Well-loved by most for their delicious wine, beer in France is often overlooked by tourists, if not ignored at all due to its bad rap abroad. Yet, you might be surprised that beer-making is an age-old tradition in France and it’s actually home to the largest number of breweries in Europe.
Banking on delectable and fresh home-soil ingredients, a thriving brewing industry, and rich beer history, there are many well-known and flavorful beers just waiting for you to discover. Read on below as they’re simply not to be missed on your next visit to France!
1. La Bière des sans Culottes
Kick things off with La Choulette brewery’s La Bière des sans Culottes. Created in 1983 as a tribute to the 1789 revolutionaries, this full-bodied blonde boasts a rich character. It is light and sweet to the nose with floral, dried grass, and sweet bread notes while maintaining a remarkable balance in its taste, being delicate and fruity, plus warming and deeply malty as well. Add the mild to medium, creamy smooth mouthfeel, it’s one of the best bière de Garde to start with if you’re looking for easy drinking and refreshing brew.
2. Kronenbourg 1664
Kronenbourg 1664 is a beer very much visible in the French landscape that takes its name from the year the Hatt family founded their brewery in the Kronenbourg district. Today, this premium wheat beer is well-appreciated for its golden hues, fine bitterness, subtle aroma, mellow texture, fresh citrus flavor, and pleasant malt-hop finish. Its taste perfectly displays the over-three century experience and amazing know-how of the master brewers from Kronenbourg. As such, a sip of this iconic French beer is only bound to give your palate utmost pleasure.
3. La Cagole Blonde
Originating from Marseille, La Cagole is a renowned microbrewery that produces three beer varieties. Among them, La Cagole Blonde is the most famous one. It’s a classic Pilsner-style blonde with subtle herbal hops but brimmed with honey cereal malts, creating a crisp and invigorating drink, perfect after a long day trip under the hot weather. If you wish to taste this elegantly sparkling ale, just drop by to the nearest convenience store or supermarket in France or visit a decent bar – you’ll quickly find a bottle ready for you to enjoy.
Famous not only in France but across the world, Jenlain is credited as the first modern version of the classic bière de Garde. Though its brewery was said to have begun in 1922 in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, it was only in 1968 when the brand was first introduced and has then enticed drinkers due to its distinct taste and recipe.
In the nose, it’s a beer that you’ll love to savor given its lovely aromas of cooked fruits and roasted caramel. For its texture, its foam is too creamy, while the bubbles tend to be very light. In the mount, its taste is inimitable, having a generous, round, sparkling flavor. All in all, it’s not too caramelized nor too sweet and only moderately bitter – simply a perfectly balanced craft beer that you’ll keep coming back for more.
5. Ch’ti Blonde
Brewed in northern France, this golden farmhouse ale style beer won numerous awards, such as securing the silver medal at 2006, 2008, and 2009 Concours Général Agricole de Paris, an annual and ancestral event that showcases and recognizes the best agricultural products in the country. With that, it’s little wonder that the Brasserie Castelain flagship beverage has also received fame in and outside France.
After the brewing and fermentation processes, Ch’ti Blonder beer is kept for long weeks inside storage tanks, letting it mature and achieve its signature taste, refined aroma, and subtly balanced flavor that are all worth the wait. Incorporating its unique finesse, gleam, and delicious hops and malts, you’ll gulp its goodness until the last drop.
6. Page 24
While its confection only started in 2003 in the Brasserie Saint Germain in the small, quaint village of Aix Noulette in the historic province of Artois, Page 24 has cemented its status as one of the premium and well-renowned beers in France. They exult in using the raw ingredients exclusively from the local region.
Their first masterpiece is the Page 24 Blonde, a soft, fruity, refreshing beer with 5.9% alcohol content, backed by aromas of floral and malt hops, hints of honey, cereal flavors, and tasty fine bitterness. Of course, the brewery has created other beers like the Spring, Triple, Amber, and White version that are all equally delicious and invigorating.
7. 3 Monts
Brewed in the French Flanders region, 3 Monts got its name from the three mountains that surround the town of Saint-Sylvestre-Cappel where it is brewed. In 2020, its distillery celebrated its centenary, taking pride in having kept its heritage and remaining dedicated in its goal to promote French culture.
Though the family-owned distillery has produced different 3 Monts beers, their most famous offering is the 3 Monts Bière de Flandre, a blonde ale with 8.5% alcohol content with a strong character and yeasty, malty kick on the nose. It is secured in a beautiful Belgian-style bottle for better sealing and easier opening further separating not only its taste but its representation from traditional French beer – definitely a must-try!
Born in 1995, Desperados is one of the most unique French beers you’ll find in France. It’s a pale lager beer with a tequila flavor that seems to be more of a genuine alcoholic beverage instead of being a full-fledged beer. It appeals towards the younger generation with its powerful and distinct taste successfully capturing the youth market.
Yet, it doesn’t mean that it won’t entice beer lovers alike. Its basic version comes with a brilliant golden hue and subtle taste of malted barley plus the tequila kick will certainly leave a pleasant finish in the mouth. Today, Desperados is a highly-commercialized beer and is sold to over 50 countries outside France.
A beer that traces its roots in Belgium, Grimbergen has been first produced by Kronenbourg brewery in France in 1989 and has since then been enjoyed by many French beer enthusiasts. It has nine versions on French soil but the first one you should try is the original Blonde ale with 6.7% ABV. It has a beautiful golden yellow color, with a thick cream head, and a sweet, fruity, and delicately bitter flavor that’s sure to delight your taste buds.
Capping this list is the Pelforth beer, which was first brewed in 1921. Its best-known beer is Pelforth Blonde with 5.8% ABV, a clear sunny yellow hue, with tastes and aromas of hay, hops, grain, and malt, perfect for refreshing on a warm day. While the brand has already been purchased by Heineken, its legendary Pelican logo is still easily recognizable, while the taste keeps its charm, making it still a top favorite among many beer lovers.
That’s the rundown of the well-known French beers you should try on your next visit to France. Partner it with grilled cheese, meats, pizza, salads, and other dishes you like and enjoy the goodness of all the beers France has to offer. Happy drinking!