If one drink could be pinned as France’s national beverage, it would undoubtedly be wine. However, Paris is currently celebrating a drink whose color is not represented on its country’s flag. Through June 1, the first ever Paris Beer Week is giving hops the center stage, bringing attention to the growing number of craft breweries in France. Artisanal, independent beer companies have increasingly established themselves as the norm in other cities around the world. But the support for locally made beer has, thus far, remained quite slim in France aside from scattered, niche scenes, such as in Alsace and Brittany. The goal of this festival is to showcase the beverage and all of its complexities—that, sometimes, can rival those of wine.
The event is the brainchild of Romain Lebel, a former software engineer and beer connoisseur, and Dorothée Van Agt, owner of several specialty beer stores. Together, they organized a series of tastings, lectures, demonstrations, beer-and-food pairings, and a host of other events related to the craft of brewing in hopes of teaching people more about what goes into making a good beer. The week, which began May 23, has already seen the likes of the opening of Paris’s newest brewery Deck and Donohue, coffee-infused morning beer at La Brasserie Outland, a demonstration of how to home-brew beer in a washing machine, a seminar about the history of brewing, and variety of food pairings around the city. Still to come are myriad live music events, tastings from visiting international breweries, a boozy speed-tasting, a beer-and-cheese pairing, experimental beer cocktails, a range of demonstations, a Q&A session with beer experts…the grand finale on June 1 of a 5K and 15K run seems like a necessary detox after all the beer that will be consumed before then.
Beyond hoping that this festival will become an annual event, Lebel and Van Agt hope that the week will spark enthusiasm about craft beers and support for the breweries that make them. Wine will forever remain the blood running through France’s veins, but with some support, perhaps some brews will earn a place on the French palate, as well.
For more information, visit Paris Beer Festival.