Brasserie Henry

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The tiny village of Bazincourt in Lorraine is very attractive, and set in the valley of the River Saulx with the Foret du Haut Juré to the north, Foret de Trois-Fontaines to the west and Foret du Ligny to the south-east. There is obvious appeal to living in such a place and it was here that Englishman Ben Henry founded his microbrewery.

Having produced his first beer at the tender age of twelve it was perhaps inevitable that he would do it full-time one day. An interesting range of jobs, ending with a spell as a shop-fitter in London, did not discourage him from the idea and in 1991 he moved to France to a village in the area in which his wife, Frédérique, had grown up. Most of his time was spent rebuilding the house they bought and it was not until 6th December 1996 that the brewery actually started commercially, but even that was more by nature than design.

Henry Brewery Entrance

Still home-brewing and always keen to try out new recipes, Ben decided to make use of the redcurrants that the area is renowned for by brewing two barrels of recurrant beer which he planned to present to the village council for use at the local festival. It seems they didn't quite get the right idea - instead of accepting the beer and dispensing it at the fetsival they granted Ben a licence to sell beer from his house. So he opened his garage and sold the beer from there. Apparently it went very quickly and there were nearly some ugly scenes when it ran out. It was obviously time to take things more seriously.

The garage was turned into more of a commercial brewery and a small fermentation room was constructed to house the three fermenters. To supplement his home-brewing experience Ben went on a course run by Brewlab in Sunderland, UK, and to further maintain his links with his homeland, uses a London yeast in his brews.


The first commercial beer was La Bière du Père Fouettard which is a name that has great meaning in the area. The Lorraine, Alsace and northern France areas celebrate Christmas with Saint Nicholas rather than Father Christmas (Père Noël). Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children and one of the more outrageous stories about him suggests that he restored to life three children who had been chopped up by a butcher and put in a tub of brine. In 1552 the Spanish under Charles Quint (Charles V) laid seige to Metz, which finally ended around Christmas time. Saint Nicholas visited, followed by an effigy of Charles Quint whom they named Père Fouettard (Father Whipper). Because he was so disliked local folklore has him as the one who beats the naughty children while Saint Nicholas gives sweets to the children who have been good. There are a number of versions of him but Ben's preferred version is the one he chose for the beer label.


THE BEER RANGE

  

La Bière du Père Fouettard

7% Alc/Vol. Available in 75cl and 33cl bottles.

A quality beer, initially strongly bitter with a profoundly resinous hop balanced by a full and fruity crystal malt base.

It was placed second in the 'coloured beers' class of the 1999 French Beer Championships.

Père du Fouettard label

Blanche de la Saulx

5% Alc/vol. Available in 75cl & 33cl bottles and on draught

Blanche de la Saulx Label

A good attempt at an artisanal German style wheat beer.

Golding

5% Alc/Vol. Available in 75cl & 33cl bottles and on draught..

As Ben says - "Golding gave his name to the most highly rated hop, my beer is homage to the man and his great hop". He has created a beer that gives full rein to the golding hop, the aroma is fruity with a hint of hop but it grows strongly into the palate and finishes with a lingering sharp bitterness.

Golding label

London Porter Ale

7% Alc/vol. Available in 75cl & 33cl bottles

London Porter Label

An excellent porter which, for such a light 'stout' character, displays a surprising fullness, depth and complexity with a lovely smooth texture. Very accessible.

La Saulx

7% Alc/Vol. Available in 75cl and 33cl bottles.

A distinctive, fruity, alcoholic, malty, late night beer which has a good level of complexity without being over full.

La Saulx label

Bière de Mars

6% Alc/vol. Available in 75cl & 33cl bottles and on draught

Bière de Mars Label

Basinus

5% Alc/vol. Available in 75cl & 33cl bottles

     

A spiced dunkel Weizen beer (6 spices including coriander and ginger).


© 1998 The Artisan Press (Publishers) Limited


This page last updated Thursday 13th January 1999