Posts Tagged 'paris'

Honeymoon beers, part 9: Normandy, Paris, Au Trappiste, Frog & Princess

With five days in Paris giving us plenty of time, we took a day-trip to Normandy for what turned out to be a great tour of the D-Day landing areas. We had lunch at the café in the Reine Mathilde hotel in Bayeux, the town nearest Omaha Beach and the meeting place for our tour.

The restaurant didn’t have much to offer beer-wise, aside from two offerings from Pelforth, a brune and a spring seasonal. I had never heard of the brewery, but I figured it was worth a shot and ordered the Brune. It was pretty decent, sweeter and less complex than the best of the style — it seemed like more of an English brown than a Belgian brune — but still a good beer.

Pelforth Brune

Back in Paris the following day, we had a post-Louvre lunch at a restaurant/bar nearby, Au Trappiste. As its name implies, the place is Belgian-beer friendly. I started with La Trappe Quadrupel, another classic quad. I was happy to be able to drink one, even a fresh one, after the disappointment in Amsterdam.

La Trappe Quadrupel

I didn’t plan on a second beer, but near the end of the meal I noticed a chalkboard advertising their beer of the month, St. Feuillien Biere de Paques (the second Easter beer I had on the trip). I’ve enjoyed the couple of St. Feuillien beers I’ve tasted, so I didn’t hesitate to try their seasonal. It was quite good — bigger, darker, bolder and boozier than I expected for a spring beer (with lighter, refreshing brews such as St. Arnold Spring Bock in mind), but I enjoyed it.

St. Feuillien Biere de Paques

Our last night in Paris (and in Europe), we went back to one of my old haunts, The Frog & Princess, a lively brewpub in the 6th. Even though I wasn’t into craft beer yet, I hung out here a lot when I lived in Paris in 2002. I loved one of their dark beers (back when my favorite beers were Bass and Guinness), and it was a great spot to watch US sports on satellite TV (including NFL and MLB).

When we walked in this time, it looked completely empty, so much so that we weren’t sure they were open. Once we got inside, we noticed two people drinking at the bar, and two bartenders. There were 6 taps and one hand-pulled engine, and I asked the bartender about the latter, in French. We quickly figured out he was from the US (Philly, to be exact), so I asked him about the rest of the lineup in English. He gave me a sample of a couple of beers, before deciding to save us the trouble and giving me a full sampler (and not charging for it).

The 6 beers were:

-FNB (Frog Natural Blonde)

-Maison Blanche

-Ginger Twist

-Parislytic

-Inseine

-Dark de Triomphe

Frog & Princess sampler

None of them were anything special, but they were all decent for their styles. Parislytic seemed like an English brown, with some nice malty sweetness up front, and some disappointing metallic bitterness in the back. Inseine, on the cask engine, was a solid ESB, and Dark de Triomphe a good porter, with plenty of dark roasted malt and a decent body.

After finishing the sampler, I ended up drinking a pint each of the cask ESB and the porter. The bartender, who admitted that he didn’t know much about beer, said the cask ESB seemed to be a favorite with the brewers (who brew on-site 3-4 times a week) and with “beer connoisseurs”. He said their blonde and blanche were their top sellers, unsurprisingly, while the Ginger Twist was becoming something of a flagship brew. I didn’t taste much ginger, but it did have an interesting herbal/spicy bite.

All six beers had a low abv, with the Parislytic clocking in at 5.2%, Dark at 5.0% and the rest between 4-5%. None qualified as true session beers (none were below 4%), but it was still a nice change of pace after a trip full of much bigger and bolder beers.

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Honeymoon beers, part 8: Paris, Taverne de Cluny, Sous-Bock

The last leg of our honeymoon was in Paris, probably my favorite city in the world. It was also the least beery city of our trip, which meant that our options on that front were limited. Still, we managed to track down a couple of interesting Parisian-style bistros/cafes that featured decent beer.

The first was La Taverne de Cluny, a few blocks from our apartment in the bustling 5th arrondissement. The beer selection was limited but solid, with a handful of Belgian classics leading the way.

I started with a bottle of a French beer I’d never heard of. Well, it’s probably fair to say that I haven’t heard of most French beers, and that there aren’t all that many. But I was intrigued by the bottle of Anosteke from the Brasserie du Pays Flamand, which was advertised as a hoppy seasonal ale. I assumed that this meant “hoppy” in the European sense, which proved to be the case, as it was a bright, saison-ish pale ale with a small but nice hoppy bite.

Anosteke 1

Anosteke 2

There weren’t any more interesting French beers on offer, so I stuck with the refreshing theme and opted for a bottle of Orval, the classic Trappist/wild ale. I’ve had both good and bad Orval (with the bad being so wild/funky that I find it nearly undrinkable), but this was a very good one: bright and thirst-quenching, certainly Bretty but not too much so, with just enough of a hoppy bite.

Orval

That reminds me that I noticed a couple of different places on this trip had two different listings of Orval on their menu: standard Orval, and Orval that was at least 6 months old. I was tempted by the latter, to see what kind of tricks the yeast plays when it’s had some time to age, but I never got around to ordering it. I’ll put it near the top of my list for the next trip.

The next day, we took a break from our sightseeing to get a couple of drinks at Le Sous-Bock, another beer-friendly restaurant/bar, this one in the 1st district, east of the Louvre. Their beer menu was long but relatively uninspiring, with plenty of basic European macro-lagers and even Budweiser (the US one) and Corona.

The one interesting thing on the French page was Oldarki (Biere au Patxaran), a beer from the French Basque country brewed with Patxaran, the traditional Basque plum liqueur. I’ve had Patxaran many times (my family’s Spanish roots include some Basque strains) and it’s quite tasty.

Sadly, this beer wasn’t. It tasted like any number of beers out there that have some sort of artificial additive mixed in with a mediocre base beer. It wasn’t undrinkable, just uninteresting and relatively unappealing. Seemed like a waste of a decent idea. Then again, there are plenty of great beers that feature really nice plum flavors, without having to resort to any post-brewing additions.

Oldarki 1

Oldarki 2

After that letdown, I opted to go back to a reliable favorite: St. Bernardus Abt 12, a classic quad and one of my favorites. It quickly and emphatically washed away the previous beer.

St. Bernardus Abt 12


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