Despite its name, Gavroche is actually a Bière de Garde from Brasserie de St-Sylvestre, which is located in the town of Saint-Sylvestre-Cappel in Northeastern France, the heart of Bière de Garde country. I found this beer at the Bier Stein in Eugene, Oregon (they have their beers organized by country, and yes, had a few from France).
At 8.5% alcohol by volume, it’s on the upper end for the Bière de Garde style. I rather like the brewery’s own description of the beer:
Gavroche is a character in Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel, “Les Misérables”— a rebellious yet always generous little urchin, living by his wits on the streets of Paris.
Gavroche is a strong, red beer, in which the deep malt flavour and brisk hoppiness are very well balanced; and the whole is gracefully accentuated by fruity flavours derived from a special top-fermenting yeast. This is a rare French example an ale refermented in the bottle.
Yes, this is a bottle-conditioned beer, so if you don’t pour carefully you will get yeast sediment from the bottom of the bottle.
Appearance: Poured with a dense creamy head; nice red-brown in color with a continuous beading of bubbles from the bottom of the glass. Head falls slowly—nice legs.
Smell: Farmhouse traits—some earthy and musty notes, a touch horsey. A hint of Brett-like sour and some hints of spices as it warms.
Taste: Peppery and slightly vegetal—mustard greens, for instance, or watercress. Sweet caramels and candi sugar; a touch of what might be alcohol heat, like a brandy note; a bit herbal with a touch of mint. Rich and complex, nice.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with prickly, alcohol-like after”feel” leaving you a bit dry and almost puckery.
Overall: Enjoyable, well-done, nice and complex example of a farmhouse ale.