Beer guide to France
Known more for its wines, France has a long tradition of brewing
French Brew: France is more usually associated with fine wines and Champagne. However, it has a long tradition of brewing centred in the North of France, Alsace and along the borders of Belgium. Consequently, the beer is related to the pale lagers from Belgium and Germany.
Beers to look out for
Kronenbourg 1664: This famous pale lager containing 5.5 per cent alcohol content has become the best known French beer in Europe and enjoys a 40 per cent market share in France.
Meteor: An unpasteurised Pilsner style lager containing 4.6 per cent alcohol.
Mortimer: A highly distinctive lager containing 8 per cent ABV, which is produced using peat-smoked whisky malt.
Desperado: Produced by Brasserie Fischer in Schiltigheim, this beer contains 5.5 per cent alcohol and is flavoured with Tequila.
Adelscott: Another beer by the Brasserie Fischer brewery containing 6.4 per cent alcohol and amber-red in colour, which has a sister beer called Adelscott Noir containing a slightly higher ABV of 6.6 per cent.
Fischer Gold: This is Brasserie Fischer’s “normal” lager weighing in at 6.5 per cent ABV.
Kasteel Cru: A new lager produced in a joint venture between the famous Coors Brewers and La Brasserie de Saverne in Alsace.
Ancre and Kanterbräu: Are a two other beers from Alsace, which are available all throughout the country.
Bières de Garde: A range of beers that originated in the Calais region and were traditionally brewed in farmhouses during the winter and spring, then bottled and mostly sealed with a cork and kept in the cellar for later consumption. Winter brewing ensured that there would be no problems caused during the fermentation of the yeast, which would otherwise usually occur during warmer summertime. Bières de Garde are usually copper or golden in colour and tend to be quite strong in alcohol content. Some examples to sample include Trois Monts 8.5 per cent AVB, Jenlain 6.5 per cent AVB, Ambrée with 7.5 per cent AVB. Sadly, France’s main airports are unlikely to stock these traditional ales.
Pelforth: A brand from Lille that makes ales containing a lot of malt including Blonde with 5.8 per cent AVB, Brune at 6.5 per cent AVB, and Pelforth Amber at 6 per cent AVB, which was introduced in 2003. These are available in Nice Airport where they also serve a shandy (beer & lemonade) called Panache.
Pietra: A brewery on the island of Corsica that produces a 6% alcohol content beer called Pietra Amber Beer, which is brewed to an unusual recipe that includes chestnuts and undergoes a lengthy period of lagering. It's normally sold in a bottle.
Thirst quencher: Despite the dominance of the 1664 lager, it’s always worth asking if the bar you’re at stocks a regional beer or a Bière de Garde.
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Updated May 2014