Category Archives: Food and Drink

Real Ale in Toulouse: Frog & Rosbif

There are two pub/restaurant micro-breweries in the Toulouse area. One alone is deserving of attention and it’s right in the middle of Toulouse, rue de l’Industrie: Frog & Rosbif

Easily reached by bus or Underground (car parking is also available but one should never drink and drive, it spoils the appreciation of a good pint), and a short brisk walk away from Place Wilson and its cinemas, the Frog & Rosbif resembles a traditional British pub, minus the bottles of spirits in optics and the Greasy Pie Display. You can, however, order an inexpensive meal. These are provided by local restaurants (one is Indian and includes a vegetarian option) and the one I had was most enjoyable.

Ales are brewed on-site. A fair variety is on offer and the nice man behind the bar kindly allowed some friends and myself to sample all the house ales on our first visit. I prefer dark beers, my friends tend to prefer lager.

  • Darktagnan stout, A.B.V. roughly 5%, not as dark as Guinness (if you want a draught Guinness, you’ll have to go to the Dubliners) and very tasty. Definitely cheers you up on a cold wet evening. I rated it a close second to…
  • Brew de l’Industrie, A.B.V. 5.2%. A pleasant, light yet malty affair. Possibly a little on the bland side, although during a hot, dusty, Toulouse summer this can often be counted a plus for those who don’t like lager or white beers. Actually, I don’t usually like bitters, but this is my favourite out of the six house beers.
  • Aeropostale, A.B.V. 4.4%. A bitter, and according to the pub’s website it’s the most popular of the six house beers. Personally I don’t like it, as I found it tastes of caramel (please note, this doesn’t mean it’s a sweet beer, in fact it’s quite the opposite) and I hate caramel. In fact none of our group liked it. Possibly you need to be English to appreciate it.
  • Ginger Twist, A.B.V. 4.4%. Described as “amber” on the site, although in the gloom of the pub it’s hard to tell apart from the lager, this one left us cold at first taste. Then we had another go at it while eating my vegetable biryani, and found the touch of ginger and lemon just right. Highly recommended with spicy food.
  • Frog Natural Blonde, A.B.V. 4.2%. Yer lager. I don’t like lager as a rule, so I’m not the best judge here. It seems well made and full-bodied, so lager-drinkers should enjoy it. The ones in our group did.
  • Maison Blanche, A.B.V. 4.2%. A white beer. For those of you who haven’t come across this Belgian invention, it’s a light beer often served with a slice of lemon in, much appreciated when the sun’s blazing down. This one’s good, without being outstanding. Must try it again in summer.

The Frog & Rosbif is actually part of a small group, with pubs in Paris and Bordeaux. Each will have its own specialities.

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CAMRA: The Campaign for Real Ale

Logo

Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gently lampooned by Douglas Adams (Slartibartfast and the Campaign for Real Time) and Terry Pratchett (Campaign for Real Cats), the CAMpaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA, is nevertheless a serious and worthy organisation, as neither author would dispute.

Familiar to denizens of the UK, CAMRA has been around for over 25 years. Its objectives are simple: to encourage small local breweries, promote good-quality ale, and champion consumer rights.

When CAMRA was first set up, industrial brewery chains were buying up small pub-breweries and turning them into characterless outlets for pasteurised, fizzy fluids with all the character of alcoholic cardboard. It’s still happening, but independent breweries are better placed to fight back these days.

The problem with beer is that it doesn’t travel well, hence the industrial solution (Private Eye readers may appreciate the pun) of pasteurisation. This kills yeast and bacteria; unfortunately the yeast remaining in the cask or bottle is what gives the beer its flavour and fizz. In short, pasteurisation is the act of taking away from the beer what makes it beer. So they inject CO2, which restores fizz – frequently rather more than was necessary, giving us a sort of alcoholic dry soda – but not the life. Zombie beer.

CAMRA is active mainly in the UK and Europe. Sadly, although that other great country for good ale, Belgium, is a founder member of the European Beer Consumers Union, Germany has apparently yet to come to its collective senses. When visiting the UK, don’t hesitate to check out CAMRA-recommended pubs – where as a rule the barman will gladly advise you on the ale most likely to suit your taste – and if elsewhere, maybe it’s time you looked around to see if a similar movement isn’t happening in your country.

Important note:
Beer contains alcohol. As well as tasting better, real ale often contains more alcohol than commercial crap. It is also a food.

Remember, therefore, that it is better to enjoy a half-pint slowly with a good meal than to down several pints quickly under the mistaken impression that it’s the manly thing to do. A little-known secret: the Real Man drinks wisely, not too well, and has no qualms about calling a taxi if by miscalculation he’s overshot the mark.

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