PARIS — Just engaged and bubbly in hand, the happy couple dropped by his neighborhood joint to give us the rundown. Their champagne flutes seemed at odds with the surroundings — perhaps surprisingly, given that this was a drinks shop in Paris. At Peoples Drugstore, however, caps far outnumber corks as wine takes a back seat to brews.
Beer is appreciated in France but Kronenbourg 1664 is often the sole choice. My husband and I became necessary fans, but not without nostalgia for what could’ve been back in Boston. One Halloween, Cambridge friends smuggled Shipyard Pumpkinhead to us in their suitcase.
Next time they can pack candy for our kids instead because Paris is having an awakening, and it goes beyond Brooklyn lager’s recent arrival in town. Craft producers from around Europe — including local brewery Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or of the aptly named French Kiss — are gaining recognition in boutiques and bars like the three below.
Simon Thillou has been selling Parisians on the power of hops since before it was trendy at La Cave à Bulles, his airy store in the Marais. No snob, Thillou’s barley belief system goes down easy (music is a major tenet). Side projects like La Fine Mousse, a hip watering hole, and “Get Radical,” concocted by friends at a brewery in southern France, showcase his passion. He describes an opening of minds: “It’s out of control already! People are just grooving for more beer, more taste.” 45 rue Quincampoix, 011-01-40-29-03-69, www.caveabulles.fr
“C’est super bon,” enthused the young shopkeeper at Peoples Drugstore who seemed straight out of a Nick Hornby novel. We concurred that Sierra Nevada has its charms but took two of his regional suggestions from the some 500 beers in stock. He chilled both the Belgian Triple Cauwe and the house blonde, then left us to play at a communal chess table. It felt like attending an intimate party in Montmartre with the candelabras and chipping paint, particularly when associate Nabil Benali appeared with his betrothed, giving us a reason to toast. 78 rue des Martyrs
Claudia Lerin-Falliero sees a movement underway. “It’s just the beginning,” she said. “But it will progress very fast.” Helping speed things along, Le Supercoin — her place with partner Philippe Chapdelaine — focuses on French microbrews like Agent Provocateur. The neighborhood clientele packs the small space decorated with empty bottles and retro light fixtures in a part of the 18th arrondissement less traversed by tourists. “We wanted to make the bar where we wanted to go,” she said. And lucky for us, they wanted to drink beer.
3 rue Baudelique, 011-09-50-07-04-90, www.supercoin.net