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Craft Beer, France and Second Thoughts

March 5th, 2018 · 1 Comment · France, Travel

This part of France is given over almost entirely to vines. A smattering of olive trees. A field of grain, here and there. Almost zero significant industry.

In terms of consumption, this ought to be wine country, and it is … but not as uniformly as it might have been a century ago.

Beer is a French thing, and has been for a long time, as domestic brands like 1664 and Pelforth demonstrate. And now the craft beer fad is rolling over the country, as well.

One of the more popular anglophone wine shops in the area has added beer tastings to its schedule, and got an enthusiastic turnout recently for a flight of 10 dark beers, all from Europe, most from Belgium.

Including a couple of Trappiste offerings — already well-known in international beer circles.

And something named Straffe Hendrik Quadruple, which I just now drank for the first time since the “10-dark” tasting.

Looking back at my ratings sheet, I gave it an 8.5 on a scale of 10. Which was madness, now that I have had one whole 33-centiliter bottle of it.

I gave an 8.5 rating to a beer I noted to be “yeasty and foamy”? I must have been drinking.

I popped the cap of this one — which cost 4.45 euros (about $6) for the one bottle — and immediately got foam spillage. At room temperature.

Once I was done cleaning up, I attempted to drink a bit of the Straffe … and got mouths-full of foam. It was like trying to drink the frothiest beer you can imagine. Even holding it in my mouth, it was not turning into liquid with any sort of hurry. It was like drinking air.

It was also very yeasty — to the point that someone in the next room said, “Wow, I can really smell yeast.” Which does not seem like something a beer drinker would value, to that sort of extreme.

It also was a particularly alcohol-heavy beer. It conceded to 11 percent alcohol by volume, which is far higher than your average beer. And it may well have been more than that.

In a matter of minutes, my face went numb and I could feel my extremities getting a bit heavy, too. Within 30 minutes, I had essentially passed out on the couch, and about 25 minutes later I woke and felt a bit barfy.

That was when I went back and found the ratings sheet I had filled out and saw two words at the top — foamy and yeasty.

And I thought that was a good idea?

I have had beers from the nearby wine shop that I liked quite a bit. Particularly the Trappiste beers (originally brewed by monks of the Trappiste order), but this Straffe Hendrik, noted as the last local brewery in the Belgian city of Bruges, is not going to work out.

Even the biggest beer wonk back in San Diego or San Jose … hard to imagine he or she would want some Straffe Hendrick, which at bottom has an interesting taste — but you have to go through so much to get there, including the post-drinking queasiness, that an idea has popped into my head:

Maybe I should stick with wine.



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Ben Bolch // Mar 7, 2018 at 6:38 PM

    Would love to hear about the local wine offerings (actually I think you have written about this but can never get enough).

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