Finding beer in Normandy (France)

Over the May Bank holiday (yes we celebrate may day in Ireland) we went to France the long way, by Ferry. We did not go this way because of the Iceland Ash cloud but because I converted my Tesco club card vouchers for 4 times their value and used them for the ferry. I did the same thing last year when I went to Cumbria and will probably do it again. The ferry is about 18 hours but you are asleep for a lot of that time.
The ferry had no decent beer, although it had Murphy's so I went with that on the way over.
Our destination was Cherbourg in the Normandy region of France. I had not been there since 1994 long before I started drinking beer so it was fresh ground.
My plan was this. Spend the night in Cherbourg since we arrived at 16:30 in the afternoon. Then drive East to Rouen for the night and then back west to Caen for the night before heading back to Cherbourg to spend the remaining day before getting on the ferry at 20:00. My destinations were partly decided because of info on beermapping.com.



Cherbourg is a lovely little city and full of nice bars and restaurants but my destination was L'Eldorado or Neels Brewpub as the signs inside say. The first thing is first, I walked right past it at first because I thought it was a Billiards or Pool hall. It was not until I turned around and walked at the angle in the picture that I realised that was the place. It takes some doing to find the website online and the only reason I found it was that by going, I found their beer is branded as Transat.


Firstly let me be honest, I started getting a cold before I left so my beer tasting ability (what there is) was not at normal levels. I ordered a flight of beer. From left to right we have Blonde, Blanche, Ambrée, Mystery beer and Brune. The mystery beer is a mystery because I did not understand what I was told it was and there are a couple of possibilities. It was either a Christmas ale (probably not) or something with the name of Mars in the title or maybe something else. I found all of the house beers a little uninteresting to be honest. The Blonde was ok. Lightly hopped, refreshing and a little spicy. A decent summer quaffer.
The Blanche was a lemon wit but nothing worth getting excited over.
The Ambrée was perhaps the most interesting with notes of caramel, treacle and some spice and something else I could not put my finger on. The Brune was pretty much the same except in more quantity and with some brown sugar thrown in. It was quite bitter for what I was expecting and I enjoyed it.
The Mystery beer? Well it was very thin and watery. The aroma was fruity. The taste was champaign like but without the fizz. It was very odd and had both myself hand my wife mystified as to what it was trying to achieve.


After the flight we popped across the road to the Thai restaurant for some food since there was none to be had in the brewpub. We were introduced to Grimbergen, in this case the Blonde and you can find this Belgian Blonde in almost any bar or restaurant in Normandy it seems. This became our staple beer when not in a beer destination. It is a lovely spicy Belgian blonde with Caramel, yeast, citrus notes and a sweet malt character. Not the best beer of this style by any measure but as a go to beer in a country known more for wine than beer it was perfection even if the beer itself is foreign to the country.

After dinner we went back to L'Eldorado for some more drinks. I stupidly ordered a 750ml 7.2% local beer which meant this was my last beer for the evening. I came to find out about French and namely Normandy beer so it was a research exercise. La Goudale is a Bière de Garde. It is quite carbonated with interesting malt flavours. It is light but creamy with alcohol quite evident and a slightly thin finish. It is also a little bitter. Plenty of fruits make themselves known too. I am becoming a bit of a fan of the style. With so much, I had to make my wife help me and she enjoyed it with me.


My wife drink this Britt Blonde while I was having my first glass of La Goudale. I had bit of this but it was quite boring. Belgian in feel and hoppier than I would have thought. I think after the La Goudale this was boring but perhaps it is better on its own. My wife certainly enjoyed it. It was certainly refreshing. Not a Normandy beer but Brittany is still Northern France.


