White Labs European Ale. This yeast ferments clean, and will enhance the malt profile of the style. I am thinking about pulling off a gallon or so of this beer and adding some wild yeast to get a more traditional version of the style. This beer had amazing amber color and I look forward to see how it turns out. The last characteristic of Biere de Garde's is that they are Guarded or aged for long periods of time to mature and smooth out the rougher edges. I will be aging this one for at least 2-3 months after primary fermentation is complete.

Recipe: US-2Row, Vienna, Dark Munich, Aromatic, and Crystal 60. Northern Brewer @60, Goldings @20, WLP 011 European Ale..


  1. This one is on my list as well. After reading Farmhouse Ales, I was super hooked on brewing one. I also can't decide how to approach it, but I was thinking of doing a split batch with funky and clean.

    I'm also debating about the recipe generation of either going super simple or using specialty malts (also discussed in the book)

    Let me know how it turns out and if you have any tips because it will still be a while before I brew mine.

  2. Will do for sure, congrats on the new addition to the family. We have to get together soon and brew some beer!

    1. Thanks man.
      It will happen, I have not forgotten about the Belgian Quad. I'm finishing up several of my big house projects and then I'll have some free time. Hopefully brew in late spring and then it can age to be ready to drink next winter.