Origin: Jenlain, Nord, Hauts-de-France, France
Date: 14 August 2000
Another review from the archive written for the pioneering Oxford Bottled Beer Database (OBBD). I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit. Another beer and brewery that are still very much around, although sadly no longer stocked in Sainsbury’s. When I reviewed this beer it was labelled Bière Blonde Spéciale — in 2005 it was renamed No. 6, and a new stronger 7.5% Jenlain Blonde introduced.
The Jenlain brand is one of the best-known amongst bières de garde, the Duyck brewery having pioneered the re-marketing of the style in the 1980s. This blond variety has recently appeared in Sainsbury’s in a redesigned, very distinctive screw-top green glass bottle with a clear printed label that departs dramatically from the ‘traditional’ retro style in which such beers usually appear and approaches the aesthetics of alcopop marketing!
The beer inside, however, is reassuringly good. Though sharing the colour and something of the hop character of a pils-type lager, and recommended to be served cold (5-6°C), the designation ‘Spéciale’ and the notably honeyed fruitiness of the taste suggest a top-fermented brew.
The beer has an extraordinarily perfumed, honeyed nose that makes the taste that follows a minor disappointment: a soft, sweetish, slightly bland malt palate, with full but not overstated hay-dry hop character (Saaz?), and a good honeyed fruit finish with some hop and faint pineapple notes. It’s primarily a refresher, and, as beers of this type go, not overstrong, but it has enough complexity to sustain interest over a more considered swallow.