The south of France is a special place to me. I’ve spent a lot of time there, met some pretty fantastic people, and knew going in to this that the cities down there have great little clusters of beer scenes. The following is evidence of that, with a few northern breweries thrown into the mix.
Starting with the most northern of the bunch, this brasserie hailing from Nancy are pumping out impressive quantities of classic styles, emblazoned with the coolest of labels.
Rock & Road – Imperial Russian Stout
Brewed in collaboration with parisian Rock Out bar, this dark masterpiece was created with blueberries, vanilla and cacao. Syrupy goodness, I dare say I would happily pour this over pancakes if it weren’t for the soggy mess it’d leave in its wake. Those blueberries just add such a lovely tartness to the otherwise roasted flavours, with the vanilla creeping through with a gentle sweetness.
Found in Angoulême, their taproom is filled with ageing barrels on display, and the sort of rustic furniture so synonymous with this region of France.
It is no surprise then that, for me, this IPA is so characteristically French.
On the nose, you’ll smell sticky candy and floral blends. Then for the flavours, a rich, malty backbone, becoming caramelised from those aromas mentioned, before softening further in to dried orange.
You’re not going to get away with having a French beer haul that isn’t infused with the dry characteristics of Champagne (sorry Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée... I mean sparkling wine! We’re a long way from that region).
This was just as aromatic, with fresh, grassy scents giving way to the creamy, sweet flavours of the beer itself. Naturally, this brought Northern Monk’s Neopolitan Pale to mind, following suit with those milky, fruity tastes.
Next up, the heavy metal-royalty of rural French brewing. Located in the mountains of Ardèche in a humble, countryside looking retreat, you wouldn’t be the first to miss it driving down the winding roads outside.
Demoni Ale – Wheat Ale
The label of this may well a barbed goat skull, iconography of something dark and intimidating. But the beer inside is reminiscent of when you’d run through farm fields as a kid, brushing your hands against the crops that passed you. This smells just like crushed wheat, sitting on the line between a cosy flavour for the winter and a fresh taste of the summer. The creamy head makes the beer drink almost yoghurty with a soft apricot flavour.
Part 2 still to come… ✨