Sunday, July 11, 2010

French Appreciation Month - Day 3

Day 3 - Kronenbourg 1664

To say that the French are not known for their beers would be an incredible understatement. However, that probably has to do a whole lot more to do with how much emphasis the French put on their wine and less to do with how capable they are as brewers. Just sheerly based on geography, you would expect decent beer chops to somehow diffuse into France from the neighboring countries of Belgium, Germany, and England. Before you argue how easily beer brewing could diffuse across the English Channel, I would point out two things: the French invaded the British Isles often enough to have picked up a thing or two; and with the Chunnel, we no longer require prospective brewers to resort to swimming the channel.

Still, there aren't a whole ton of French beers to choose from. Indeed, the coffee table book, "Beers of the World," by David Kenning doesn't even give France a whole chapter; they have to share a chapter with Luxembourg instead. Luxembourg? Under 1000 square miles and smaller than Rhode Island? Sorry, not a country. And even the Italians, Swiss, and Czech each got their own chapter. The British Isles got three chapters. But I would argue that quantity isn't everything. I rather enjoy Fischer, and several of the other French offerings could be better classified as barley wines, with alcohol contents of up to 13%.

And I can very strongly recommend Kronenbourg 1664. I will forgive you if you thought this might be a German beer, based on the name. I made the same mistake. But it is most definitely French, and definitely delicious. It is a lager, relatively light in color but sufficiently strong in taste. A hint of fruit and a reasonable hop content round it out. It is not a complex or challenging beer by any stretch, but there is nothing wrong with having an enjoyable beer that you aren't required to pay a lot of attention to.

Thank you, France!

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