Two beers facing "their Waterloo"

On 18th June this year Egghead and Force breweries are collaborating to produce two historic beers to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. We've taken inspiration from the beers that would have been available to the troops at the time.

Firstly, on the Allied side we're brewing a porter in a style that was prevalent at the time. We'll be using pale malt, brown malt and chocolate malt along with a little smoked malt to reflect the malting processes of the time. Som serious taxation kicked in during the Napoleonic wars resulting in a sharp drop in alcoholic strength so our porter is going to be around 1050-1055 OG and should come out around 5+% abv. It'll be sweetish and malty and just the job for an Autumn evening.

Secondly, the French beer will be a Bière de Garde (Keeping Beer in English). This is a Franco/Belgian style of beer brewed in a similar fashion to a "saison" but with a much higher mash temperature. This results in more complex sugars in the wort which are less fermentable by the yeast and which carry a maltiness through to the finished beer. It'll be a similar strength but lighter in colour and with a profoundly different taste than the porter.

As far as names are concerned we picked two buildings that were key to the battle. Hougoumont was a large farm, forward of Wellington's right flank garrisoned by four light companies from General Byng’s Brigade of Guards. Throughout the day Napoleon attacked the post, committing 33 battalions (around 14,000 men) to its capture. At one point, the French, lead by Sous-Lieutenant Legros, forced the gates but quick action by members of the Coldstream Guards managed to shut the gate, trapping the French within.Wellington later said that “the success of the battle turned upon the closing of the gates at Hougoumont”. Hougoumont is therefore the name of the Porter.

Bonaparte selected a small inn called La Belle Alliance as his Headquarters. The inn lies on a road leading south from the battlefield and was at the heart of the French troop deployment with the centre and Old Guard arrayed before it and the VIth Corps reserve behind. As dusk fell that evening, with the battle all but over, the last cohesive French force, two battalions of “La Vieille Garde”, formed squares around La Belle Alliance to protect Napoleon in the event of a defeat. Soon, however, overwhelming allied forces caused their retreat. At around 10pm, Wellington and Blücher met at La Belle Alliance, shook hands and the battle was over. La Belle Alliance is therefore the name of the Bière de Garde.

We intend bottling the majority of these beers and selling them as a twin pack so you can compare and contrast these two historic beers.


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