For a lot of people, France doesn’t seem like an obvious destination for a beer hunter. It always seemed to me like they've been sandwiched between huge beer uprisings in the UK, Italy and Spain but never really felt the need for their own. So it was a pleasant surprise to see the Lyon Biere Festival take shape this Spring.
I sat on the Saône River promenade chatting to Paul Brouwer (yes, that really is his name) from Amsterdam’s, Oedipus Brewing, desperately trying to shield my refreshing French brewed sour from a relentless midday sun. It was here I realised we were seeing the dawn of the bright and exciting French beer culture that many hoped would arrive a few years ago.
I’d also never seen a brewery with its logo printed on a hand fan before, but then I've never been to Florida. There’s a chance that a few years ago the person holding it had never enjoyed a modern craft beer and now here we all were with nine thousand other people drinking Slim Pickens, Other Half and The Veil alongside dozens of the best French Breweries carefully chosen to sit alongside them.
For the French, the festival represents a truly world-class beer celebration in France's hallowed gastronomic heartland. American brewers came in significant numbers for a new experience on the European Spring festival circuit. The allure of a modern beer festival with some of their esteemed colleagues as well as new French friends representing an irresistible opportunity to broaden their horizons.