France: Normandie, Bretagne. And some Belgium...

Reads 777 • Replies 7 • Started Monday, July 1, 2013 11:26:59 AM CT

Thread Frozen

beers 4511 º places 376 º 11:26 Mon 7/1/2013

Hi there.
Going to North France in few weeks. Gonna spend about one week in Bretagne/Normandie. I would like to get recommendations about micros, beer places, brewpubs, everything a beer lover should try...

We are also thinking about entering Belgium and visit some places we missed in our previous trips. We allready went to the major cities, but this time we would like to go to some places down in the countryland. Again, suggestions?

On our way back we may return trough southern France. We won´t spend much time there,but is there anything worthy?


beers 10001 º places 672 º 11:30 Mon 7/1/2013

If you are driving, stop by local farmhouse cideries. The best I had in Normandy were (in order):

Cave de Mirande
La Ferme du Lavoir
Benoit et Sylvie Noël
Domaine des Hauts Vents
Philippe Daufresne

Might want to check hours and if they are open to the public but I stumbled unto Cave de Mirande (near Mt San Michel) and La Ferme du Lavoir (near D-Day beaches) and they made the best ciders I've ever had.

beers 6932 º places 243 º 11:40 Mon 7/1/2013

+1 on trying normandic ciders. Some are fantastic, the rest are good or very good.

beers 4511 º places 376 º 11:47 Mon 7/1/2013

Yes, we´ll drive from NW Spain, Asturias, land of Cider. Of course we may try some local cider, but we want to focus in beers.

beers 6932 º places 243 º 12:36 Mon 7/1/2013

Well, I did not find anything interesting beer-wise in Normandie, it was all about cider (and calvados and pommeau). But I was there in 2007 so maybe things have changed.

beers 10001 º places 672 º 13:40 Mon 7/1/2013

Good luck with beer. It would be like looking for good wine in Belgium.

beers 1375 º places 89 º 14:00 Mon 7/1/2013

I'm by no means an expert on French beer having tasted only 41 so far.

For me the enjoyment of French countryside craft brewing lies mostly in the fact that there are so many small breweries to discover with very few ratings on Ratebeer if any.

Examples of this from Bretagne:

I've found that these websites can be helpful resources to guide you in your search for small countryside breweries in France:

Occasionally, one even stumbles upon a brewery that happens to make beer according to one's tastes and that I see as an added bonus.

In the Rennes area the Lancelot brewery is probably among the most widely distributed. The Telenn Du (Black Harp) is one of their more notable beers.

In Nantes there is a good bottle shop called "Chez Clem", which is listed on RateBeer.

In the Lille area (Nord Pas de Calais) there is also quite a strong beer culture evidenced by the presence of breweries such as Pays Flamand, 2 Caps / Noyon and Thiriez and of course the big online bottle shop Saveur Biére (no physical shop to visit).

RateBeerian Digreg resides in Lille and has been most helpful in offering local advice in the past.

You talk about returning through the south of France. This is a huge area and there are quite a few smalltime breweries scattered in the mountain villages catering to locals or tourists often selling their beers through delicatessen shops or through local market stalls. You're probably best off consulting the abovementioned brewery database once you've pinpointed your return journey in more detail.

If you happen to pass east of Bergerac you might want to pay a visit to biodynamic brewery La Croix Du Rat, which is based in Saint Cyprien and sells their products both on site and at local markets:

beers 20993 º places 697 º 14:12 Mon 7/1/2013

I have 224 ratings from those two regions: 80 are beers, 144 are ciders, ice ciders and meads
So I second the suggestion about trying ciders, and meads.

Given that I don't know if they are open to the public and allow tastings, La Cave du Dragon Rouge (Bretagne) produces very unique ones, long aged in wood, and quite dry.
Therry Apiculture (Nord-Pas-de-Calais, on your way to Belgium) produces the best French ones.

Sainte Colombe has some interesting beer (Grand Cru and an IPA).
If you can stand thick beers, I suggest you to get 3 bottles of Samhain XI.I, one to drink now, one in a couple of years, and the third one after many years.

From there, all other beers in those regions were forgettable.