Our favorite American ex-pat in Paris guides us through craft beers in the City of Lights.
5 FRENCH BEERS TO TRY IN PARIS
When I set out to track down the five best beers brewed in Paris right now, I didn’t think my job would be too difficult. If you’d asked me five years ago, I might not have been so confident, but now that bottle shops like Bières Cultes and Paris Saint-Bière and craft beer bars like La Fine Mousse and Express de Lyon have found their way to the capital, I thought that surely brewers had followed suit.
Parisians may be unrivaled when it comes to wine, but brewing still has a while to go. That being said, there are some interesting things happening on the beer scene, and while I’m fairly certain this list will have changed before six months is up, for right now, here are my top five beers to try in Paris.
5. Parisis Blanche
I’m not usually a huge fan of blanche, which is the French term typically used to describe witbier or other wheat beers. The Parisis Triple is more my style, but when I found the blanche, at my local supermarket no less, and saw that it had won the gold medal at the Concours Général Agricole in 2013, I had to pick it up.
Parisis brews in Épinay-sous-Sénart, just outside of the city limits. The brewers call it an authentic beer, taking its name from the Gaulish tribe who inhabited Paris before the Romans. In other words, it’s as Parisian as they come. It’s not a complex beer by any means, but it’s the sort of beer you could drink all day in the summer. It’s fresh and lightly citrusy with just the right amount of wheaty, malty flavor, and a relatively low alcohol content. There’s a touch of bitterness on the finish that’s very nice.
Suggested Food Pairings: I would pair this with a different play on mussels à la marinière, with thinly sliced fennel mixed in with the base and a touch of the beer itself in place of the wine, to play off that light bitterness that's so refreshing.
4. Grand Paris Smoke on the Water
While composing this list, I tasted two beers from this team of brewers in Levallois. The two brewers ― an American and a Frenchman ― are self-described lovers of hops, and it showed in the beers I tasted ― a Citra IPA and this smoked beer that really caught my eye (or rather my tongue).
The beer has a smoky, malty aroma with an unexpected whiff of sourdough. I couldn't stop smelling it. As for the taste, there's a clear smoky flavor that reminds me of the beechwood smoking that’s so common here in France, but only the bitterness remains in the finish.
Suggested Food Pairings: This beer will shine with a dish that's slightly sweet and rich in umami; the two will play off one another beautifully. I love it with any dish featuring oven-roasted tomatoes, like a chicken caprese or a tomato risotto. Be sure to char the tomato skins in the oven, as this light smokiness will be all you need to nicely pair the beer and the meal.
3. Deck & Donohue Monk
Two beers on this list came from the same brewery. I tried to avoid having that happen, but this brewery impressed me twice. Deck & Donohue is based in Montreuil, run by Thomas Deck and Mike Donohue (thus the name), a Frenchman and an American. Their craft beers are brewed in small batches with 10 years of know-how ― and it shows.
Monk is a brown ale that, at first smell and taste, is chocolate. To be even more precise, it has the smell and taste of an old-school soda fountain chocolate soda, with just the right amount of effervescence to remind you that it’s actually a beer. And yet this light ale has more to it than meets the nose. You never quite lose the chocolate aroma, but after it warms up a bit, the toastiness shines through, as do a few lighter berry notes. The most surprising thing about this ale is how rich it can be in flavor while still remaining so light.
Suggested Food Pairings: Monk is an ideal beer to enjoy before or after a meal, or even as a dessert pairing. It’s tempting to pair a beer as rich and chocolaty as this with chocolate. But I prefer to let the beer stand in for chocolate by pairing it with something you'd serve with a rich chocolate cake. Here in France, that would be crème anglaise or custard cream, so a vanilla bean crème brûlée would be an excellent pairing choice.
2. Vexin La Véliocasse
Les Bières du Vexin was created in 2001 with just two brews ― a blonde and an amber, but the beer that struck me from this small brewery was an unfiltered, honey-flavored beer with a touch of wheat in the mix and 7% ABV.
Once poured, Véliocasse even looks like honey. It has tiny bubbles and a nice viscosity as well as a deep amber color. The flavor is quite extraordinary: there’s a nice kick of alcohol that’s more reminiscent of mead than beer, a full body with a bright finish and a deep, woody aftertaste. As I was drinking it, I couldn't shake the sensation that it was something more akin to whiskey ― bright and flavorful with a boozy punch at the front of the palate, and a nice richness and slow warmth on the back. The beer won the World’s Best Honey Beer title in 2014, so I’m in good company when I say that this is definitely one to try.
