Vignette #9: Stéphane Bogaert (St. Germain)
Castelain's Loïc Falce (L) with Stéphane Bogaert (R)
Brewer vignettes feature quotes from brewers I picked up in my travels around the world.
“Everybody thinks Belgium when you say beer. In this region, we are not so famous compared to Belgian breweries--but the history is the same.... That’s why I say to my colleagues that they should write ‘bière de garde’ on the label because it’s profitable for everybody. We want to be different from Belgium and we want the people, especially in America, talk about French beer. Bière de garde is something you can say, okay, it’s a French style.”
“In the past, many local brewers decided to change and adapt the beer to new tastes and there was no more bitterness in beer. We were more interested in beers like Westmalle, Orval. We decided to make our own beer, but in a bitter style. More bitterness than we used to find in local beers. Three years ago we decided to work 100% with local hops. There is a movement to work with organic beer, but most of the people are obliged to buy hops from Germany or New Zealand, places like that. So we decided, we don’t want to make organic beer, but let’s work with local hops.”
“We have a tradition here. We try to stay traditional. Our philosophy is to respect the bière de garde tradition. The major activity of the brewery must stay this kind of beers. Because, if we want to export to the US, you have so many good IPAs--the American consumer will be more interested in bière de gardes [from France].”
St. Germain produces the Page 24 line of beers. They are located in Aix-Noulette, near Lille and the Belgian border, and all the ingredients to make beer are grown within a few miles of the brewery. St. Germain is one of the breweries committed to reviving a sense of "Frenchness" in their beers.