Review of Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru No. 3 (2008)

11 Aug
Hi guys.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be trying my first ever brew from the Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes located in Saignelegier, Switzerland.  I have a 2008 Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru in my possession and I’ll tell ya, I’m super excited about trying it.

I couldn’t quite make out the commercial description from the website,, so I’m just going to copy what was written on the bottle.

Ale matured in Trousseau OAK BARRELS (single cask in a Trousseau barrel from Arbois, France).  Hand bottled, without prise de mousse in January 09.  This Grand Cru’s complexity will increase with age.  Barrique No. 3 brewed in May 2008.

I can’t wait any longer.  I’m ready for a sip.

This beer came in a 12.68 oz. bottle with an ABV of 11.0%.
It poured an opaque amber/caramel color with a ruby red cast when held toward a light source.  It didn’t form much of a head with a very gentle pour.  What foam that was generated was off white in color and fizzy.  The retention time was non-existent and little to no lacing was left behind either.  A ton of clear alcohol was left on the sides of the snifter when I tilted it however.  A little bit of sediment made its way into the glass, but it quickly settled to the bottom.  
This brew had a flat-out gorgeous aroma.  Extremely complex too.  Hints of soured red apple skins as well as other soured berries (cherries and grapes).  Only the slightest tone of alcohol was found and the oak was distinguished fairly easily with a gentle swirl of the liquid.  A tad bit of funk was determined also, but it was very mellow and manageable.  Only the most faint vinegar and acidity was found as well, however a solid backbone of bread and/or yeast pushed forward and gave it a bit of roundness.  Wow!!!  What a fragrance!!!  One of the best I’ve ever smelled.  
The taste was very sour, acidic and tart on the initial intake.  A lip puckering goodness of soured grapes and cherries.  Very wine like I thought.  Again, a solid backbone of fresh breads and yeast.  It kind of tasted like what I would imagine baked whole wheat bread soaked in red wine would taste like.  Toward the end the oaky/wood and funk really shone through and it did nothing but compliment the overall flavor of the brew.  A beautiful and well balanced flavor profile to say the least.  Awesome. 
The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Sticky and very dry with a sharpness at the beginning that gave way to a silky smoothness as the palate adjusted.  The carbonation was very low and I received absolutely no heat or warmth whatsoever from the alcohol, which I found unbelievable considering the 11.0% ABV.   An absolute ton of flavor was left behind for me to ponder long after each sip had passed.  
Man!!!  This is a “world-class” beer if there ever was one.  The aroma and taste were divine to say the least.  This thing has to rank near the top of all the Biere de Garde’s produced.  Granted, I haven’t even begun to try all that are made, but I positively loved this one.  Even though the drinkability was rather good, it needed to be taken slowly, so as to let it open up a bit.  It started crazy tart and sour, but mellowed so well and those complex woody, yeasty and funky characteristics stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park.  If you guys ever get the chance to try an Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru of any vintage, I would highly recommend it.  I have no doubt that it could appeal to both craft beer and wine drinkers alike.  I have to give it a couple points just for the extreme rarity of it also.  Have any of you guys ever tried anything from Franches-Montagnes?  What was it?  Did you like it?  Feel free to leave a comment and tell me your opinions.   
Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  I really appreciate it.  
Until next time.  Cheers. 
Score:  4.75 out of 5
Grade:  A+   

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