24 December 2012

KOTBR #147 | At the End of the World, a Beer Named after a Cat Named "Good Dog"


Europe is home to some renowned brewing regions-- Bohemia, Flanders, and Bavaria to name a few. Switzerland, however, usually doesn't find a place on this list. That might change considering the beers that Brasserie des Franche-Montagnes is producing. More commonly known as BFM, the brewery is helmed by Jérôme Rebetez in the Jura region of Switzerland. Rebetez has a degree in wine-making, which in my experience is reflected in his beers.

BFM's flagship beer is Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, a unique Bière de Garde that is produced through a blend aged in oak barrels that were previously used to age a variety of wines and grappa. Bon-Chien is unique because it is sour, which is not typical of the Bière de Garde style. And it's one of the best sour beers I've ever had (I'm not alone in this thinking, by the way).

The beer is named after the brewery's late feline mascot Bon-Chien, who was much beloved by the brewers and the brewery's visitors. According to the brewery's website, he was "sanctified" upon his passing--hence the title "Saint" attached to his name. But "Bon-Chien" means "good dog" in French. I'm not sure how the kitty ended up with that name, but Good Dog it was.

If I'm not mistaken, BFM has been making Bon-Chien since 2006. I've wanted to review it since I first had it during our 100th roundtable at New Albanian's 2010 Gravity Head. That opportunity finally presented itself on December 20, when Brugge Brasserie tapped several high-gravity beers, including Bon-Chien's 2011 vintage, which is 11% ABV. Pouring slightly hazy and amber with no head, this beer's nose was a mix of oak, red wine, and sour cherries. The flavor was quite tart with a heavy sour cherry note, and the mouthfeel was thicker than one would expect from a sour beer. The tartness of the beer was supported by a pleasantly sweet finish. Other sour beer lovers might be put off by the sweetness of Bon-Chien, but for me, it's what pushes the beer into the realm of the extraordinary.

Bon-Chien is available in central Indiana (I see it at Kahn's, for example, every time I'm in there) and goes for around $35.00 for a 750ml bottle. I normally wouldn't drop that much cash for a bottle of beer, but Bon-Chien is well worth the investment. It ages well, as the bottle of 2006 Bon-Chien I opened up in November proved. Save some space in your beer closet/cellar for this beer. And if you're lucky, Brugge still has it on tap, though I wouldn't count on it. 5.00 Mugs.


Wow. Fantastic sour (or, Bière de Garde?).The nose was very vinegary (I mean that in a good way), which made the sweet-tart cherry finish a pleasant surprise! 4.69 Mugs.


Love it!

I was going to just say that, but I think this beer deserves more. I love how the sweet and sour flavors mingle together. I always know I like this beer when I see it, but somehow forget just how much until my first sip. 4.75 Mugs.

BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2011)

Jim: 5.00 Mugs | Megan: 4.69 Mugs | Gina: 4.75 Mugs

KOTBR Score: 4.81 Mugs

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