For those planning on visiting the region, this is not a touristy part of France; being able to speak some basic French would be very helpful. The French don’t even visit this area, as they prefer the sexier south of France. Nord-Pas-de-Calais is often described as the industrial part of France, but nothing could be further from the truth. We encountered beautiful old European towns, barley fields, great food, stunning brewhouses and some awesome bières.
A good base camp for visiting the bière de garde region is the hilltop town of Cassel, in the middle of the French barley-growing country. It is a quiet, beautiful old town, with cobblestone streets, and where little English is spoken. There are a few great cafés here, but at the very top of this serene town is the café ‘T Kasteelhof with a stunning view of the French farmlands. This café serves hearty rural French food and only serves bières from the region. It’s the perfect place to end an evening of exploring the region. Liquid postcards are for sale in the attached store to bring some beery memories home.
Mike Tessier loves beer-themed travel and is a staff beer writer for Fast Forward Weekly magazine in Calgary, Alberta. Since getting back from France he craves pâté, cheese and plants the French kiss greeting on ladies’ cheeks whenever he can.