Suggested Food Pairings: Véliocasse would overpower most main dishes, but it would be excellent served as an apéritif with a cheese plate. Choose richly flavored hard cheeses with a good amount of nuttiness, like aged cheddar or gruyère. Keep the cheese plate interesting by including a cheese from each common milk type: a gruyère for cow's milk, an ossau iraty for sheep and a tomme de chèvre for goat. Because the beer itself is sweet, choose more savory accompaniments like nuts, cured meats or tomato chutney.
1. Deck & Donohue Trouble #6
Deck & Donohue is back for the number one beer on this list: Trouble #6. Anglophones may laugh at the name, though its real source is from the French trouble or cloudy. This unfiltered beer is the brewers’ interpretation of an old-fashioned farm beer, brewed with a mix of four grains ― barley, wheat, rye and oats ― as well as Alsatian hops. The result is what the French would call a blonde, a light beer with herbal notes and a dry finish.
This beer has a nice, creamy head that lasts. The aromas are clearly hoppy and earthy yet fresh. The flavor is well-rounded with a light, malty sweetness and just the right amount of bitterness for balance.
There are many reasons this beer is number one on the list. It’s tasty. It’s well made. It also exemplifies that blonde style of beer that the French are so accustomed to, and that is the main reason I chose to make Trouble #6 number one on the list of five beers to try in Paris. They’re branching out and trying new things, and I have no doubt that we’re in for more than a few treats as French brewing continues to develop, but it’s important to remember where we’re coming from, and the blonde, as a style, is a good jumping-off point ― and this is an excellent example of what happens when the blonde is done right.
Suggested Food Pairings: This is a beer that can pair well with a wide variety of foods. I suggest serving it with a burger bar; allow your guests to assemble beef, chicken or veggie burgers with a variety of toppings, such as different cheeses, lettuces, raw and caramelized onions and mushrooms. No matter what combo they choose, Trouble #6 will be a great pair!
Have a favorite French beer you'd like to add to this list? Let us know in comments.
Enjoy a beer and cheese pairing at these six superb spots.
Food Loves Beer Editors
GOOD FOOD, GOOD BEER: CHEESE PLATE ANYONE?
Forget the wine, beer and cheese pairings are where it's at. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, or just craving a little culture with your craft, we have you covered. We've rounded up six of the country’s most crave-worthy cheese plates from New York to Oregon for your pairing pleasure. It’s a cheesy job, but someone had to do it. You can thank us later.
Astoria Bier and Cheese
This gem of a shop offers what seems like an endless selection of craft beer, plus 10 on tap and about 80 different cheeses. There's more on the menu, but why not kick back and unwind with a Bier and Cheese Pairing Plate — that's 4 cheeses paired wonderfully with 4 beers. You deserve it!
A Power Hour cheese plate deserves a beer menu to match, and this euro-style Seattle favorite boasts 64 taps and 300-plus bottles.
Indulge your appreciation for fine cheeses at this must-visit shop. Choose from a regularly changing selection of cheese boards like Monger’s Choice (complete with chutney and crostini), and enjoy it with any one of about 50 domestic and imported bottled beers, or a brew from the 6 rotating taps.
Cheese flights — a turophile’s delight! Choose from California, Midwest, Vermont, and Monger’s Choice (regional flights change daily). Then pair that delicious cheese with fine California craft beers in bottles and on tap (selection changes daily) — need we say more!?
Enjoy a sampling of exceptional artisanal cheeses served with quince honey, apples, crackers, olives, and almonds with a craft beer flight (choose from over 50 on tap).
Über Tap Room & Cheese Bar
This addition to Wisconsin Cheese Mart takes the art of pairing cheese and beer to a whole new level. The menu offers an extensive selection of award-winning Wisconsin cheeses along with over 30 local beers on tap, all in a cafe-style setting.
What’s your go-to restaurant or bar for great cheese and beer? Share your Good Food, Good Beer recommendations in comments.
NYC Craft Beer Festival ― Autumn Harvest
Food Loves Beer Editors
A MARATHON OF BEER TASTING
While thousands of runners from all over the globe descended on New York City to take part in the world’s most famous marathon, passionate beer drinkers lined up by the hundreds outside the Lexington Armory on a wet and windy Saturday awaiting entry to a marathon beer tasting event: the NYC Craft Beer Festival - Autumn Harvest.
