Posts Tagged ‘beer’

Beer and Chocolate Tasting with Elisabeth Pierre

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
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Elisabeth Pierre (whom I’ve blogged about before) held a beer and chocolate tasting on Valentine’s Day and we were there!

Elisabeth Pierre Talks about Beer and Chocolate

Elisabeth Pierre Talks about Beer and Chocolate
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The tasting was held at a beer shop called La Moustache Blanche. In case you don’t know what a moustache blanche is, here is a picture of the owner, Guillaume, proudly displaying his:

Guillaume

Guillaume
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We tasted many different beers paired with white, milk, and dark chocolates. Below is a photograph of the beers that we tasted.

The Beers That We Tasted

The Beers That We Tasted
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And below is a photograph of an Italian beer called 32 Tre+Due that you have to open first with a bottle opener, then with a corkscrew.

Opening Beer with Corkscrew

Jean-Pierre Opening a Bottle of Beer with Corkscrew
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Here is a picture of the table set for the tasting. Note that the mustache emblem of the beer shop is prominently displayed in the background. It almost looks as if the Esquire Magazine man is benevolently watching over the event.

Table Set for Tasting

Table Set for the Tasting
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We were supplied rating sheets for our tasting notes.

Beer-tasting Notes and Frothy Head of Beer

Beer-tasting Notes and Frothy Head of Beer
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And we tasted…

Kate, Angelique, and Pascal

Kate, Angelique, and Pascal
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And tasted…

Carolyn

Carolyn
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And sniffed to capture the aromas of the brews…

Matthieu

Matthieu
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And the verdict? I enjoyed most of the beers, including one that Matthieu identified as having an aroma of crème de rose. He named that right away while I was struggling to describe it.

For the most part, I didn’t care for the taste of chocolate with beer. I prefer beer as a refreshing beverage by itself or served with African, Indian, or other spicy food. I did, however, find that 32 Atra, a brown beer made with roasted barley, went well with dark chocolate.

For Monique, the beer-chocolate pairing event got her sit down and taste a variety of beers for the first time in her life. And we’ll drink (in moderation) to that!

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Beer and Food Pairing with Elisabeth Pierre

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
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Elisabeth Pierre, Bièrologue

Elisabeth Pierre, Bièrologue
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

On Saturday afternoon I had the occasion to participate in a beer and food pairing that was organized by Elisabeth Pierre, bièrologue. I wrote about Elisabeth for the December issue of my Paris Insights newsletter. At that time, I was doing research on the state of artisanal beer in France. I was happy to report then and am happy to report now that French artisanal beers are doing quite well, thank you!

The tasting took place at a restaurant called Qui Plume la Lune, where Chef Jacky Ribault cooks up great French cuisine with a Japanese touch.

Elisabeth told me that the beers that she would present harmonized well with Chef Ribault’s style of cooking. After the tasting, I was convinced of that!

Three men and three women (plus Elisabeth) participated in the tasting. Over conversation between beers, I learned that one of the men is a banker, one of the women works for a Web site for French recipes, and another women organizes wine tastings for wine aficionados.

Beer Tasting with Elisabeth

Beer Tasting with Elisabeth
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Elisabeth opened the presentation by announcing which kinds of beers we would taste. Three of the beers were French (one of which is brewed in Bavaria), and a fourth was Belgian. She distributed a fiche de dégustation so that we could take notes of the experience. The worksheet provided helpful categories that encouraged us to focus our comments on four important areas: sight (color, transparency…), nose (agreeable and disagreeable aromas), mouth (sparkle, taste, and texture), and aftertaste.

Elisabeth started with a mild beer. As the tasting progressed, the beers got darker and stronger.

Saint Jacques poêlées maki de shitaké

Saint Jacques Poêlées with Maki de Shitaké
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The first was a Demory – Roquette Blanche, produced by a young Bavarian, Kai Lorch, who has relaunched this beer that was once brewed in Paris. It was served with a dish of Saint Jacques poêlées, maki de shitaké, émulsion de fumet de poisson, betteraves jaunes. This consisted of a single, lightly-sauteed scallop perched on the end of a sushi roll standing in a fish emulsion, and garnished with julienned yellow beet. The beer had no bitterness and was even slightly sweet with a slight taste of honey. I thought that it complemented the mild flavor of the tender scallop well. Later, I realized that the Demory was the only beer of the four that I would enjoy drinking without food.

Crevettes Qweli Infusées au Foin et à l'Origan

Crevettes Qweli Infusées au Foin et à l'Origan
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The second beer was Saint Stefanus from the Van Steenberge brewery in Belgium. Saint Stefanus undergoes a complicated brewing process that includes three different yeasts, a second fermentation in the bottle, and storage at cellar temperature for a minimum of three months. For all its complexity, I did not find the taste compelling, but it did go well with a serving of Crevettes Qweli infusées au foin et à l’origan, poires confites au four. This consisted of a large cup containing a bed of straw and wild oregano upon which rested two slices of baked pear and two sauteed prawns. The beer complemented this dish in the sense that it did not clash with the subtle flavors of either the prawns or the sweet, slightly caramelized pear.

