Thierry Roche has helped lead the charge in putting Paris on the craft beer map. (Photo: Courtesy of Thierry Roche)
Brewmaster Thierry Roche uses a lot of unusual ingredients to make beer. Ginger, hibiscus, chili peppers, cola nut, smoked malt: All have gone into his brews because, he says, they evoke the rambunctious multicultural Paris neighborhood that his brewery is based in and named after, La Goutte d’Or.
“I wanted to get across the flavor of this neighborhood,” Roche, 45, says. “Its diversity, its specialness, the gastronomy, the spices: This area has really been an inspiration for me.”
La Goutte d’Or, a small brewery, is based in a street-corner unit on Rue de la Goutte d’Or, a short walk from Barbès–Rochechouart metro station. This is not like other, more manicured, Parisian arrondissements; it’s vibrant and working-class, with a market, Marché Dejean, where a huge variety of West African ingredients can be bought.
“There are social problems here, but there’s a positive side, too,” says Roche. “It’s a very interesting place. It’s a place that reflects the reality of the whole city.”
In further homage to the neighborhood, the beers at La Goutte are also named after local streets: Charbonniere, Chateau Rouge, La Chapelle, among others.
“It’s important to show Parisians another side of this part of town, which is well-known but which doesn’t have the best reputation,” he adds.
Roche left a job in communications to become a brewer after falling in love with the beer-making process at home: a common story in the craft-beer movement. He opened La Goutte d’Or in 2012; since then, much has changed in Paris beer.
At that time, a group that included Roche and only a handful of bars followed La Cave à Bulles, a hugely influential bottleshop, into the craft fray — notably La Fine Mousse, also a restaurant, and Supercoin.As more breweries pop up, and bars across Paris shift to sell high-quality beer, the 18th arrondissement is helping pave the way in terms of craft beer-centric bars.
“There’s a third wave emerging,” says Roche. “We were the first; then two or three years ago there was a second. Look at the brewery Les Brasseurs Du Grand Paris; they started as gypsy brewers, but now they’re building their own brewery.
The market is growing, and Parisians are increasingly interested in quality beer. It’s very exciting.”
For visitors seeking a place to drink La Goutte d’Or beer in its native environment, Roche suggests two new places: Le Tout-Monde, a cafe just around the corner from the brewery, and SUNSET, a restaurant.
“It’s very modern with good food,” says Roche.
With Paris’s beer scene changing so rapidly, Roche has big plans for La Goutte d’Or. Two other former homebrewers, Frederic Fillion and Tristan Martin, are now working for him at La Goutte d’Or. “It has changed things,” he says. “Now we have a team that dictates the philosophy. They’re very motivated, and they’ve made a great difference.”
Roche also wants more beer-making capacity (“We’re on the starting blocks with that,” he says) and a taproom at the brewery to tempt more beer-loving Parisians to make the trip to the 18th arrondissement. “It will be a place for experimentation, where we can offer one-off beers, where we can release a new beer every month,” he says. “That’s not common in Paris; I think everyone will really enjoy that. It’s fun!”