Brasserie de Vézelay

I spotted these on our very first day in France. We stopped at Beaune for the night and popped into the local Carrefour to pick up some water and other sundries for the following day. I found loads of these bottles, both in the main beer aisle and in the local produce section. So I picked up a few to take down to the villa and then bought some more as we passed, three weeks later, on the way back home.

I was quite excited to see what appeared to be a local microbreweries beers in one of France’s major supermarkets, I thought this might bode well for the rest of the holiday. It was just a shame they didn’t have any of the IPA, which appeared to be the only other beer being brewed at the time. Brasserie de Vézelay Blanche Bio I thought the branding looked very slick with the thin diagonal labels and I had high hopes, especially as two of them appeared to be organic as well.

Evidently, the Blanche is a Bavarian Hefeweizen, I could have sworn it was a Belgian Wit. The bottle opened with a very loud phzzzt, but didn’t explode out of the neck. It did turn to foam as it poured into the glass though, resulting in ⅓ beer to ⅔ foam. The nose was slightly spicy, slightly wheaty and chock full of carbon dioxide.

In the mouth it instantly turned to foam, which meant that if you took a large mouthful, it was practically squirting out of you nose and ears. The ridiculous level of carbonation made it hard to determine exactly what the beer tasted of, all I got was some sweet orange rind and a vague tickle of a coriander type spice. The Carrefour must have ad a bad batch, as the bottle I bought on the way down did exactly the same thing as this one, which was bought three weeks later.

Next, I decided to drink the Blonde, mainly as I prefer to go from light to dark when drinking multiple beers. It poured a light copper colour, with a compact, slight off white head. The head didn’t last, and dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. I didn’t get a lot on the nose, just a faint whiff of orange. It was nice and smooth in the mouth, with a good level of body about it.

However, it was pretty one dimensional, as there wasn’t a lot of bitterness, so it was all just sweet orangey malt from start to finish. There was a brief tickle just before the after taste, which left the mouth nice and juicy, but it all left me just wishing it’d had just a bit more going on. I don’t know if this was an old bottle, hence the last of perceived bitterness, or if it’s just like that. Either way, while it was nice, it was ultimately unsatisfying.

The Ambrée poured a burnished copper brown colour, with a light tan coloured head. The head didn’t last and dropped almost immediately to a ring round the edge of the glass. There wasn’t much on the nose, although I did get a faint whiff of penny chew.

It was pleasantly full bodied, with the initial sweet maltiness being usurped by a tickle of bitterness, before some red berry fruit malt flavours wrestled back control. The after-taste was juicy, leaving the mouth watering with faint red berry flavours. It was perfectly pleasant, but nothing to get overly excited about.

Last up was the Brune, which poured a chestnut brown colour, with a reticent tan coloured head. The head dropped away almost instantly, and couldn’t even be arsed to leave a patch or a ring round the edge of the glass. The nose carried the faintest whiff of peat and caramel, but was otherwise pretty non-existent. In the mouth it felt a touch shy of being full bodied enough, as it just had a touch of wateriness round the edges. The main flavour was a peaty smokiness, that while not unpleasant as it wasn’t very strong, was pretty solitary and not really backed up by anything else; meaning it was pretty one dimensional. I had high hope on the initial sip, but they were dashed the more I drank, it wasn’t bad, just not particularly great.

Like most beers you buy in the supermarket, these weren’t bad, but they weren’t particularly great either. While it was nice to see something local and that was obviously from a microbrewery, none of them were without fault. This just highlights one of the issues with buying beer from a supermarket, you have no idea how the beer has been treated. It may well have left the brewery in tip top condition and been ruined by incorrect transportation and storage. It may have sat on the shelves, under strong lights and warmth for too long, there’s just no way of knowing. I’d try these beers again if I saw them, crossing my fingers while I did so.