La Choulette: Ambrée (France: Biere De Garde: 8% ABV)

Visual: Carbonated amber brown, enthusiastic to escape the bottle forming a lace leaving large froth head.

Nose:  Milk chocolate and malt drinks, quite light initially with wheat grain and husks, but later comes out with almost rum like elements underneath.

Body:  Malt and chocolate, bitter back, just slightly acidic that gives a fresh touch and some black cherry notes.  Thick textured.

Finish: Liquorice and initially very slick and slightly acidic feel. Chocolate again. Drying feel to the end after the acidic touch settles, and yet still a somewhat sticky and cloying feel over the tongue. Light bitterness. Slight spice and nuttiness.

Conclusion:  An odd barrage of thoughts whilst drinking this one. First was the appropriateness of the label – from a distance Id taken it to be a plain white label that was somewhat dirty from time in the cellar.  As I looked closer I realised that there was a subtle grey line image upon it.  Similarly the beers flavours oft seem to be slightly off intrusions muddying the flavour when you first sip it, but you slowly realise that they are balanced against each other intentionally all adding to the whole.

The second thought was how closely tied the texture and flavour is.  The slightly acidic touch mix with a contrasting almost cloying sickness, this is beer you feel as much as you taste.  It reminded me of a view on Japanese food, especially sushi and sashimi, where the variety of the textures is as important as the taste itself.

For the beer then, I find it reasonable, a nice dose of chocolate heavy flavour, and a thick sticky texture (amongst all the other textures), but not special.  There is something about it which makes me think that in the right combination it would be significantly better.  There is something in its balance that would possibly express itself more fully with cheese or possibly grapes. Without testing, I will have to leave this as an interesting mix of taste and texture, but one to come back to for food combinations.