I don't have anything to say about Rouen when it comes to beer because I did not go there with the main intention of having a beer. It was however a very beautiful city. There is a Les 3 Brasseurs brewpub there but I decided not to go and wait until Caen to try it out, more on that in a moment.
One thing you should note in France, or at least in Normandy is that most places are closed on Sunday. There was only a few bars & restaurants open on the main square in the city centre and the rest of the city was shut down. The only beer I had in Rouen was from Belgium. Affligem Abbaye and also the Triple which was very similar to the Abbaye. Perhaps not the most interesting beers but certainly tasty and I was very happy to find a bar with the choice of both on tap as well as Edelweisse for my wife.

On a non beer related note, if you find yourself in Rouen I highly recommend you spend a bit of money and go to the restaurant pictured above. I found it in the magazine I found in my hotel room listing stuff to do in Rouen and it is apparently quote famous. The list of famous people who have visited and left autographed pictures is staggering. It is called La Couronne and it was lovely. The food and service were excellent and the atmosphere was great. It was not cheap but either did it break the bank. I think I paid €150 for the two of us. That was a starter, aperitif (I had a 15 year old scotch) Main course, Normandy Cheese selection, wine and desert. Not bad for a restaurant of this stature. I am sure there are better restaurants in the city but I can recommend this one.


The following day we set off back in the Cherbourg direction to our next city of Caen. There were two brewpubs listed on beermapping.com so I was looking forward to this. We stayed at the Novotel Caen Côte de Nacre because of its free parking and it was near a tram stop. After settling in we walked to the trap (more a guided bus) stop we headed in to the city centre. After some lunch (with Grimbergen) I set the sat nav to bring me to the first brewpub which was called Liétot Louis. Unfortunately this did not go so well. The address of 13 place St Sauveur could not be found. Now the numbering was odd in the square but from what I can tell, the building that should be number 13 was a construction site now so it looks like the brewpub is no more. Either that or I missed it somehow. I was feeling a little sad.

I decided then to head to the Les 3 brasseurs out in the suburbs. I figured out that if I got a tram to the train station I could get a bus that should bring me out to Mondeville. Without an actual address (just a road) my sat nav could only take me to the road, which is a long dual carriageway full of businesses so on the bus I was on the lookout. This method turned out to be useful because on the way I saw a place called La Case à Bières which was a large off license specialising in regional beer. I decided to head there before I left the city the next morning and fill up the car. A few minutes later we found our destination and it turned out to be on the last stop which is right in the Mondeville commercial centre (retail park) consisting of a large Carrefour hypermarket as well as a mall and a load of other businesses.


I have to say I am very impressed with Les 3 Brasseurs for a number of reasons. Firstly is the sheer number of them. Mostly in France but a few dotted around Canada as well. From the picture you can see the building is modelled as if it is an old brewery which I think is fantastic looking.

Inside is beautiful, at least beautiful to a beer nerd like me. The décor is just perfect in every way.


Perhaps the best feature is that the brewery is not housed away behind glass or hidden from view completely like some brewpubs. It is right there in the middle of the bar by the window. My booth was right in front of it and there was a brew going. The smell of beer being brewed was just heaven.
So what was the beer itself like? Well just like in Cherbourg the menu consisted of a Blonde, Wit, Amber and Brown. They were a little on the boring side. Now when I say boring I actually mean this: There is no clear leap from one beer to the other in terms of taste and style. It is as if both brewpubs take a base style, like maybe the blonde and to get the amber and brown they simply add darker malts. I am sure their brewing process is a little more complicated than that but it is not like going to an Irish or American brewpub where each style is completely different and you know you are having a very different beer. There are no stouts or porters. No IPA or Bitter. Even the wit seems to be very similar in taste to the blonde apart from some obvious differences but it was the only one that stood out as being a little different. It was very refreshing.
I actually did like the brown a lot and ordered a few pints of it.
The amber was like the brown but with less flavour and the blonde was the most boring of the lot.
Les 3 Brasseurs is also a restaurant though and it was dinner time. We both ordered some local food and got huge plates of meat. I went for a bacon shank which was cooked in a sauce made from the brown. It actually tasted like the beer which is rare with beer sauces and it was lovely. I could not finish the whole thing but I did finish more than I probably should have. My wife had a plate of meat with some sauerkraut and it was lovely but it was seriously enough food to feed about 4 people. We were just about able to handle desert a little later which was also fantastic.

