When it comes to alcoholic beverages, France is often associated with wine. However, did you know that beer has also played a significant role in the country’s history and culture? Let’s take a journey through time and explore the fascinating story of beer in France.

The early days of beer in France

Beer was first introduced to France by the Romans, who were known for their love of the beverage. However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that beer started to gain popularity in the country. At the time, beer was considered a healthy alternative to water, which was often contaminated. Monks began brewing beer in their monasteries, often flavouring the beverage with herbs and spices, and thus, it became a staple beverage for the working class. In the 16th century, beer was even used as a form of payment for workers, so it was not uncommon for farmers to brew their own beer.

The rise of French beer

Although beer was popular in France, it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to become a national beverage. This was due in part to the rise of industrialisation and the growth of the brewing industry. French brewers began experimenting with new styles and flavours, leading to the creation of unique beers that were distinctly French.

Bière de garde glass by René Hourdry at Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular French beer styles is Bière de Garde, which originated in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in the 19th century. This beer is known for its rich, malty flavour and is often aged for several months before being served. Another popular French beer style is the Saison, which originated in the Belgian border region of Hainaut. This beer is typically brewed in the winter months and is known for its fruity yet spicy profile.

The modern French beer scene

In recent years, the craft beer movement has taken France by storm. Small, independent breweries have popped up all over the country, producing unique and innovative beers. Brewers are experimenting with new flavours and ingredients, such as fruit, coffee, and chocolate, to create beers that are both delicious and distinctive. While wine is still the most popular alcoholic beverage in France, beer is gaining ground among younger generations of drinkers who are looking for something different, leading to the growth of interest in beer tourism.

Explore the cheapest beers along the Tour de France route

So while wine will always be king in France, beer has carved out its own niche and become an important part of the country’s culture and identity. Whether you’re a beer lover or simply curious about the history of France, exploring the world of French beer is definitely worth the journey.

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