Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I don't think I've ever tasted Basque beer before. It is prohibitively expensive (gotta fund ETA, I guess) and there are not too many varities to chose from. Since we decided to do some summer beer tasting, I figured, Basqueland - it borders France and Spain, two of the hotter European countries, why not give it a go. My local Carrefour had Akerbeltz in 3x33 cl packs or 1 pint bottles. I opted for the pint bottle to see how it was.

Now my Basque-language skills are zero-to-none, but looking at the bottle, I think that Akerbeltz may mean "Goat." I can tell you very little about the beer, while in theory it is written in French and Basque, it means nothing to me. The Basques don't follow any "normal" word formation rules. Just to show you I am going to write the English translation of the French address and then the Basque address that [I guess] corresponds:

Akerbeltz Basque Beer
Brewery at Licq Atherey
Soule Province
Basqueland F-64560
Open to the public

and now in Basque:
Euskal Herriko Garadardoa
AKERBELTZ Garagardotegi
F 64560 Ligi Atherei
Deneri Idejia

See how easy the Basque language is? Anyway, long story short, I have no idea anything about this beer, other than the fact that it is an amber beer with an ABV of 5.5% made in "Ligi Atherei."

The beer is surprisingly good. I didn't know what to expect, but it comes across as almost a pale ale, in terms of bite and crispness. Imagine a PA with a sweet aftertaste and you have Akerbeltz. It pours well, with a nice amber color and a fine off-white head (which unfortunately does not last long before fading away to nothing). The smell is sweeter than the beer is; which is good. Sweet beers aren't good for summer IMHO and that's what we are here for: SUMMER BEERS. Therefore, the first sip is a bit of a [pleasant] surprise in that you think you are in for a much sweeter taste than you actually get.

The aftertaste is sweet at first that gives way to a kind of empty mouthfeel (I sure hope I am using this word correctly!). It does, it gives way to a kind of sweet nothingness.

Overall, the beer is very good. I find very few Pale Ales/IPA in the South of France, so I am happy when I can get my hands on anything that resembles these epitomic summer brews.

Interesting: As the beer warms (yeah, I'm writing this as I'm drinking my pint) the bite is giving way to a much sweeter taste. Definitely a beer that needs to be drank (or is it drunk? damn my high school English teacher would kill me) cold and fast!

After all this, I am really liking this beer. However, the cost is going to make it lose a couple of thumbs, 'cause the fact of the matter is, a summer beer is generally to be consumed en masse and therefore price is important. Therefore, taking the the supermarket price of €3.50 for a pint in to account I whole-heartedly give this beer a 7 thumbs up. If you can find it in the states, TRY IT!

1 comment:

Jeff K said...

Nice one, I don't think I'll find this one in the States. From what I can gather, Ratebeer.com and BeerAdvocate list this as Akerbeltz Ambrée (Amber) Gorrosta from Brasserie Basabürüa in Licq-Atherey, France. Is that on the bottle anywhere? Like I said before, any name with copious umlauts has to be respected.

I just discovered Beerme.com, which has a lot of beerformation as well.