France: Beers to Keep
France is not
one of Europe’s major brewing nations, yet brewing is still an important
activity in some regions. Most of the pale, vaguely pilsner-like beers
that are so widely consumed in cafÃ©s throughout the land come from
the region of Alsace, along the German border in northeastern France.
Alsace produces most of the beer brewed in France, a logical consequence
of its strong German influence. Fischer and Kronenbourg are the most
popular brands of bière d’Alsace that consumers will encounter in
the United States.
encompassing French Flanders, Picardy, and the Pas de Calais, is home to a
style of beer, bière de garde (literally, "keeping
beer"), that is treasured by beer connoisseurs. Bière de
gardes, once an endangered species, have undergone a revival in the latter
half of the 20th century. Spicy, strong,
and packaged in 750-ml bottles with a wire-caged cork stopper, these beers
can cosmetically pass themselves off as Belgian ales. They are France’s
greatest and most distinctive beers. At least half a dozen of the 20 or so
producers of bière de garde export to the United States.
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