In NYC, everything is massive. There’s no such thing as small movements, unusual interests, or ‘budding’ markets. The second things hit shelves or social media, their existences are so popular, and so saturated, that everyone knows about it, loves it, or hates it, and… well, you get the point. In Paris, there’s no kale, there’s no ramps, and until very recently, there was hardly any craft beer. It’s still so tiny a movement that even in one of the culinary capitals of Europe, you’re still hard-pressed to find two dozen bars or liquor stores that offer anything besides Heineken, Kronenbourg 1664 (the worst), and maybe a Guinness.
Here we have a catch twenty-two. The French don’t have good beer around, because they have no interest in it, but their lack of interest / distaste for beer is as so simply because the options they are offered are quite frankly, in a word, terrible. I was speaking with a friend who was genuinely surprised to hear of the craft beer movement, of wonderful, flavorful beers, and of the idea that a quality beer will indeed intoxicate oneself. Terms like porter, IPA, or stout are just garble in the ears of a Frenchman, and that’s depressing.
As Bukowski said, ‘we are here to drink beer.’ An existence without beer is one that is sad, and bleak. It’s also really strange to gauge what you want to order at a bar when beer isn’t available, and when neither wine nor liquor is seeming to suit your needs. Luckily, the craft beer movement is beginning to take hold here in Paris. It’s still small and largely unheard of or uncared about, but there are a dedicated few determined to change that.
As I was walking home on Friday afternoon, I got lost, as I often do because a can of worms is more organized than these city streets. This is especially so to the seasoned New Yorker, who thrives and depends on concepts such as efficiency, and the grid system. Along Rue de Moines in Paris 17ème, you’ll find Société Parisienne de Bière. The tiny shop contains a well-curated selection of European and American craft beers, and a knowledgable (and bi-lingual) shop-owner willing to explain everything and make recommendations. He’ll also let you know he brews his own beer in the north of France. Based on how good the recommendations he made were (pictured above), it’s safe to assume his beer must be worth a try as well.
For those of you interested in learning more about craft beer and experiencing the true pleasure it can offer, there is an upcoming Paris Craft Beer Show in mid-April. At the end of May is the second annual Paris Beer Week. If you’re feeling less committed than that, you can always just pull up a seat at your nearest craft beer bar and venture down a new path to enlightenment. Beer enlightenment, that is.
Société Parisienne de Bière: 5 Rue des Moines, Paris 17. Metro: 13 Brochant / La Fourche, 2 Rome. How Much: €3.50-5.50 per bottle, which are mostly large-size.