French beer is one of the most well-acclaimed beer varieties across the world. Though the French are known for their food, wine, and champagne, they also have a huge variety and collection of craft beer brands.
Read this article to learn about the most unique and popular French beers.
The Best French Beers
Since the name Stella Artois resembles the French language, many believe this is the most popular French beer. However, Stella Artois is actually Belgian. So which are some popular French beer brands that you should try? Let us find out in this complete list.
– La Bière des sans Culottes
Type – Farmhouse ale – Bière de Garde
ABV – 7 percent
La Bière des sans Culottes beer, made by the Brasserie La Choulette, is one of the most popular French beer options. This beer is quite strong and is one of the best farmhouse ales in the French market. They created this beer back in 1983.
Since then, it has been very popular. Not only is this beer full of bold flavors, but it can also get consumers drunk pretty easily. The most dominant flavors in this beer are banana, mild clove, caramel malts, grassy hops, mild corn syrup taste, and more. The bitterness from the hops is very light, and the taste and smell of alcohol are also very low.
But since this is a farmhouse ale, the smell of earthen and rustic spices is pretty prominent. Don’t worry, this earthen smell and taste do not dominate over the sweet malt taste or other tastes. All the flavors and aromas come together to form a cohesive taste.
You can also smell and taste some esters, but those taste notes are very mild and can be easily overshadowed by the other tastes. The carbonation is light, and the beer has a clean and crisp finish. This beer is medium-bodied and has a sweet finish. It is blonde to dark yellow in color and very hazy in texture.
It also forms an off-white head when poured, but that does not have good retention. Though the beer might be a little sweet because of the grainy malts used, the spiciness of the cloves forms an outstanding balance in reducing the sweet effects.
– La Cagole
Type – German Pilsner/Bohemian
ABV – 4.7 percent
La Cagole is one of the best flagship beers of the La Cagole Brewery in Marseille. The beer is golden yellow, almost leaning towards blonde. It forms a light foamy head when poured, which disappears almost immediately. This beer is light, and the smell and taste of alcohol are negligible.
This makes it quite an easy drink. The beer has a decent amount of carbonation, giving rise to fast-rising bubbles. It has a very mild roasted, malty flavor from the grains. The smell of the hops is very mellow but adds a depth of character to the beer. The beer is fairly dry, with little to no sugar; hence, there is a lingering bitterness.
The La Cagole beer was specially curated to complement the hot climate of Southern France. Since beer consumption increased during this time, the brewers wanted to create something that could be consumed in larger quantities. Take note that this beer may only be locally available at most times since the brewery has a limited production.
– Bière des Trois Monts (Originale)
Type – Bière de Garde/Farmhouse Ale
ABV – 8.5 percent
This Monts beer is very strong and earthen in taste, like a classic Bière de Garde. However, this is also fruity, sweet, and bitter at the same time. Though this beer started as a local craft beer version, it has become quite popular.
This particular ale can easily be found in many local stores across France. The Monts original beer is rich and golden in color and has a very refreshing taste. This beer has a very strong character with a fresh taste of barley malts. This barley is exclusively sourced from Nord and is the main ingredient behind their exclusive taste.
They also use an exclusive variety of fresh yeast, bringing in a layer of grassy, earthen flavor and smell. The bitterness of the hops is also quite dominant. Overall, all the tastes are quite strong, which is classic of a farmhouse ale.
The taste of the alcohol is also noticeable but not overpowering. It forms a perfect blend with the rest of the taste and smells. There is a distinct taste of spices which balances off some of the hoppy bitterness. When poured, it is pale yellow in color and has a distinct sour smell at first instance. It also forms a white foamy head which has medium retention. The texture of the beer is clear, but the carbonation is low, so there are not many bubbles.
– Barge du Canal
Type – India Pale Ale
ABV – 6.6 percent
This is a classic IPA by the Paname Brewing Company from Paris. This beer has medium alcohol content and is quite popular among the French for its crisp taste. The bitterness is medium and quite pleasant for an IPA.
The bitterness is not overpowering or aggressive and forms a refreshing, luxurious effect. They use Citra and Cascade hops, which create the exclusive bitterness. These hops also add a mild citrus lemon-like essence, which helps balance the hops’ bitterness.
The beer also has a mild sweetness from the cereal malts and a definite bitter aroma. The beer is light brown in color and forms a tan-colored head when poured. There is little to no lacing, and the foam head has medium retention. The overall taste is very refreshing for a summer day.
This is the signature beer from this brewery, and is also available at their taproom. You can head to their live taproom to get a fresh taste, in case you do not want the bottled one. But this craft beer is a little hard to find in stores outside Paris. If you want to enjoy it, you can order some at their website.
– Licorne Black Beer
Type – European Dark Lager
ABV – 6 percent
Unlike most regular lager beers, the Licorne beer is neither light nor pale yellow in color. This beer is a burst of surprising flavors and has many takers across Europe. Brewed by the Brasserie Licorne, this beer is packed with flavors of sweet caramel malts and a roasted nutty essence.
You can also smell a dense aroma from the toasted grainy malt used in this brew. When poured, this beer is dark ruby red, which can look black in dark areas. It has a great shine when under the light. It also has a short head which is tan-yellow and has good retention.
The overall taste is sweet and does not have a pronounced bitterness from the hops. The mild bitterness is mostly from the caramel malts. It also has a distinct smell of bread or crackers, which can resemble that of barleywine.
