Thursday, 16 July 2015


Beer O'Clock on Tour

Day 5 at the Villa rolled around and there was still plenty of good beers to keep me happy. We'd even added a few more local ones that we'd found around the traps.

La Frappadingue has cool label artwork and an equally interesting name. The beer was basically an Imperial Blonde Ale, why anyone thought to make this I'm not sure. In any case it was interesting, with spicy hops that I didn't recognise. The ABV was just a touch hot though...

Next I knocked off my two Witbiers, both from the Cote d'Azur region. The first was the La Trop Blanch from St. Tropez. It was a perfectly acceptable light Wit, that I would drink again. The other came from Marseile's Biere de la Plaine. It was also called Blanch but wasn't up to the same standard as it's namesake; with far too much floral flavour and being overcarbed.

The next day we took a day trip to Nice. At lunch, after walking up to the top of the hills to get a view of the Bay of Angels (well worth doing, but possibly a bad idea when it's 40 degrees...), I had a couple of Saint-Omer's. It's quite a light bodied lager, but has good flavour and is very easy to put away. Interestingly it's a beer produced in the very North of France but I've only ever come across it south of Paris...

Later that afternoon, I had a Heineken at Le Maori. It was the worst Heineken I've ever tasted! I don't know how these guys have been treating their kegs, but it was awful! Skunked beyond recognition and disgustingly sweet, I didn't even finish it... Avoid this place like the plague!
Back at the Villa and the disappointments continued with the Sulauze Oai, a French IPA, lacking in hops and tasting pretty ordinary as a result. The run of bad beers was ended by La Vermontoise; a collaboration beer between America's Hill Farmstead and Belgium's Brasserie de Blaugies. This was a true example of how a farmhouse ales (Saisons) should be produced. It had great yeast characteristics and that unmistakeable horse blanket aroma and taste.

Lupulus Hopera was a Belgian style IPA from Belgium. It was quite a good example of the style without being outstanding. It had nice sweet malts with enough hop bite and just the right amount of Belgian yeast. It's a beer that I would drink again if I came across it. La Piste Noire from Cimes was an Amber Ale I had with dinner that night. Again it was highly serviceable and had great caramel malts. It's a beer I'd look out for in France to provide that bit of variety.

My final beer of the night was Reve d'Etoiles from Brasserie Bendorf. It was actually an impressive Black IPA with good pine hop flavours and roasty chocolate come together beautifully. I love a Black IPA so it was very welcome to find a good one in France. It's one I'll be definitely be looking out for next time.

Pietra is a beer that I have got half a draft review written, at some point it might turn into a full one but we'll have to see... It's a beer from Corsica, a large French island close to Italy. Anyway it's a Vienna Lager/Amber Ale, has good albeit light flavour and is still very drinkable. It's another one to keep your eye out for if you like a bit more malt...

I've already written about the O'Clock Brewing IPA, which you can read about here. As I intimated in the review, I thought the American Pale Ale they produce is a superior beer. It had nice fruity and citrus hops that really suited the malt base. This is the closest American Pale Ale I've had on this trip to something that we would drink at home. It's a very impressive beer.
Biere de la Plaine let me down again with their Triplette; first and foremost it wasn't a Tripel! That aside it wasn't a bad blonde ale and was probably the best of the three beers I tried from them, although the bar wasn't set particularly high by the other two...

My second beer from St. Tropez's La Trop was their Ambree. It had quite a thin body for an Amber Ale but had excellent flavour! Nice to Meet You was an Imperial IPA which also had an awesome label. It had really good bitterness but was just lacking that little something that would have made it exceptional, although what that is I can't quite put my finger on...

Last but not least in the Villa was Sous les Paves. I didn't know until I sampled it, but this beer was actually a Porter, and a pretty good one at that! I would recommend this to stout lovers. I would also advise them not to go to the South of France in Summer and expect to find any stouts... The French apparently make some quite nice ones, but very few are produced year round and subsequently there aren't that many around come Summer.

So that was my whole journey at the Villa guys, hope you enjoyed it. I'll hopefully get my last few days in France up soon before we get onto Italy - possibly the biggest country yet! Keep all your questions coming in on the email - I have read them and will get back to you all soon.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

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