Held in three sessions over two days beginning on Halloween night, the festival was a much-anticipated opportunity to sample year-round and seasonal offerings from some of the country’s finest craft breweries. Seventy-five breweries were on hand pouring two beers each, with styles ranging from wit beers and pale ales to imperial stouts and barrel-aged sours, plus several cider options as well. There was also an amazing selection of fabulous fare to pair with all that beer, provided by artisanal food vendors (at additional cost). It was certainly a highlight of the fall season for beer aficionados. Here is a look at some of our favorites.
Troegs Mad Elf Ale is brewed with honey as well as sweet and sour cherries, and is fermented with Belgian yeast. At 11% abv, it was a welcome warmer on such a brisk, damp day. This beer has definitely earned a place on our holiday table.
Flying Dog Easy IPA and Gonzo Imperial Porter
The labels drew in the uninitiated and those in the know gathered in droves, too, making this a very popular booth.
Full Sail treated everyone to two great beers from their Session series, Fest and Black.
New Holland Brewing’s Monkey King Saison and The Poet Oatmeal Stout were quite appropriate for the Halloween weekend. "Quoth the raven, give us more!"
Newcomers Irish Yankee Beer Co. were the only imports in attendance, and we welcome the spirit of Ireland to the USA!
Allagash Curieux, a Belgian-style tripel aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels is “curiously” delicious.
The Bruery Mischief, another aptly named beer for the weekend, is a delightfully hoppy Belgian ale.
Breckenridge Vanilla Porter... can you say "Yum!?"
Northern California was well represented by one of our all-time favorite Russian imperial stouts, Old Rasputin, from North Coast Brewing Co.
Founders Breakfast Stout found its way into our glasses. They were also pouring their new Dark Penance Imperial Black IPA.
A few other standout beers worth noting include Stone's Old Guardian Barley Wine, which was paired perfectly with a corresponding chocolate; Bayou Teche’s Miel Sauvage, an oak barrel-aged honey ale; and Abita’s Legendary Gator, a triple helles bock.
Potlicker Beer Jelly was sampling an impressive array of artisanal jellies created with Vermont craft beers. Heady Topper is virtually impossible to get unless you visit The Alchemist Brewery, but we were fortunate to try Potlicker’s Heady beer jelly.
Artisan meatball maven Bill’s Balls served a hearty range of sliders and hero sandwiches. We enjoyed The Original: All beef meatball with marinara and asiago cheese and The Upstate: Chicken meatball covered in Buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing and their fabulous celery chimichurri.
Bamboo Bites offered up sticky rice and other tasty morsels like the Chicken Satay that we just couldn’t resist.
Tipsy Scoop satisfied our sweet tooth with their decadently delicious Breakfast Stout ice cream.
Sampling over 150 beers in only two and a half hours was a challenge. Just kidding, it was virtually impossible, but we gave it our best shot. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it, and we're looking forward to trying again in the spring.
Pairing food and beer is universal.
Maria Halldén and Christopher J. Bartis
FOOD AND BEER SCHOOL AT THE STOCKHOLM BEER FESTIVAL
At Food Loves Beer, we've known all along that when it comes to food pairings, craft beer has the same gastronomical worth as wine. This knowledge is shared by fellow craft beer fans, and also by Michel Jamais, a renowned beverage lecturer, writer, chef and sommelier in Sweden. We were lucky enough to hear Michel’s inspiring and informative thoughts on food and beer pairing at the Stockholm Beer Festival several weeks ago. An innovator in beverage pairing, Michel sold 8-course tasting menus with beer as the key ingredient in the 90s. Still, the restaurateurs paired all the meals with wine because in those days you were expected to drink wine with fine food. However, in recent years, beer has gained world-wide respect as a versatile food-friendly beverage.
In fact, it's actually much easier to pair beer with certain dishes. Beer has a milder acidity and does not have tannins. Beer also has a variety of different flavors, which means it partners better with a variety of foods. For instance, the umami flavors of Szechuan-fried tuna with a sweet mango sauce and fish stock causes white wine to taste bitter and red wine metallic. When paired with a big bold American IPA, like Sierra Nevada Torpedo, however, it’s a perfect match!
Umami you ask? Maybe we got ahead of ourselves. Basically, our tongue can taste five different things: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami. Umami, literally translated as "pleasant savory taste," was recognized in 1985 as the fifth basic taste and can be found in things like soy, cheese, tomatoes, beans, and a variety of aged and fermented foods. By identifying the tastes found in the food you're serving, you can more easily match them with a beer having similar tastes. You should also take into account the texture and spiciness of a dish.
