Craft Beer 101

French Craft Beer 101: A Beginners Guide

Craft beer has become a global phenomenon, and France is no exception to this trend. Craft beer, also known as artisanal beer, is a type of beer that is brewed in small quantities by independent breweries. It is characterized by its unique flavors, use of local ingredients, and emphasis on traditional brewing techniques. In recent years, the popularity of craft beer in France has been steadily growing, with an increasing number of breweries and beer enthusiasts embracing this movement.

History of Craft Beer in France

The history of craft beer in France can be traced back to the early 1980s when a handful of pioneering breweries started experimenting with different brewing styles and flavors. These early craft breweries faced many challenges, including a lack of consumer awareness and limited distribution channels. However, their passion and dedication laid the foundation for the craft beer movement in France.

The influence of Belgian and American craft beer movements cannot be overlooked in the development of craft beer culture in France. Belgian beers, known for their complex flavors and traditional brewing methods, inspired French brewers to experiment with different yeast strains and fermentation techniques. Similarly, the American craft beer revolution, with its focus on bold flavors and innovative brewing practices, influenced French brewers to push the boundaries of traditional beer styles.

Characteristics of French Craft Beer

French craft beer is known for its use of local ingredients, which gives each beer a unique regional character. Brewers often source their hops, malt, and other ingredients from nearby farms, supporting local agriculture and reducing their carbon footprint. Additionally, French craft brewers place a strong emphasis on traditional brewing techniques, such as open fermentation and barrel aging, to create beers with depth and complexity.

French craft beer also boasts a wide range of flavor profiles and styles. From crisp and refreshing farmhouse ales to rich and malty bière de garde, there is something to suit every beer lover’s palate. French brewers are not afraid to experiment with new ingredients and brewing methods, resulting in innovative and exciting beer styles that push the boundaries of traditional brewing.

Major French Craft Beer Regions

France is home to several major craft beer regions, each with its own unique brewing traditions and styles. In Brittany, breweries like Brasserie Lancelot and Brasserie Coreff are known for their traditional Breton beers, often brewed with local seaweed and buckwheat. Alsace, on the other hand, is famous for its bière de garde, a style of beer that is aged for several months to develop complex flavors. The Rhône-Alpes region is known for its hop-forward beers, while Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur offers a variety of Mediterranean-inspired brews.

Notable French Craft Beer Breweries

France is home to a growing number of notable craft beer breweries. Brasserie de la Senne, located in Paris, is known for its range of Belgian-inspired ales, including the popular Zinnebir. Brasserie Dupont, based in the Belgian-French border region, is renowned for its Saison Dupont, a classic farmhouse ale. Brasserie de la Loire, situated in the Loire Valley, specializes in bière de garde and other traditional French beer styles. Brasserie Saint Germain, located in Brittany, is known for its innovative and experimental beers.

Popular French Craft Beer Styles

French craft beer encompasses a wide range of styles, each with its own unique characteristics. Bière de Garde, a traditional French beer style, is known for its rich maltiness and earthy flavors. Saison, originally brewed in Belgium but popular in France, is a refreshing and fruity farmhouse ale. Belgian-inspired ales, such as Tripels and Dubbels, are also popular among French craft beer enthusiasts. Additionally, French brewers are known for their experimentation with innovative and experimental styles, pushing the boundaries of traditional beer.

Craft Beer Festivals and Events in France

France hosts several craft beer festivals and events throughout the year, providing beer enthusiasts with the opportunity to discover and taste a wide variety of craft beers. The Mondial de la Bière, held in Paris, is one of the largest craft beer festivals in France, attracting breweries from around the world. Paris Beer Week is another popular event, featuring tastings, beer pairings, and brewery tours across the city. Lyon Bière Festival, held in Lyon, showcases the best of local and international craft beers.

Craft Beer and French Gastronomy

Craft beer has found its place alongside traditional French cuisine, offering a new and exciting beverage pairing experience. The diverse flavors and styles of craft beer can complement a wide range of dishes, from rich stews and cheeses to delicate seafood and desserts. Beer sommeliers and chefs are collaborating to create unique beer and food pairing menus, showcasing the versatility of craft beer in enhancing the flavors of French gastronomy.

Challenges and Opportunities for French Craft Beer

While the craft beer movement in France is gaining momentum, it still faces challenges. Traditional French wine and spirits continue to dominate the beverage market, making it difficult for craft beer to compete for consumer attention. Additionally, regulatory hurdles and limited distribution channels pose challenges for small craft breweries. However, the growing interest in craft beer and the potential for export offer opportunities for French brewers to expand their reach and showcase their unique beers to a global audience.

Craft Beer Tourism in France

Craft beer tourism is on the rise in France, with beer enthusiasts and travelers seeking out brewery tours and tastings. Many craft breweries offer guided tours, allowing visitors to learn about the brewing process and sample a variety of beers. Beer-focused travel itineraries are also becoming popular, allowing travelers to explore different craft beer regions and experience the local beer culture firsthand.

Craft Beer Education and Training in France

To meet the growing demand for craft beer expertise, France offers various beer sommelier programs, brewing courses, and workshops. These educational opportunities provide aspiring beer professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the craft beer industry. From sensory analysis to brewing techniques, these programs help individuals deepen their understanding of craft beer and contribute to its growth in France.


The rise of craft beer in France is a testament to the passion and creativity of French brewers. With its emphasis on local ingredients, traditional brewing techniques, and unique flavor profiles, French craft beer has carved out its own niche in the global craft beer movement. Despite challenges, the future prospects for French craft beer are promising, with opportunities for growth and export potential. As more beer enthusiasts discover the diverse and exciting world of French craft beer, the industry is poised for continued success.


Q: Are craft breweries popular in France?
A: Yes, craft breweries are gaining popularity in France, with an increasing number of breweries and beer enthusiasts embracing the craft beer movement.

Q: What are some popular craft beer styles in France?
A: Some popular craft beer styles in France include Bière de Garde, Saison, Belgian-inspired ales, and experimental and innovative styles.

Q: Are there any craft beer festivals in France?
A: Yes, France hosts several craft beer festivals and events throughout the year, including the Mondial de la Bière, Paris Beer Week, and Lyon Bière Festival.

Q: Can craft beer be paired with French cuisine?
A: Yes, craft beer can be paired with a wide range of French dishes, offering a new and exciting beverage pairing experience.

Q: Are there opportunities for craft beer tourism in France?
A: Yes, craft beer tourism is on the rise in France, with brewery tours and tastings becoming popular among beer enthusiasts and travelers.

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