It's the perfect summer drink, fresh and light, we appreciate it all the more if the beer has a nice color, light bubbles and a little taste of "je ne sais quoi" that makes us look at the label. Luckily, in Haute-Loire, craft breweries have sprouted like mushrooms: only 3 in 2010, there are now dozens of them brewing their precious beverage. Investigate the rise of craft breweries with Charlie Leroux, the "brewer elf" of the Alagnon brewery in Blesle.

Focus on the success of breweries and micro-breweries in Haute-Loire

When you opened the Alagnon brewery, were you one of the first in Haute-Loire? How many were settled in France?

When I started in 2009, there were 400 craft breweries in France and only the Barbaroux and Vellavia breweries in Haute-Loire, it seems to me. In 10 years, we have seen an explosion in their number to reach more than 1 breweries in France today. One that is created every 400 days! In Haute-Loire, it remains small structures of the “microbrewery” style.

Why did you choose this place? Is this a favorable region for brewing a quality beer?

I chose to live here with my family, attracted by the quality of life: the natural and cultural heritage. Altiligériens often do not realize how lucky they are! I was in a period of retraining, I started by brewing at home out of passion, out of curiosity and the idea caught on. While rummaging in the cellars and flea markets, I found bottles that came from old breweries, Brioude notably. There were even malting houses for processing barley in Le Puy, Costaros and Tence. The last one closed in the 80s. In addition, to brew Vellavia, a group of farmers near Le Puy-en-Velay reintroduced a variety of malting barley, grown in the XNUMXth century in Haute-Loire.

Do you source all the raw materials locally?

In Auvergne, we have very good water quality and it is favorable for beer. We use Cézallier water. In terms of cereals, it was initially complicated to obtain local supplies. I then got in touch with several local farmers who started planting varieties of barley that could be used in brewing. Then an organic artisanal malting plant appeared in Ardèche. And recently, there is one 20 km from here, in Saint-Germain-Lembron (Puy-de-Dôme).

Image by Batatolis Panagiotis from Pixabay

Barley suitable for brewing

And the hops?

You have to get supplies from Germany or England… At the local level, there are trials, projects, but growing hops requires several years and real know-how in terms of harvesting and conservation. But we also brew with local aromatic plants.

Today we identify several dozen breweries in Haute-Loire. Are we moving towards a diversity of tastes?

Each brewery offers a range that can be wide. As a result, there is something for everyone: a real emulation and a lot of creativity.

What is the amateur who turns to craft beers looking for?

If he is seduced by a product, he is above all interested in the craftsman, in meeting and sharing know-how. Many people come to the brewery to visit the place and see who is behind the beers. The exchange is exciting and gives us the desire to progress, to look for new things!

Alcohol abuse is dangerous for health.

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