Style Details

Biè­re de Garde
Bel­gi­an Ale
BJCP Style Code
24 C
Three main varia­ti­ons exist (blond, amber and brown), so color can ran­ge from gol­den-blon­de to red­dish-bron­ze to chest­nut brown. Cla­ri­ty is bril­li­ant to fair, alt­hough haze is not unex­pec­ted in this type of often unfil­te­red beer. Well-for­med head, gene­ral­ly white to off-white (varies by beer color), avera­ge persistence. 
Pro­mi­nent mal­ty sweet­ness, often with a com­plex, light to mode­ra­te inten­si­ty toasty-brea­dy-rich malt cha­rac­ter. Low to mode­ra­te esters. Litt­le to no hop aro­ma (may be a bit spi­cy, pep­pery, or her­bal). Paler ver­si­ons will still be mal­ty but will lack richer, deeper aro­ma­tics and may have a bit more hops. Gene­ral­ly quite clean, alt­hough stron­ger ver­si­ons may have a light, spi­cy alco­hol note as it warms.
Medi­um to high malt fla­vor often with a toasty-rich, bis­cui­ty, tof­fee-like or light cara­mel-sweet cha­rac­ter. Malt fla­vors and com­ple­xi­ty tend to increase with beer color. Low to mode­ra­te esters and alco­hol fla­vors. Medi­um-low hop bit­ter­ness pro­vi­des some sup­port, but the balan­ce is always til­ted toward the malt. Dar­ker ver­si­ons will have more of an initi­al mal­ty-sweet impres­si­on than paler ver­si­ons, but all should be mal­ty in the pala­te and finish. The malt fla­vor lasts into the finish, which is medi­um-dry to dry, never cloy­ing. Low to no hop fla­vor (spi­cy, pep­pery, or her­bal), alt­hough paler ver­si­ons can have slight­ly hig­her levels of her­bal or spi­cy hop fla­vor (which can also come from the yeast). Smooth, well-lage­red cha­rac­ter, even if made with ale yeast. After­tas­te of malt (cha­rac­ter appro­pria­te for the color) with some dry­ness and light alcohol.
Medi­um to medi­um-light (lean) body, often with a smooth, cre­a­my-sil­ky cha­rac­ter. Mode­ra­te to high car­bo­na­ti­on. Mode­ra­te alco­hol warm­ing, but should be very smooth and never hot.
Over­all Impression
A fair­ly strong, malt-accen­tua­ted, lage­red artis­a­nal beer with a ran­ge of malt fla­vors appro­pria­te for the color. All are mal­ty yet dry, with clean fla­vors and a smooth character.
Typi­cal Ingredients
The “cel­lar” cha­rac­ter com­mon­ly descri­bed in lite­ra­tu­re is more of a fea­ture of mis­hand­led com­mer­cial exports than fresh, authen­tic pro­ducts. The some­what mol­dy cha­rac­ter comes from the corks and/or oxi­da­ti­on in com­mer­cial ver­si­ons, and is incor­rect­ly iden­ti­fied as “mus­ty” or “cel­lar-like.” Base malts vary by beer color, but usual­ly include pale, Vien­na and Munich types. Dar­ker ver­si­ons will have richer malt com­ple­xi­ty and sweet­ness from crys­tal-type malts. Sugar may be used to add fla­vor and aid in the dry finish. Lager or ale yeast fer­men­ted at cool ale tem­pe­ra­tures, fol­lo­wed by long cold con­di­tio­ning. Flo­ral, her­bal or spi­cy con­ti­nen­tal hops.
Name lite­ral­ly means “beer which has been kept or lage­red.” A tra­di­tio­nal artis­a­nal ale from Nor­t­hern France bre­wed in ear­ly spring and kept in cold cel­lars for con­sump­ti­on in war­mer wea­ther. It is now bre­wed year-round. 
Three main varia­ti­ons are included in the style: the brown (bru­ne), the blond (blon­de), and the amber (ambrée). The dar­ker ver­si­ons will have more malt cha­rac­ter, while the paler ver­si­ons can have more hops (but still are malt-focu­sed beers). A rela­ted style is Biè­re de Mars, which is bre­wed in March (Mars) for pre­sent use and will not age as well. Atte­nua­ti­on rates are in the 80-85% ran­ge. Some ful­ler-bodi­ed examp­les exist, but the­se are some­what rare. Age and oxi­da­ti­on in imports often increa­ses frui­tin­ess, cara­mel fla­vors, and adds cork­ed and mus­ty notes; the­se are all signs of mis­hand­ling, not cha­rac­te­ristic ele­ments of the style.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Ch’Ti (brown and blond), Jen­lain (amber and blond), La Chou­let­te (all 3 ver­si­ons), St. Amand (brown), Saint Syl­vest­re 3 Monts (blond), Rus­si­an River Perdition
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.060 - 1.080 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.008 - 1.016 SG
6 - 19 SRM
6.0 - 8.0 %vol
18 - 28 IBU