Bière or Brasserie??
What's the difference between a French brewery or restaurant?
Ever tried to Google “Craft Breweries in Paris”? How about simply “Breweries in Paris”? If so, you will probably get a ton hits. But, then as you start picking through these, Google presents you with loads of pictures of…. Food? Then as you start to look more in depth, you may find some bars, and maybe one or two actual breweries. But at this point it’s hard to discern what is what, and the whole affair becomes a bit complicated, simply to find a brewery in Paris. Why is this? Is it because we are searching for this in English, and not French? Try searching for the same thing with the french word for brewery: “brasserie”. The results will be the same.
This is because the french word “brasserie” is the same word for a formal restaurant. Furthermore, it’s not simply a case of the noun modifier (le/la) being different as in some cases. No, it’s exactly the same. It turns out this is the same because originally in older historical times the local restaurant in a village would be the place that beer would be brewed and served. But if today “brasserie” can mean either “brewery” or “restaurant”.. which one came first, the chicken or the egg?
To all our beer connoisseurs out there, rest assured that it was actually first used as a term for a brewery! This is because the modern “restaurant” did not actually start until the late 1700s (where actually the first restaurants were said to have started in France..btw :)). But what is interesting is that if we look into the etymology of the word brasserie, we find that it is actually tied with French history, extending back to very ancient times. Actually it turns out that this term was around even before France... was France.
The first people to settle in the area we now called France were called the Gauls, a group of Celtic people. They brewed a very ancient form of beer which they called “cervoise”, which was essentially water with fermenting grains. When they made this, the malt that was made was referred to as “brace”. The “brace” was made in the “brassin” (mash tub), and so therefore the “brewer” was referred to as a “brasseur”. Consequently the cervoise making place was known as a “brasserie”, or as we would call it today, a brewery!
Actually the french word for beer, “bière” wasn’t established until the mid 1400s. Until then it was still referred to as, you guessed it, cervoise! So, it’s interesting to note that a) these ancient ties of an extinct language are still present in French language, and; b) There is no clear distinction between terminology of an exclusive modern day restaurant, and one of the past.
Taking it one step further though, even knowing this, if you are only sfting through search results that are beer-associated, you will also find that the actual term for a small craft brewery, “micro-brasserie”, will also pull up results of simply bars or beer shops. Whether this is simply a case of common internet search misleading keywords, or French language is hard to say.
So, then, in the end, maybe you’re thinking ok how do i find where are the craft breweries and craft beer bars in Paris are...in English please! The basic answer is to combine different combinations of “micro brasserie” and/ or “bière artisanal”, and look at the pictures of the establishment. Alternatively, consider looking for Paris Beer Tours, and booking a tour with us.. and then we’ll SHOW you!
Thanks for reading. Bonappébière!
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