Sunday, November 13, 2011

La Goudale Blonde Ale

Last week I talked about France's knack for wine. That doesn't stop the country from venturing its culinary prowess into the realm of brewing beer, of course. And there's quite a few options out there that, while decidedly solid brews in their own right, tend to taste, well, incredibly French. La Goudale is one such beer.

La Goudale
Gebrouwen Door: Les Brasseurs de Gayant Brewery, Douai, France.
Blonde Ale, 7.8% ABV

They didn't even bother to translate the label. It's like Parisian Snobbery, bottled. 
I stumbled upon this guy in a grocery store (thanks again, California) among a small collection of unapologetically French beers. With nary a word of English on the entire bottle - save the typical government warning, of course - and a corked bottle, you feel compelled to save this one for a special occasion.

La Goudale "Biére  Blonde à l’Ancienne" (a "blond beer of old" - thanks!) and I'm sort of confused by that label. I've had plenty of European beers in the "Old Style,"- like Duvel or Chimay- so I figured there would be some elements in this one that I could probably comfortably expect - a particular emphasis, for example, on fruity notes, or a caramel color and a medium body. But what I got was something rather more unexpected. And disappointing.

The "problem," with Goudale, is that somewhere during the brewing process its beermeisters sort of forgot they were making, you know,  a beer, and steered unabashedly in the direct of champagne. Somewhere through your first class you realize that this barely registers as a beer at all, and that's where Goudale the identity crisis comes in (or, if you prefer, "le crise d'identité")

I've already mentioned that I'm no wine connoisseur (more French!), so the assumption that I hold champagne in a similar regard is a fair enough assumption. But based on my limited champagne experience, all those things you associate with that champagne experience is here and accounted for. None-too-subtle dryness- check. Excessive bubbling - check. Hell, there's even a blossom on this beer - a brief moment when you first sip it that may or may not be notes of honey and caramel that quickly subside into a generic bite of bubbles and not much else. 

That's the problem here. It's all so stereotypical. I've had champagne style beers that were exceptional (Sam Adam's Infinium, for example, is brilliant, and needs to be at your next New Year's party, but we can get into that later), La Goudale seems to go "by the numbers" and doesn't do anything exceptional. Two seemingly incompatible worlds - champagne and a white ale - come together to create crazy results! It's like the Katherine Heigel RomCom of beer. 

And no one wants to drink that.


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