So where were we? Right, wine isn’t always best with food. The tannins in red wines don’t work well with bitter and spicy tasting dishes. However, the dry, sour and fruity flavors of spontaneously fermented beers lend themselves well to dishes like this. A Belgian gueze goes well with lightly smoked char with summer greens and poached quail eggs. And if duck confit is on your menu, why not try Kriek Boon, a lambic made with 250 grams of whole cherries for every liter of beer.
Sweet foods can accentuate a beer's bitterness, so it’s always best to pair them with beers that aren't very bitter, like hefeweizen or wit beers. Another idea is to match the sweetness in food to the sweetness and maltiness in a beer. For example, with desserts, especially chocolate ones, Michel suggests trying something like Tokyo, an 18.2% rich and malty oak-aged stout from Brew Dog. We wholeheartedly agree, and we also enjoy desserts with styles like barley wine, chocolate stout and English-style porters.
Another tip is to break down a dish into separate elements. Take smoked salmon, for instance. Your brain understands how flavors of smokiness and salmon fit together, so how about drinking a smoky rauchbier with a salmon dish? Another idea might be to marinate the salmon in soy, and serve it with a dark lager or porter, where the soy acts as the bridge into similar flavors found in these beers.
Mirroring is also a very good technique when it comes to matching flavors in beer and food. You want to mirror the flavor in the dish with the ones in the beer. For instance, with flavors like toast, croutons, and sautéed butter, light to medium dark malt beers work well. Try dark roasted malt beers with grilled foods or foods that contain nuts, coffee, or dark chocolate. When serving foods with citrus, passion fruit and mango, or herbs like parsley and basil, pair them with a hoppy beer. The secret is to find aromas and ingredients which complement, and mirror each other well.
While we hope these pairing tips are helpful, don’t limit yourself to these suggestions. Everyone’s taste preferences are different. The best way to find the perfect pairing is through trial-and-error, and with the wide array of complex flavors in beer, and the number of craft breweries available, the choices and combinations are almost unlimited. So experiment. Have fun. Be inventive and adventurous. Just remember, food really does love beer!
A day at the world's third largest beer festival.
STOCKHOLM BEER AND WHISKEY FESTIVAL
For the twenty-third year in a row, the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival treated the public to international competitions, courses, tastings, master classes, food and much more. The festival is the third largest beer festival in the world, and this year more than 37,000 visitors attended over two weekends. Food Loves Beer was there, of course, together with a lot of other friendly beer lovers and brewers, surrounded by some of the best beers in the world. It doesn't get much better than that!
Blueberry Bulldog - "Mother's Little Bulldog", a Blueberry IPA from Gotlands brewery, was one of the many fruit beers on offer.
Finn Brown Ale - A first at this year's festival was the new Swedish microbrewery hall, dedicated to small scale, up-and-coming Swedish breweries. That's where Brewhouse Finn was located, but size didn't prevent their Brown Ale from raking in two medals: a gold for Best Swedish Draught Beer, regardless of style, and a silver for Best modern-style session ale.
Flying High - It's a beer-tastic jungle out there, and even if your microbrewery is putting out good beers, you need to work hard to get noticed. And for Flying Brewery out of Dalarna, Sweden, marketing's a breeze! Their bottles, packaging, coasters and posters all feature beautifully-drawn aviators, each representing a different beer.
Oppigårds - Sylvia Falkeström pours a White Wachdog IPA while she tells us about how Swedish craftbrewers are banding together against established brewery giants, in the hopes of together gaining a larger market share. They took home 4 medals this year, and in 2013 they won more gold medals than any other brewery at the festival!
Important Importers - Galatea Spirits AB is the industry-leader in imported beer in Sweden and is also the largest beer importer in all of Scandinavia. Located smack in the middle of the grand hall they had over 75 beers available, from countries such as the USA, Belgium, Germany and England.
Sensational Collaboration - In August, Grant McCracken from Sam Adams jumped aboard the collaboration express and came to Sweden to brew with Jessica Heidrich of St Eriks. Their creation, Transatlantic, is a Belgian Red Strong Ale made with Swedish lingonberries and American cranberries. It made its world premier at the festival, and was for us, the most exciting beer of the evening!
It's For The Folks - "Folk beer" is a truly Swedish phenomena. While "Strong beers" are only available through the state-run liquor monopoly, folk beer (between 2.25 and 3.5%) can legally be sold at supermarkets. In Sweden you can find 3.5% variants of everything from Guinness, to Pilsner Urquell. But none of those stood a chance against Södra Maltfabriken, who won 3 different folk beer medals! But don't call them lightweights, their 7% IPA won them a silver!
