Brasseries Kronenbourg - Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc
- ABV: 5.0%
- Serving Temperature: 42-48° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass, Pint Glass, Flute
A blue bottle, huh? That’s a new one. Leave it to the French to go all “avant-garde” with their beer bottles. In any case, 1664 Blanc, as you might suspect, is brewed in the style of a Belgian witbier, or white beer. It certainly looks the part in the glass, with a hazy straw color and a crisp head of white foam. We quite enjoyed the aroma on this one, which comes across softly fruity, with a distinct peachy stone fruit note that is very unique even for a white beer, which is a very aromatic style. There’s also a citric, coriander edge, as expected, along with some wheaty notes, light dusty yeast, and maybe even a hint of rosewater. On the palate, 1664 Blanc hits very fruity upfront, and it’s a juicy, complex fruitiness: we got notes of lemon, orange, peach, melon, and mango. Wheat comes through too, but just enough to provide a mild, bready backdrop for the fruit, which is the star of this somewhat unique white beer. Look for a grassy, lightly drying hop note as well, and maybe even a wisp of vanilla as the beer warms. Although the fruitiness can give an impression of sweetness, it’s really fairly balanced, making for a good summer refresher to pair with hot days, hot dogs, and anything else you’re pulling off the grill this summer. Enjoy!
Although France may not be the first country to come to mind when thinking of a beer drinking culture, it does, in fact, have a rich brewing tradition, particularly in the northwest near Belgium and Germany – countries world-famous for their ancient brewing traditions. It’s not surprising, then, that the largest brewer in France should hail from Strasbourg, in Alsace on the Rhine River and as close to Germany as one can get without getting your feet wet.
Brasseries Kronenbourg was founded in 1664 by Jérôme Hatt. The son of a dyer, he had graduated brewing school in 1649 and joined the coopers guild – a handy trade for a brewer. Originally named “Brasserie du Canon,” the brewery was located in the heart of Strasbourg, where it remained in the Hatt family for generations. Fast forward to 1850: a serious of floods from an overflowing Ill River (a Rhine tributary that flows through the city of Strasbourg) convinced 6th-generation brewer Frédéric Guillaume Hatt to move the brewery to the hills just above the city, to an area known as Cronenbourg. There, he dug extensive caves for the purpose of brewing bottom-fermenting lagers and maturing them in the cool underground conditions.
In 1922, the brewery acquired another Alsatian brewer, Brasserie Tigre, creating the largest brewing company in Alsace. They adopted the name of Tigre’s beer, Tigre Bock, the name by which they’d be most famous as they grew over the next three decades. In 1947, the 8th-generation Hatt brewer, who shared the name Jérôme with the brewery’s founder, changed the company name to Kronenbourg, to honor the area where they’d been brewing for almost a century. With German beers being held in extremely high regard the world over, he chose to use a “K” to accentuate the German-ness of the name.
The brewery’s most iconic beer, Kronenbourg 1664, came to life in 1952, and it quickly went on to become the icon of premium French-brewed lagers. By 1969 the brewery was in need of expansion, so a brand new facility was opened in Obernai, a few miles southwest of the Strasbourg city center. The Obernai brewery has gone on to become the largest in France, and, in addition to Kronenbourg 1664, produces a variety of other Kronenbourg brews such as Blanc, Brune, Rouge, and Premier Cru, along with several other European brands produced on contract. As of this writing, almost a third of all beers consumed in France are Kronenbourg beers, making them far and away the most popular among French consumers. 2014 marks Kronenbourg’s 350th anniversary – which is a remarkable age for a brewery, even by European standards. Here’s hoping they have another bright 350 years to come – Cheers!
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