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Friday, January 27, 2012

Bière Blanche de Paris

Yesterday the Beer Nut wrote in comments: "Spare a thought for all the styles that didn't make it." I did a bit of that last week, but the Nut reminds me of one style I didn't mention--bière blanche de Paris. Of all the old styles Lacambre mentioned, this one sounded the most intriguing (far better than some of those lime-poisoned, 15-hour boil jobs they were making in Belgium).

It was a relatively new style to Paris at the time, and his information about it was incomplete (also partly because the brewers were secretive. It was made with wheat and followed the usually somewhat-convoluted mash procedure of the time. (The Franco-Belgian brewers were not big spargers.) It went through a trifling boil for the time-- 2 1/2 hours. Paris White was a pretty strong beer, weighing in at 1.066 and was made with coriander and elderflowers. Lacambre specifically mentioned that brewers used the finest floral hops--presumably to accentuate the spice. There was one offbeat ingredient--a starch syrup extracted from potatoes. Meant to be served fresh, it was available from the cask a week and a half after brewing or in bottles within three weeks.

Here's my cleaned-up version of a Google translate rendition of Lacambre's original (which is to say, consult the original if you want something more authoritative).
“It is very white that is to say, very little colored and very clear without being absolutely transparent, foam very strong and persistent and very pleasing to the eye and it moistens the palate pleasantly. This beer whose production has grown significantly and very significantly improved in recent years is very enjoyable, especially in summer, and deserves to be mentioned as one of the best known white beers.”
I have endeavored to entice Breakside's Ben Edmunds into brewing this beer and we have a tentative plan to put something together in June. I'm thinking maybe honey in place of the potato-starch syrup (however alluring that might otherwise seem) and of course, we both instantly thought of a saison yeast. More to come on that score.

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