Another review from the archive written for the Oxford Bottled Beer Database (OBBD), a pioneering crowd-sourced beer review website founded in 1992, and predating the likes of Ratebeer and Beer Advocate. I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit. Another beer and brewery that are still very much around, although almost impossible to buy in the UK these days. What I didn’t pick up was that the name is a nod to Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
This beer, another top-fermented, bottle-conditioned treat from the brewery responsible for one of the very best artisanal bières de garde of French Flanders, Trois Monts, was on sale at the Great British Beer Festival 2000. The festival notes described it as ‘very rare’ and certainly I can’t find any reference to it in my own sources, so perhaps it’s a new line.
The name, which for British people will most likely bring to mind a very posh French restaurant in London, is actually the slang term for a 19th century Parisian street urchin, and the packaging has an old-fashioned feel.
The beer itself is deep amber, and the label recommends it is poured carefully, presumably without the sediment: my example came out cloudy from the start, but tasted none the worse for it. It has a dry, crisply malty, almost papery aroma with the faintest hint of floral hop on first pouring.
The condition is very lively, and the beer pours with a beady and very sustained head. It has a smooth, creamy mouth feel and a very firm, malty and initially slightly sweet body reminiscent of a Scottish ‘wee heavy’, but a notably full bitterness soon develops and lingers, with an almondy character I’ve noticed in the brewery’s standard-issue Trois Monts. The finish is clean and bitter, with pleasant malt and hints of apricot. The label suggests serving at 10-12°C but I noticed that as the beer warmed it gave up more fruit and slightly spicy hop flavours. Overall, an imposing, ‘serious’ beer that gives the impression of subscribing to the ‘quality’ values of the past.