It finishes short, and there is a lingering sweetness on the tongue from the malts. This beer has a medium to light body and a licorice-like feel. There are also certain taste notes of a chocolatey malt, which is surprising for a lager. But this is one of the most innovative and dynamic dark lagers you will taste in this region.
– Triple Grain Blonde
Type – Tripel
ABV – 9 percent
This is a strong beer with one of the most dynamic tastes. It has a very low bitterness level because it uses very few hops in brewing. This means it can be drunk very easily because the sweet taste of the unmalted grains masks the alcohol flavor.
As the name suggests, this beer is blonde in color and can range up to shiny gold. The Brasserie Dulion makes this particular beer, but this style of beer is quite popular all across France. This is an organic beer that is exclusively brewed from unmalted grains. The brewers use an exclusive blend of unmalted barley, wheat, and rye exclusively sourced from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpin region for a unique taste.
This beer only uses local organic ingredients and follows the Belgian brewing style invented by the Belgian monks. This beer is sweet, strong, and spicy at the same time. Hence, it is a great fit for a cold winter, offering prolonged warmth. This brewery produces many kinds of organic beers with some of the most surprising tastes, which is why they have become so popular.
– La Britt Blanche
Type – Witbier
ABV – 4.8 percent
La Britt Blanche is a unique witbier produced by the Brasserie Britt de Bretagne using buckwheat malt. Since buckwheat is a pseudo-grain, it is low in calories. This beer was created back in 1998 and has been associated with the Puffin, a seabird of Brittany.
This beer is like a memoir of the locally produced ingredients, local people, and biodiversity. This beer experiments with tastes and aromas and is quite bold. When poured into a serving glass, it forms no head and has no foam, so there is also no lacing. It has a hazy blonde color which is almost golden yellow. The aroma of this beer is filled with lots of hops and malt, which many beer lovers appreciate. The overall texture is translucent with no fast-rising bubbles.
The malty flavor of the buckwheat malt definitely contrasts with the bitterness of the hops. Since the buckwheat malt is not real wheat, the sweetness can be a little low. Buckwheat has more of a nutty and roasted taste, which is a perfect blend with the hops. There’s no unpleasant aftertaste, only a slight synthetic flavor from the esters. There is no sour element to cut the bitterness a little, which can be a little disappointing for some.
– Gallia Lager
Type – European Pale Lager
ABV – 5.5 percent
The Gallia Lager by the Gallia Brewery, owned by Heineken, is one of the oldest and cheapest beers in the French beer market. Surprisingly, this beer was a copy of a Parisian beer style. To date, this beer is regarded as one of the top ten beers in France.
This lager is also very widely available in bottles across commercial stores because it is cheap, popular, and tasty at the same time. This beer is filled with floral and fruity tastes and smell notes. You can also clearly taste the sweetness of the grainy malts. There is also a distinct taste of the roasted caramel malts with a medium-bodied finish. There is medium to medium-high carbonation, which gives rise to many fast-rising bubbles. The overall taste is well-balanced, making it one of the best light drinks for a hot summer day.
The appearance of this beer is pale yellow without any shine. It also forms a medium foamy head when poured but does not have good retention. Since the alcohol content is low, this beer is a very easy drink. The taste of the hops is not very pronounced, so the bitterness is quite low. The overall taste is sweet and caramel-like. There are also some mild bread flavors, which come from the wheat malt used in the brew.
– Belle-Vue Kriek
Type – Lambic beer
ABV – 5 percent
Belle-Vue Kriek is a type of Belgian lambic beer that is flavored with cherries. It is produced by the Huyghe Brewery in Belgium, which has been brewing traditional lambic beers for over 100 years. Lambic beers are made using a unique fermentation process.
This involves exposing the wort (unfermented beer) to the open air, allowing it to be naturally inoculated with wild yeasts and bacteria. This process gives lambic beers their characteristic sour and funky flavors.
Belle-Vue Kriek is a fruity and refreshing beer that is well-balanced and easy to drink. It has a deep red color and a complex aroma that is dominated by the scent of ripe cherries. The flavor of this brew is tart and fruity, with a note of sweetness and a crisp, dry finish.
Belle-Vue Kriek is often served as a thirst-quenching summertime drink, and it pairs well with a wide range of foods, including grilled meats, cheeses, and fruit desserts. It is also often used as a base for other Belgian lambic beers that are flavored with fruit such as framboise (raspberry) and peche (peach).
In this article, we learned a lot about how the French have some of the most exclusive and best beers as well, along with their other alcohol.
Let us quickly recap the best French beers before you buy your first bottle.
- France has a long history of excelling in culinary arts and alcohol making. This helped them excel at craft beer production.
- Some of the best French beers are La Bière des sans Culottes, La Cagole, La Britt Blanche, and more.
- Most of the French beer market is dominated by commercial beer brands like Heineken and others. However, there are many small and exclusive microbreweries cropping up across the country.
- French beer varieties have many strong beers like tripels and local farmhouse ales called the Bière de Garde. This traditional form of beer has been revived and commercialized and has helped this French beer tradition survive.
- French beers also have a strong influence in their brewing process from the adjacent Belgian neighbors. From Belgian witbiers to their Trappist monastery tripel brews, a lot has been adapted to the French craft beer industry.
We suggest you try out a few of the beers we mentioned above to know what French beer is all about.