I found this at Galeville about a month ago. At $6.99 USD or $8.74 CND for a 22 oz bottle it is one of the more expensive brews you can buy but I think it is good value. On this visit, I actually escaped the clutches of customs additional 37% solely through the kindness of a guard who obviously pitied me upon my declaration of a few bottles of ale in the trunk. Bless them, every one.
St. Amand is a northern French country ale or biere de garde. Michael Jackson described the style and its origins in 1997 as follows:
Biere de garde, from around Lille in northern France is a classic style of beer with a nutty spiciness that accentuates the sweetness of chicken or pork It was originally made big and mafty and laid down for summer when the weather was too hot for brewing hence the name. "Keeping beer" or "stock ale" is the long-gone British equivalent last sighted in Kent after the advent of artificial refrigeration we gradually dropped the style, but the French kept it as a year-round pleasure. Look out for it in champagne bottles, wired and corked and sometimes tissue-wrapped.That bit of storage brings out a little bit of tang and a little bit of mustiness. It is a little like a Belgian ale yet there is a particular fresh fruitiness to the too few bieres de garde I have tried that sets them apart. This particular one has a rough graininess that has mellowed a bit like a hint of whisky. I am perhaps reminded of Unibroue's Raftman in that regard. Unlike Raftman, however, the grain is matched with old autumnal hops, the green faded away, not some much bitter as sort of a strong tea thing. Beneath that is an apple pear fruiness in sweet toffee malt. The yeast is somewhat thin milky chalky and maybe a bit spicy with that adding to the hoppy musty thing. The head is billowy tan leaving great gobs of foamy lace, the beer itself medium amber.
I am a little uncertain as Brasserie Castelain appears to have redone its branding with one internetter - un internetteur - suggesting that this is relabelled for the US market:
Comments - First brewed 1978. Sold as Minator in Italy, and St. Amand in USA. Relabelled as Bière du Carnaval de Dunkerque.Interestenque.
Tasting Notes - An accomplished, fairly complex ale with masses of fruit, malt and bitter hops. Quite a range from the initial sweetness of the aroma to the bitterness in the finish. Easy drinking with a smooth almost creamy texture. JW: The elements come out one a time rather than blending together. KR: Excellent balance from the hops in the palate prevent a potentially cloying fruit tang taking over.