Author Topic: The latest in French brewing  (Read 3353 times)

Offline phillamb168

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The latest in French brewing
« 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.


A couple examples of the beers - lager, double IPA, porter and an irish red.


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)





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.
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Offline brewmichigan

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #1 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!
Mike --- Flint, Michigan

Offline Kit B

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #2 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?
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #3 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.
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Offline EHall

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #4 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!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2011, 04:56:35 PM »
This is cool Phil, thanks for the update.
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Offline euge

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #6 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.
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Offline punatic

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #7 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.
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Offline malzig

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #8 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.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #9 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.
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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #10 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.

Offline Mark G

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #11 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.
Mark Gres

Offline euge

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #12 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.
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Offline Will's Swill

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #13 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.
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: The latest in French brewing
« Reply #14 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.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico