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 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 apple kaffir, honeyed fruit medley, and earth finish. A funky yet restrained French-style cider that exudes the summer countryside.
95 points $14.99
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 starfruit, spiced apples, and minerals finish. A vibrant and complex French style cider with great flavor and drinkability.
Le Brun French Brut Cidre de Bretagne
94 points
Minutely hazy light gold color. Bright, musty aromas and flavors of baked apples, apples on the tree, root cellar, and suede with a silky, vibrant, effervescent, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, intriguing, medium-long birch bark, lemon grass, chalk, and marinated golden beets finish. A complex, savory cider that will triumph at 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 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 violet, sponge cake, and licorice finish. A wonderfully flavorful and expressive French-style cider.
Awards: 2017 Best French Cider
Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Pays dAuge AOP
93 points
Minutely hazy golden amber color. Complex aromas and flavors of overripe apple, warm leather and Band-Aid, haystack in a field, and lemon basil vinegar with a soft, bright, bubbly, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, complex, medium-length grass, honeyed mashed apple, and nutskin finish. A rich, complex French cider with great depth and table appeal.
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 spiced apples, melons and oranges finish. A vibrant, mouthwatering, flavor-packed rose cider that is a pleasure to drink.
Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut
92 points
Minutely hazy old gold color. Bright aromas and flavors of leather-bound book in an attic, barnyard hay bandage, lemon spritzed apple, and cashew fruit with a satiny, crisp, bubbly, dryish light-to-medium body and a seamless, engaging, long kiwi-apple vinaigrette on arugula, mossy stones, blood orange zest, and nut skin finish. A savory, elegantly balanced cider with a long finesseful finish.
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.
Ecusson Cidre Rosé
91 points
Bright medium copper red color. Rich, complex, attractive aromas of honeyed roasted apples and nuts, wild strawberry puree, golden raisin, and peach with an racy, fizzy, very sweet medium-to-full body and a polished, complex, long sour cherry compote, green apple skin, and Meyer lemon marmalade finish. An amazingly rich and vibrant red cider with great mouthwatering acidity and length.