Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes L'Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chein (2012)
BREWERY: Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes
LOCATION: Saignelégier, Jura, Switzerland
STYLE: Bière de Garde
ABV: 11 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $16.99
AVAILABLE IN: 375ml bottles
750ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One (750ml bottle)
I am a huge fan of bière de garde beers and the Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes L'Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chein 2012 is one of the most interesting takes on the style that I have tasted. Rich and robust, with a profile that is at different points sweet and sour, the beer has a profile all its own. Yes, the finish can get a bit sour at times, something that became almost overwhelming at points, but it is mostly well balanced with the rest of of the flavors, and the uniqueness of the profile more than makes up for it.
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Founded in 1997 by Jérôme Rebetez1 in Saignelégier, Jura, Switzerland, Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes has become known for its multitude of barrel-aged beers that are packaged at the brewery.

Brasserie des Franches Montagnes L Abbaye de Saint Bon Chein 2012 bottle

One of the brewery’s most popular beers is L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chein,2 a “strong sour ale” that comes in at 11 percent ABV3 and was first released in 2004. It is fermented with wine yeast before being aged in different old wine oak barrels4 for one year. The beer from all of the different barrels is then blended together to make each year’s final product. However, although each year’s release is blended from beer aged in different barrels, the brewery has released Gran Cru versions which feature beer aged from specific individual barrels.

The 2012 version of L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chein pours a cloudy copper color, featuring less than a half finger of head that disappears almost instantly, leaving absolutely no lacing at all behind. Interestingly, there is quite a bit of carbonation evident in the glass and the aroma from the beer is a combination of strong vinegar, tart apples, oak, lemons, grass, molasses and figs.

Brasserie des Franches Montagnes L Abbaye de Saint Bon Chein 2012

My fist sip of the L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chein brings strong flavors of granny smith apples, bananas, oak, lemon rind and brown sugar. After about 10 minutes, the profile turns to more of a lemon warhead note, with a noticeable sweetness on the front end and a distinct sourness on the finish that stays with me after each sip, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Despite what I saw in the glass, carbonation is quite low, although the amount works well for this particular beer. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, almost luscious, a feature that only seems to be accentuated by the lack of carbonation, and it continues that way until I am finished.