Saturday, June 4, 2016

Brasseries in France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Brasserie Midi.

A brasserie is a brewery in French. Even 200 years ago the Alsace and the Lorraine in Northern France were known for their many small but good breweries that also served light meals. Today more that 50% of the beer brewed in France comes from large breweries in the Alsace and Lorraine.

The Alsace and the Lorraine.
Copyright Kids

The history of Brasseries in France.
In 1870 Germany had mostly become a single German state and forced the Franco-Prussian War on France. This was the war that saw the exile of Napoleon III to England and the establishment of France’s Third Republic.  After Germany’s victory, it annexed most of the French regions of Alsace and the Lorraine. Following the annexation, there was a rush of emigrants from the Alsace in the North to Paris and the south.

  A sign in Brasserie Lipp in Paris today.
The first brasseries were in Paris.
Some of these Alsatian immigrants had worked in or owned brasseries in the Alsace brewing and selling beer.  In Paris, and in other cities, they opened restaurants whose first menus were typically Alsatian, and some did, in the beginning, brew their own beer. These brasseries began as open noisy restaurants and, apart from whatever else they offered, they included traditional Alsatian dishes such as  Choucroute, pickled cabbage; Timbales, pies; Foie Gras, fatted goose and duck liver;Baeckeoffe, a hearty stew, and of course beer.

Le Grand Café, bar-brasserie in the town of Moulins.
Its decoration has remained since 1899.
The style is a mixture of Art Nouveau and Art-Déco.
At the end of the World War I, the Alsace and the Lorraine returned to the rule of France.  Now came more Alsatian immigrants to follow on the success of those who came earlier. At the same time, by the 1920’s Art Deco had become popular and many Brasseries are still recognized by their unique Art Deco exteriors or interiors. Brasseries were well established and while they offered a full menu that included Alsatian specialties they still sold more beer than wine. 

Photograph courtesy of Karol Franks

Brasseries menus today.

Today Brasserie menus may have less visible links to the Alsace, in some maybe just a quarter of the menu will offer Alsatian dishes and wines and they will be selling more wine than beer.Most Brasseries are open every day of the week serving the same menu all day.

Dinner in Brasserie Margaux

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2016

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman


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