Subscriber Exclusive

Make Your Best: Biere de Garde

The Biere de Garde was once described to the author as the "King of the Belgian and French styles."

Josh Weikert Dec 19, 2017 - 7 min read

Make Your Best: Biere de Garde Primary Image

Belgian beers have an unwarranted reputation for being somewhat hops-negligent. If you’re thinking, “I’d love a beer with some fun hoppy character in it,” you’re in the minority if you start scanning for Flemish on the tap list. However, that’s a reputation that is absolutely unjustified, and I suspect has more to do with the long travel times that Continental beers face en route to the States than it does any lack of hopping proficiency or interest from Belgian brewers. In that spirit, I’m happy to dive into one of my favorite flavor profiles – one which definitely showcases hops – and a beer which was once described to me as the “King of the Belgian and French styles,” the Biere de Garde.


Biere de Garde (BdG) is a strong Belgian ale – but not a Belgian Strong Ale. I mention that because this beer needs to have both some alcohol presence and character, but that character isn’t nearly as warm or pronounced as it would be in a Dubbel or Tripel. BdG has more in common with Saison than with Tripel. It has three varieties – blonde, amber, and brown – and the balance between malt and hops shifts as we get darker. The higher your SRM, the lower the hops character. As this recipe is focused on the Blonde version (my personal favorite, except when eating the “Rotating Game Burger” at a Teresa’s Next Door Bar in Wayne, PA – then it’s the amber), we’ll be hitting the hops pretty hard. Not so hard as to make folks think this is a Belgian IPA, though, but this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. It’s a disputable point as to whether oxidation or a “cellared” character are appropriate here, but the great thing about this recipe is it should convey the general “gist” of that flavor without the risk of staling that deliberately aging it will impart. Finally, this is something of a Franco-Belgian outlier in that it’s a relatively “clean” beer – take your spices and 90F fermentations back over to Saison.

Our target is a clean, malty, dry, fairly strong beer with (in this color) some distinct hoppy notes. It’s not so dissimilar to Altbier in that way, though higher in alcohol and paler.


Make & Drink Better Beer

Subscribe today to access all of the premium brewing content available (including this article). With thousands of reviews, our subscribers call it "the perfect beer magazine" and "worth every penny." Your subscription is protected by a 100% money back guarantee.