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Advent Calendar Window Two - Ch'ti de Noel

The Ch'ti series of beers from the Castelain Brewery near the Belgian border in Northern France were most likely amongst the first French beers I ever drank. It was in the stages where I would pick blindly from the, then mostly European dominated, bottle menu in the Grove, Huddersfield. I think I believed the beer to be Belgian at the time but can always remember finding their Ch'ti Blonde to be outstanding, long before I knew what a Biere de Garde was. In recent years, I've rather forgotten about this series of beers and was very surprised to find Ch'ti de Noel 7.5% at Beers of Europe just last week, making this the youngest addition to this Advent Calendar (in purchase age.)
"I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?"
The Brasserie Castelain Ch'ti de Noel has, for starters, a delicious looking label and appealing, traditional swing top that immediately make this 65cl an appetising discovery. It pours a surprising light orange colour with visible retaining carbonation. The nose is practically non-existent, smelling of rusting steel with the lightest touch of honey there if you really search for it. Suddenly, it isn't as promising. The taste doesn't quite save it, unless I have just discovered something here today. This tastes for all the world like a honeyed Belgian Blonde. It's not a bad Belgian Blonde, but that is my immediate thought. Think big honeyed sweetness with a slight spicy herb finish and you've got the main body of this beer nailed. There's no further complexity or character. If it was packaged to me as being a regular core range beer it would be enjoyable. In fact, this is how I recall Ch'ti Blonde to be. Yet, has it been too long for me to be sure that is an accurate comparison. Also, this is considered a "Winter Biere de Garde" and this might just be a brilliant example of it. Am I thinking too much of Belgian Christmas beers, forgetting there's an international border between the styles? Perhaps, but for me the sexy label is the most delicious piece of Christmas in this beer. Not one I'll be returning to next year.
Purchased from Beers of Europe, November 2013.
This beer was enjoyed with a Chocolate snowman and Wise man, two themes and symbols of Christmas from different cultures colliding.


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