Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paris - the next great beer destination?

It's been almost a year since I've been to Paris, so I thought I better do something with my beer notes before they made no sense any more....

When you think of France, beer isn't the first thing that springs to mind, but maybe it will be, and sooner than you think. Take a walk around Paris and see what everyone is drinking. Chances are you'll see as many people having a beer as having a glass of wine.

With Paris being an easy weekend trip from Denmark, I decided to see just what there was on offer.

Starting my trip in virtual reality, I found there were two brewpubs in Paris -- one of which was a chain with several locations throughout Paris and elsewhere in France -- several specialty beer stores, as well as a farm brewery that would hopefully be accessible by public transport.

After investigation, my goal for the weekend was to visit Brasserie O'Neil and The Frog & Princess brewpubs, the Cave à Bulles specialty beer store, these were located close to our hotel, and then make a trek out to Ferme-Brasserie de Gaillon (Farm Brewery de Gaillon). Unfortunately the trip out to the farm brewery was difficult to plan with the information I could find on the internet, so it didn't work out. Our failed attempt did work well as a reconnaissance mission for a future trip, but that's another story.

Cave à Bulles is a beer store specializing in French and Belgian craft beers. The staff member we talked to spoke great English and was very helpful with recommending French beers we should try based on our preferred tastes. After Kim told him that our favorite beers were stouts and IPAs, he proceeded to show us which French breweries made beers of those styles. We even got some beer glasses for our growing collection. The biggest problem was steering him to show us the world of French beers aside from our preferences. In the end we managed to express this and came away with a selection of beers to get us through the weekend as well as a few to stash in our luggage to drink once we returned home.

We also talked up visiting Ferme-Brasserie de Gaillon, whilst selecting a couple of their beers. What we found out is that had we made the trip all the way out to the brewery, we probably would have been disappointed, as we could have seen or done nothing, just purchased the same beers we were buying in the shop. On the plus side, we learned that it's good to visit when they have open house once a year in October. At the open house, they have tours and other brewing events for two days. A future trip?

Brasserie O'Neil is a restaurant and brewpub, so we decided to have dinner there as well. This turned out to be a wise decision as the bar area was small and packed, and you could only get a table if you were eating as well. We waited about 5 minutes before being seated in a small balcony section. The menu was only in French, but the waiter was very good at English and did a good job translating the menu when we needed it. Flammekueches are the specialty of the restaurant; there is not much else on the menu. The waiter described them as basically a white pizza with bacon and onions, and then various toppings. Sounded like good beer food, and it turned out it was.

O'Niel's beers didn't have very inspiring names, but at least they were easy to figure out: La Blonde (blond), L’Ambrée (amber), La Brune (brown), La Blanche (white), and you can buy them by the glass (25 cl), mug (40 cl), or even a pitcher (1.8 l). Between us we tried L’Ambrée, La Brune, and La Blanche. They were all good beers, La Brune being my favorite, followed closely by La Blanche, which also made an excellent palate cleanser. There was no information about how strong the beers are, that you'll have to gauge on your own after a few pitchers.

The Frog & Princess, our last planned destination, was totally packed and we barely made it to the bar. The sign on the wall showed 4 beers on tap, here they used some creativity in the names: Frog Natural Blonde (4.2%), Maison Blanche (4.2%), Inseine (4.4%), and Dark de Triomphe (5.0%). Kim chose Inseine, for the hops, and I chose Dark de Triomphe, a milk stout. As we moved away from the overcrowded bar and found a spot to stand by the wall that wasn't totally blocking traffic, we sipped our beers, and had a conversation that strained our ears and throats. As we drank, the crowed thinned out a bit, or maybe it was just that a lot of people went outside for a smoke. The Dark de Triomphe was mild and pleasant at first, but the aftertaste was odd. A milk stout is sweetened with lactose, and this one, while not tasting too sweet, had a decidedly milky aftertaste. As this was my first milk stout I wasn't sure if they were all this way, or if it was just the Dark, or if this batch was just bad. In the end, I did not think I could follow this beer with a different one, or drink another of the same. Creativity in the brewing as well, but maybe a tad bit too creative for me.

In addition to what I scouted out on the net, we also found a Belgian restaurant, La GueuzeAdresse:, which had lots of beer options, including Belgian beer on tap and a large, diverse list of bottled beer as well. If you visit the Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Pantheon, it's just right around the corner, so stop in and have a beer!

Still not convinced that Paris is the next great beer destination? I can only urge you to see for yourself.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beer and Pregnancy

Now that I am pregnant, I have to ask myself the question, "How do I handle the 9 months of pregnancy, and following months of breast feeding, when it comes to one of my favorite subjects, beer?"

Will I let myself have a beer or two each week that they now say is safe? Will I abstain completely, but still go out on Fridays and watch others drink? Will I meet somewhere in the middle and have a beer occasionally? Are there other options?

For me, I think it best to abstain, although I don't claim to have lost the desire for a beer now and then. In fact I have even had a sip or two of beer with a meal, when there was a new beer to try. I felt it better to have that little taste to satisfy my curiosity, than to have that little voice in my head windering, possibly forever, did I miss out on my potentially favorite beer.

I have also tried drinking some alcohol free beers, but funny thing about that, they often have them on the menu, but don't actually have them available. And those are almost always pilsners, my least favorite beer, although Erdinger makes a wheat beer that's alcohol free. Now if I could just find an alcohol free stout!

If I am eating at a bar, brewpub, or what have you, I look on the menu for something made from a beer, perhaps a pork bbq sandwich with a beer based bbq sauce, or something in a beer broth, or marinated in beer. After all, the alcohol is cooked away.

It's even a good time to brew some beer with your friends. It will definitely be good for the beer to let it age during your pregnancy. I know I usually have to have at least one beer as soon as it's drinkable, but if I brew now, I will hae to let it age, and I can tease my frineds when they are out of beer and I still have all mine.

And what about when you know you are pregnant, but you don't want everyone else to know yet? How do you turn down that beer when you are known as the one who never turns down a beer?

When I wasn't ready to tell everyone i was pregnant, I kept myself "busy", and didn't go out with my drinking buddies. I once ordered a beer and then pretended to drink a few sips over dinner, and drank water the whole time, no one seemed to notice. It's also possible to say you are sick and don't think you could stomach a drink, or even one step further, that you are on medicine that prevents you from drinking. You could even volunteer to be the designated driver.

And what about after the baby is born. I know I will want to celebrate my happy, healthy baby, whether it's just with a few friends or a party for the baptism. But I plan to breast feed? Will I drink? I think I probably will have to celebrate with a few beers, but I can always store some extra breast milk in the freezer during the first few weeks, and it will be ready for the baby when needed, and then I can "pump and dump" while there is alcohol in my system. Besides, after 9 months without drinking, I will probably be a cheap date, anyway. And while I am under the influence, this will be the one time my husband has to be the responsible one and actually take care of the baby, and then he will have to be the sober one! As for drinking on a regular basis, that will still have to wait until the breast feeding is done.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Hi, and welcome to my new blog site!

Yahoo is closing my blog, so I am moving it here. Currently, there is no way yet to import my blog to Blogger. If you wish to view my older posts, you can view them here:

Enjoy with your favorite brew!

Expect new posts soon.