Helm’s Brew Master Blog – En Garde
Welcome to our first ever “Helm’s Brew Monthly Brew Master Blog”. This is our way to share an in depth look at what’s happening at Helm’s, locally in the San Diego beer scene and what’s new in the beer community overall. Along with updates on our new styles, we’ll also share an inside look at the brewing processes and get insight from other Brewers (professional and home brewers). Most importantly we hope to share the most pivotal aspect of our work: our love of beer and all things related. So let’s get started!
February is an exciting month at Helm’s because we release our next seasonal ale, En Garde. En Garde is a French farmhouse style ale known as a bière de garde (beer for keeping). A standard for small, locally based French Brewers in the past, the bière de garde is a light bodied, flavorful, seasonal brew often considered a cousin to the Belgian Saison (season). This beer is typically brewed in the late fall or early winter, to avoid unstable fermentation that could occur due to summer temperatures. A bière de garde is slow fermented and aged over several months to provide a crisp, clean flavor while still maintaining the sustenance it provided the Brewers and field workers who most commonly enjoyed it. Unlike the lagered beers that were most common to northern France, this beer followed no strict guidelines for style. Typically though, the standard grain bill for a bière de garde is similar to a strong pale ale, with some exceptions for adjuncts to increase fermentability. While present, hops are usually overlooked in this style. A light amount of noble hops added early in the boil leads to almost no hop aroma and helps the character of the malt shine through immensely.
For En Garde, we chose to stay true to the brewing style of the French farmers that made the bière de garde so popular. By mashing our grain at a lower temperature (which would have been easier for Brewers using wood burning flames) we were able to promote strong attenuation (or fermentability) and strengthen the malty, full-flavor of the style while keeping the beer light bodied and crisp. Using the best quality grains and high amounts of specialty malts, we achieved a deep copper coloring and spice. These two go well with the farmhouse yeast used for En Garde. An extended boil helps bring out the caramel notes added by those coloring malts. Finally, to achieve a properly aged character, we boil and condition the beer with smoked applewood chips. This allows the beer to adopt the woody flavoring associated with barrel aging.
Light bodied yet with a full, malty flavor, Helm’s En Garde is a great beer to refresh and enrich your spring drinking experience.
See you next month for our monthly Helm’s Brew Master Blog.
Your Helm’s Brew Master