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Oh Là Là! Bière!

When we think of Paris, France, we think of the Eiffel Tower, baguettes, berets, art, and of course, wine! But did you know that Paris has an up-and-coming, and some might even say, “trendy,” craft beer scene? Yes, it’s true!

Europe is known for beer; especially the countries of Germany and Belgium in particular. The American beer-industry was built out of old traditions when Europeans settled the New World and have continued to grow and expand into the craft beer industry as we know it today. While traditional beer thrives in European nations, there has also been an interest in expansion and innovation, much like it has in the US. The reason why we haven’t heard much about it, is that, for one, we don’t live in Europe, and for two, much of what we import from Europe happens to be the traditional and large conglomerate brews. As far as France goes, brewing, while not the “star” that wine is there, is not a foreign concept either. In fact, the French word ‘brasserie’ literally means brewery, and we see that word not only all over Europe, but here in the states as well. A traditional Brasserie in France would serve beer, food, and was a casual place for folks to socialize and carouse. Today, small breweries, brew pubs and even craft beer shops are have started to become more main-scene in France – Paris in particular.

My first taste of Parisian craft beer or ‘bière artisanale,’ began last year, in 2018 when I visited a taproom in Paris by the name of Hoppy Corner. Located in the 2nd Arrondissement, this friendly and hip little establishment is one block from the Sentier metro (subway) stop on Line 3, and near several great restaurants including Frenchie Rue du Nil a Michelin star-rated restaurant opened by Chef Gregory Marchand – (I’ve also eaten here and the food is phenomenal!)

Hoppy Corner has a Facebook page which serves as their main webpage and you’re able to view their current and up-to-date beer list on the app Untappd. Usually there are about 15 different drafts and 30 different bottles and cans to choose from. You can find everything from US craft beers like Prairie Artisan Ales, to microbreweries in France such as L’Instant and Brasserie du Grand Paris to other craft brews from the UK and Eastern European countries including North Brewing Co., from Leeds, West Yorkshire England, and The Garden Brewery from Zagreb, Croatia. During my visit, my beer of choice was a freshly-hopped juice-bomb DIPA by the name of Triple Hazy Jet by O’Clock Brewing, a microbrewery out of Bois d’Arcy, Yvelines, France; and by any account, it’s not just New England that can brew a fantastical IPA!

Hoppy Corner is a fantastic place to grab a pint and relax after a day of sightseeing in Paris. They also have a kitchen for eats, have wine available for those who might not enjoy beer and they’re open late until 2am.

I had the opportunity this past November to travel back to Paris for a few days and decided to expand upon my first Parisian beer experience. Thanks to the power of Google, I was able to find a craft brewery that wasn’t terribly far from my Air BnB in Montmartre that had great ratings and was close to a metro stop – Riquet, on Line 7. Established in 2015 and open 7 days a week, Paname Brewing Company, (or PBC for short), was everything that I could have wanted (and more!) in a craft brewery as an American who is quite familiar with the craft beer scene back home. This industrial-but-still-cozy brewery with its metal and warm wood motif constructed inside of an old granary, lends plenty of space both inside and out, being situated directly on the waterway of the Bassin de la Villette canal that runs through the 19th Arrondissement. No doubt a popular and beautiful way to spend a sunny afternoon during the warmer months!

When I arrived, it was mid-afternoon on a Friday with a few patrons scattered about the interior. I went to the bar and chatted with the bartender (in English, no worries if you don’t know French here!) about the 10 different brews on tap. I tasted a couple and settled on trying the rest via a flight of 5: Baron Rouge, a red ale (4.7% ABV), Casque d’Or, a saison (5.2% ABV), Le Surin, a blonde ale (4.9% ABV), Oktoberfest, a märzen (5.5% ABV), and the Cappuccino Stout, a coffee stout (5% ABV). All were very good, well made, and peculiarly (but delightfully!) light – especially the märzen and stout, as these styles tend to be on the heavier-side most of the time. My favorite out of the bunch was the Cappuccino Stout which boasted lovely & rich flavors of roasted coffee beans, only slightly sweet, being both dry and quite light, as aforementioned.

After my flight, I decided to try the food from the kitchen – ordering at the bar and having it brought to my seat. Here, I should mention, (as this is a bit different from most places in the US), that there isn’t such a thing as a “tab” in most pubs or bars. You pay as you go. The menu items were very familiar and similar to almost any brewpub with a food menu as in the States – burgers, sandwiches, salads, charcuterie, & other small plates. I settled on a burger and I have to say, it was one of the best burgers I have had ANYWHERE! (Although I find the food in Europe to have a fresher quality than of that in the US, overall.) It was thick and juicy and came with a side of steak-cut French fries, perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, served with sides of both ketchup and mayo! With my meal, I decided upon a pint of the Brexiteer, Paname’s version of the New England IPA (6.6% ABV). It was EXCELLENT; fresh & hazy with tropical fruited notes and well-balanced hops from beginning to end. Definitely one of the best NEIPAs I have had on either side of the Atlantic! (And funny enough, even better than some New England IPAs that have been, ironically, brewed in New England!)

Paname actually enjoys brewing with American hops in some of their brews, and I heard that straight from Frederick Rivera, the brewery’s Manager. Extremely friendly and informative, Fred gave me a private tour of the brew pub while we discussed everything from the brewery’s state-of-the-art technology and brewing processes to brewery-produced events, our lives and travel and the state of craft brewing both in France and back in the US.

I wound up spending a few hours at Paname and I literally could not have had a better experience at a craft brewery anywhere in Paris – perhaps even anywhere in France! I so enjoyed the atmosphere, the brews, the food, and the company of the bartenders and Fred, who were so very welcoming to this solo-traveling American who loves her beer. I will most definitely be back to visit on my next trip to Paris and would highly recommend a stop at Paname Brewing Company on your next visit too! You can also find more information about the brewery on their Facebook page, on Untappd and at their website, www.panamebrewingcompany.com.

To be fair, I also drank a healthy amount of wine during my few days in Paris too. I mean, if you’re going to enjoy France, you ought to indulge yourself in some of the best wine in the world, in addition to seeking out some of that craft and artisanal beer goodness!

À votre santé! Cheers!

Kristin Merritt
Just a brief introduction that I’ve joined the Table Hopping crew as your new craft-brew-loving gal who will be bringing you your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope that I can give a few recommendations for your grocery lists, event suggestions and local hotspots for an afternoon out with friends or planning a date, and if not for nothing, perhaps enlighten you with some random knowledge that you can amaze your teammates with at trivia night – or at least give you and your pals a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! I have some mighty large shoes to fill that my friend and fellow Syracuse Women of Craft Beer member (& founder), Gloria Rakowsky, left for me, but I hope that my style (and shenanigans) will keep all y’all coming back for more each month. Cheers!