The Session #87 - The local brewery history that Paris doesn't have
"In Session 87, I want you to give your readers a history lesson about a local brewery. That's a physical brewery and not brewing company by the way. The brewery doesn't need to still exist today, perhaps you had a local brewery that closed down before you were even born. Or you could pick one that has been producing beer on the same site for centuries.
The only thing I ask is that the brewery existed for at least 20 years so don't pick the local craft brewery that opened two or three years ago."
- Reuben Gray at The Tale of Ale
Before we travel down history lane, my dear readers, I feel that I should make it clear as to where Paris is exactly.
Now, it's not that I think you all to be stupid or anything. Americans are great with geography (this map proves it) and I know you can find Paris on a map (most of you), but it's taken myself more than a few glances at a google to decode the local number system that is in constant use.
[caption id="attachment_2676" align="aligncenter" width="653"] This is Île-de-France[/caption]
Here is a fun list of most recent craft beer activity in Paris, with pictures of store owners and brewers from around Île-de-France. When reading the list, numbers after the names indicate the location. Use the map above to visualize, but remember that anything in inner Paris is 75(something) and are annotated by the last number.
Think of Île-de-France as a state, general Paris as a county and inner Paris as the city.
[caption id="attachment_2677" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This is Paris. The Tower Eiffel is in 75007.[/caption]
Now that we are clear on where Paris is, we can effectively talk about local brewing history! And instead of choosing one brewery, because that is limiting, lets timeline ALL of Paris's beer history. It's rather simple really.
Paris's Beer Brewing History
- 1800: German-influenced Alsacian immigrants begin to bring their master brewing skills and love of beer to France's capitol, establishing brasseries (breweries). These spots became hives of interest and delight to locals who still, to this day, buzz around cafe's that call themselves brasseries. The term brasserie now adorns most cafes and is generally used to indicate a bar/cafe that sells alcohol as well as it's original meaning of brewery.
- 1827: Brasserie Demory founded
- 1862: Louis Pasteur discovers pasteurization (Paris's beer related scientific contribution!)
- 1890: Gallia Paris Founded
- 1900: With little over 3,000 craft breweries in France, Gallia Paris win's a gold medal at Exposition Universelle (World Fair), the highest award yet given to a brewery at the time.
- 1940-1980: The era of consolidation and begins! Heineken moves in along with Kronenbourg to turn the 3,000 local breweries into a 90% mass market control. By the beginning of the 80's only 30 independently owned breweries exist in the entire country of France.
- 1953: Brasserie Demory, after thriving in the 1920's and surviving the second World War (along with it's strict barley regulations) finally buckles under economic pressure and sells out to competitor.
- 1968: Gallia Paris closes it's doors
....Then yeah... nothing really happens in beer world Paris, my friends. Pure dead zone. Other parts of France continue to sustain a beer culture but the capitol itself goes macro lager maddness.
- 2009: Brasserie Demory is revived, but brewed outside of Paris. The first beer was brewed Astroblonde in February 2010.
- 2010: Gallia brand is revived, but contract brewed outside Paris.
- 2012: Parisis opens as Île-de-France's largest independently owned brewery.
- 2012: La Goutte d'Or opens in inner Paris 18th arrondissement as Paris's first micro-brewery in over 3 decades.
- 2013: Brasserie La Baleine opens in the 20th.
Although France is knocking knees with Germany, high-fiving Belgium and leering over the water at the Real Ale movement, the land of cheese and wine is just now starting to reinvest itself in artistically created beer.
Paris's beer brewing history is sadly short lived and hard to uncover. Two things are known: The marco movement effected Paris as much as the rest of the world and the first official local brewery to open in Paris, since the macro brewery decimation, focusing on artistically brewed beers was La Goutte d'Or. The French Kissing micro-brewery that took the first baby step toward renewed interest in craft beer is only the beginning! There are breweries springing up like wild flowers all over Île-de-France; the youngest of which being one of the best so far.
History lesson complete.
[caption id="attachment_2530" align="alignnone" width="696"] Read more about Gallia's brand revival here[/caption]
Don't blame wine.
Although there are a few wineries in Paris that are over a few decades old, they are tourist type places, that have also been effected by the historical dip in artisan interest. There is such a thing as marco wine and it's equally evil.
Lost like the great tombs of the Pharaohs, Paris's beer and brewing history is going to take more digging. I've heard rumors of caves below Paris that were used for lagering! Spooky and beery. When I find out where they are, I'm going. Which means you get to go too!
Thank you to Reuben for the fun Session topic, check out other posts and get some history lessons in ya! Yum, education!
- For more on Paris's vineyard revival check out Isabelle du Plessix's article on the best and worst.
- To learn more about Paris's craft wine scene, check out Not drinking poison in Paris, ran by a clever wino I know.
- Other notable near inner Paris breweries: My Beer Company in Levalloise, Brasserie Outland in Bagnolet, and Deck & Donohue in Montreuil.