Brasserie des Géants - Noël des Géants
- ABV: 8.5%
- Serving Temperature: 50-60° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Snifter
"I'm dreaming of a GIANT Christmas…" so goes that old classic Irving Berlin tune… or something like that. Downing a few firkins of this brew is how the giants of Irchonwelz celebrate the holiday, or at least, that's what the brewery tells us. The rest of us can get away with a few tulips full. This is a great holiday dinner beer, particularly with stuffing made with raisins, cranberry sauce, and cloved and/or candied hams. Even the subtle, sweeter notes in turkey will do well with this brew. Expect a very complex nose giving off fruits (think cherry, strawberry, and plum), toasted malts, caramel, raisins, chestnuts, dark chocolate, cinnamon and spices, among other things. As it warms, the profile will blossom—so let it get up there in temp, and enjoy the complexities. On the palate, many of the aromatic elements cited above come through, with a robust spiciness and firm bitterness. Finishes with a very protracted flavor arc—one to savor—featuring dryish, tea-like hops, dark chocolate, cinnamon and plum. Overall, a highly complex and superbly balanced beer. Cheers!
The area around Ath, in the Wallonia region of Belgium, is known for more than simply its wonderful beer. Since medieval times, Ath has hosted an annual Parade of Giants known as “Ducasse”, in which “Gouyasse” (the local name for Goliath) leads other giant-sized figures through the streets, followed by brass bands, carnival floats, and throngs of normal-sized citizens in customary costumes. Not surprisingly, the local brewery, situated in a small town called Irchonwelz, is known as Brasserie des Géants.
Brasserie des Géants not only crafts big beers to match their name, they have a rather large piece of real estate in which to do it. The brewery is situated inside the 13th century Chateau d’Irchonwelz. Yep, they brew their beer in a medieval castle – talk about Old World tradition! The site offers an interesting union of quaint charm and impenetrable fortitude. The brewery was founded in 2000 by two young locals, Pierre Delcoigne and Vinciane Wergifosse. With a background education in chemical and biochemical engineering, Pierre went on to graduate from the well-known Brewing Engineering program at the Louvain School of Brewing. In 1997, he and Vinciane acquired Castle Irchonwelz with the ambition of building their own brewery inside. After devoting two entire years to constructing and setting up the brewery, their first batch of “Gouyasse” went on sale in August of 2000.
In spite of their Giant name, Pierre and Vinciane brew only small batches of beer. While some are certainly considered “big” beers with high ABVs, and all are big on flavor, they are all produced in low-volume and distributed in limited quantities. Ironically, in a world dominated by European brewing conglomerates, our friends at Géants are far more akin to David than Goliath. We wonder how they feel about their position in that battle, given their love of giants and all… but we’re pretty sure they feel a connection with both characters, as they’re a little guy in a world of giant brewers, as well as a colossus in the art of brewing.
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