Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
By Theadora Brack in Paris—
I just revived my love for beer in Paris. Say it is so! This week let’s go brew shopping with Yohan Loiseau, beer enthusiast and television editor. Plus, like a true génie with a bottle, he’ll give a few magical cheese pairings, perfect for summertime picnicking.
Lights! Camera! Satisfaction!
FADE IN: PARIS. GARRET ROOM. SCRATCHY LUCIENNE BOYER RECORD PLAYS. FLAME-HAIRED TRAVEL REPORTER THEADORA TAPS ON ROYAL TYPEWRITER. TELEPHONE BUZZES WITH TEXT MESSAGE FROM YOHAN.
Rendezvous now at Bières Cultes? New shipment has arrived!
I’m there in twenty! Last one there buys!
GRABBING BAG AND TRENCH COAT, THEADORA HEADS OUT THE DOOR, AND IN 25 MINUTES, SHE’S WITH YOHAN AT THE BIÈRE CULTES SHOP, WHICH IS STOCKED WITH BEER FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. AFTER GREETING CHARMING MANAGER JULIEN, YOHAN AND THEADORA CHAT ABOUT BEER.
I found the Bières Cultes shop in Montmartre just days after touring my favorite Cantillon Brewery in Belgium. I went in. Owners Dorothée Van Agt and Franck Hufnagel were unpacking a box of Cantillon Gueuze. The shop with the best beer I had ever tasted was now just at few hundred feet from my place! What luck!
And dangerous! So give us a heads-up on your five favorite beers. Do spill!
The Cantillon Brewery and museum in Belgium is a favorite because that’s where my love affair with beer really started! Brew Master Jean-Pierre Van Roy’s passion for his work and beer seduced me. After the tour, I tried the sparkling Gueuze, and at the first sniff, I said, “Wouah! It’s amazing.” I’d never tried anything like it! There’s a sour aftertaste, so I recommend pairing it with a semi-sweet, creamy cheese like Comté.
Summertime is just around the corner, and soon the living and picnicking will be easy! Any recommendations?
The Cantillon Kriek is really great on a summer day! It’s refreshing, fine and delicate. I’d pair it with a strong, salty cheese like Maroilles, from Lille in the North of France. The sweetness of the fruit, along with the acidity of the Lambic makes a great contrast with the robust cheese!
Another amazing beer from Cantillon is their Saint-Lamvinus; it’s a blend of Lambics with Merlot and Cabernet-Franc grapes. It’s one of the most incredible beers I’ve ever tasted. It’s a perfect blend of a beer and a wine with earthy tannins and fruity aromas. Try it with saucisson sec [cured sausage] or an old jambon Sérrano [ham].
Talk about a dream team! Do you have any interesting stories about the breweries and their brew masters?
Scottish Craig Allen learned to brew in Edinburgh before working in the whiskey and wine worlds, along with craft breweries in UK. He’s currently brewing at the Belgian De Proef Brewery. His “Agent Provocateur” is a full hoppy experience. I’d drink it with a sharp, tangy tomme de brebis Corsican cheese or any other very salty cheese in order to contrast with the floral aromas of the beer.
Fleurac was another revelation to me. When I heard that Belgian computer coders Virginie de Bodt and Grégory Murer learned to brew in Belgium, and then fell in love with Cantal, France, and decided a few years ago to create a craft brewery in the countryside, I just wanted to taste the beer of those crazy people! What a success! Their beers are a great blend of Belgian, Anglo-Saxon and French taste culture.
And your favorite Fleurac?
Their Triple Brune IPA! It’s spicy, caramel, smooth, and of course, hoppy! I personally consider this blend to be one of the gems of French beers. I really like to drink it while eating a chèvre. I’d recommend serving it with a Crottin de chavignol—and find the oldest, driest piece you can!
YOHAN AND THEADORA PAY JULIEN FOR THEIR NEW ACQUISITIONS.
Any parting words of wisdom?
New passions rekindle older passions! I already knew about pairing wine with fine artisanal food, in particular cheeses and meats, but now I’m discovering beer pairing. Now I like to learn about beer by visiting many beer shops and tasting a lot of beer. It’s the only way!
FADE TO BLACK
Bières Cultes locations
40 rue Damrémont (Métro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt)
25 rue Legendre (Métro: Malesherbes or Solam Villiers)
14 rue des Halles (Métro: Châtelet)
Yohan also recommends:
La Cave à bulles, 45 rue Quincampoix (Métro: Les Halles)
Brewberry à bière, 18 rue du pot de fer (Métro: Place Monge)