Wow. That’s what I kept saying beer after beer after beer. (Les échillons!) This young man, brewer at itty-bitty Brasserie du Mont Salève on the edge of Switzerland, has mastered hops.
In Michael’s hallway of a brewery, the bags of different hops take up a whole wall of shelf space. I thought he was just storing them until I tried the “black bitter”.
To call it a bitter, even an ESB, is a reach. Side-by-side with any American IPA, I’d rather finish this one. The hop maestro isn’t out to just up the IBUs- he orchestrates them. Another example? Mademoiselle IPA is both elegant and commanding. (As in, now you must have another…)
The man behind the beer there is Didier. About 45 minutes from Brasserie du Mont Salève is Au Bon Coin- worth the drive. And the plane ticket! Abbaye de St. Bon Chien au fût, and a beer list to make Dan Lanigan and Max Toste jealous.
Didier carries all the BFM beers (including some special off-menu bottles) and all the Mont Salève beers (au fût, aussi) just for starters. And you get to wake up in the beautiful village of Nernier!
Thanks to Stéphane Bogaert of Page 24, I learned that Julie Michard and her father have a brewpub and production facility in central France. The pub is right on the central circle of Limoges, an ideal location for watching the world walk by.
The brune was my favorite of those on tap, but the whiskey is what I shelled out euros to take home. I have a reputation to protect for bringing the can’t-get-it-here bottles to my friend’s annual whiskey tasting. A French single malt? Ding ding!
Tired of sitting at a desk all year and think working on a farm, a brewery, a winery- some kind of hands-on international experience might be fantastic? Allow me to introduce you to Helpx.
Steve Skews from Le Brewery in Normandy told me this site keeps his brewery going. He provides room and board, and people come from all over the world to provide labor. Brilliant! All ages participate- he had a woman in her 60s come and transform the gardens; a young Texan revitalized the website, an Australian couple did something else. I know I’ll be looking into this!
These photos are of the Secret Knight, one of Steve’s pubs in Normandy. And Steve himself, with his genius right hand Christine. They are never not smiling, so in the picture they are about to burst out laughing. She won, by the way.
About five hours west of Lille in the farmland of Normandy is a tiny brewery called- um- Le Brewery. Former Brit school teacher Steve Skews moved here years ago to start a sheep farm. Now he has a brewery, horses, two pubs- and three sheep.
At the center of the dinner table my first night were three open bottles being liberally poured: a stout from this brewery, a local wine, and Talisker.
I love it here.
Steve brews exceptional traditional English real ales. I heard about his brewery from Swiss beer writer, teacher, and judge Laurent Mousson- and he was spot on. The brewery has a story you’d want to buy the movie rights to: he saved enough to bring his beer to Mondial de la Bière in Strasbourg a couple of years ago. He and his assistant lived in the tiny truck they drove there for the week- drinking their beer as meal replacements because they forgot to factor in spending money. After becoming quite “gamey” by the end of the week he found out his beer had earned one of only 10 gold medals out of hundreds of breweries! Suddenly he was the center of attention and demand- but his brewery is so small he was already at capacity.
Le Brewery is at a turning point. It is ready to grow, but now that Steve has put his last child through school he’s ready to slow down. One option is to sell it, the pubs, the farm- want to buy a dream life in France, anyone?
I titled today with the French name (soft “g” please!) because English speakers tend to say “page twenty-four”. According to brewer and owner Stephane (along with brother Vincent) the name is a nod to their cycle of 24 hour brews- where they make several batches of the same beer around the clock to fill the fermenters, and the stop for a day or two.
Stephane is pictured here with my dear friend Yvan de Baets from Brasserie de la Senne who drove over from Brussels to join me on the tour.
The brewing set up is state-of-the-art, direct from Bamberg. All but the wheat beer is filtered, lagered for weeks, and then warm-conditioned after bottling. Hmmmm…
Afterwards, on to the famous La Capsule for a few beers in Lille. There were three French beers au fût, along with some stunning one-offs from around the world. Wow!