Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Petite Bière

First of all a confession, I wasn’t expecting to discover too much decent beer in the area in which my parents live. However, my pre-holiday research unearthed about 9 microbreweries in the Haut Limousin, so all hope had not been abandoned. I also knew that given the collection of Brits living the area, the mini-market in the nearest village sold Shepherd Neame’s excellent Spitfire, as well as Young’s Bombardier. My major hope for local craft brew lay in the fact that my parents had planned to take Mrs Velkyal and I to the final day of the Limoges Christmas market.

At the market was a stall for La Brasserie du Haut Limousin, a craft brewery operated by Monsieur and Madame Martialot from a town called Folles. For €15 I picked up the natty little wooden carrier with 5 types of beer as shown in the picture above, with the brand name La Lemovice. I drank the beers over several days, beginning with the 6.5%ABV Blonde. The bumpf I picked up with the beers told me that this beer is thrice hopped, in common with the Wychwood Wychcraft, and the nose was certainly very hoppy, in particular abounding in floral and spicy notes. There was also a very distinct whiff of yeast coming from this cloudy golden beer that had a quickly disappearing white head. Taste wise it was very smooth with banana and lemon flavours, I know that may sound odd. The blonde is a very nice easy drinking beer and I can certainly see why it was awarded a Fourquet d’Argent in 2008.

A few days later I dipped back into the wooden carrier and pulled out the Biere de Noel, a cloudy dark brown beer which, given the look and smell of it, I wasn’t expecting great things from. The nose was again dominated by yeast, although hints of ginger came through as well. The beer itself was rather sweet with a slightly spicy feel to it and yet the 8%ABV was strangely absent, it really didn’t feel like an alcoholic drink. Even Mrs Velkyal said that it “tastes like a soda”. This was an ok beer really, I assume there was a portion of wheat in the grist – but given that there was practically no information on the label I can’t say for sure, having said that I liked the label design in general.

Of the other three beers in the set, the Ambree was the pick of the bunch – sitting between the Biere de Noel and the Blonde yet boasting a zoiglesque nose. The cuvee special was to be blunt most definitely not my thing, and so it found its way down the drain rather quickly. Likewise the dark La Gueule Noire du Limousin was not really my cup of tea as it was distinctly sour – not sure if that was by design or otherwise.

Probably the most interesting thing from the Brasserie du Haut Limousin was the advertising leaflet I picked up, which not only contained information about the brewery and its beers but also about the history of brewing in the Limousin region of France. It was also interesting that all the beers are top fermented, and then bottle conditioned – hence the cloudiness of them all. I was also taken with the fact that the brewery only uses regional ingredients in its production, making it truly a local craft brew.

These guys are a very small operation, only 300 litres a week and they have no website, so sorry for the lack of links to them.

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