French microbrews

What do you do when it is 97 degrees outside and there’s no AC? And combine that with stumbling on a new shop specializing in microbrews? There’s only one answer: comparative beer tasting!

Walking along a narrow street not far from the Pompidou Center (Beaubourg) I found La Cave a Bulles, which had a strategic location right across from the Belgian cultural institute. The gregarious and knowledgeable Simon Thillou opened the store on July 18th and he has hundreds of “artisanal” beers in stock, mostly from France but some from Belgium too. Simon said that 20 years ago there were only 20 beer producers in France but that today there are over 200. Sure, it’s not much compared to the number of microbreweries in the US, but it is still good growth.

So I put him to the test: give me four summer beers, two lagers, one white beer, and a fruit beer. This may seem kinda like trying to find the best burrito in France, but hey, the circumstances presented themselves.

Sadly, the results were not good. La Cornue from Provence, the biere blanche was not a blanche as some others I’ve had (e.g. Hoegaarden) and had some aromas that were distinctly unusual, if not off. Juliette, the first lager tasted artificial, like the fake scents of a cleaning solution (pine). Loup blond, which has a great label, was sort of cidery and the least offensive of the tasting. Hardly high praise. Finally, the framboise again tasted artificial, and didn’t cohere, like a mediocre lager with a shot of raspberry.

Perrier anyone? Despite these results, I would definitely go back and visit Simon again and try some more. After all, there are still 196 bottles of beer on his wall.

La cave a bulles
, 45 rue Quincampoix, 75004 Paris tel: 01 40 29 03 69

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2 Responses to “French microbrews”

  1. My Parisian sister-in-law gave me a magazine blurb about this shop, and I expected it to be like one near her place which is mostly Belgian. So my brother-in-law and I sought it out, two doors down from the much talked about restaurant where you eat in the dark and the servers are all blind. I was shocked to realise it was all French beers! Okay, maybe 5% of the shelf space was Belgian, but still. I have to refute the original blog in terms of quality. My impression was that these were being compared to Belgian ales, and I would contend that most American micros would suffer the same dour comparison. M. Thillou, who was really cool and knowledgeable, chose 5 bottles for me, a couple of which were holiday ales (visited end of Nov.). Since I would be staying in Paris the following night but not the day we first visited, he kindly placed my selections in the refridgerator and I came back the following day and picked them up. By the way, Simon speaks very good English, so don’t be afraid to stop in for that reason. Like my regular stops when visiting the inlaws, such as brasseries “Le Sous Bock” and “Au Trappiste”, La Cave will be a regular stop. When in Paris, please support local microbrews! Here is his website:

  2. Hi CMC,

    Thanks for your updates on this shop. I certainly don’t doubt that there are many fine beers in this shop, which is why I blogged about it in the first place. I only tried four and I thought they were clunkers. I certainly would have gone back to try some more of Simon’s beers, particularly wintry ales, but alas I was in Paris for a brief time in July. So thanks for your updates on the shop and the link to the new web site.

    How did I miss that dark/blind restaurant? That sounds wacky but cool!



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