Bonjour, brew-heads! This week's 2 O'Clock Tasting takes us across the Atlantic to Brasserie Thiriez, a small craft brewery located in Esquelbecq, France, just a few miles from the Belgian border. Despite its age-old brewing legacy, this region of French Flanders has seen a vast majority of its breweries close in the last half a century. Brasserie Thiriez embodies the revival of French brewing, and appropriately operates out of a once active farmhouse brewery that closed shop in 1945.
Since leaving his desk job in 1996, owner and founder Daniel Thiriez has been brewing traditionally inspired farmhouse ales with a modern flair, bringing fistfuls of hops, delicately balanced malts, and a certain je ne sais pas that we can't help but love.
Straw colored with just a slight haze, this pale beauty is easy on the eyes and the nose. An earthy, spicy hop aroma comes on strong in this dry-hopped farmhouse ale and melds smoothly with the sweet honey smell of the malt and the yeast's farmhouse funk. Floral and lemon notes blend with honey-sweet malt to provide a dry, delicate backbone to the earthy and spicy hop bitterness. The result is a symphony of flavor. Très bien!
Slightly darker in color and a touch more transparent, Thiriez's flagship Blonde pours pale orange with a soft white head. A malty aroma of honey and vanilla stands out above more gentle notes of caramel apple, pepper, and floral hops. Again, honey flavored malt dominates the taste, accompanied by caramel apple and more gentle notes of mint, floral hops, and yeasty tartness. For all its sweetness, this ale stays light and refreshing, resulting in a perfect summer beer full of flavor and complexity.
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