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French Beer

Will be heading back to France in the next 6-12 months. I'm not a wine drinker but like a good beer. Last time that I was there, seldom saw any French/local beer outside of the Alsasce; mostly Dutch & Belgium beer (not that there's anything wrong with that). Has the microbrew/craft beer wave hit France yet? Are there any good beers popping up? Any good brewpubs in Paris. I remember going to "the Frog Pond" in Bercy which was pretty good.

Posted by
416 posts

Bob obviously needs to come to the US and try some of our microbrews for himself. I absolutely refuse to drink Bud, Miller, Coors et al. Being in Texas, I do enjoy a Shiner Bock and having visited the Spoetzl Brewery website, will have to look for their Black Lager. So Bob, if you are ever in Texas, make sure you get to Fredericksburg for both wine and microbrews and consider a visit to the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner where even though they are a mass producer, they still brew a good beer.

Posted by
7420 posts

There's a saying about French beer--"just say no."

Why do you think you see so many Belgium, Dutch and German beers? Stick with them.

Kronenbourg is probably the best known French beer. It's okay but the imports are better.

Posted by
2193 posts

It’s a French beer brand to be sure, but Kronenbourg is terrible IMO! I recall that the Heineken brand is ubiquitous…better off with a Heineken (not French and still just okay as beer goes). If you can do without beer on your trip, you’ll have a much better experience with wine in France. I'm with Frank...just decline.

Posted by
509 posts

It's true and shocking. The French put so much love into their food and wine but they completely ignore beer and coffee. I suspect since they have Italy and Belgium as neighbors, they figure 'why try to even compete?"

Seriously though, I just read that there is a little known coffee mafia in France where everyone basically has to buy their beans from the same supplier and the beans are awful.

And beer - it is Kronenebourg on tap no matter where you go. Skip it. Get an import if you can.

Posted by
488 posts

It takes a lot of nerve for Americans to criticise another country on the basis of their beer. American beer is the most tasteless in the whole world.

Posted by
509 posts

Not true at all Bob! America has some fantastic beers. Granted, coors and Old Milwaukee are probably not our best representations. But some of the micro beers are gaining in popularity and have some fantastic stuff. Particularly in my neck of the woods.

New Glarus, WI makes great beers - one of which they can barely keep up with distribution, "Spotted Cow". Just yesterday I was in Mt. Horeb and had a "Rye Bob" at the Grumpy Troll.

Capital Brewery makes really great beer. And those are just in my area. But it is like that everywhere.

Posted by
985 posts

I am NOT criticizing France, just their beer. I have tried 5 or 6 different brands, and yes, they are not good,and yes, mass producedAmerican beer is not great, but micro-brews are wonderful. In fact, I will be spending a month in France begining middle of June. So, yes, I like France, but not their beer.

Posted by
283 posts

I second and third the pass on French beer. However, the Belgium beer is widely available and some of the best in the world. My favorite is tap drawn Leffe. You can get it everywhere.

There are actually a few English style brew pubs in Paris--just google it and you will find many listing. These will have the traditional English style pints, drawn from casks in the basement.

Posted by
2297 posts

I lived in France for a year. And I never had any French beer nor can I remember my French friends drinking any.

However, do try some local cidre. Definitely a good choice in place of beer.

Posted by
2193 posts

Bob does have a point…huge corporate brewery beer in the US is rot-gut bad. As beer drinkers are well aware (and as John & Amy mentioned already), great small brewery options have gained appeal and have been widely available everywhere for several years now. Still, I have yet to taste a French beer that wouldn’t have been better off poured down the toilet. Not a criticism of France in any way.

Posted by
365 posts

I enjoy "3 Monts" beer in France, it's a Bière de Garde from the Flanders region. Those who suggest as a blanket statement that there's not a single good French beer are not telling the truth or simply have not tried beers there other than the most commonly available grocery store stuff. On that basis you could claim the US doesn't make a single good beer.

Posted by
473 posts

There is one pretty good French beer that I've had, Fischer. I don't know the brewery's history, but the name does make one think that there's been some German influence there.

Bob, as Michael noted, you are spot on when it comes to giant American breweries. I can't accurately describe their product without having my posting privileges revoked. Sadly, you probably have never gotten any of our excellent micro-brews over in the UK. Just like we never get a lot of the beers from the smaller Belgian and English breweries, here in the US. Sigh...

Amy, I TOTALLY agree with you about New Glarus and Capitol. Awesome beer. That, cheese curds, and our inept governors almost make me want to move a little further north, to your neck of the woods.

Getting back to the main topic, John, as others have noted, your best bet for good beer in France is to go with the Belgian beers. Just be careful, as some of them can get up to 10% alcohol, whereas most US beers are around 5% or so.

Posted by
875 posts

You probably won't have too much trouble finding good Belgian beer in Paris -- otherwise I'd go for water or soft drinks if you don't like wine.

Posted by
11945 posts

I've tried one French beer that was pretty good... and unfortunately, I don't remember the brand name. It was a Saison, and although not as good as some of the Belgian versions of this style, it was much better than Kronenburg.

And I agree, we brew some excellent beer in the US. Unfortunately, it's mere drops compared to the ocean of bland mega-brewery fare from Bud, Miller and Coors.

Posted by
1357 posts

We tried quite a few on our trip a few years ago, and kicked ourselves for doing that instead of sticking to wine. They all seemed pretty skunky to me.

Posted by
839 posts

I just have to again refute Bob's completely uninformed opinion regarding American beer. Yes, there are the likes of Budweiser and Miller, but every country has their own versions of these subpar brands.

There is a myriad of American microbrews and more widely exported brands (especially in the Northwest)that can rival almost anything the UK has to offer. Ever have something from New Belgium, Red Hook, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams? These are just the "big" brands -- local microbrews churn out even more incredible beers, in just about every style imaginable. Not to mention the massive quantities of imported beer this country consumes.

So please, don't assume every American drinks only Bud Light. A lot of us know beer a lot better than you do.

(and as a disclaimer of sorts, I'm not even American, but even I will admit that my people, the Russians, could learn a thing or two about brewing a good beer!)

Posted by
104 posts

Thanks to all for your input. This went on longer than I thought it would. I agree that most of the mass market beers in the US aren't worth the effort to drink them. Southhampton brewery makes a nice "french style biere du garde" and I was hoping to find one over there. I've had Fischer beer in the Alsasce and it was pretty good (doesn't travel well to the US and I can get it at my beer supplier about 6 blocks away) and I'm always surprised that you see beers from Belgium & Holland all over Paris and you can't find Alsatian beer there. I finally found time to look for the brewpub that I went to 5 years ago. It was the Frogpub at Bercy village. www.frogpub.com They now have 5 pubs in Paris. Their beer was pretty good and definitely in the British style. I hope to stop by the next time I'm there. Cheers, ya'll!!

Posted by
11945 posts

"but even I will admit that my people, the Russians, could learn a thing or two about brewing a good beer!)" Hey, you guys make Baltika. That's good for a start, and beats the hell out of most mass-marketed US beer.

Posted by
839 posts

If only there were a Baltica hef, or a good dark ale! I'm afraid I've had to defect to the Germans and Belgians in my beer loyalties :)