Sampling Some French Beers: Lyon Biere Festival

As you might imagine, it takes quite a lot of convincing to persuade a group of 5 die-hard English ale drinkers from Burton to get into a car and drive all the way to Lyon, France for a beer festival.

“We’ve got all the beer we need here.”

“No Frenchie is going to make a better bitter than one of our brewers!” 

Despite these initial complaints, a brief look at the weather forecast for the south of France in late April was enough to change their minds and soon we were on the long road to Lyon for the fourth iteration of the city’s beer festival. Whilst us English have been gathering in tents, village halls and fields for decades, the French have only just started out and we thought it would be interesting to see how they do things across the water.

After renting a villa in the south of France, we set off on the road. The drive to Lyon was a long one, punctuated with numerous pit-stops and there were a handful of moments when we wondered whether it would have been more expedient to take a flight there, but after 15 hours we arrived at our villa, a little frazzled but much appreciative of the warmer weather. Although the complaints from the back of the minibus had been loud at first, as the journey had progressed and the weather grew fairer, these grumbles soon became mumbles of approval.

We had a day looking around the countryside near the villa, soaking up the warm Spring weather and sampling some local beers with our dinner in the evening. Thankfully, we were able to find a place that served a good steak, so spirits were high as we left the next morning for Lyon proper and our visit to the Lyon Biere Festival.

To our surprise the crowd at the Lyon Biere Festival were a little different to the usual crowd we’d see down at the Burton Beer Festival. Beer festivals in France were clearly a young man’s games at this point in time, and members of our party felt a little out of place being a good thirty or years older than the average attendee. Unsurprisingly, after a few fine French lagers these worries were quickly forgotten and we were soon chatting amiably with the locals who were curious about how a small group of senior Englishmen had found themselves in Lyon.

Having never visited France before the Burton Ale Drinker team left Lyon with nothing but good memories. Whilst all were agreed that there wasn’t much in the way competition between our British Ales and France’s lager, we had to admit that they certainly knew how to put on a large-scale event! This festival was smoothly operated, very affordable (just €6 per person!) and once we were inside the drinks didn’t cost us a fortune. Best of all we were able to buy a selection of bottles that we were particularly fond of, although not many of them lasted the long drive back to Burton…