Style: Grand Cru / Biere De Garde
Grain: Pilsner, Melanoidin
Extra: French oak, vanilla beans, orange peel
Fermented with Belgian yeast
Tasting notes: creme brulee, orange wafer, white pepper
Pair with: Mojo Clams & Pork Belly; Summer Salad
I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that France is known more for wine than beer. So when looking for a beer style to represent LeClaire in our city beer series, my choices were pretty slim. All that really sticks out for me as beers that embody France is the Biere de Garde. The elevator pitch on this style is a bigger, bolder Pilsner, aged for a very long time until everything mellows and rounds out.
So I went really big with this one. At it's core is a Pilsner, but I essentially doubled the malt bill and decided a Belgian yeast strain would be more fun than a German lager strain. I let it run hot to keep the yeast happy and going. And inspired by a box of French cookies I found in my cupboard, I added orange, vanilla, and of course, French oak cubes to simulate aging in a barrel.
Around this time I stumbled across a webinar on the history of Pierre Celis and his Hoegaarden beer. We all know him for his Wit, but he was also apparently quite fond of his Grand Cru - a term he had borrowed from the French wine world for a winery's biggest and finest creation - applied to one of his beers. At 11.1% ABV, I decided to borrow it too.