Sunday, 11 July 2010

French Leave (pt 2)

Happily marooned in rural south-west France, there is little to to apart from eat, drink and sleep, although the heat is making it difficult for our son to sleep, so we don't either. This goat-branded curiosity turned up on the shelves of the local supermarket, brewed by the Basque Aker Beltz brewery. It has a map of the Basque state on the back, weirdly overlapping Spain and France, with an outline that is totally unfamiliar.

From the name, you might expect the billy goat to be playing a flute, given the similarity of the name of the beer to famed flautist Acker Bilk. The goat is also the symbol of a German bock beer. On the palate, the 5.5%abv is well-hidden, and the beer, rather than being a bock is actually a surprisingly light-bodied English ale. Toasty grain and caramel cross the palate, before a medicinal, phenolic hop finish. The caramel is a bit obvious, being also listed as an ingredient, and given this corner cutting, I wonder if the slightly medicinal hop note is because they've used hop oils rather than whole hops.

Better than this have been large, corked bottles of the Belgian wheat beer Blanche de Naumur (4.5%abv), spendidly fresh, with a big coriander perfume and an incredibly soft, fine carbonation, finishing short, dry and perfumey - a perfect aperitif on a hot sunny evening.

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