About French Beer

About French Beer
France: Beers to Keep

Although France is not one of Europe’s major brewing nations, brewing is still an important activity in some regions of the country. Most of the pale, pilsner-like beers that are widely consumed in French cafés are from the Alscae region, located along the German border in the northeastern part of the country. As a result, many French beers are brewed with a strong German influence. Fischer and Kronenbourg are the most popular “bière d’Alsace” brands that consumers could encounter in the United States.

Northern France—including French Flanders, Picardy and the Pas de Calais—is home to a style of beer known as “bière de garde” (“beer for keeping”) that is treasured by beer connoisseurs. Once an endangered style, bière de garde underwent a revival in the latter half of the 20th century and is among France’s greatest and most distinctive beer styles. Spicy, strong, malt-accented and packaged in 750ml bottles with a wire-caged cork stopper, these beers can cosmetically pass as Belgian ales. At least half a dozen of the 20 or so producers of biere de garde export to the United States.

Top Picks for France

Ferme de Romilly Extra Dry Cidre
95 points
Light gold color. Aromas of cantaloupe, dried sweet plantain, pressed flowers, chamomile tea, toasted pumpernickel, sundried tomatoes, and horse blanket with a slightly chewy, vibrant, spritzy, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a nuanced, long crushed hazelnuts, dried mushrooms, tamarind, and artisan butter finish. A rustic and charming French cider that will be a hit among serious cider enthusiasts and wine-drinkers.
Ferme de Romilly Brut Cidre de Normandie
95 points
Bright sedimentary gold color. Aromas and flavors of leather saddle, apple compote on runny brie, reduced lemon, and artisanal exotic wood with a round, vibrant, frothy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, complex, long finish conveying accents of apple kaffir, honeyed fruit medley, and earth finish. A funky yet restrained French-style cider that exudes the summer countryside.
95 points $14.99
Ferme de Romilly Rosé Cidre
94 points
Brilliant amber color. Rustic aromas of apricot fruit leather, petrol, yuzu zest, roasted agave, cherry stone, bee pollen, crushed hazelnuts, barnyard, and straw with a lightly tannic, vibrant, effervescent, fruity sweet medium body and an intricate, very long heirloom apple, leather, and cantaloupe finish. An intriguing, fun n’ funky rose cider that’s akin to an orange wine; natural wine-lovers drink up!
Shield Demi Sec Cider
94 points
Bright golden amber color. Interesting aromas and flavors of caramelized apples, spicy nougat, sandstone and clay, and apple wood bark and sap with a satiny, finely carbonated, fruity medium-to-full body and an interesting, long finish with suggestions of starfruit, spiced apples, and minerals finish. A vibrant and complex French style cider with great flavor and drinkability.
Loïc Raison Rubis Cider
93 points
Dark copper color. Aromas and flavors of cranberry tart, orange zest, strawberry preserve, blackberry, clove, and straw with a lightly tannic, crisp, effervescent, fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, compelling, medium-long finish. Rustic berry flavors, palate-pleasing texture and a stylish vibe make this a conversation-worthy cider for the table.
Val de France LAuthentique Doux French Cider
93 points
Clear gold color. Attractive aromas and flavors of flaky apple pie crust, toffee, white balsamic drizzled dried pears, and worn leather with a round, vibrant, effervescent, off-dry medium-to-full body and an even, amusing, long finish with impressions of lemon spritzed green apples, tangerine, chalk, and rhubarb finish. A rock solid fruity French cider that is sure to please.
Ferme de Romilly Demi-sec Cidre de Normandie
93 points
Hazy light gold color. Elegant aromas and flavors of floral body powder, pine and haystack, white pepper, and smoky leather with a satiny, bright, effervescent, off-dry light-to-medium body and a smooth, engaging, medium-long finish imparting elements of violet, sponge cake, and licorice finish. A wonderfully flavorful and expressive French-style cider.
Awards: 2017 Best French Cider
Louis Raison Rouge Délice Cider
92 points
Deep amber color. Aromas of baked apple pie, geranium, and sorghum with a satiny, crisp, spritzy, fruity light body and a tingling, refreshing, medium-length caramel, golden raisin, roasted walnuts, and roasted banana finish. A sweet, nutty treat that could be a cider stand-in for port.
Louis Raison Rouge Delice Hard Cider
92 points
Light copper pink color. Earthy, attractive aromas and flavors of straw and paper mache, white strawberries, golden beets, and watermelon lip balm with a supple, tangy, effervescent, fruity medium body and an even, complex, long finish evoking notes of spiced apples, melons and oranges finish. A vibrant, mouthwatering, flavor-packed rose cider that is a pleasure to drink.
Louis Raison Crisps Hard Cider
91 points
Bright light gold color. Aromas of toasted nuts and apple pastry, coconut husk and meat, and hint of glue with an full body and a tingling, delightful, medium-long apple-lemon relish, mossy earth and limestone, and cedar paper finish. A robust, artisanal dry cider with a nice balance of earth and fruit.