The sentence has almost become a saying: “What happens in the USA hits us about ten/twenty years later.” On the other side of the Atlantic, small craft breweries, occasionally micro-breweries, have been mushrooming everywhere since the end of the 80s. Every town, even every district, has its own beer(s). The trend has now reached France which, even though some regions have been pretty passionate about quality beers for quite some time, is above all a wine country.
The Landes also proclaims this loud and clear. Far from the North and East, where beer reigns supreme, a passionate few are taking a stab at spreading the word of the virtues of hops and malt throughout the region. Stéphane and Gilles, aka the Bourdillas brothers, commercialized La Séquère five years ago in Dax. “We were running a beer bar and, back in 2008, we came up with the idea of creating our own beer which we would sell ourselves”, recalls Stéphane.
After experimenting and pondering for a few years, the machine was set up in the bruv’s garage, under the baffled eyes of a thirsty dog, who would lend his image (a tongue-wagging hound poses proudly on the label) and his name to the beer. “He was really thirsty, so I said to Gilles, give your dog a drink, and then in Gascon dialect ‘il a la séquère’, meaning ‘he’s dying of thirst’.” As well as it name, the fact that the beer is chiefly made from corn adds a special local touch to La Séquère.
Rudy and Cathy Dupont fully exploit this card. The couple, natives of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and “therefore” beer fans, who run the Cath’ brewery in Capbreton, wished to create THE hopped beverage which would perfectly accompany cuisine from the South-West, a region which they fell in love with.
“We spent a great deal of time working on the recipes. With the aim of establishing a North-South alliance. The beers are full-bodied, like those of the North, but with a lot of work on taste, so that they go well with duck, for example.”
So, will beer replace wine on reputed tables in the South-West? Alexandra Bacqué, at the helm of Kanaha beers (Kanaha means “40”, in Hawaiian), in Biscarrosse, prefers to talk about complementarity. “Our intention is not to compete with wine. The two drinks are totally different. But, it’s true, that at the moment a lot of people are discovering a taste for beer. And it’s easier to drink than wine.”