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Le Tour de France 2017 (of beer!)

Now that, is a serious, potentially clickbait-esque, misleading, title for a blog, so allow me to preface this by saying this is the first in a series of blogs around a selection of beers sampled in France. For the purposes of the narrative however, let me explain the similie a little by outlining the differences and similarities to Le Tour for you!

Much like “Le Tour”, I recently spent a number of weeks in France, with very few “rest days” (try a holiday with 2 young children and you will see what i mean – “not so much a holiday as a change of venue”), the tour of the beers offered something a little distinctive each day with no two beers the same, and like the tour there was a mix of good and not quite so good stages!

Unlike “Le Tour”, it wasn’t so much France but a limited number of regions of it, the work wasn’t exactly much of a hard slog, it was generally limited to evenings and all of the content of the best beer was 100% organic with no added chemical substances!!

Anyway, I digress!

Thanks to my new pal Alain, of the travelling Cheri Pense au Vin Cave in Aizenay , Vendee, I managed to sample some fantastic organic beers from the range of local beers that he carried. Fortunately for me, Alain visited a location once a week that was just 200 metres from my front door. Unfortunately, I perhaps got a little too involved in the sampling to keep any consistent, sensible notes / references, of what I had sampled to be able to write anything sensible or even remotely helpful…

However, and thankfully for the sake of this blog, I did remember to pick up a sizeable selection of those beers that I sampled from Vendeen breweries Les Coureurs de Lune and La Piautrewhilst on Le Tour to bring home and I am going to put in the hard work all over again (in Dublin) to write up a couple of reviews! I may also have a couple of thoughts to add too on the output of the industrial brewers in France in response the evolving market there but more on that another time!

 

In the short term, my initial thoughts and observations as follows,

 

Small Batches – made with care and attention

The product is produced in small batches and thus there is always some little distinctive variances between these batches. Fans of industrial, generic, consistent product would no doubt despair of this but I have to say I was charmed by the thoughts of it being so handmade that there could be small variances due to the nature of production. I also love the idea of supporting a small business do something they are passionate about (particularly where their passion is beer!)

 

Fresh beer tastes best!

The fact that the beer was brewed in small batches, means that it was always extremely fresh and refreshing with crisp, distinctive flavours. There is no understating the importance of this; I am no poster child for clean eating but honestly fresh produce in the world of beer tastes absolutely fantastic, clean and allows the individual flavours to shine through.

 

Organic was the name of the game!

I may have been a little steered by the aforementioned, Alain’s penchant for all things “Bio”, and the fact that he only carried organic beer. However, I am also the kind of person that resents paying a 10% premium in the supermarket for mucky carrots because of some organic provenance. In the case of the beer, this organic production matters enormously however because, fresh, organic product means less (or no) chemicals and no hangover from the beer as a result – regardless of the alcoholic strength or volume consumed (and I am also at pains to point out that the “10% organic tax” seems to be lacking too!)

 

A selections of styles and flavours!

The variance of styles (even from small brewers) is enormous. I can only surmise that due to some cultural pre-disposition to regional styles and variants for other forms of alcohol and the more recent emergence of a wider demand for beer that there is a demand for varying styles. Either way, this is largely at odds with a lot of what we see in other markets where the preference tends to be to produce IPA’s, Lagers and iterations of these.

 

That’s it in terms of initial thoughts. As for overall impression….suffice to say i was very impressed! I will get the first few reviews up over the coming weeks as I work my way more diligently back through the selection (all brought home purely for research purposes of course!) so please keep an eye out for my updates…as i get them out!

Cheers!

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