So in conclusion, If (and hopefully when) I have a brewpub I would want it to be pretty much the same as Les 3 Brasseurs in layout, design and features. I would just have a different beer menu with a wider range of styles. They do in fact have the odd seasonal beer you can get in bottles such as a Christmas beer.


The next day I drove to La Case à Bières and stocked up on a lot of beer from the region as well as some other beers I have not seen before. I will be going through those over the next few weeks on my blog. If you are in Caen, you have to go to this liqueur store. You can even drink your beer in the beer garden from what I can tell but I could be wrong about that. There are offers like if you buy 24 beers you pay for 22 and also a loyalty card which I got because I might end up going back there at some point. There is a bus stop nearby so you can stop off on the way to or from Mondeville. Oh and there are a number of budget hotels near Les 3 Brasseurs with rooms from €35.

Maybe next time I do a trip like this in France I will try Brittany. I did pick up some beer brewed near Saint Michel.

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Pub,1,mchughs,1,meantime,2,Meantime Raspberry Grand Cru,1,meh,1,Mein Grunes,1,mellow mushroom,1,merchandise,1,merry Chirstmas,1,Messrs Maguire,3,metalman,2,michigan,1,micro brewery,2,microbrewery,1,midnight sun,2,mikkeller,3,mild,3,mild smoker,2,mild winter,1,milk stout,2,mill valley beerworks,1,minikeg,2,minimum pricing,1,mission,1,modus hoperandi,1,molly's chocolate stout,2,molsoncoors,1,mongozo,1,Monsieur Rock,1,moor,1,mór,1,mountain sun,1,moylans,1,Mt Snowdon,1,mullingar,2,multigrain,1,muntons,1,murray's,3,musings,1,myrcenary,1,n17,1,naked pig,1,Nanny State,1,natural selection,1,Navigator,1,nectar,1,Nefiltruotas Raw,1,Nen Bangelijke,1,Netherlands,1,never mind the anabolics,2,new belgium,2,new holland,1,new zealand,1,Newmans,1,newton,1,night beacon,1,night of many beers,1,Noblesse,1,Nøgne Ø,1,Nøgne Ø nogne o,1,Northmaen,2,nutfest,1,O' Hara's,1,O' Neil's,1,o'byrnes,1,O'Fallon,1,O'Hara's IPA,1,O'Hara's Irish Pale Ale,1,O'Haras,6,oak aged,1,oberdorfer. hopf,1,oberon,2,obyrnes,1,odd side ales,1,odell,3,Odells,3,Oerbier Special Reserva,1,of foam and fury,1,Oktoberfest,1,ola dubh,1,old foghorn,1,old nucklehead,1,Old Peculier,1,old scratch,1,old speckled hen,2,old tom strong ale,1,Old Winter Ale,1,olde peninsula,1,Oppigards,1,Optimo Bruno,1,opus II,2,ór,2,origin,1,Orney Amber,1,orval,1,oscar blues,1,oskar blues,1,otley,1,oxymoron,1,Oyster stout,2,p2,2,pacific blond,1,paddy's brewery,1,paddyfest,1,paella,1,Page 24,1,Pagoa,1,Palo Santo Marron,1,pancake Tuesday,1,Pannepot reserva,1,paradox,1,paris,3,past master,1,past masters,1,pbr,1,peak xv,1,pensacola,1,perception,1,Perle La Mondiale 2011,1,petaluma,1,Philippines,1,phoenix park,1,phuca,1,pick axe,1,piece,1,pier cove porter,1,pilsner,1,pilsner urquell,6,pink killer,1,pints pub,1,pipers gold,1,pisa,1,pliny the elder,2,poachers choice,1,pochs,1,Poechenellekelder,1,politics,3,pond