by Anthony Goodman

Craft beer fever is sweeping the globe and La France is not immune. Numbers of artisanal brasseries have almost tripled in a few short years. Here in the P-O young skilful brewers are discovering our cool crisp gin-clear sweet water is the perfect ingredient. A native of Normandy, Mt Canigou’s snow melt drew Jean-Fabien Casteuble here 10 years ago. Since then he and his wife have built up Brasserie Alzina in the heart of Bouletenere and now lovingly produce 60,000 litres a year of high quality craft ales. We visited, asked a few questions and sampled his beer.

Brasserie Alzina.

La Ginade – Blonde Sur Lie 5%

A lovely session ale perfect for a match day BBQ or something to sooth a parched throat. Slightly cloudy of course with balanced hops, good body yet quite light. Seafood tapas, or rich local tapanade smeared over fresh baked bread. Chilled of course

Blanche 5%

A totally beguiling ale. Brewed with orange blossoms yet not overly floral. A hard to describe slight cardamon or coriander linger. Toothsome full bodied ale yet light. Lovely pale tawny colour, try it with a luscious tagine or a vegetable dahl. Chilled but not too cold.

Ambre 5.5%

A northern style ale brewed with a hint of wild mountain thyme. Slight floral, good head without being frothy. Lovely red/brown colour. It will look after you on cooler evenings beside the fire with a good book. Hard cheeses, perhaps a few lightly salted cashews or pistachios. Not too chilled, it’s winter.

Brune 6% A full bodied brown ale that would be at home in Newcastle, lovely nutty flavour with plenty of hops aroma. Chocolate brown colour, appropriately dimensioned creamy head. To be respected, it will make a statement at the dinner table. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Take the heat out of it but not too much.

Your visit

This is a genuine boutique brewery, tastings are conducted among pipes, stainless steel tanks and bags of barley. To help visitors Jean-Fabien asks that Tuesdays be the day for tastings and tours. Taught his trade by an English craft brewer so he speaks your language.
Good facilities and parking.
His ales are also available at local outlets, details ON THE WEBSITE.

Some other ales that attracted our attention while researching the local artisanal brasserie scene.

Blaoblank Wit biere. 5.3%

A classic unfiltered wheat beer from Maureillas, nice bite of hops. Slightly floral. Cloudy of course but not too heavy or heady. Blue cheese, olives. Available in speciality outlets or why not take a drive down to Maureillas and drop in.

Le Traquenard Blonde 6%

Prats-des-Mollo is becoming something of a hotspot for artisanal ales. This Nordic style blonde beer from a new micro brewery is a perfect example. A crisp initial bite, not too sharp. Fritto misto, satay crevettes or just enjoy a chilled glass on the terrace as the sun sets. Available from specialist outlets

Damablanc IPA 5%

IPA’s are perfect for our climate and seafood. While not quite a session ale this IPA from Brasserie du Quercorb allows space if your day calls for a second chilled glass. Plenty of IPA bite, good hops without too much malt. A good cheddar, Roquefort. black olive tapenade. Available from specialist outlets

Speakeasy Blonde IPA 6.5%

Produced in Millas by a small independent brewery. Barley malt. Unfiltered, slightly cloudy with plenty of bite for IPA lovers. No additives so best not to let it sit too long in the larder if you need an excuse. A spicy curry or a lush fragrant cheese such as Epoisses will not frighten it. Available from specialist outlets

Flying Pig American Pale Ale 5.6%

A smooth vegan friendly ale powered by American and Kiwi hops from this Quillan based brasserie. Sharp enough for a hard grilled steak or an anchovy rich pizza yet perfectly at home as an apero choice. Happy to be chilled till extra frosty while still delivering. Available from specialist outlets and on-line.

L’Antique 6.5%

A refreshing straight forward malt ale from L’Art de Joie at Vingrau. Slightly cloudy, gentle hops. Good head. Tapas or a hard local Tome. One to watch out for, available from specialist outlets and on-line.

Leave a Comment