Tag Archive: Switzerland


White Frontier: Northern Monk: Garage: Whiplash: Slow Runnings (Switzerland: Brown Ale: 4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large creamy brown bubbled head.

Nose: Roasted, nutty character. Coffee cake. Light lactose. Subtle toffee.

Body: Good, lightly creamy, mouthfeel. Cashew nuts and green flecks from the shell. Slight chalk. Bitter cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal touch meets bitterness. Cashew nuts. Nutty bitterness. Roasted character. Coffee cake. Slight malt chocolate.

Conclusion: This is pretty roasted, leaning heavily on that for the character rather than going either towards a sweeter or lightly sour brown ale style. It seems to be walking the middle ground shall we say. So, does it work well?

The mouthfeel is slightly creamy, along with a touch of lactose to creamy flavour, which gives a decent weight and feel for the 4% abv without getting too heavy. So the basics are down pat.

Flavour-wise, apart from the roasted, nutty flavours, it keeps to the more savoury or bitter rounding notes – subtle cocoa and coffee cake for example. There’s a few unwelcome rough elements amidst that, including a kind of charred, charcoal note at times in the finish, but generally it is solid.

So solid, but not really standout – I think the problem is that for everything apart from the roasted character it feels slightly indistinct. There is flavour, but not well defined. It is relying in the nice feel and general gist of the flavours to get along, but it doesn’t give anything for you to really get into.

Decent enough but pretty middle of the road. I’m still glad I had it as you don’t see as many new brown ales these days, at least in my experience, but it isn’t one to draw new people to the style.

Background: Ok, new brewery on me – White Frontier (and one of their collaborators – Whiplash) – so that caught my eye. I don’t see many coming out from Switzerland. Got a lot of trust for Garage and Northern Monk though, so that made me confident I was in safe hands. In fact, that is a lot of collaborators on one beer! You don’t see many craft brown ales, so that caught my eyes as well. So a lot of interest going in. Was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with some lighter indie to pop tunes for this – Honeyblood – Babes Never Die.

BFM: Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien: 2015 (Switzerland: Sour Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Hazy. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a thin off white head.

Nose: Gummed brown paper. Sour black-cherry and sour red cherries. Cider and perry. Booming red wine. Fruitcake. Tart. Lightly woody.

Body: Acidic. Perry/pears. Cider. Caramel. Gummed paper. Twigs. Raisins. White wine. Cardboard. Blueberry. Light waxy sheen. Dry fudge.

Finish: Red cherries. Fruitcake. Fresh. Raisins. Dry cake sponge. Tannins. White wine. Blueberries. Cardboard.

Conclusion: This feels like Rodenbach Grand Cru’s more easy going, but still prickly, cousin. Initially it comes across fruity and sharp with acidic, and almost but not quite Rodenbach like vinegar, notes. It soothes over time from that more prickly front to reveal a complex drink if you let it open up.

Early on is the cider like acidic notes that you would expect from a sour, albeit it with the less expected, but not completely dissimilar, pear perry notes. These are matched with gummed paper and light vinegar notes that call to the harsher Flemish bruins – tidy, but not unexpected.

This soothes into a softly caramel backed tart character over time, and soothed down it not shows itself to be brimming with fruit. It isn’t always the fruit you would expect though. The aroma always promised cherries and red wine from the oft, but the fruit was slow to develop in the main body, and when it does develop it is very different to that. What you get is blueberries, raisins and lots of similar darker fruit rather than the red roaming aroma. Still good stuff, just not what was expected.

The red fruit does come out a bit in the end though – with red wine and similar fruit coming in the finish that gives a little pep on the way out. Along with this development a light waxy touch adds to the body – calling to the Biere De Garde style that the body references ( though since that literally means beer to age I’m not sure if that is an intentional style reference, or just saying that the beer is aged…) . Any which way it gives a bit more grip to the beer, and a bit of variety in the feel that adds to the experience.

It is well set, calling to tarter, more acidic and harsher Rodenbach Grand Cru style notes but soothes into toffee and sweeter fruit against a more lambic like set of twigs and white wine notes. Not a beer that is always 100% on point – there are some off, cardboard like notes, but pretty much any sour seems to walk the tightrope over such risks. More approachable that Rodenbach Grand Cru, but still brings its own rewarding style. Very much worth trying.

Background: So, a quick google tells me BFM stands for Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes. Which admittedly doesn’t tell me much, but at least now I know. Taking a look online also told me there have been many vintages of this, some barrel aged, others I’m not sure of. Anyway, that is the 2015 vintage and I grabbed it from Independent Spirit – they have had it for a while but I have always been wary due to the ten quid plus price tag. Still, it had a good rep so eventually I wavered and bought it. It was way too warm as I broke this open from its chilled bottle, so I put on some Andrew WK to try and keep my party spirits up. Pretty much worked.

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