Best Beer in France – Brasserie de Saint Omer

Written by on July 21, 2014 in Nord-Pas de Calais, Wine and Drinks

saint omer beer

A tale of one man’s passion for beer and how it has led to a fabulous success story in France. From a small enterprise making home made beer, delivered by hand in a little van to become one of the biggest beer brewers in France – the Brasserie de Saint Omer…

Driving through the countryside from Calais to St Omer past mini chateaux and sleepy towns with tall, spikey, church spires, jewel coloured cottage gardens, bright fields of golden wheat and red poppies, I reached the market town of St Omer.

I was on a mission to discover the best food and beer of this part of France and had been to the best bakery in the north, enjoyed the gorgeous market in the town square, visited a cheese shop with unique cheeses and had lunch in a restaurant that only uses serves seasonal and local produce – including beer made in the town. Now I was off to discover where that beer was made and visit one of the biggest breweries in the north – the Brasserie de Saint Omer.

The brasserie isn’t your usual place for tourist trips and it isn’t open to the public though small groups can take a tour, but I’d asked to see it because their beer is so famous in France and the UK where much of it is exported to and I wanted to know more.

The beer making premises are in the centre of the lovely, ancient market town of St Omer and give no indication whatsoever of the sheer size of the operation. The offices and reception are in the old St Omer Cinema but this place is like Dr. Who’s Tardis and covers a total of 45,000 m².

st omer beer maker andre PecquerI was lucky enough to catch up with one of the most important beer makers in France – Monsieur André Pecquer, a thoroughly charming man who welcomed me to the factory. He told me animatedly that he had been in the wine industry and then the beer industry all of his life and at 75 he is still hugely excited by making beer. He started off with a tiny production in 1976, making local beer and selling it to shops and cafés in the area. His beer was very well received and the distribution channels grew… and grew… and grew.

Last year he made 30 different beers – 700 million bottles, 90 million cans and 25,000 barrels of beer . The operation is still growing, 55% of the beer is exported – mainly to the UK and the rest of Europe and the Brasserie de Saint Omer is making inroads to China, Australia and Africa.

Monsier Pecquer, the man who once made the beer and delivered it himself in a small van now runs a massive operation with high tech machinery and 350 employees – it is a huge success story. He tells me that he “still has lots of plans for development” and has no intention of stopping. He has a twinkle in his eye and a determined look about him and I have no doubt that he will go on to conquer more markets around the world and sell even more beer.

brasserie de saint omer production line

I took a tour of the factory floor, it is a quite incredible operation and a screen on the ceiling logs how many bottles are being produced by the hour. 32,040 blinks the screen as it the numbers spin, I’m incredulous. “That’s nothing” says my guide “this is a slow day, our record is 144,000 bottles an hour”. We walk on the overhead paths and watch the bottles being sterilised, filled, labels put on, lids on and into boxes, the premises are a sea of activity and awash with bottles of beer.

st omer beer france

I ask Monsieur Pecquer what his favourite beer is and he tells me “when you’re thirsty you drink one beer, when you want a degustation, a tasty beer to savour you drink another” and his eyes turn to La  Goudale, one of the Brasserie’s most popular beers in this part of France. He tells me that if you eat a lot you should drink “Triple beer” as its good for the digestion. I confess that I am amazed at how big the Brasserie de Saint Omer enterprise is and how incredible that this has all come from one man with a passion for beer. “C’est une belle aventure” he says “and it isn’t over yet”.

I leave with several delicious bottles of beer, the tour has made me thirsty.

Website: www.brasserie-saint-omer.com

Saint Omer – great places to eat and a special cheese shop
Officially the best bread in France – near Saint Omer
Visiting Saint Omer – what to see and do

Tags: ,

Related Articles

Museums, Monuments and Arts Venues of Lille

Lille in northern France is one of the most cultural cities in the country. There are more than a dozen museums and art venues in the city and every three years or so Lille goes arty-party mad with a major several-months-long art festival known as Lille3000 in public buildings and the streets. Palais des Beaux […]

Continue Reading

The best boutique French wines in the USA

Nothing beats going to a French vineyard and enjoying a tasting, then taking home some delicious French wine to enjoy at leisure. But it’s not always possible to do that, especially if you’re in the US. Luckily for you, SomMailier wine club brings the very best boutique French wines direct to you. Delivered right to […]

Continue Reading

Family-friendly holidays in northern France

If you’re wondering where to go this year for a quintessential French holiday that’s a real family pleaser then look no further! Just across the English Channel you will find long golden sandy beaches, rock pools where you can fish for shrimp and mussels, discover secret inlets and see seals sunbathe. Somewhere you can buy […]

Continue Reading

Le Shopping List for a day trip to Calais France

When it comes to a day trip to France, wine isn’t the only thing that should be on your shopping list… When you take a day trip to Calais, build in time to shop for great French produce. Right next door to the Eurotunnel station is Cité Europe. A huge shopping mall stuffed full of […]

Continue Reading

Visit Ruinart Reims – the oldest Champagne House in the world

Mark Twain, the great American writer was spot on when he claimed: “too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right”. Ever since it was “discovered” in France in the 17th century, just about everyone has fallen under the spell of the effervescent wine. It can only be made in Champagne, […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top