Style Profile: Bière de Mars

Wonders Told

“Full many a wonder is told us in stories of old, of heroes worthy of praise, of hardships dire, of weeping and wailing; of the fighting of bold warriors, now ye may hear wonders told.”- Nibelungenlied

The brewing tradition of Northern France and Belgium is a vigorous and multifarious one. The dizzying array of traditions and flavor profiles is truly remarkable considering their concentration in such a relatively small area-- a temperate maritime lowland in one small corner of continental Europe, north of the climatic border of the grape-grain line. 

The region is home to a great deal of farmland, and indeed the Bière de Mars shares a similar cultural and agricultural heritage to other traditional farmhouse styles, such as the now ubiquitous Saison. One of the chief characteristics of these beers is their variability- the style itself is more of a theme from which many variations may take place. 

Designed to be refreshing, the archetypal “saison” simply needed to be low to moderate in alcohol content and have a dry finish. The raw ingredients were those found in the environs- as is the case with any local style- and in this instance the use of excess products from the farmstead was common practice. (Another characteristic is a French-language naming that references cycles of time- an all-important preoccupation for the farmer. ‘Saison’ translates to “season,” while ‘Bière de Mars’ means “March beer,” in this case speaking to the time in which, traditionally, it was most readily consumed.)

Bière de Mars is a more robust and hop-forward variant of the umbrella ‘Bière de Garde’ (“beer for keeping”) style. The bière de garde theme reflects the agricultural origin of this region’s brewing methods, with a clear influence of ideas from German lagering traditions (which came into their own not too far from northern France- just across the Rhine in Bavaria.) 

The cellaring and aging of these beers created a less rugged permutation of a farmhouse ale, while still retaining some of its unique flavors. The bière de mars was traditionally brewed in the coldest months and thus is characterized by a very smooth fermentation profile, similar to those lagers. In fact, many modern interpretations (including ours) use a lager yeast to assure the polished nature of the product.  

Wonders Told aims to tell the complicated tale of this beer, condensing it down as it were into an intricate pint that demands to be experienced. Some farmhouse character from the raw ingredients, a clean fermentation profile borrowed from the German tradition, smooth sipping, and some surprising accents characterize the beer. (Even the name for our particular beer comes from a translation of the Nibelungenlied, in another borrowing from south Germany.) Wonders Told is notable for its magical floral and fruity notes, subtle yet persistent.

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