Sunday, November 9, 2014

Steadfast Biere de Garde

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1213) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 9, 2014
I’m not into the whole gluten-free lifestyle (neither by genetic handicap nor hipster trendiness), so I don’t tend to drink a lot of gluten-free beers since they’re not made with malt and tend not to taste very good. However, Steadfast is a fairly new beer company dedicated to making sorghum-based brews that taste like traditional beers and they’ve done a good job in living up to their mission statement since Day 1. Their latest offering is somewhat surprising: a 9% ABV Belgian-style Biere de Garde brewed with plenty of confectionery syrups and spices. It’s not cloying or spicy, but a well-balanced, very flavorful, and highly drinkable brew.

I poured a 22oz bottle into the official Steadfast pint glass. There was no freshness date (thanks to Jeremy for this bottle!).

Appearance: Beautiful copper hue, nearly crystal clear with plenty of vibrant carbonation visible. Pours to a small, white, foamy head which dissipates somewhat, but never completely. Doesn’t lace, though.

Smell: Mild nose, but sweet with notes of honey, syrup and a hint of spice.

Taste: I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a Biere de Garde before. They seem to be the Belgian equivalent of a barleywine or an old ale, though in the case of Steadfast Biere de Garde it’s akin to a strong amber ale with spices added. There’s a prominent presence of (what would otherwise be) darker/amber-ish malts. Caramel and honey seem to be prominently featured, especially throughout the first half. Some molasses can also be detected, but it’s rather subtle. It does transition the palette from the sweet first half to the spicy/earthy/twangy second half. Rose hips, star anise, orange peel and grains of paradise were all used in the brew and come together to create for a mélange of fruit and subtle spice rack character. I was hoping for something more complex and lively, but what’s here is plenty delectable.

Drinkability: For a 9% ABV brew, Steadfast Biere de Garde drinks like something nearly half its size. The mouthfeel is rather thin and crisp, not unlike a cider. It goes down smoothly and is remarkably refreshing while on the tongue. There is absolutely no alcohol presence in either the palette or the weight, which makes it almost dangerously drinkable. I’m not sure this beer needs to be this strong, but I don’t think the strength is going to intimidate many drinkers. 
Grade: 7/10

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