hopper,1,port brewing,1,Port McQuarie,1,porter,1,porterhouse,10,portrush,1,Pot Belly,1,prague,1,preview,1,primator dark,1,prize old ale,1,Proclamation Porter,1,proper job,1,pure gold,1,pure ubu,1,purgatory,1,purity,1,purity brewing company,1,quaff,1,queboid,1,racer 5,1,rader,1,radical brew,1,radikale,1,Raftman,1,Raison D'être,1,rakau,1,random everything ipa,1,random summer sunshine,1,random waffle,1,rant,3,rascal's,1,ratebeer,1,Rauchbier,1,raven,1,Raven Vintage Stout,1,razzamataz,1,rch brewery,1,re-brew,1,rebrew,1,recession dinner,1,recipe,1,recycle,1,red ale,1,red eye flight,1,red frog ale,1,red horse,1,red shield,1,redoak,1,revelation cat,1,revolution,1,Reykjavik,1,rhetoric,1,ridgeway,1,Rince Cochon,1,rip tide,1,riptide,1,rising sons,1,road dog,1,roadtrip,1,rochefort,1,Rochefort 10,2,Rodenbach,1,rogue beer,1,róisin,1,rome,1,rooie dop,1,rook and vuur,1,root canal,1,Rosé de Gambrinus,1,rosey nosey,1,round-up,2,roundup,2,ruddles,1,rugby,4,Russian imperial,1,russian river,1,rye river,2,saint bidgets porter,1,saint paul,1,Saint Petersburg,1,saison,2,saison 1900,1,Salthill,1,sam adams,1,Samichlaus,1,samual adams,2,samuel adams,1,samurai rice ale,1,san diego,1,san francisco,2,san sebastian,1,sanda black,1,Santa’s Little Helper,1,saranac,2,sassy red,1,satanic mills,1,saugatuck,2,sawtooth ale,1,scaldy porter,1,Schlapppeseppel,1,Schneider Weisse,3,Schneider Weisse Tap 4,1,scotland,1,second chance,1,Seeing red,4,Seeing red v2,2,seo,1,septemberfest,1,shady pale,1,shandon century stout,2,sharp's,3,sharps,1,shave or dye,1,sheepshagger,1,shephard neame,2,shepherd neame,2,sheridans,1,shipyard,1,shpherd neame,1,Sierra Nevada,9,Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale,2,Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale,2,signal,1,Sigtina,1,singapore ipa. esb amber,1,Single Brew Reserve,1,sink the bismark,1,sixex,1,ska brewing,1,skyrim,1,slaters,1,sloop brewing,1,smithwicks,3,smoke jumper,1,smoked baltic porter,1,smoked porter,1,smooth ryed,1,smuggler,1,snake dog,1,sneck lifter,1,snow eater,1,Sorachi ace,1,Sorachi Ale,1,Sotholmon,1,sour beer,1,South Pacific Pale Ale,1,southern pecan,1,southern tier,2,Southwold Dark Ale,1,spain,2,spaten,1,speakeasy brewery,1,speakeasy payback porter,1,Special London ale,1,spelt saison,1,spindrift,1,St Bernardus,1,st bernardus 12,1,st eriks,1,St Idesbald,1,St Lupulin,1,st martin,1,St Peter's Cream Stout,1,st stefanus,1,stag saor,1,starr hill,1,stateline,1,Steen Brugge,1,Steep Trail,1,stella artois,1,steve wellington,1,stevens point,2,stewart brewing,1,stinger,1,Stone and wood,1,stone barrel,1,stone brewing company,2,stone ruination ipa,1,stonewell,1,stoneybatter,1,story,1,stout,4,stout face off,1,straffe hendrick,1,Streaky,1,stumptown tart,1,sublimely self righteous ale,1,Sullivan's,1,summer,1,Summer IPA,1,summer lightning,1,summerwine,1,sunburnt Irish red,1,suntory,1,supervalu,1,sur amarillo,1,surrender to the void,1,survey,1,sushi,2,sweden,1,Swedish beer,1,sweetwater,1,sweetwater