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There's got to be room for a beer in even this city of wine, wine, and wine. As French brewers slowly join the legion of specialty craft beer makers crawling across Europe, Paris at last has an emphatic entrant in the beer destination category in La Fine Mousse.
Joining a very small cadre of serious (or increasingly serious) beer spots—like Brewberry, Supercoin, and bottle shops Bootlegger and the lovely Cave a Bulles, La Fine Mousse is a uniquely French-brewer focused, craft-focused gem of a beer bar in the 11th arrondissement.
Unassuming and lit well enough to read and re-read the constantly evolving beer (and cider, and some whiskey) menus, La Fine Mousse has that sort of stonecarved Parisian character of looking like it's in a basement while actually at street level. Though space and flow can be awkward when busy (unless you've settled into a leather club chair at the back), when isn't this a problem at any well-curated bar where the proprietors are happy to enter into lengthy discussions about the latest rotation you've never seen before on their 20 taps? Paris should have more of such problems.
Though the draft selection relies almost entirely on regional French brewers, appearances from around Europe and beyond (and half-beyond, if you count the passel of French-Nøgne Ø collaborations) fill out the menu to appease those who wish to enjoy things from further afield, like Rogue or usual suspect Mikkeller. In a country where beer taxes have risen repeatedly by the three-digit percentages, maintaining a bar like this is truly a labor of love.
On our visit, the Tasty Pale Ale, from suburban Paris brewer Outland, stood out as a surprisingly balanced pale ale (at only 3.8% but full of fruity, almost airy, crisp flavor), or the Prototype from Brasserie du pays Flamand, a subtle porter with Norwegian juniper berries (thanks again, Nøgne Ø). An unpasteurized Breton cider from Valee de la Seiche was a nice session break: dry and sour, with just enough mustiness.
For as broad a tasting of artisanal French beers as you'll be able to have anywhere, seek out La Fine Mousse to cast your allegiance with beer!