Commercial description: Our Limited Edition Biere d’ Hougoumont is brewed with traditional French ale yeast, eight malts, French Strisselspalt hops, and aged on white oak and hard maple wooden staves. A traditional Biere De Garde style, this malty French-style farmhouse ale is brewed to be aged. The name honors the Hougoumont farmstead at the pivotal center of the Waterloo battlefield. Napoleon repeatedly failed to take the fortification, he then lost the battle and “met his Waterloo.”
Pour results in a two finger dense head composed of small bubbles that has decent retention, eventually settling into a solid thin cap. Sticky lacing abounds. The body is beautiful dark amber with ruby highlights and light trails of carbonation visible.
Subtle and light nose. Nothing is going to knock you out. Mostly toasted malts, caramel and some biscuit. Hints of woody oak and some modest herbal hop notes are present. It finishes with a nice citrus sweetness.
Sweeter than I would normally like in a Biere de Garde, but it’s somewhat restrained by a drying finish. There is an underlying tartness well-hidden under the fruitier, sweeter malt qualities. There’s a subtle clove and pepper that you might expect from this style. I’m not really picking up the maple and oak notes, except for the dry finish.
Medium-bodied with lively carbonation that prickles the tongue. Overall, clean and crisp.
OVERALL IMPRESSION (8/10)
This has the potential to be outstanding ale with some cellaring. It’s a collection of great components that just need some time to figure out where they fit in. One would think the oak and maple over time would tame some of the sweetness. Only time will tell.
FINAL SCORE (44/50)