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Thread: Pubs in Charente area, France

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    This Space For Hire sheffield hatter's Avatar
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    Default Pubs in Charente area, France

    During my recent stay in France I sampled a couple of bars in the Charente area, one in the town of Angouleme, which is the international centre for bandes dessinées (comic books and graphic art). In fact, I had just missed the 40th International Festival there, though I did get to watch the workmen dismantling the framework of one of the marquees right outside the pub, Le Chat Noir. The Black Cat is handily placed in the centre of town, right next to the pedestrian exit from the car park that is buried beneath the market hall. There's the usual glass fronted terrace, with the main bar centrally placed in among some smaller internal seating areas. I didn't check out the full range of beers as they had Grimbergen, which is one of the more interesting lagers to be found in France. Drinks are around the €3 mark.

    The other bar, in the picturesque village of Verteuil, also on the River Charente, was a little disappointing, even for France. The Dixieland Cafe is run by a young couple: he is English and she is French. There is a beer garden overlooking the river and with a view of the chateau, but as it was a chilly and wet day in February we didn't check it out. Posters inside advertise the popular local bands that play here, but on our quiet Sunday afternoon it was difficult to imagine the place heaving. Although there are four fonts, with two standard lagers plus Grimbergen and Guinness, unfortunately only the Carlsberg was on. It's a long time since I've had a drink of probably the worst lager in the world, and after Sunday I'm in no hurry to repeat the experience.
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    Come On You Hatters!

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    Default Craft brewery & tap in Angoulême

    On my latest visit to the Charente, where my brother and his family have lived for over 30 years, he greeted me with the welcome news that there is a new craft brewery and tap in Angoulême, the nearest large town. La Débauche is in a small industrial unit not far from the railway station, in fact almost overlooking the tracks. We didn't investigate the brewing plant, though there were several shiny tanks that were easy to admire as we approached the entrance to the tap room. This was very like an English brewery's tap room, though perhaps larger and a little bit more stylish than most, with several tables and a number of chairs of various heights. The bar is on the back wall, with numerous taps protruding from the backboard. On offer is a "flight" (they have borrowed the English word) of four small glasses for €7 (that's about €14 per litre, or about £4 per half pint).

    I didn't enquire what the regular price for a draught beer would be, as we were here to try the beers and take some bottles back with us. (My brother had to drive, and some of these beers were seriously strong.) On some shelves beside the bar are some bottles, with maybe 20 different beers, all from La Débauche. (The name has a local meaning: en bauche in Charentais dialect means "at work", so I suppose débauche would be "at leisure"; obviously the overtones from its regular association with debauchery are not accidental.)

    Beers that we tried were Never More, a 9.5% imperial stout (the name is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven); Cognac Barrel, also 9.5% - does what it says; Biere d'Hiver 7% - not as crudely spiced as English seasonal beers; and Lindy Hop 5.5%, a light refreshing beer named after a dance craze from the 1930s. All four were in good condition and neither excessively gassy nor ridiculously cold, which to me indicates a confidence in the taste of their beers. Which turned out to be justified.

    Bottles that we took out: in addition to the first three named above, we went for IPA 6% and Pimp My IPA 11%; Save Your Skin also 11%; Menestho 5.5%; Double Belge 7%; Big Boy Chilli Imperial Stout 12%; India Stout Black Ale 8.5%; and the elegantly named Slap a Banker 12%. The bottle labels are all individual works by different artists - at least, that's what I can remember my brother telling me, but that was after I'd had two or three of these beers on top of a Chimay Grande Reserve 9% and several glasses of wine, so I may have got it wrong. The bottled beers that I have had so far (I brought four home with me and haven't touched them yet) were almost all as good as the draft beer samples. Never More in bottle lacked condition and tasted too much of treacle rather than chocolate; Double Belge was unimpressive; Slap a Banker was as enjoyable as the design on the label.
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    Love the bottle labels.
    "Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer."
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheffield hatter View Post
    On my latest visit to the Charente, where my brother and his family have lived for over 30 years, he greeted me with the welcome news that there is a new craft brewery and tap in Angoulême, the nearest large town. La Débauche is in a small industrial unit not far from the railway station, in fact almost overlooking the tracks. We didn't investigate the brewing plant, though there were several shiny tanks that were easy to admire as we approached the entrance to the tap room. This was very like an English brewery's tap room, though perhaps larger and a little bit more stylish than most, with several tables and a number of chairs of various heights. The bar is on the back wall, with numerous taps protruding from the backboard. On offer is a "flight" (they have borrowed the English word) of four small glasses for €7 (that's about €14 per litre, or about £4 per half pint).

    I didn't enquire what the regular price for a draught beer would be, as we were here to try the beers and take some bottles back with us. (My brother had to drive, and some of these beers were seriously strong.) On some shelves beside the bar are some bottles, with maybe 20 different beers, all from La Débauche. (The name has a local meaning: en bauche in Charentais dialect means "at work", so I suppose débauche would be "at leisure"; obviously the overtones from its regular association with debauchery are not accidental.)

    Beers that we tried were Never More, a 9.5% imperial stout (the name is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven); Cognac Barrel, also 9.5% - does what it says; Biere d'Hiver 7% - not as crudely spiced as English seasonal beers; and Lindy Hop 5.5%, a light refreshing beer named after a dance craze from the 1930s. All four were in good condition and neither excessively gassy nor ridiculously cold, which to me indicates a confidence in the taste of their beers. Which turned out to be justified.

    Bottles that we took out: in addition to the first three named above, we went for IPA 6% and Pimp My IPA 11%; Save Your Skin also 11%; Menestho 5.5%; Double Belge 7%; Big Boy Chilli Imperial Stout 12%; India Stout Black Ale 8.5%; and the elegantly named Slap a Banker 12%. The bottle labels are all individual works by different artists - at least, that's what I can remember my brother telling me, but that was after I'd had two or three of these beers on top of a Chimay Grande Reserve 9% and several glasses of wine, so I may have got it wrong. The bottled beers that I have had so far (I brought four home with me and haven't touched them yet) were almost all as good as the draft beer samples. Never More in bottle lacked condition and tasted too much of treacle rather than chocolate; Double Belge was unimpressive; Slap a Banker was as enjoyable as the design on the label.
    Speaking of borrowing English words, I was in Paris for a day trip last week where they are adopting Craft Beer, the words for which are...Craft Beer, gender not specified.

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