Here is my first posting for The Session, a monthly, interactive group activity/posting for Beer Bloggers. The theme is Think/Drink Globally for this month, and the description is as follows per Brian at Red White and Brew, this month's host:
So, in honor of Global Craft Beer Forever, I pose everyone writes about the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there. Again, not your favorite or any old brewery you've been to, but the one that is the longest haul away, be it by airplane, car, ferry, rickshaw, whatever. (If you blog about beer but have never been to a House of Brewing, get on it!)
Then, the last part, since this exercise gives us an excuse to drink beer, do one of the following:if you brought home a bottle while visiting the brewery and have it secreted away, crack it open.if you don't have any left from that visit but the particular beer is available where you live (or if not your fave from said brewery, another brand from it), go get one.otherwise, find a local beer of the same style and do a little compare and contrast
And my account:
The furthest away from home I have been for freshly crafted beer would Brasserie St. Georges in Lyon, France.. I was there 3 years ago while visiting friends. It dates back to 1836 and is the place is amazing. Very old time feel, and the restaurant is enormous, with a great art-deco style. It also hold the world record for the world's largest sauerkraut and largest baked alaska ever served! It is definitely an institution, it gets mobbed every year for the Fesitval of Lights, Lyons Joie de Vivre, in December (pulling in 2,500 people!).
They had 3 beers on tap, a blonde, an ambree and a brune, which were all delicious. I was upset they didn't have a blanche, which many of the places in the region featured, but in any case, the beer profile in the region was quite simple and generally pretty solid. The ambree was hands down my favorite, slightly malty, lightly tart and biscutty, a slightly phenolic and spicy quality, and a very smooth finish.
I unfortunately have no beer remaining from the establishment, but I do have a glass with St. George on it slaying a dragon. Which is completely awesome.
I could find a few available comparisions to the Ambree at a local shop, but they would most likely be from Belgium or France in any case. Maybe Ommegang Rare Vos would really be the closest thing I could find commercially available to me that is made in the States. The only way to get something even close local without waiting for a brewpub to have it as a season offering would be to BYO, Brew Your Own, so I have a recipe at the bottom of this post.
One of the great things we found in Geneva and eventually Lyon was a brilliant style for serving beer: the column. I've heard the refered to as La Girafe as well, but more frequently La Colonne. They come in several sizes, but in general, are about a 48" high column of beer a little wider than the mouth of a pint glass. The column is clear and has a tap handle with a wide base at the bottom for stability (this is beer, after all!) Now, the place we went to in Geneva, it was much more of a party, drink a bunch of lager sort of place, so many tables had the Colonne set up. Brasserie St. Georges, however, probably had more wine drinkers in the house than beer. So when the column came out, some serious heads turned! We were without a doubt the white elephant in the room. Thank god we order the small one.
It is still so very interesting that so many places tout themselves as Brasseries in France that it is synonymous with "Cafe", and the brewing part has all but been forgotten. It was nice to be at a Brasserie for once that actually was one!
St. George Ambree
5 Gallon Batch
7 lbs Belgian Pilsner
1.75 lbs Malted Wheat (red if available)
1.5 lbs Honey Malt
1 lb Belgian Aromatic
10 oz Belgian Carvienne
4 oz Belgian Special B
Mash at 140 Degrees for 50 Minutes
Protien Rest at 120 Degrees for 20 Minutes
1 oz Hallertau (5% AA) at 60 Minutes
1 oz Hallertau (5% AA) at 15 Minutes
Ferment with Belgian Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP 550) at 72 Degrees for 1 week, rack to secondary, bottle at two weeks
Mash Efficency, 70%:
1.069 OG, 1.010 FG