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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: phillamb168 on June 28, 2011, 10:16:37 AM

Title: The latest in French brewing
Post by: phillamb168 on June 28, 2011, 10:16:37 AM
Saturday I went to visit the newest brewery in the Paris area, Zymotik (http://zymotik.jimdo.com). Owner/head brewer/chief cook and bottle washer Florent Deneubourg is a biology teacher who, after spending a few years teaching in NYC, discovered the world of American-style brewing. He hasn't upgraded to full-time production and is still a teacher, but he manages to find time to brew 3 hL (2.5 BBL) per week. Also (and really interesting for me and our club) he holds weekly 'homebrewing workshops' where he presents a powerpoint on the history, chemistry and processes behind brewing while you brew a beer of your choosing. Two weeks later you come back and bottle and take home the beer. It's the same principal as the homebrewing storefront type places in the US, but I think he's the first person to do it in Europe.

(http://philliplamb.com/zymotik-3.jpg)
A couple examples of the beers - lager, double IPA, porter and an irish red.

(http://philliplamb.com/zymotik-4.jpg)
The brewery itself. I was happy to see that 1. he uses the same burners as me and 2. he had cobbled together his own brew stand. Even better, he told me where I could find a shop (ONLINE ORDERING!) where I could buy bigger steel... the stuff at the local hardware store just ain't strong enough. He also told me where to go (online ordering again!) to find bigger systems, so perhaps when (if? eh..) I upgrade to microbrewery status it won't cost me an arm and a leg. Basically it's a site with used industrial stainless steel stuff.

Anyway. Here are a couple photos of 'students' from the brew session - we weren't there for the whole thing (just stopped by to say hello)

(http://philliplamb.com/zymotik-1.jpg)

(http://philliplamb.com/zymotik-2.jpg)

The French beer scene is really coming into its own now. We've got a new organization: http://marjorie.jacobi.free.fr/phpboost/news/news.php Front Hexagonal de libieration (Bier... get it?) - here's their manifesto: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=fr&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmarjorie.jacobi.free.fr%2Fphpboost%2Farticles%2Farticles.php%3Fid%3D2%26cat%3D1&act=url

Basically, they think that the French brewing industry is 1. too focused on brune/blanche/blonde classifications which are too widely focused and don't allow people to really discover the different types of beer available and 2. each brewery is off in its own world and there's no communication or collaboration. They're trying to change all that. It's really exciting to see. What I love is that they're trying to create a standardized, recognizable labeling system for beer, for right now it's only IBU indicators, but I think they're planning on doing more.

There's also a new series of events, Les Soirées Maltées - http://www.lessoireesmaltees.fr/ about once every other month you can buy tickets to go on a barge next to Notre Dame and drink beer and eat charcuterie. I'm going to the next one, on Thursday, which will focus on beers from Celtic regions - scotland, ireland, ile of man, brittany, etc.

On the homebrewing front, there's finally a shop that sells homebrewing supplies in Paris: http://www.lesjardinsdelutece.fr/ They're a Brouwland reseller, and while I don't like giving money to that horrible company, at least I don't have to go to them directly, and I don't have to pay a crapload of money for shipping.

The last thing to note is that three new GOOD beer shops/bars have opened in the last six months, and there's a plan in place to open a bar which will sell only microbrewery beer. That's gonna be a good time right there.

Seems like I got here at just the right time. It's very exciting.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: brewmichigan on June 28, 2011, 01:51:32 PM
Very cool. I would imagine trying to change/create a French beer scene would be a little more difficult because of the influence wine has in that country. But when people see so many different kinds of beer and try them, it might change their tune. Good luck!
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: Kit B on June 28, 2011, 02:01:40 PM
Knowing absolutely nothing about the French beer scene, I would have thought the Belgians & Germans would have a huge influence.
Is this not the case?
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: phillamb168 on June 28, 2011, 02:20:21 PM
Knowing absolutely nothing about the French beer scene, I would have thought the Belgians & Germans would have a huge influence.
Is this not the case?

Historically, perhaps. The problem now is that the general population thinks of 'Belgian' beers as being trappist (and Trappist ONLY) and 'German' beers are lagers or oktoberfest - but it's rare to find someone who knows the oktoberfest/marzen style.

What's starting to change now, I'd say, is that until recently many brewers themselves have this very basic, one-dimensional approach to brewing, where it was almost an unofficial reinheitsgebot. You should see the looks I get from people when I tell them I put pumpkin, or corn, or lavender (well, not yet) in my beers. It just "isn't done."