The third beer served was Ventre Jaune Ambrée made from grilled corn at the Rouget de Lisle brewery in Franch-Comté in eastern France. I found it to be sweet with a mild molasses flavor. It was served with Boeuf sauté sauce foie gras, coulis de persil plat, vitelottes et chataignes, a beef dish dressed in a sweet foie gras sauce with Vitelotte potatoes and chestnuts. Delicious! Again, I thought that the beer harmonized well with the food.

Tarte au chocolat et moka café, coulis de mangue

Tarte au chocolat et moka café, coulis de mangue
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The fourth beer was served with dessert. A Bracine bière de Noël (Christmas beer) brewed in French Flanders, it was very dark and very bitter, with a surprising touch of sweetness. To the uninitiated, one should yell Attention! (Watch out!) before they are allowed to sip, so bitter is this beer. And to top it off, the aftertaste is even more bitter! But, surprisingly, the brew went well with the Tarte au chocolat that was served with it because the chocolate was also quite bitter. However, I did not think that it harmonized with two other desserts that were served alongside: a mocha-flavored cake and a dollop of mango sauce. These were sweet, and the bitter beer overpowered their taste.

Chef Jacky Riboult

Chef Jacky Riboult
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

When the tasting ended, Chef Ribault emerged from the kitchen to talk about the dishes that he had prepared and to accept the well-deserved accolades of the participants. Bravo!

Beer and food tastings are a convivial way to meet new people from different backgrounds, to learn about beer and beer-brewing techniques, to learn about different regions in Europe—particularly France—where beer is brewed, and most of all, simply to enjoy!

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Tasting Christmas Beers at Café Six

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
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Café Six

Café Six
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Last Wednesday night found me at a bistrot called Café Six, where I participated in a tasting of four Christmas beers. The event was organized by Saveur Bière, a company that sells beer and beer-dispensing equipment on the Internet. The tasting took place under the vaulted ceiling of the bistrot’s 16th century cellar.

Fischer de Noël

While waiting for other participants to arrive and the event to begin, I was served a glass of Fisher de Noël, a French beer from Alsace. (The Fisher brewery, founded in 1821 in Strasbourg, is now produced by Heineken in a suburb of Strasbourg called Schiltigheim.) The beer was served from the tap. Dark in color with a frothy head, it had a slightly spicy flavor with no bitterness. One of the assistants at the tasting ventured that the beer expressed a hint of the aroma of orange peel. This was a brew that I could have kept drinking for the rest of the evening.

Once the tasting started, everyone was served a second glass of Fisher de Noël.

François Devos, Bièrologue

François Devos, Bièrologue
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

During the tasting, François Devos—a bièrologue from Lille—gave a presentation on the finer points of beer making and beer tasting. His talk was comprehensive and I was impressed by the depth and range of his knowledge.

One of the subjects that Mr. Devos expounded upon was the tradition of Christmas beer. He explained that there are several legends around the origins of this custom and told us the one about brewers who, at the end of the year, would take the last grains that were in the storage bin, brew them, and offer the beer to their clients as étrennes (New Year gifts). Since the cereal was a mixture of light and dark grains from different harvests, the resulting beer was darker and more robust than regular beer. Sometimes spices were added to the brew.

Affligem de Noël

The second beer served was Affligem de Noël, another Heineken beer, this one from Belgium. Served from the tap in a wide-mouth glass, it had a frothy head and the clear, rich color of pomegranate. While I find the regular Affligem that I purchase at restaurants to have the subtle taste of anise, this one had a spicy and fruity flavor.

Mr. Devos continued his presentation by discussing the proper way to taste beer. It is similar to wine tasting, including the finish, where it is swirled in the mouth with a vigorous movement of cheeks and jaw to capture all the subtle flavors and aromas that are present in the brew. One might not want to make these bizarre grimaces on a first date!

Ch'ti de Noël Beer

Ch'ti de Noël Beer
Photo courtesy of Saveur Bière

The next beer was an artisanal top-fermented brew produced in French Flanders by Brasserie Castelain. Called Ch’ti Blonde de Noël, it was served from a 25cl bottle. The beer displayed a pale rose color; expressed a full, robust flavor; and measured 7.5% in alcohol content.

Mr. Devos asked participants if they knew the maximum amount of alcohol a beer could contain. Someone guessed 15%, whereupon he talked about a German “ice beer” that he had tasted that had 55% alcohol content. This is achieved by a process called “fractional freezing” that uses progressively colder temperatures to distill the alcohol. The German beer Eisbock (15%) is an example of beer created by freeze distillation.

