- Style: French Country Style Ale
- ABV: 5.9%
- Season: All year round
- Ease to locate: Medium. In Illinois, liquor (think Binnys or Cardinal) & grocery (think Jewel or Domincks) stores. It does export to other states. Check their website for locations.
- Color: An exceptionally pretty copper amber color. Lightly cloudy.
- Head: Medium
- Aroma: Toast & Nutty
- Mouth feel: Soft yet lingering lightly in the mouth
- Finish: Decent. The hop flavor kicks in on the back note, which stays slightly on the tongue.
- Food friendly: Hell yes! Everything from grilled vegetables to chicken to white non-fatty fish, to pizza.
To get the ball rolling, I decided to begin with my absolute favorite local craft beer, Two Brothers Brewing Co.'s Domaine DuPage. Why? Because I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't taken a long pull of this amber gold and not exclaim "Man, this is good! What is it? Am I allowed to drink this fancy beer from the bottle?" Yes, yes you are, my beer coozie companion. It's what I reach for when some poor misguided soul asks me for a Bud Light or Miller. I like to covertly add a few bottles of Domaine DuPage to the beer cooler at someone's party and just watch people discover this wonderful drink. Two Brothers Brewing Co. is a brewery located in Warrenville, IL (about a 45 minute drive from Chicago. ) They make a wide variety of beer, including special seasonal and limited release brews. Yet I always go back to this French Style Country Ale. French Country Ales (AKA Biere de Garde if you want to get all bilingual on me) are known for their copper coloring, moderate body and toasted maltiness. Domaine DuPage is a wonderful example of everything that is right with this under produced varietal.
You initially taste a lightly sweet caramel flavor that is quickly followed by a toasted nuttiness (think Grape Nuts.) I don't notice any of the vanilla flavoring that seems to overtake most caramel notes in some domestic ales. I also get a very, very slight nod of almonds notes. The back note leads into the bitter hops that refreshes your palate more efficiently than a beer flavored Tic Tac (I know, now you all want a beer flavor Tic Tac. Some day, my friends. Some day.) There's a dry, earthy bite to the last taste that makes you want to take a second sip. And a third.
There's just enough foam on the pour to give you an enticing aroma of toasted homemade bread. The head lightly laces the glass on a swirl. It reminds me of the way the first winter snow might frost a window pane. Ales usually are not known for their clarity, yet this beer hits the balance note here too. I'm not one to enjoy watching bits & pieces of god knows what float around in my beer. The light sediment here works with the coloring, giving it a welcome cloudiness that helps to deepen the copper color (and most likely enhances the mouth feel as well.)
In a nutshell, this is a wonderfully balanced beer. I drink it all four seasons, which makes it a staple in my beer fridge. Like most well balanced drinks, it's exceptionally food friendly. I like to think of it as the Sauvignon Blanc of craft beers. Stay away from very spicy food or fatty meats. There's not enough acid or heartiness here to cut through too much fat. Instead, serve it with pizza & wings on game day. Pan sautee a piece of white fish in a little olive oil and drizzle with fresh pesto. Grill a chicken. Maybe make it a beer can chicken. After all you've got to use that Bud that your best friend's husband brought some how. And pour him a glass while you're at it. Maybe next time he'll bring you some Domaine DuPage instead.