In terms of wine having an impact, I think that's actually a huge bonus. People who appreciate good wine and all of its eccentricities and terroir are an excellent target for new, interesting beer. The tough thing will be to convince them of beer's superiority when it comes to cheese pairings, but I think I'm gonna have a pairing/tasting sometime soon to get the ball rolling on that.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: EHall on June 28, 2011, 04:49:14 PM
The only way I found to get the French's attention was to wave American dollars in front of them... sacre bleu!

This is pretty cool though.. watcing a new movement happen... you could end up being the 'Charlie' of the new French revolution if you play your cards right!
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: tschmidlin on June 28, 2011, 04:56:35 PM
This is cool Phil, thanks for the update.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: euge on June 29, 2011, 01:29:32 AM
Well we know what happened during the French revolution.  Let's not lose our heads over the whole deal. ;)

The regulations must really be lax there. And you know what? I don't think I've ever seen any French beer at the store.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: punatic on June 29, 2011, 08:42:28 AM
That is a hell of an opportunity for you to lead the charge there Phil, if that is what you would like to do (think Papazian circa 1970s).

The French are so regimented with respect to their wine laws.  Interesting that that has not followed on to their beers.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: malzig on June 29, 2011, 11:00:08 AM
The regulations must really be lax there. And you know what? I don't think I've ever seen any French beer at the store.
France has a set of laws in place to protect tiny artisinal wineries that have been quite helpful for nano-brewers, as well.

Fischer and Kronenbourg are pretty common French beers, not that I'd recommend them.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: phillamb168 on June 29, 2011, 11:26:47 AM
What malzig said - there's just no comparison between American and French laws related to alcohol production. The guy I visited Saturday was in basically a barn with no drains. To rinse things off he used a garden hose. One of the problems with this approach, of course, is that there's a higher chance for beer to develop off-flavors due to lack of sanitation. This isn't due to the laxity of the law, but rather the laziness or lack of education of the brewer. That being said, don't think that all French beers are infected :)

There are a couple of books out there for "How to Brew" in French, but nothing approaching Charlie or Randy Mosher's books. I've sent emails to both Randy and Charlie to see if they'd be interested in working with me on translating the books into French. I think that, plus the club work I'm trying to do here, would be the biggest springboard for homebrewing.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: ccarlson on June 29, 2011, 12:58:02 PM
Quote
  The guy I visited Saturday was in basically a barn with no drains. To rinse things off he used a garden hose. 

Note to self: Check beer label for French origin before buying.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: Mark G on June 29, 2011, 01:06:30 PM
Sounds like an exciting time to be there. I'll start brushing up on my French. Let me know when you get that brewpub up and running, and I'll catch a flight over.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: euge on June 30, 2011, 12:43:37 AM
The regulations must really be lax there. And you know what? I don't think I've ever seen any French beer at the store.
France has a set of laws in place to protect tiny artisinal wineries that have been quite helpful for nano-brewers, as well.

Fischer and Kronenbourg are pretty common French beers, not that I'd recommend them.

You're correct of course. I even started a topic on 1664 but that's the only frenchie beer I've ever had. How's Fischer?

Sounds like France is the place to be boys.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: Will's Swill on June 30, 2011, 12:57:46 AM
Fischer is god-awful.  I bought some just because it was cheap and in brown swing-tops.  Shoulda just bought empty swing-tops.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: corkybstewart on June 30, 2011, 03:25:23 AM
Well we know what happened during the French revolution.  Let's not lose our heads over the whole deal. ;)

The regulations must really be lax there. And you know what? I don't think I've ever seen any French beer at the store.
I'm pretty sure you can get Jenlain Ambree at Specs.  Not the most exciting beer in the world but a solid biere de garde.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: alikocho on June 30, 2011, 08:20:20 AM
This is really cool, and is making me think about hopping on the train to Paris.

It's even hard to get French beer in the UK - people just aren't aware of its existence beyond Kronenbourg (although most think Stella Artois is French as a result of the way it's advertized). There were many raised eyebrows when I started explaining about Biere de Garde to a bunch of local home and craft brewers recently, and even more when I pulled out some examples of the style.


Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: phillamb168 on June 30, 2011, 09:07:56 AM
Ali, PM me your mailing address and I'll chronopost you some local stuff.

