Years Back - Geneva

A 4-day festival on the banks of Lake Geneva, organized by the Swiss beer drinkers organization for the 14th year. The ABO is a member organization of the European Beer Consumers Union with about 500 members - but many of them join just to serve at this fete, thereby getting free beer. There are local organizations that have occasional club-only tastings, dinners, or brewery visits.

This fete was free to enter, then you ordered beers from lists or a printed program and were poured an entire 33cl beer, usually from a bottle, at 4CHF to about 8CHF ($3 to $6). Days started at 3pm but the crowd was spotty until the band started at 8pm. Closing time was midnight on Thursday and Sunday, 2am on Friday and Saturday.

Stands under the tents included British, North American, Belgian, French, Swiss, German, and a Bierodrome which had a little of each so you could sample many styles without wearing out your feet. I poured at the North American stand of course where Anchor and Unibroue were the main offerings. There was some Sam Adams but I never saw anyone drink any. Anchor Liberty, Old Foghorn, Porter, and Stout. Unibroue's that we get in the states plus Bolduc, Eau Benite, Fringante, Irresistible, Raftman, and U2. Also MacAuslan Griffon Rousse, a dark abbey style, MacAuslan Blanche a l'Abricot, very sweet, were at our stand.

The North American staff.

All in all, more than 200 bieres differentes, 80 on tap. Most descriptions in the program, on the tables, and indeed, throughout the region at menus in brewpubs and bars, classify beer by the color. Blanche (white - usually wheat), Blonde, Ambree, Rousse, Noir. The program even called Old Foghorn a cream stout. Go figure.

Stuff I wish there was time to try:
  • Britain: Cains Formidable Ale, Freeminer (3 varieties), Hopback Taiphoon, Young's Waggle Dance.
  • Belgium: Caracole Troublette (on tap), Elezellolise Hercule, Haacht Charles Quint (on tap), l'Empereur, Lindemans Faro (on tap), Silly Scotch.
  • France: Gwiniz Du (brune), Chouchen cider, Biere du Demon (12%).
  • Germany: Andechs Dunkelweissbier, Andechser Bergbock, Berliner Kindl, Sion (kolsch).
  • Switzerland: Brasserie Artisanale de Fribourg (4 names including Old Cat), Boxer Old, Egger Fleur d'abeille, Brasserie Saint Monon.
The bands: Huge Puppies (ska/punk), Botanical Roots Band (reggae), Grand Bastard Deluxe (punk rock), Galloway (Celtic rock), and Zen Zila (Oriental rock). We can't make this stuff up.

The Fete de la Biere is scheduled again for the first weekend in June.

Geneva's Brewpubs
Les Brasseurs is directly across the street on the east side of the train station. What a location. Next time you take the train to the Geneva UN or Red Cross offices, be sure to stop in.
  • Blonde
  • Blanche - A wheat beer tending toward American style. Certainly not a German or a wit but still slightly tart and citric.
  • Agave - Yellow heading toward green. Chartreuseish. Very light tequilla note but that crisps the attack. Way less agave than, say, Tequiza.
  • Ambree - Bright copper, mild, creamy, no bitter to speak of. Still, a decent beer.
  • Biere du Lion - Identical color to the Ambree. They say, "like a blonde but strong". Well described if strong means up to the strength of taste of a reasonably good beer. Not alcoholic strong at all. Some citric notes including lemon. Thirst quenching.

Lion, Ambree

Les Brasseurs des Grottes. 2 minutes form the train station. Swiss "modern" decor. Hip-hop music. Surly service. Metered dispense attached to the cash register. Even coffee was metered. Large place with rooms meandering all over evidently gives it the name. After being ignored by the tender after our taster (three 1decaliter beers), we left.
  • Blonde - Yep, blonde lager, and a mediocre one.
  • Planche - Darker, less CO2. Decent American style weiss. Still fairly bland.
  • Ambree - Dunkel Lager. Malty and full of aroma and taste. Would have liked to try a full one. 

Other Biere Stuff
Beers tasted:
  • Schneider Weisse - "Original". The dunkel. Dark with a red tint. In an "Australian" restaurant with kangourou brochettes, zucchini, and fries. Yum. Terry had a plate of prawns and rice with a fried egg on top. Go figure.
  • Cardinal - On tap at a small restaurant in Switzerland. Gassy pilsner served on a red cloth that gave it a copper color instead of pale yellow.
  • Hoegaarden - Bought in a can at a Casino supermarket. Fully carbonated and more filling than I remember. Still a very good, even at cool room temperature straight off the shelf.
  • Lefe Dark - Black with a red tint. In a "British" pub where Stella Artois and McEwans Scotch were the only other "Brit" beers but they were out of McEwans. Creamy abbey brune. Excellent condition.
  • La Becasse Kriek - From Interbrew in Brussels. Dark red with slightly pink head. Not much cherry aroma, more sweet malt. At near-room temperature was thick, sweet, and unpleasantly tart all at the same time while some nondescript cherry taste comes through. Not a memorable beer.
  • La Becasse Geuze - Perfectly brown. Lacks almost all of the sour geuze character associated with the style. It's not sweet by any means but this is to geuze as mashed potatoes are to German hot potato salad.

Homebrewing is almost unknown in the areas we've visited and any homebrewing supplies must be mail-ordered.

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