Food Loves Guinness - Imagine our delight to find that at least one food truck parked in the festival's outdoor food court was cooking with beer! We opted for the healthy alternative and gobbled down some delicious Guinness-battered mushrooms! Yum!
Brutal Brewing - Brutal brewing is controlled and operated by employees of Spendrups (the largest Swedish-owned brewery in Sweden) on a “free time” basis. You could say they are like gypsy brewers who never have to move. They all have their regular day jobs at Spendrups, and then they have fun creating their own great beers in the evening! Their Pistonhead Dark, a festival-only brew, took home bronze in the Best Swedish draught beer regardless of style.
Black Magic - Sigtuna Brewhus is good at a lot of things, but it has to be said that they are GREAT at porters and stouts. Two years in a row they won Best Swedish Microbrew of the Year, voted by the Swedish microbrewers association! So of course we had to try both winners: Midvinterblot Imperial Porter (2014) and Bourbon Imperial Stout (2013).
No tricks, but plenty of treats as you taste and learn about fall's best craft brews!
Food Loves Beer Editors
NYC CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL – AUTUMN HARVEST
The NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest tasting will showcase fall releases from 75 of America’s best craft breweries, with approximately 150 selections, along with wonderfully prepared food from Morris Grilled Cheese, The Stand, and Bill’s Meatballs. All menu items were chosen to pair with this fall’s craft beer selections. Another exciting highlight of this year's event is the Craft Concierge Center, a craft beer-focused information center. Plus, if you attend on Halloween night in costume, you'll be eligible for a chance to win one of three cash prizes.
Want to get in on the fun and experience top-shelf American craft brewing? Join us at the NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest. Tickets are on-sale now! For more information, visit nyccraftbeerfest.com.
Who: The Hand Crafted Tasting Company
What: The annual NYC Craft Beer Festival – Autumn Harvest tasting
When: Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1, 2014
Where: Lexington Avenue Armory (68 Lexington Ave.) in Manhattan
Find more beer and food events on our Datebook page.
Some say bon voyage, we say beer voyage!
Food Loves Beer Editors
FUNKY BUDDHA CRAFT BREW CRUISE
From parties to a four-course beer dinner and more, you'll taste a wide array of Funky Buddha Brewery beers as you sail away to Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida on this four-day, four-night journey. Click RSVP for more information and/or to confirm your reservation.
Who: Funky Buddha Brewery, Celebrity Cruises, and Be Well Travel
What: The inaugaral Funky Buddha Craft Brew Cruise
When: Thursday, March 12 - Monday, March 16, 2015
Where: Sailing from Port Everglades
A beer festival where you can eat, drink and play.
Food Loves Beer Editors
1. The Venue
Held at the beautiful and historic Skylight One Hanson, formerly the Williamsburg Savings Bank (aka "the clock tower"), the Village Voice's annual Brooklyn Pour is a spectacular event in a spectacular setting.
2. The Beers
More than 125 craft breweries showcased a stellar selection of seasonal and signature beers at this year's event. It's hard to pick a favorite among so many amazing beers but some highlights for us include Shake Chocolate Porter from Boulder Beer Company that was actually reminiscent of drinking a creamy chocolate shake, Victory Brewing Company's Festbier, and SYI1 Saison from Transmitter Brewing.
3. The Food
Complimentary fare from Ovelia Psistaria, Roni-Sue, SCRATCHbread, and Whole Foods was served in the VIP Mezzanine, while pizza (Valducci's Famous Original NYC Pizza), grilled cheese (Gorilla Cheese NYC), and Philly cheesesteak (Phil's Steaks) were available for purchase in the food truck courtyard.
4. The Fun
While sampling beers is the obvious highlight of this event, attendees could also get their entertain on with an abundance of fun and games including a photo booth, beer pong, basketball toss, and air hockey.
5. The People
Nothing gets the adrenaline going like a roomful of people having a blast, but we're just happy to have caught up with our friend Chris Cuzme from 508 Gastrobrewery.
Did you attend Brooklyn Pour 2014? Tell us about your experience in comments below.
Add sampling great craft brews to your weekend plans.
Food Loves Beer Editors
BROOKLYN POUR CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL
Where can you find more than 125 beers from over 70 brewers and a food truck courtyard? At Brooklyn Pour, of course. You'll need a ticket, though, and lucky for you, there are still some available.
Who: The Village Voice
What: The Village Voice's Fourth Annual Craft Beer Tasting Event
When: Saturday, September 27, 2014 3 - 6 PM
Where: Skylight One Hanson (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)