The French beer Abbatiale au Genièvre De Houlle has been crowned Beer of the Year at the 2021 London Beer Competition. Rising from a collaboration between Brasserie des Sources and Distillerie Persyn in Houlle, Abbatiale au Genièvre De Houlle was a star amongst judges at the 2021 London Beer Competition. This excellent brew took home the title of Beer of the Year, Best Beer by Quality, and Best Beer by Packaging. What more can we say - it tastes great and looks good too!
The London Beer Competition shines the spotlight on beers from across the globe that excel in quality, value, and packaging. The judging panel at the competition hosts some of the UK’s best cicerones, beer buyers, breweries, and beer experts who judge the beers based on their quality, value, and packaging.
Some of the preeminent judges gracing the panel this year include Lolly Watkins - Beer Sommelier & Manager at DrinkTV, Gabriele Bertucci - Beer Sommelier, Pete Hughes - Group Head Brewer at the Brewhouse & Kitchen brewpub group, and Dan Fox - Pub Company Director: Beer, Pub & Brewing Consultant to name a few.
France has given us a lot to fall in love with: great architecture, the delicious Raclette to melt on our Pommes de Terre, and the art of enjoying a glass of wine at any time of day. Albeit beer isn’t the first drink that comes to mind when we think of France, but the French are responsible for some widely acclaimed beer brands out there, like Kronenburg and Desperados, and to add to it, the award-winning beer Abbatiale au Genièvre De Houlle.
Abbatiale au Genièvre De Houlle is the result of a generous blend of spices, juniper berries and sublimated with a touch of Houlle’s juniper. It benefits from a second fermentation in the bottle, further refining its unique taste. This elixir with a subtle taste rests in an opaque bottle thus protecting it from light while promoting aging in the cellar.
Lights, Camera, La Brasserie des Sources
La Brasserie des Sources, the most awarded brewery in France, was born in 1997, after the shooting of the film Germinal. Actors Gérard Depardieu, Claude Berri, Renaud, and Miou Miou created the brewery as a way of thanking everyone who worked on the movie, and the ‘People of the North’.
In 2005, beer importer Jean-Luc Butez took over the reins to safeguard the fascinating start of this Saint-Amand-les-Eaux brewery, added his personal touch to it, and created some of the most sipped on and best beers across the country and maybe even the world.
Bertrand (left) and Benjamin (right), Head Brewers at Brasserie Des Sources, source: Instagram
The master breweries at La Brasserie des Sources have created some exceptional beers over the years, like the Bellerose Blonde, which is the highest internationally acclaimed French beer. The brewery is also home to a range of other specialty beers, namely, Bellerose Ink Series, Estaminet, Vieux Lille, and the original Abbatiale.
You can also visit the La Brasserie des Sources restaurant, which is quite the talk amongst tourists and local beer enthusiasts. The Brasserie des Sources restaurant features a variety of French-American food like burgers, cheese boards, and more, with house brews on tap and available in cans and bottles to buy as well.
The Persyn Distillery of Houlle - a tradition of two centuries
Houlle is a small village in Audomarois, on the banks of the river that bears the same name. For a long time, its inhabitants made a living from agriculture, before the development of communication routes, roads and rivers, and thereby other activities, before the Decocq family founded the Houlle gin in 1812. The Decocq family were farmers, therefore have their own crops and a flour mill on-site, which they used to distill gin with the Houlle juniper.
Little is known about the works of the Decocq family and their distillation, except that it was partially destroyed by a fire in 1885. Albert Decocq then sold the distillery to Paul Lafoscade in 1886, who began operating the distillery.
During the war, the distillery was requisitioned by the army who used alcohol as a solvent for the manufacture of dry powder and its ammunition. After the war, the production capacities in France, boosted by the needs of the army, far exceeded the possibilities of sale. It is also necessary to add to this conjunction of the abundant harvests of wine which must also be sold there.
Persyn Distillery, source: Instagram
After Paul Lafoscade, his cousin Eugène Persyn and Eugène’s son Michel took over the distillery. However, Eugène no longer saw Michel taking over, and he handed over the distillery to his eldest son Jean-Marie Persyn. During that time, there was a lot of back and forth about legalities and the allowance to sell gin freely.
Over the years, the distillery has been passed down to generations of Persyn family members and is now run by Lionel Persyn, the great great grandson of Eugène. Today, the distillery is an authentic, traditional know-how, anchored in its terroir; a heritage resulting from more than two centuries of work and experience.
Now, the Distillery of Persyn creates a variety of gins and liqueurs. From traditional juniper spirits, generally young and served chilled or even iced as a digestif, to gin aged longer which can be enjoyed at room or cellar temperature, via their Long Drink Genever intended for cocktails, the limited vintages, or even the cocktails, the Distillery of Persyn is quite the talk amongst the French.
The Barrel Brut is one of their most popular gins out there, with an award to its name by the World Gin Awards in 2018 - precisely ‘World’s Best Genever’.
Tours around the Persyn Distillery
All year round, Persyn Distillery offers a one-and-a-half-hour guided tour of their traditional and artisanal distillery.
The extensive tour includes:
Viewing a film (versions in French, dialect, English, Dutch or German)
Evocation of the history of juniper, of our distillery, of its place in our terroir
A juniper tasting
Visiting the facilities and actual production rooms
A mignonette of juniper as a gift for every major visitor
Individual price: € 7.00 per adult, € 3.00 from 12 to 17, free for children under 12
Reduced price: € 6.00 per adult applicable to groups of more than 20 people and people with reduced mobility
*These are unprecedented times, please check the visitation and tour schedules before going. To make an appointment, you can contact the distillery by phone on 03 21 93 01 71 or access the appointment request form to visit the distillery.
With the rich history, traditional ways of distilling and brewing, and attention to quality at La Brasserie des Sources and Persyn Distillery, it’s no surprise that the Abbatiale au Genièvre De Houlle is picking up awards at the London Beer Competition 2021.
For UK and Europe residents, Abbatiale au Genièvre De Houlle is available for purchase via Wine Calais UK.