10 Nov 2008

Three nice surprises

Most of us will associate Switzerland with chocolate, expensive watches and secret bank accounts belonging to shady characters from all over the world. Few of us would associate the Alpine country with beer. Come on, without thinking much (and not using the internet), how many brands of Swiss beer can you name? In my case, none. So it was a very pleasant surprise when friends who had been there brought me three samples of Brasserie Trois Dames, about which, of course, I hadn't heard anything. For what I could figure out in the French version of their website, the brewery was established in 2003, but started to work commercially this year, after its owner returned from Canada, where he worked in several brewpubs to get some experience in the trade.
But enough with the blahblah, and let's talk about the beers. Three very different ones I had: Ale Extra Special Bitter, Ale Rousse Rivale and La Semeuse Espresso Stout. Two of them with prettily designed lables, the other with something that looked to have been put together with MS Word in 15 minutes.
And that is the one I started with. Ale Extra Special Bitter. The information on the label is very scarce, which can also be said about the other two. Only the ingredients (no surprise here) and it's ABV, 5.2% in this case. You can find a bit more if you go to the webpage of the beer. This Ale is really aromatic. Opening the bottle sets free scents of pinapple and sweet citrus, very summery, very pleasant. It's of amber orange colour, and looks quite attractive. I liked it even more when I tasted it. I loved it. I couldn't help but compare it to Brewdog's Punk IPA. Without any of the fuss, I found this Ale ESB to be a more interesting brew. I felt it was as bitter as the Scottish one, if not more, but with the fruitiness that one was lacking. I enjoyed it a lot.
I opened the Ale Rousse Rivale a day later. Reddish amber, a bit cloudy. Mild nose, some fruit, caramel, maybe some nuts and a bit of yeast. It dissapointed me a bit at first impression. I had made the mistake of expecting something similar to the ESB. It took me a couple of sips to understand this one and realise it wants to be something entirely different. It is, in fact, a session beer, and a good one at that. 4.4%ABV, sweeter, with caramel and nuts notes, and a mildly bitter finish that gains strength as the glass goes down, without becoming agressive. It could be really nice to have several well drafted pints of this beer. I would also say that it fits very well they concept that many have of what a beer for the ladies should be.
I left the strongest, and with the prettiest label, one for last. Espresso Stout. 7.5%ABV and coffee listed as an ingredient. It pours down really black and thick, just as I like my coffee in the morning. You wouldn't need to read the label to know that this Stout has been brewed with coffee, it is enough to place the nose by the glass. Many stouts, porters and not few Czech dark lagers have notes of my favourite morning drink in their bouquets, but they are actually something that reminds you of it, this is the real thing. It made me remember a drink that we make quite often at home with my wife: hot, very thick cocoa with very strong espresso in equal parts. It gets more interesting when drinking. Again coffee (sorry I am repeating this word too much, but I can't find any synonyms or metaphores), but unlike, say, Primátor Stout, the ingredient plays very nicely with the beer's caramel notes, acheiving a pretty interesting taste, almost like a cup of coffee slightly sweetened with honey. That is followed by brief fruity notes with some sourness that create a pause and open the door to the roasted finish that disipates slowly. What a nice beer to drink in these days that are slowly becoming colder and darker. Very nice as a dessert beer. Delicious.

I really liked these three nice and very different Swiss beers. It would be great to be able to taste the rest of the Bière Trois Dames. If any of you is planning a trip to Switzerland look for them.

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2 comments:

  1. I just sent a mail to a colleague living and working in Nyon, not too far from Sainte-Croix where Trois Dames appears to be. I wanted to ask him if he'd seen these beers around, and hopefully hint at trying to get some smuggled via the offices between here and there. His response was simple: "Swiss beer sucks". :D

    I have encouraged him to check it out, as it might change his mind. It's like saying American beer sucks, or Czech beer is the best. You just never know, so you have to try stuff at least once :)

    From your descriptions, these sound delicious.

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  2. I'm sure he'll like them. They make several more, including seasonal ones. They all seem quite interesting. Would love to try more.

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