By Rob Symes
Whether at weddings, anniversaries, ringing in New Years, or celebrating a promotion – champagne is the drink of choice. Its connotations of class and sophistication make it the ideal pairing with a host of celebratory moments, but there’s no reason why beer cannot play this role, and in biere de champagne, it has its closest contender. Following a process very similar to champagne, this style of beer is one of the rarest in the world, and subsequently commands a high price when you can find it.
Champagne-style beers undergo a lengthy maturation period, and the care taken during the brewing process results in an exquisitely delicate tipple, generally topping in north of 10%. Its high carbonation is usually matched by a light gold hue (though darker versions can be made), and if drank in a flute the comparison to champagne is made startlingly obvious. In fact, it’s here that the potential lies, because this style is one of the top contenders to lure wine lovers into a world of beer appreciation. Expect complexity, dryness and mild hints of summer fruit and spice from the flavour.
Where to find it: In a seeming homage to its exclusivity, biere de champagne is practically impossible to find. Occasional examples (or close enough nods) have turned up in Quebec, but its really a, “get it before its gone” style. Looking outside of Canada, the king of the style is Deus – an impressively complex brew that sometimes finds its way to our shores.