brewery,1,sydney,6,Syvturys,1,t-shirts,1,T' Pakhuis,1,tactical nuclear penguin,1,tally-ho,1,tangle foot,1,Tankovna,1,Tap X,1,tapster,1,taste test,2,tasting,1,tasting session,1,tawny 05,1,tayberry,1,tea,1,teeling,1,tempest,1,temple bar chocolate festival,1,terrible beer,3,tesco,1,thanks to the big boys,2,the banshee,1,the beast,1,the beer moment,1,The Big Lunch Beer Challenge,1,the black sheep,1,The Brewrey Tap,1,the end of history,1,the fearless,1,the force,1,The Golden Pints Beer Awards 2010,1,The Great divide,3,the haka,1,The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,1,The Late Night Levy,1,The little Brewing Company,1,the lord nelson,1,The Matt Brewing Company,1,the old stand,1,the oslo,4,the perfect publican,1,the rev james,1,The Rogue Hop,1,the salthouse,1,the session,39,the white hag,1,theakston,1,Thieving Bastards,1,thirsty bear,1,Thornbridge,6,three notched,1,thwaites,3,Thwaites double century,1,Tig Bhric,1,Tig Neachtain,1,timothy taylor,1,tis the saison,1,titan ipa,1,To Øl,3,tojo,1,tokyo*,1,tommyknocker,2,Tongerlo,1,toronado,1,torpedo,1,tralee,1,trappist beer,2,Traquair ale,1,Traquair House,1,trashy blonde,1,travel,30,Tripple FFF,1,Trois Pistoles,1,Trouble Brewing,3,truck stop honey,1,tsar,1,Turbo Yeast Utter Abhorrence from Beyond the Ninth Level of Hades III,1,twiglets,1,twitter,2,two hearted ale,1,Unertl,1,Unibroue,1,untappd,1,urbock,1,valentins,1,vandeoirsprong,1,Vapeur Cochonne,1,ventnor,1,versa,1,vertical tasting,1,very nutty black,1,vg noster,1,victory,1,Victory Golden Monkey,1,victory hop devil,1,victory hop wallop,1,victory storm king,1,video post,3,viginia,1,vintage ale,1,Vitesse Noir,1,vrienden,1,wainwright,1,warrior ipa,1,water shortage,1,website,1,Weihenstephan,1,Weihenstephaner,1,Weißenoher,1,Weisser Bock,1,wells and youngs,1,Wells Banana bread beer,1,West Cork,1,western herd,1,westvleteren 12,2,wetherspoons,1,What Ales Ye?,1,what beer means to me,1,what's the matter lagerboy?,1,wheat beer,4,wheat wacker,1,wheat wine,1,Wheaty Goodness,2,whiplash,1,white gypsy,1,white gypsy vintage,1,White Island Wheaten Ale,1,White rabbit,1,white shield,1,whitewater,1,whychwood,1,wicked elf,1,wicklow brewery,1,wicklow wolf,2,widmer,1,wildcat,1,williams brothers brewery,8,windsor and eton,1,wine,1,winter ale,1,Winter Ales and Cask festival,3,winter lager,1,winter solstice,1,winter spirit,1,Wit,1,witty fella,2,wj kavanagh.,1,wobbly boot,1,woolpack,4,woolpacker,1,wordpress,1,world beer awards,1,world market,1,worlds best beers,1,wort,1,worthingtons,2,wrasslers,1,wynkoop,1,xx bitter,1,xx strong ale,1,yamamori,1,yardsman,2,yeti,1,york,1,young's,2,your local,1,yule ól,1,zero degrees,1,zeus,1,Zlatý Bažant,1,Zunbeltz,1,
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The Tale Of The Ale: Finding beer in Normandy (France)
Finding beer in Normandy (France)
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The Tale Of The Ale
http://www.taleofale.com/2010/05/finding-beer-in-normandy-france.html
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