Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Brewberry (Paris, FR)


We stopped by a couple of days before we were to leave Paris and, unfortunately, Brewberry was closed.  They were also on vacation, like many of the businesses in Paris in August.  Luckily, its first day open was our last full day in town.

After a mind blowing day of water lilies at Monet's Giverny, meeting new Australian friends on the train and a less than spectacular visit to the Marmottan Museum, we headed to the Latin Quarter in hopes of finally finding some good beer to add to our Paris memories.  So far, it had been a bit slim but I wasn't trying that hard with a full itinerary of cool touristy sites with Gloria and our nieces.

Brewberry is in the middle of an eat street with a variety of restaurants all around it.  The bar itself sells a few snacks; we each had a bread and cheese plate: goude and roquefort.  Both excellent, but we thought we should have eaten before getting so excited about the beer selection.

Lily ponds of Giverny
From the outside, the few wooden tables in front of a plain store front doesn't seem to promise much, but the inside is unique and fun.  With bottles lining the wall like good beer store, the center is filled with a half dozen or so tables.  The rock ceiling is low for this 6 foot 4 inch Dutchman, but gives the place a cozy feel for drinking beer.  Besides, I was either at my table beer in hand or bent over with the iPad hunting through each label for a next great find--standing upright never really happened.  Even when the tables filled later in the evening, it was a comfortable and inviting bar with lively but not loud conversation.

For most Americans, the set up will be a bit unusual.  It's basically a liquor store with some cold bottles and tables.  For Minnesotans, imagine being able to hang out and drink all night at the Four Firkins.  We ordered a Mikkeller Magnum IPA and a Brugse Zot Tripel from De Halve Maan in Bruges from the chilled beer chalkboard list to get started.  Distracted by the stacks of bottles around us, we simply picked from the shelf and asked to have the bottle chilled while we drank the ones in front of us.  And, if a bottle is needed for the hotel, it can be put in the cooler for take away at the end of the night.  A great system of drinking without the puritanical barriers of US liquor laws.

We were among the first to arrive and sat inside because the outside tables were reserved.  Evidently, we weren't the only patrons anticipating Brewberry's opening up again.  Everything about the stop was friendly and helpful.  When we asked if there was Wifi (pronounced wee-fee in France and Belgium), Cecile simply gave us a direct access code since it wasn't set up. Very useful since I was looking up many of the beers I didn't recognize on the wall, like my next beer Monts des Cats.  This is a French Abbey that is producing their beer via Chimay.  Trappiste is in the name, but not an official trappist beer with a logo.  An interesting find nonetheless.

Inside Brewberry with  owner Cecile behind computer
To end, Gloria tried the Reinaert Grand Cru from DeProef, which was a very good beer, but a little lighter than we expected it to be. And, I finished with Rewired, a brown ale from 8 Wired Brewing of Marlborough, New Zealand.  I asked about the brewery and got an explanation of the name as a slang for ??? in New Zealand.  Some googling says it's a term of endearment for a rustic guy from Kerkom.  Cecile didn't have the description for the beer in her head on the first day back from vacation, but retrieved her tasting notes and talked me through the beer. When I tasted it, her description was spot on. Cecile is one of the best beer whisperers I've met.

The staff was friendly, hard working and attentive while still letting us sit and enjoy each beer. It takes a while to get use to the pace of service in Europe.  To many Americans, food and drink service feels slow.  After nearly a month in Belgium and France on this trip, I'd acclimated my expectations and learned how to ask for what I wanted.  At Brewberry, the staff seemed to adjust to the client expectations, treating each to their custom.  No only smart business, but it makes for comfortable drinking for everyone. They even got us an outside table on the street when a reservation cancelled. Admittedly, I was having fun and drinking fast after a short post-Belgium drought and they gladly accommodated my enthusiasm.
Cold beer board to the left of our round

Right before leaving the now packed bar, Cecile chatted with a us for a little while, even suggesting a new beer bar that opened a few weeks ago called La Fine Mousse, another bar with good beer, Express de Lyon, that we had already tried during an earlier stop at Gare de Lyon station, and a bottle shop called La Cave a Bulles. Very much a beer lover, eager to support beer, even in places other than hers.  We had intentions of trying La Fine Mousse, but when we noticed the late hour, we had to head home to pack for the next leg of our trip to Rennes in the morning.

We took home a bottle of Lindeman's Cassis, technically available in the US but this black currant lambic is hard to find and a favorite of mine. Tired when we got to the hotel, we went to bed and ended up having the Cassis the next day just before our noon hotel check out along with a strawberry tart from a local cafe, which went together very nicely.

Last round at an outside table on the street
If I find myself in Paris again, Brewberry will be my first stop for a couple of beers plus a bottle  for each night of my stay.  No ice machines in hotels, or ice for sale anywhere that we could find, so a small refrigerator in the hotel is a must unless you want to be drinking semi-warm tallboys of Hoegaarden, Kronenbourg or Pelforth after a walk from a local grocery store.

Brewberry was easily my best stop in Paris, and one of the very best drinking experiences of the trip.  I did spend a day at Westvleteren and a week in Brussels, so it's high praise among tough competition. While an oasis in the heart of a somewhat barren but growing beer scene, Brewberry would be a great beer bar anywhere in the world.

1 comment:

  1. Brewberry is my favorite beer place in Paris! Cecile is a sweetheart and very knowledgeable.