Beer for the God of War

Friday, May 30, 2008

Late review today. It's Friday, my boss is in another State...and I have had client meetings all morning. Stupid clients.

Anyway, I grabbed a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin's Biere De Mars. I'm really bummed that Beer Advocate redid their graphics so I can't download the bottle pics any more because this one is awesome. It's a big magnum, bottle with a picture of an angry God of War blowing a holy hell of a storm. Beautiful. I'd get a tattoo of it.

This is a Biere De Garde style, or more directly translated, a beer that you store. It's another one of those unique French-style beers farmers would brew and store to drink with dinners after a hard days work. It's got its differences from the Franch Farmhouse Ales (saison), which is a much more subtle style than a biere de garde, which is a heavier hitter a little closer, to me, to a gueuze or lambic whereby the saison is closer to a standard Belgian ale.

Love 'em both.

Anyway...Biere De Mars, aged in oak barrels like every other beer at Jolly Pumpkin.

The beer poured a deep, cloudy ruby-red-and-amber color with a thin but substantial finger-sized fluffy head. It had some nice brown highlights and even a sort of light-diffusing effect that I really liked (maybe it was my glass...).

The aroma is really hard to describe, so here it goes: candied sour cherries, brown sugar and a bouquet of flowers strained through a wool blanket. Sounds unappetizing? I assure you, it's actually not. The blankety aroma is actually an earthy pungency that underlies all of the other sweet/sour/floral aspects. It makes for an intriguing beer, but definitely not one for a beginner.

The flavors you get right off the bat are not "flavors" per se but senses. Tartness and sourness. This big cherry flavor is nice and sweet, but it sibsides to a true sourness. Not like the Sour Patch Kids sour that's simply tart, but a real sourness. The sour taste (Brettannomyces bacteria) lingers throughout the beer, but there wasn't quite enough of a malt backbone to substantiate it. It was heavy on the sour and light on the balance.

It was very nicely carbonated and left a smooth feeling on the palate despite the sour bite.

Again, this beer is not for someone you're trying to introduce to big beers. This one is even big for big beer drinkers. I really honestly regret not having cellared this beer. If I was thinking well, I'd have cellared this beer for at least 6 months if not longer to get some of these huge flavors to mellow and some of the all-but-hidden caramel character to come out a bit more. Live and learn; I went back to Oades Big 10 to find another bottle to cellar, and they had run out temporarily. I just haven't made it back yet to see if they have any more.


Sopor 1:49 PM  

Well if you can't get the pic of BA, rip it off (or link us to) the breweries pages! That label is awesome!

Sopor 2:07 PM  

The Brett causes sour? I though the Brett caused "barnyard" or leather notes? Perhaps like the wool blanket you tasted?

Isn't sour normally a result of Lactobacillus?

I'm probably wrong, you are the BJCP certified judge after all ;-)

By the way, have you had any of the Bell's wheat series? They were heavy on the wool/barnyard taste, and I loved them! Well, at least I loved #4.

Sopor 2:14 PM  

Ok, I'll stop monopolizing this thread, but some reading on Wiki has helped me out:


Brett is the traditional bacteria in European sour ales, and different species seem to impart different flavors. Some american breweries are using lactic acid/lactobacillus to help.

Smitty 2:34 PM  

We're both right!

Jesus, Sopor, get a hobby.


Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 2:36 PM  

French Style Stock Ale?

I ain't drinkin' no gawd damn Frenchy sissy beer!

Smitty 2:47 PM  

I ain't drinkin' no gawd damn Frenchy sissy beer

Did you read the part where I said it's a big beer even for big beer drinkers? No sissy beer here, my friend.

Plus, this is brewed in Dexter, MI, not Surrender Monkey Land.

the infamous roger 5:00 PM  

Don't be downgrading the brett! It is a yeast, not bacteria!

There are different strains of brett that will give different flavors, ranging from horse-y to bright, tart, cherry pie flavors. Definitely big sourness.

Lacto is a softer sourness, IMO.

Not all BdG's feature brett or other "wild" yeasts, either.

I'd be interested to swap some West Coast belgian-style beers for midwestern stuff, if anyone is interested.

Smitty 6:10 PM  


I just completed a really great trade with George from "I'm Not One To Blog, But..." and we did a Big Beer swap...some Stone RIS for some all-Michigan big ABV stuff.

I'd love to do a Belgian trade. Email me:


Sopor 8:14 AM  

Rog, I'd love to do a trade, but I need to finish a trade with a guy out in Mass.

Maybe in a few weeks? You can email me:

djsopor at

Sopor 11:03 AM  

Hey Roger, What part of CA are you from? I'll be in Hemet in a week or two, anywhere near?

the infamous roger 12:12 PM  

Hemet is pretty far away from me. I'm about fifteen minutes from Russian River Brewing in the car and about 5 minutes by foot from Bear Republic.

If you are in Hemet on the tenth of June you should drive into San Marcos (San Diego) to Stone brewing for their Russian River event. You should go to stone anyway, but especially on the tenth.

Sopor 9:14 PM  

Ahh, yes well that is a ways aways...

Smitty 8:13 AM  

So I subscribe to the Jamil Show podcast. Awesome show. If you have an iPod, subscribe and download away. He reviews a different beer every 2 weeks, and it's a complete review. The style guidelines for that beer, a discussion of it, and eventually an award-winniong recipe for it.

I listened to the Biere De Garde episode. Sounds like it is actually not supposed to have a sour quality at all...more malty, thickly sweet and lagered (even though it is an ale yeast).

George 2:13 PM  

Sopor, if you're in Hemet June 13 and 14 you have to go to this event. I'll be there on the Saturday, even though I have to drive 3 hours to do it. (Well, my beer-loving in-laws live nearby, too.)

the infamous roger 2:16 PM  

Port Brewing/Lost Abbey is most excellent.

BTW: I gave notice at my job today. I'm going to work as a brewer's apprentice for the Bear Republic next month. Excited is an understatement.

They offered me the opportunity (and honor!) to brew with them for the GABF pro-am, but I decided I'd rather quit the desk job for brewing.

Smitty 2:53 PM  

Roger! Awesome! HUGE congrats!!

I will be honored for your continued presence here on ATK...and you must senbd me some of the beers you brewed.

Sopor 4:00 PM  



George: A Real Ale festival is RIGHT up my alley. I'll see if I'm around then!

George 12:11 PM  

Congrats, Roger. Nothing like chasing a sudsy dream. Me, I just drink the stuff, so completely appreciate you learning how to make it for me.

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