Worthwhile French Beers: Strasbourg Edition

22 02 2009

One of the four "Carré d'Or" streets in Strasbourg

Like I mentioned last week, Nick and I spent a weekend in Strasbourg, the largest city in Alsace.  Alsace is France’s most important beer-producing region, and by “important” I mean that in terms of volume.  Kronenbourg and Fischer, two of the country’s largest breweries, are based in Alsace, the former being the biggest-selling brewer in France.  We tried unsuccessfully to get a tour of the Kronenbourg brewery, located just outside Strasbourg, but we were probably better off hunting down the local microbreweries anyway.

The bar at La Lanterne

Copper tanks at La Lanterne

Finding La Lanterne was a bit of a challenge.  The place is tucked away on a side street of a side street, and from the outside looks like a complete dive.  Inside, though, it’s inviting, and the beer is freshly brewed on the premises.  It was a real treat to sit in a brewpub and sip a tasty beer while enjoying the ambiance.

The Kohler-Rehm Brewery, on the other hand, is centrally located with a grandiose façade that belies the generic interior.

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Worthwhile French Beers: Les 3 Brasseurs

11 11 2008

Having been tipped off that I might find some good beers there, and having found a good last-minute weekend deal, Nick and I found ourselves in Lille last weekend.  A friend who used to live there recommended we check out Les 3 Brasseurs, a microbrewery/brewpub conveniently located right next to the train station.  Approaching it from across the square, we were greeted with this charming sight:

Doesn't Nick take great pictures?

This is, it turns out, the original location of Les 3 Brasseurs, which has expanded over the last twenty years to include locations in several French cities as well as in Canada.  But on to the beer…

Blonde and Ambrée

The first two we tried were the Blonde and the Ambrée.  The first sip provoked smiles on both our faces.  This is microbrew!  This is what I’ve been missing!  The Blonde had a clean, crisp flavor with a distinct hoppy aroma and a pleasing bitterness on the finish.  The Ambrée was smoother and maltier, but also had a well-balanced hoppiness to it.  As we savored our non-macrobrews, we perused a local paper and found a restaurant we wanted to try.  Confirming that Les 3 Brasseurs would be open for dinner on Sunday, we vowed to return to try the rest of their wares.

Which we did.  We failed to get any pictures on our second visit, but did taste two more beers.  The Blanche was fairly typical for the style, but the Brune was surprisingly tasty.  Dark and full-bodied, but again balanced nicely with hops, it drank more like an English porter than the sweeter, Belgian-style brune we were expecting.  The food was decent, beer-friendly fare such as Carbonnade (beef stewed with beer and onions), Chocroute garnie, and Flammekeuche (an Alsatian specialty – like a thin pizza spread with crème fraîche, onions, and lardons).

Good beer, hearty food, and cozy brewery environs: just the ticket after a cold day in Lille!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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