Craft beer takes over southern Europe
From the north to the south, microbreweries are popping up all over Europe. Is beer the new wine?
Beer has long been considered a typically northern European beverage. With the rise of microbreweries, it has gained fans in southern countries as well. Driving this obsession are new standards in quality and an interest in novel flavours.
An ancient tradition
Born alongside agriculture, beer was at the heart of Sumerian and Egyptian culture, where it served as beverage, food and even wages. At a time when water was untreated, fermentation was a guarantee of safety. For this reason, Europeans also attached great importance to beer. However, it had a major competitor: wine. The Greeks then the Romans planted vineyards around the Mediterranean, and they considered beer a barbaric beverage. This geographic and cultural divide endured for a long time, with beer consumed in a festive context while the more prestigious wine was reserved for gastronomic occasions... Until now.
A huge boom in microbreweries
The rise of the microbrewery was a game-changer. While originally referring to small-scale fermentation, microbrew now refers more to the artisanal production of often unfiltered and unpasteurized beers with unique organoleptic qualities, a sharp contrast to industrial breweries. This phenomenon, which first appeared in the UK, has become a global trend. This is especially the case in Europe, where it now also appeals in regions with historic attachments to wine. As in the finest oenological traditions, each craft beer has its own terroir and personality. Brewed onsite using local ingredients and water, this new favourite of foodies is fast becoming a regional star that can be found in today’s top restaurants.
An Alsatian microbrewery to try while in Strasbourg
Germanic influence notwithstanding, beer is a well-established tradition in the Alsatian capital. The cosmopolitan menu at Ici&là bar and restaurant borrows from Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, but it also features the talents of Microbrasserie GUTH, based in nearby Saint-Maurice and launched in 2019. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover this very young but already well-established label, whether during a meal or when socialising with friends in the heart of Strasbourg.
A robust beer to enjoy in the heart of Madrid
This Alsatian passion travelled to Spain thanks to Mahou brewery, founded in the late 1800s by a family from northeastern France. Located on Plaza de España in the centre of Madrid, Vermutería Chipén is passionate about this award-winning brand. The trendy bar and restaurant pours Barrica Original, which is popular for its notes of almond and vanilla – truly refreshing during the hottest days in Madrid!
A sustainable approach in the Provençal countryside
As proof that microbreweries can flourish under the Mediterranean sun, Castellet brewery produces excellent beers in Signes, just to the east of Marseille. Barley, wheat, spelt and coriander are grown in France according to the principles of responsible agriculture, and the production site is at the forefront of sustainable development. From this audacious gamble was born the Fada line, which you can enjoy on the terrace of Mama Shelter Marseille with a plate of panisses (chickpea flour fritters) or fried octopus.
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