Heard back from Randy Mosher about the translation, looks like we might try to do something there depending on publishers. Still waiting to hear back from Charlie P. :-)
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: theoman on June 30, 2011, 06:02:51 PM
Very cool! Getting the French interested in good beer is an impressive undertaking. It's hard enough with Belgians.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: corkybstewart on June 30, 2011, 06:51:42 PM
The regulations must really be lax there. And you know what? I don't think I've ever seen any French beer at the store.
France has a set of laws in place to protect tiny artisinal wineries that have been quite helpful for nano-brewers, as well.

Fischer and Kronenbourg are pretty common French beers, not that I'd recommend them.

You're correct of course. I even started a topic on 1664 but that's the only frenchie beer I've ever had. How's Fischer?

Sounds like France is the place to be boys.
You can find Jenlain Ambree at Specs I think.  It's a good example of a French biere de garde.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: bluesman on July 01, 2011, 02:08:54 AM
It's great to see your devotion and contribution to our craft Phil.  :)

Thanks for posting this interesting news.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 05, 2011, 06:50:52 AM
What about the historic northern French brewing tradition? Have the French forgotten that?

Saison and Bie're de Garde are fine French beers. Likewise, if you expand brewing to include cider, you've got an amazing brewing tradition along the French Atlantic coast (Normandy/Brittany).
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: alikocho on July 05, 2011, 06:55:56 AM
... you've got an amazing brewing tradition along the French Atlantic coast (Normandy/Brittany).

except that Normandy isn't on the Atlantic, it's on the English Channel (aka La Manche)  ;)
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: phillamb168 on July 05, 2011, 08:50:05 AM
What about the historic northern French brewing tradition? Have the French forgotten that?

Saison and Bie're de Garde are fine French beers. Likewise, if you expand brewing to include cider, you've got an amazing brewing tradition along the French Atlantic coast (Normandy/Brittany).

Saison and Biere de Garde are alive and well, but you'd be hard pressed to find an average jacques on the street who would know what those two styles were.

And yes, Normandy and Bretagne have some absolutely amazing ciders. Whenever we make the trip up there I try to buy some cider from one of the local stands. I love that stuff. Puts Strongbow to shame. Shame!
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: oscarvan on July 05, 2011, 09:20:25 AM
What about the historic northern French brewing tradition? Have the French forgotten that?

Saison and Bie're de Garde are fine French beers. Likewise, if you expand brewing to include cider, you've got an amazing brewing tradition along the French Atlantic coast (Normandy/Brittany).

The Wallonians would like to be part of France, but aren't at this moment in history. (Have been in the past, and may well be again.) Have to call Saison a Belgian.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: phillamb168 on July 05, 2011, 09:50:34 AM
What about the historic northern French brewing tradition? Have the French forgotten that?

Saison and Bie're de Garde are fine French beers. Likewise, if you expand brewing to include cider, you've got an amazing brewing tradition along the French Atlantic coast (Normandy/Brittany).

The Wallonians would like to be part of France, but aren't at this moment in history. (Have been in the past, and may well be again.) Have to call Saison a Belgian.

People do indeed seem to assume that because the style is in French that it is a French beer. But still, there are many Saisons brewed in France, and many of them are good, sooo... ;-)
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: theoman on July 05, 2011, 10:06:26 AM
The Wallonians would like to be part of France, but aren't at this moment in history. (Have been in the past, and may well be again.)

I hate to get into politics and semantics, but that's a huge overstatement. I have yet to meet a Walloon who would agree with that statement. IF the country were to split, THEN many would prefer to join France, but many would also prefer to be independent. For now, Walloons are the most fiercely Belgian of the Belgians.

But I do agree: Saison is Belgian.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: oscarvan on July 05, 2011, 10:26:52 AM
Point taken, although the Flemish speakers will tell you THEIR side of the line is the REAL Belgium.... Of course they would join us.....(Dutchman here...... ;) ) Allez.....
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: theoman on July 05, 2011, 11:21:19 AM
Point taken, although the Flemish speakers will tell you THEIR side of the line is the REAL Belgium.... Of course they would join us.....(Dutchman here...... ;) ) Allez.....

Haha... I think the Walloons would join the Netherlands before the Flemish would.
Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 06, 2011, 01:14:49 AM
[except that Normandy isn't on the Atlantic, it's on the English Channel (aka La Manche)  ;)

"Fog over Channel, Europe cut off from England . . ." ;P

Title: Re: The latest in French brewing
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 06, 2011, 01:17:09 AM
Point taken, although the Flemish speakers will tell you THEIR side of the line is the REAL Belgium.... Of course they would join us.....(Dutchman here...... ;) ) Allez.....

And here I thought that Belgium was the country that OTHER countries fought over! :/