Thinking about France, conjures up images of Eiffel Tower, Champs de Elyse, Impressionist painters, Napoleon, haute couture, and Parisian cafes. And when it comes to French spirits, discussions and debates almost always gravitate towards the nation’s classic wines. So, by that token, if you broach up the subject of French beers, expect long stares from spirit enthusiasts and aficionados.
There’s no disputing the fact that France is more renowned for its wines than its beers. However, beer buffs would be delighted to know that France figures in the list of top six lager producing European nations. Some of the largest breweries in France like Jenlain, Kronenbourg, La Coulette, and Castelain produce premium ‘biere de gardes’. Biere de Gardes is a specialized kind of robust pale ale that once ran the risk of becoming extinct.
However, the French pale ale was rescued from certain extinction, thanks to the painstaking efforts of traditional brewers. Whenever you visit France, make sure you tour Pas de Calais, Picardy, and Flanders for sampling some topnotch Biere de Gardes. In the following paragraphs, we’ve elaborated on the 10 bestselling beers in France.
Brewed by Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre, 3 Monts features a pale golden color and develops a slim frothy head when decanted. The beer appears tantalizing and luscious when you pour the ale into a glass and you discern notes of caramel malt, and fruits. 3 Monts is created by exploiting the upward infusion technique and natural yeasts help expedite fermentation.
The golden and blond appearance is accentuated with a frothy and tight top. Your nostrils pick up aromas of hops, lemon, and fruits.
When you pour Jenlain in a beer glass, the lager’s bright straw hue becomes apparent gradually. The moderate foamy lacing at the top stays for about 10 minutes before disintegrating. The beer feels refreshing on the palate with a moderate to full body typified by crunchy carbonation.
The flavors blend in understated notes of apples, pears, sweet barley, light caramel, wheat, floral hops, coriander, and Belgian yeast. The finish on the palate is predominantly cereal tempered with whiffs of barnyard straw, honey caramel, and mild maillard feel. Seasoned and persnickety drinkers will appreciate the nice balance of flavors that open up fully with spicy servings.
Every time you quaff of a bottle of Brasserie Lancelot’s Blanche Hermine, you get transported back in time. The sparking whiteness of the beer epitomizes the braveness of ermine that risked its life for maintaining the immaculate whiteness of its coat. Equal parts of malted barley and wheat go into distilling the rejuvenating Blanche Hermione.
Coriander and orange zests infused in the lager impart a fruity aftertaste on the palate. La Blanche Hermione won the silver medal at the 2015 Concours General Agricole and the bronze medal at the 2016 World Beer Awards.
When or whenever you’re in France, never give the Kronenbourg 1664 a miss-after all this lager is France’s top selling beer. The light golden hue of the Kronenbourg 1664 becomes prominent as you transfer the contents to a large glass. Strisselspalt hop sourced from Alsace is used for brewing this lager, thereby imparting to it exclusive flavors.
The finish is distinctly bittersweet layered with tangs of citrusy hops, grapefruit, and subtle hints of candy fruit. You can also use the Kronenbourg for seasoning a range of fares, including halibut, cod, and salmon fillets.
Pelforth Blonde, brewed by Pelforth (Heineken), is a typical pale lager that takes on a clear amber color on decanting. The head is about a centimeter long with whitish foam that does not lace and effervescence is slow and moderate. On sipping, you can feel the malty taste that is a tad sweet. The body is light to medium with a quick finish and the nuanced flavors of caramel, grains, maltose syrup, and hops.
The ingredients used for preparing Pelforth Blonde include water, corn, malted barley, maltose syrup, and hops.
The Saint Omer Brewery (Brasserie de Saint-Omer) started brewing in 1866 and the annual production was 45,000 hectoliters. Presently, the firm brews approximately 2 million hectoliters of beer every year, making it one of the largest breweries in France. Biere Bock, one of the most popular products of this brewery, has a pale yellow hue and the taste is neutral and smooth.
The lager leaves behind a zest that combines whiffs of malts, grains, caramel, peppery hops, cut grass, and hay. The head is remarkably foamy white that stays intact for some time. Biere Bock is best had with light snacks, cheesecakes, and pommes frites.
Translucent gold in color, Biere des Sans Culottes exudes aromas of earth, apple must, beeswax, white grape tannin, honeycomb, horse saddle, and straw. This beer carbonates like champagne and has a medium head topped with microscopic yeasty globules. This beer has perfect balance of flavors with the taste gravitating slightly towards sweetness with the finish somewhat dry.
You can pair Biere des Sans Culottes with a variety of homemade and restaurant dishes.
Brasserie Castelain takes meticulous care in brewing and fermenting the CH’TI following which the brew is preserved in storage tanks for several weeks. The beer develops its gleam, grace, and balance while remaining in the storage tanks. The appearance and texture is distinctly white with intensely foamy top and fine bubbles.
The flavors have a unique sweetness and lingering aromas and the palate discerns an understated bitterness.
La Choulette brews the Bailleux Cuvee in a traditional manner, just like artisanal brewers. The Bailleux Cuvee is arguably one of the best biere de gardes you’ll sample in France. The beer has a crystal clear golden look and a small foamy top. The finish is medium body with the flavors of oak, yeast, earth, floral, and spicy hops dominating.
Gavroche is another premium lager produced by Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre and takes its name from a Les Miserables character. This beer has a coppery reddish color with a prominent off-white creamy head and characterized by strong carbonation. On sniffing, you pick up fragrances of pure caramel layered with hints of yeast esters, barley, stewed leaves, and understated earthiness. The Gavroche is an excellent biere de garde that complements perfectly with an array of cuisines.