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
215168
Le Brun
French Brut Cidre de Bretagne
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
221127
Ferme de Romilly
Demi-sec Cidre de Normandie
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
215171
Manoir de Grandouet
Cidre Pays d'Auge AOP
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220039
Louis Raison
Rouge Delice Hard Cider
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
215170
Manoir de Grandouet
Cidre Fermier Brut
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
204311
CSR
Clos Normand Hard Cider
Golden amber color. Aromas of dark caramelized apples, golden raisins, honeycomb, and creme brulee crust with a supple, moderately carbonated, fruity-yet-dry medium body and a tangy, earthy, praline and limestone accented finish. A nicely composed cider for the table.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220038
Louis Raison
Crisps Hard Cider
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
215603
Ecusson
Cidre Rosé
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.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220040
Louis Raison
Organic Dry Cider
Brilliant old gold color. Earthy, toasty aromas and flavors of baked apples and cashews, cashew fruit, nut brittle, and cherry butter with a supple, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a tingling, complex, medium-long grass and hay, nutskin, melon rind, and dusty root vegetables finish. A refreshing, pure, dry French style cider that will pair nicely.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
215169
Le Brun
Organic Cidre
Brilliant golden amber color. Bright, attractive, fruity aromas and flavors of tart tartin and buttercream with a silky, crisp, finely carbonated, fruity medium body and a smooth, charming, medium-length honeyed kiwi and nuts, melon and quince, grassy earth, and herbal tea finish. A complex, nuanced cider with a solid core of fruit.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab