Unfortunately we are not all joined at the hip, even though we all lived under one roof last year. In one of our few weeks apart Charlie ventured off to Marseille…
Manchester and Marseille have much in common: they both begin with M, were called home by both Eric Cantona and Joey Barton... Ok, I am clutching at straws here. There aren’t too many parallels to be drawn between the two. But anyway, this summer I ventured out there for a few days for a brief city break – long after the shirtless England fans and Russian hooligans graced its pavements, of course.
Marseille, France’s second most populous city, is located on the South Coast and is capital of the Cote d’Azur region. One of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, Marseille has long been a link to North Africa and as a result is noticeably one of the most culturally diverse cities I have seen. With a reputation of being rough around the edges, especially in comparison with its glamorous capital city (sound familiar?), it is not at the top of everyone’s holiday wish lists. But without sounding too gushing, it is hard to see why? It has got culture coming out of its ears, think le Corbusier, loads of old churchy stuff and a brand new Netflix show coming out about it. But I won’t bore you any longer with my attempt at being Michael Palin, this is a beer blog after all.
Marseille is known for its rosé, bouillabaisse and everything else you associate with the med. The thing it definitely isn’t known for is beer. I assumed it would be boring lager central, and I was half right. The tipples of choice were a Monaco, which is their answer to a shandy with grenadine replacing the lemonade. The other choice, weirdly enough, was wheat beer. Seemingly every middle aged male in the city was sat outside drinking Hoegaarden garnished with orange or lime.
Luckily, after a long weekend spent in the city, I stumbled across across three beers worth shouting about.
La Cagole - Blanche 4.5%
La Cagole is a popular brewery in and around Marseille and its pilsner is plastered all over billboards throughout the city. When eating in the Panier district (Marseille’s answer to the Northern Quarter) I was given a Cagole Blanche, which I hadn’t seen before.
A great beer for the summer, it was refreshing but also had a spicy cinnamon kick to keep things interesting.
Des Suds Fabrique de Bières Bio - Part Faite, 5.5%
Part Faite is described as a ‘Kolsch-Style Ale’. Brewed by an organic microbrewery in Marseille, the first thing that sprung to mind was “what is a Kolsch doing around here?”. But as my beer snobbery moment was over, it was swiftly followed by “give it a go, could be interesting”.
Now I am no expert in the dark arts of lager variations however I must admit that this wasn’t bad at all, it was fruity, light and overall quite un-lagery which pushed my buttons.
Biere des Gardians au Riz de Camargue – Grain Noir, 4.7%
Biere des Gardians are a brewery which aims to fly the flag for rice in the Camargue, and they seem to be doing it pretty well. Made with traditional provencal methods (whatever they are) this black rice stout was absolutely brilliant. A very English tasting dark beer with a liqorice sweetness, it is one I would 100% recommend.
After having a little Google I have also seen that it won silver at the Japanese International Beer Awards in 2014 (see the certificate below) so it isn’t just me who is a fan.
But anyway if you want to take anything from this article, here it is: Don’t go to Marseille for beer (unless you’re a judge for the Japanese Beer Awards) but Do go for other things, such as sunshine, great seafood and genuine character.