Even though France is more famous for its food and wine products, it has some great beer. Its beer industry dipped in the early 20th Century, even though it has come to life in the last thirty years. In France lots of youngsters drink beer more than they do wine or spirits. The region called the Nord-Pas de Calais is where French beer is most popular, chiefly due to its proximity to Belgium. Most French beers are similar to their Belgian counterparts with regard to taste and style.
The Effect of Large Breweries
Despite the fact that French beer is getting better, it is hampered due to the fact that its major breweries control 90% of the market. This situation is worse than most other European countries. It means that much of the French beer available is generic and mass-produced. Most major breweries in France are slightly better quality than elsewhere, Kronenbourg being the most well known example. Their leading main product, Kronenbourg 1664, tastes better than your average lager beer with its malty taste. Another product is Grand Cru, 6% ABV, and a spicy wheat beer called Kronenbourg Blanc. Even though these beers are okay, they hamper the progression of lesser known, yet much better French beers.
Bieres Du Garde
Bieres du garde are produced in a totally different way to Kronenbourg, combining Belgian brewing methods with particularly French finesse. Such beers undergo a second fermentation phase at exceedingly low temperatures; hence, they are more akin to Belgian ales than lager beers. The best known of these beers is undoubtedly 3 Monts, produced by the Brasserie Saint-Sylvestre. This lovely, golden ale has a great hoppy flavour, with a wonderful bittersweet finish. Even though it is 8.5% ABV, it is easily drinkable, apt for each season. Other popular beers include Ch'Ti beers from Jenlain and Brasserie Castelain. Both these very well made beers are widely available in the UK, as well other European countries.
French Beer Overlooked
Bieres du garde are some of the best beers around, yet they are frequently overlooked due to their proximity to Belgium and having to compete with big breweries. Lots of French people still consider beer to be a common drink which does not accompany gourmet food well, with others viewing French beer as inferior to Belgian beers. The range of French beers is a lot smaller than in Belgium, yet the best examples of French beer are on par with any European beer. The biere du garde style is very much under valued in Europe. Do not mistake French beer as beginning and ending with Kronenbourg; try some bieres du garde and you will find out what you were going without.
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