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.
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.
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.