A couple of months back on the way out to Spain, I blogged to express my surprise that there was a micro-brewing scene in the south of France, and several helpful commentators provided useful links to find out more.
Using these links, I managed to track down products from at least five breweries from the Midi – nothing on tap, unfortunately, but bottles can be found with a bit of searching in the off-licences, supermarkets and “regional produce” shops in the bigger cities such as Montpellier and Toulouse. Ask for “biere artisanale”.
So why nothing on the blog about the exciting brewing scene? Unfortunately, all of the beers I’ve tried have (literally) been nothing to write home about, ranging from dull homebrew to actively unpleasant.
They always look promising – attractive packaging, reminiscent of small Belgian breweries. They’re usually unfiltered, unpasteurised, and “refermented in the bottle”. Unfortunately, they all have a similar flavour profile (or lack) – little or no malt taste, and what hops you can taste usually have a fairly astringent grassy flavour.
In fact, the tastes were so similar that it made me wonder whether they were attempting to brew like that, whether it is a specific “style” made for the Midi market. Or perhaps it’s due to having poor quality primary ingredients. Or maybe it’s just that it’s early days, and they’ll get better. I hope so.
I don’t want to list the culprits here because I don’t like slagging off small brewers, and I promise that if I have a good one I will log it here!
In the meantime, if you’re a French microbrewer and reading this (unlikely, as my experience tells me you’re unlikely to even respond to direct emails asking where to find your beer), get yourself to the Frog and Rosbif in Toulouse to see how it should be done.