Two Sundays past, I wasn't quite hung over, but I wasn't quite right. I was fighting something off, and I'd had a beer or two the night before, against my better instincts.
But there I was, at the new Refuge in Menlo Park, enjoying a big old pastrami sandwich as the Niners played. The sandwich was great. Just look at all that meat in the header picture. Lovely, lovely meat.
I was thinking of not ordering a beer.
It was Sunday, and I wasn't feeling great and blah blah blah... my companion wouldn't have it. The list at the Refuge is too great to just ignore. "What are we having," he said, ignoring my yammering. "Oh just get one of the saisons or something."
And suddenly, there it was, a beer, staring at me in the early afternoon on a fine Sunday. Staring at me past my meat. A saison, yes, but a Biere de Garde. French. A French beer. What is going on here. The French...
I'm glad I had it.
The Cuvée des Jonquilles from the Brasserie au Baron is listed as a Biere de Garde officially. I'd pretty much sworn off the style after having the Ale Des Dieux from Hermitage, thinking the style was too sweet and too champagne-y. I thought the de Gardes were white wines masquerading as beers. Maybe the language on the front blinded me, or maybe I can blame Hermitage, one of my least-favorite breweries. I won't blame myself.
The Jonquilles is sweet. But it's a nice sweet that balances out the pepper of the wild yeast in this farmhouse. Because Biere de Gardes are actually farmhouses. With some wheat characteristics. Imagine you start with a light wheat beer that finishes sweet, but then add the saison finish on the end. And make sure it's well-blended. Because the Jonquilles is all of those things.
It'll cut through a sniffle, an ache, and even a misconception.
Cuvée des Jonquilles from the Brasserie au Baron
Appearance (4/5): Fluffy white head on top of a golden wheat-looking saison. All the bubbles that come with a saison, and all the head that comes with the bubbles.
Smell (4/5): Citrus. Some yeast.
Taste (4.5/5): Wheat first. Then some apple or pear, orange, and sweet malts. Ended with citrus and the classic saison-style pepper.
Mouthfeel (4/5): Light-bodied, but enough creaminess and effervescence to keep the whole thing interesting *and* refreshing.
Overall (4.25/5): A great Sunday beer. Refreshing, sweet, light, but full of taste. Good luck finding it.