When Southampton issued their press release last month for their Biere de Garde, I inquired about receiving a bottle for review. They were kind enough to ship one out to me shortly after. A few of weeks later, I’m able to (finally!) post the review.
Their Biere de Garde is part of their "750 Series"—that is, 750ml champagne-style bottles with corks and cages rather than caps. ("Belgian-style" is probably more accurate than "champagne-style", now that I think about it.) It’s 7.2% alcohol by volume, and (as the press release notes) it "may be cellared for up to 5-10 years" before drinking. They also go with authentic French flavor with imported French Strisslespalt hops.
Appearance: Corked and caged bottle. Very carbonated, it opened with a "pop!" A very nice copper color, orange tinted. A nice big dirty-ivory head piled up on top as I poured.
Smell: Cut grass, a bit sour, maybe lemongrass? Grape must, a bit of the Saison-y "funk", some nice Belgian candy sugar sweetness.
Taste: Hoppy and peppery, a nice amber-malty base, alcohol notes. Sour, a tannin-like bitterness. Seems like there’s a lot of hops on top of the traditional style; it’s definitely an American interpretation of a Belgian/French classic.
Mouthfeel: High carbonation makes it light on the tongue and gassy, but underneath it’s a nicely medium-bodied ale, a little puckery from the alcohol and sourness.
Overall: I liked it, and I think a little cellaring would be a good thing for it. It’s a good example of the style and I wish more American breweries would brew it.