Bracine de Noël Beer

Bracine de Noël Beer
Photo courtesy of Saveur Bière

The last beer that we tasted was Bracine de Noël, another French Flemish artisanal beer measuring 7.5% in alcohol. This was the strongest-tasting beer of the four that we tasted. Served from a bottle, it had a sweet, cherry-like aroma, but a surprising chocolate-like flavor. Cloudy and dark-brown in color, it tasted mildly bitter.

Mr. Devos asked participants if they knew what one ingredient beer was lacking to make it a perfect food. I guessed calcium; someone else guessed another element. Then I remembered that I had been told that beer lacked fat, matière grasse. This was the correct response. A fellow taster told me that his grandmother advocated adding the yolk of an egg to a glass of dark beer and drinking it for breakfast. A perfect way to start the day!

Inside the Cellar

Inside the Cellar
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

About 20 to 25 persons attended the tasting. As far as I could tell, I was the only Anglophone in the group. After the first two rounds of beer, sandwiches were served and some people went outside for a smoke break. Striking up conversations with strangers became easier, and I had the opportunity to meet and speak with a number of the beer-tasting participants.

Ladies with Hats

Beer-tasting Can Be Fun!
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

A good time was had by all!

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Our Monthly Restaurant Review – L’Académie de la Bière

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
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Mathias Courtiade

Mathias Courtiade, Proprietor
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Each month, our Paris Insights newsletter features an in-depth review of a Parisian restaurant. For the December edition, we visited L’Académie de la Bière and spoke with the proprietor, Mathias Courtiade. Lying off the tourist circuit, the restaurant serves pub food as well a selection of Belgium, French, German, Czech, and Scottish beers.

The Paris Insights newsletter is published as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne Lecture!

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Our Monthly Restaurant Review – L’Académie de la Bière

In This Month’s Paris Insights Newsletter:
The State of Artisanal Beer in France – Part 2

Thursday, December 1st, 2011
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To prepare this month’s Paris Insights, we interviewed two women who work in the beer industry in France&#8212Elisabeth Pierre and Cécile Thomas. Both of them have a keen interest in the resurgence of French artisanal beers and are working to make them better known among the beer-drinking public. Click here to read the newsletter abstract.

Elisabeth Pierre, Bièrologue

Elisabeth Pierre - Bièrologue
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Cécile Delorme

Cécile Delorme - Proprietor of Brewberry
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Our newsletter is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

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The Frog at Bercy Village
Our Monthly Restaurant Review in Paris Insights: The Newsletter

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
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Brewmaster Michael Gilmore, left and Assistant Manager Alex Beaufrere, right

The Frog at Bercy Village
Brewmaster Michael Gilmore, left
Assistant Manager Alex Beaufrère, right
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The Frog at Bercy Village is located in one of the wine warehouses that have been preserved at Bercy Village, once the largest wine depot in the world, now an outdoor shopping mall. As well as operating as a restaurant, this establishment is also a microbrewery that produces and serves its own beer.

We dined there and then interviewed the assistant manager, Alex Beaufrère, and the brewmaster, Michael Gilmore, to learn about artisanal beer production. Our review of the restaurant and our report on artisanal beer production can be found in the November issue of Paris Insights, our monthly newsletter about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light. Click here to read the abstract of the article.

Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne Lecture!

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In This Month’s Paris Insights Newsletter:
The State of Artisanal Beer in France – Part 1

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
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To write this month’s Paris Insights on artisanal beer in France, we interviewed a number of participants in this small but growing industry. Read about the resurgence of interest for this beverage in the City of Light. Click here to read the newsletter abstract.

Beer and Peanuts

Beer and Peanuts
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Our newsletter is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne Lecture!

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We participate in Wanderfood Wednesdays. Head over there to explore food from around the world!

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Pietra – A Refreshing Corsican Beer

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
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Pietra - A Corsican Beer
(c) Discover Paris!

Our friends Diane and Eric recently invited us to their place for dinner. While Diane was in the kitchen, Eric (who is Belgian), gave us a crash course on beer. When we later took our leave, Eric gave us a bottle of Pietra Corsican beer made with water, malted barley, hops, yeast, and…chestnut flour!

Upon pouring, the beer developed a nice head of foam. Lots of tiny bubbles kept rising from the depths of the glass to sustain the head. To my palate, the amber-colored beer was slightly sweet yet slightly bitter and refreshing. It had a soft, pillowy mouth feel. If we hadn’t known that it was brewed with chestnut flour, which has a mild flavor to begin with, we wouldn’t have tasted it in the beer. I think that the chestnut smooths out the bitterness that is normally found in such brews.

Diane left the corporate world to launch a career as a chef. Her blog, called “Girl Cook in Paris,” can be found at the following link http://girlcookinparis.blogspot.com.