Mini tour-de-France with Alex

Alexandra joined our team back in March, and has been very busy ever since promoting Brook House Hops to brewers throughout Europe, but particularly in France, where she is based. With a strong background in the industry, that has recently seen her publish her own book on craft beer and craft beer culture, Alex is passionate about great beer and brewing and actively seeks out experimental and unusual beers from around the world.

This summer she set off on a mini tour-de-France to discover some hidden gems in the world of French craft brewing, sampling a wide range of unique beer styles along the way.

Stop 1: Fauve Craft Beer

First stop in Montpellier to meet Cyprien, co-founder of Fauve Brewing Company. Originally a brewpub based in Paris created by Cyprien and Antoine, the quality of the beer and the creative marketing was the key to rapid recognition and success. They were able to open their brewery in Mauguiot, just outside of Montpellier.

Known for their work on hops and their multiple series of dry-hopped IPAs, Fauve has chosen to work with Brook House for their next release of New Zealand Double Dry Hopped IPA brewed with Motueka, Rakau and Riwaka hops freshly arrived from our partners Clayton Brothers !

Stop 2: Hopulus Brewpub

Hopulus Brewpub is lost amid the maze of small pedestrian streets that we so love in the south of France. What at first appears to be a medieval looking pub quickly turns out to be a hub of innovation and creativity with a modern brewing kit and beautiful fermenters.

With an impressive list of varied brews on tap, Christophe, the creator of this magical place, took us through his different recipes. With traditional brews such as his sharp Bavarica, a German Blond Lager, the refreshing Nectarus, a hoppy Weizen and original experiments like the Cocos, a chocolate and mint stout, he is focused on keeping brewing traditions alive as well as testing the limits and peculiarities of his different hops. 

Stop 3: Ice Breaker Brewing

Ice Breaker Brewing is a little like Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. Lost in the midst of suburban Toulouse, ring the doorbell to enter this young, vibrant and colourful brewery. With cans of hoppy and delicious brews, Ice Breaker is fast becoming a must try in France. Meet Dan, the head brewer, who is as delightful as he is talented, who took me through his different fermenters so I can try all his creations.

He loves to work with hoppy brews as much as pastry stout, with added ingredients to showcase all that beer has to offer. Ice Breaker Brewing was actually brought to light thanks to his “Nothing Toulouse” breakfast stout brewed with leftover “pains aux chocolat” that the French from the South call “Chocolatines” and are incredibly proud of. His latest release series included a Pilsner brewed with different blends of Rooibos, a Pear, Vanilla & Chocolate Imperial Stout and a Peach and Jasmin Wheat IPA.

We are incredibly excited at the idea of what we can come up with together with hops from Brook House Hops!

Stop 4: Hop Rock

Hop Rock is a small brewery just outside Orléans that you can immediately recognize with their bright comic like labels – each one telling the story of the beer inside. Jérome and Ludovic created this brewery in 2019 and despite Covid hitting them in their first year, they managed to create a sold network of amateurs of their brews.

Their foremost mission is to brew beers that are sessionable with high quality ingredients. They recently collaborated with a chocolate shop to create a cocoa nib dark stout.

Stop 5: La Débauche

La Débauche is now a French success story and one of the first craft breweries to emerge in the country of wine. Created in 2013 by Aurélien and Eglantine, they originally specialised in big imperial stout and rich barrel-aged beers. With its dark and whimsical cans and stories, this brewery is now also beloved for its work on experimental hops, its creativity and for the artwork on all its cans and bottles.

The brewery is located in Angoulême, with its fermenters standing tall and proud right by the side of the road. Inside, a wonderfully strange mix of industrial style deco with antiques and religious reminders on the walls dedicated to Sainte La Débauche.

Stop 6: La Nouge

In the middle of fields and forests is a small farm called La Nouge. Now run by Pierre, the 5th generation to manage the farm, La Nouge has more than 80 cows and fields of barley and walnut trees to produce its oil. Several years ago, Pierre contacted Jérémie to suggest creating a self-sufficient brewery. They now brew their own beers with malted barley from their farm and have planted hop fields all around this idyllic setting.

They actively promote the idea of “terroir” in their products and organize festivals at the farm to show how all their beers are made as well as to showcase their beautiful hop fields.

Stop 7 : Wine Hop?

About 20min away from Nantes, in the middle of miles of vineyards is one particular wine producer that is well worth a visit: le Château Le Vallon des Perrières run by the Héraud family. Now managed by Romain, representing the 5th generation running the business, they explore the local terroir and forgotten grape varieties to produce very light and mineral wines. About two years ago, Romain started experimenting with a friend of his, Maxime, who was also a brewer, by adding hops to one of the wine barrels. The first results were pretty revolting by the idea was appealing: why not dry hop their wine?

That is how Wine Hop? was created: a careful selection and association of the local grapes varieties such as Melon B and Chardonnay with hops. The result is especially delicious: the dry minerality of the wine is made brighter and zestier with Citra, fruitier with Amarillo or even juicier with Mozaic.

Stop 8: Little Atlantic Brewery

You now can’t go to Nantes without stopping at Little Atlantic Brewery. In a wonderfully light and modern wooden building by the Loire, this brewery is not only producing delicious beers but is buzzing with fun, good food and good company.

Created by Greg and Jerome, they now let head brewer Simon experiment with styles and hops to serve beers paired with great pub food.

Stop 9: La P’tite Maiz

Last stop in Tours to meet Quentin, co-founder of La P’tite Maiz. Along with Christophe, they created the brewery in 2015 and have since been on a rollercoaster of success. Quentin is keen to keep traditional recipes alive (such as a good old English IPA) as well as explore new blends and experiments (like their latest Berry Paradox, a Gose with Lactobacillus, raspberries, blackberries, lime, basil and salt). The main focus is sessionability: Quentin is determined to produce beers that can be drunk in pints!

Their tap room is colourful and lively – very much like its creators – and is a wonderful place to see where the magic happens while trying fresh brews!

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