The literal translation of the French phrase, “Biere De Mars,” is “Beer of March.” Traditionally, this farmhouse-style beer is made in early spring with the first harvest of grain, and then aged before release. The brewing of ale in colder months ensured that the fermentation would be more controlled, preventing unwanted flavors brought on by summer temperatures.
Nowadays, brewing technology and climate control have removed the necessity of this seasonal brewing, but the style is still crafted by some small breweries. Luckily, for beer enthusiasts such as myself, Southampton Publick House still embraces many of these old world brewing techniques that are all but forgotten.
Southampton Publick House uses a blend of wheat and barley malts in their Biere De Mars. The light amber beer is finished with an ample dose of continental hops and some added spices. The nose is distinctively yeasty, similar to a Saison, but with more hops present. It reminded me of freshly baked Irish soda bread that my family makes every March for St. Paddy’s Day. The fruit-forward palate offers flavors of pear, Macintosh apple, and honeydew melon. The spiciness of the beer veers towards baking spice rather than pepper. A nutmeg note complements the fruitiness rather than overpower it.
The carbonation is sufficient enough to snuff any sense of cloying sweetness on the brisk, short finish.
Although this beer is brewed in spring, it can be enjoyed well into the summer and fall. Far from being light, the Biere De Mars retains a delicate quality that makes it a great beer to drink on its own. As a big fan of subtle beers, I’d love to see more Long Island producers take a shot at this style.