Sure, France is famous for its wine.
But now, craft beer is the trendiest drink in Paris, and there are some great bars where you can enjoy a huge range of beers both on tap and from the bottle.
Just to the west of Paris, Yvelines has a cluster of brewers including L’Instant, Volcelest, and O’Clock Brewing, the last of which makes an IPA which trumps most American versions with its hop-forward, citrusy taste.
You’ll see a different side of Paris if you’re a craft beer lover. You won’t be heading for the five star hotels—they still see beer as beneath them. You won’t find it in the Louvre or on the Île de la Cité.
Instead, you’ll be heading for the suburbs and for trendy, up-and-coming areas like Belleville. You’ll end up using Métro stations most visitors don’t even know exist!
Where to try craft beer in Paris
In northern Paris, Le Supercoin is close to the great Saint-Ouen flea market. You can spend the day searching for that perfect vintage find, and the evening discovering the best beers Paris has to offer.
Le Supercoin, which bills itself as a “bistro pop rock garage,” has a once-a-month tap takeover and a real rock vibe. The beer menu includes beers from as far away as the Auvergne, Alsace, and the south of France, as well as beers from Paris and Yvelines. The selection on their six taps varies, but includes a diverse array of brews, such as barrel-aged, IPA, wheat and more.
Head a bit further east to find Paname in La Villette, a trendy post-industrial suburb. The brewery’s bar on the Canal de l’Ourcq serves great food—pizza, tacos, steak with chimichurri sauce, and BBQ pork—as well as its range of beers, including a wheat beer and a dark ale. The stripped down post-industrial feel of the bar is attractive, but it’s the waterside terrace that brings the crowds.
Belleville: Fine Mousse, BAPBAP and Les Trois 8
The Belleville neighborhood now has a little cluster of craft beer bars and breweries.
La Fine Mousse has 20 beers on tap, with plates of charcuterie and cheese as a simple and authentically-French accompaniment. (There’s a restaurant too, if your appetite needs more than snacks!) Like many Paris craft beer bars, La Fine Mousse offers regular beer tastings and brewery events. The beer list is extensive, with Italian and Belgian as well as French beers, and a well-curated selection of lambics and other sour beers.
BAPBAP brewery is nearby, but has limited opening hours: only from 6 to 8 on weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons starting at 3 p.m. But you could head on to Les Trois 8 afterwards—with eight craft beers on tap, vintage decor and rock music on the speakers, it’s a great place to hang out. It’s also one of the few places in Paris where you’ll find a selection of UK craft beers.
La Cave à Bulles
With 80% of the shelf space given over to French beers, you’ll find rarities from microbrewers out in the sticks next to Paris craft brewers. Owner Simon’s passion for malt and hops is evident—he’s a true beer geek, and even willing to entertain beer swaps if you have an interesting local craft beer scene.
If you want to get to know French beer, this is your number one place to get educated. Check the Facebook page for details of tastings.
Where else can you find great beer in central Paris?
- La Robe et la Mousse is a central offspring of La Fine Mousse, near Odeon station
- Brewberry is near the famed Rue Mouffetard food market
- If you don’t have the time to head out to the burbs, make your main stop L’Express de Lyon at Gare de Lyon train station.
- La Goutte D’Or is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, but it’s in Montmartre, which we love
Okay, we’ve talked about where to drink, but what’s French craft beer really like?
First off, there’s a big American influence on the French craft beer scene. Most Paris brewers now head their line-up with an IPA like Paname’s Barge du Canal or BAPBAP’s Vertigo. If you love the floral citrusy notes of Cascade hops, you’ll find plenty of French craft beers to your taste. La Goutte d’Or’s “Hop Bless America!” gives you a good feel for what French IPAs are all about.
But here in France we also have a big love affair with dark beers. Paname’s Bete Noire Black IPA matches Cascade, Citra and Amarillo hops with a big dose of chocolate malt to make a 6% beer full of licorice and chocolate flavors. Outland mixes dark and fruit with its Orange Is The New Porter, and even has a full-on whisky-barrel-aged sour Imperial stout.
By the way, you’ll probably find English spoken in most of these bars, brewpubs and bottleshops. But you’ll also probably find it useful to know the magic words biere artisanale: craft beer in French.