I thought I know a lot about beers, but I can tell you I learned a lot more at Chez Marcel in 2 hours than I had done in the previous ten years! Thanks to Luka Antonic, I now know what triple fermentation, IPA or stout is, and I can identify a smooth malted beer or a bitter hopped beer. Do as I did and be transported into the distinctive world of this beer bar, where the talk is of malt, hops, yeast, brewing and flavours. The next star of the amber brew is you!

Get to know the A to Z of beer

Five women out of 25 participants, we’re still a long way from equality!

As Luka Antonic will teach you, the first people to make beer were the women of Mesopotamia, nine thousand years ago! Comfortably ensconced at the bar, I discover the long history of beer. Its four main ingredients (barley malt, water, hops and yeast) – that much I know already! – the birth of abbey beers, every stage of beer making from brewing to fermentation, the rise of the industrial breweries, the revival of craft breweries and more besides. A fascinating journey punctuated by tastings of course! 

Use all five senses

“Beerology is to beer what œnology is to wine. Beer has to be looked at, smelled, tasted, tasted again and sampled!

Beer tasting is a sensory experience, where you use all your senses,” explains Luka. Starting with the sense of hearing, with the hiss when the cap is removed, or the pop of a Liège cork! Then the sense of sight, with the froth and colour of the beer. Now it’s time to smell it, to “nose” it and, finally, to taste it !

“You should hold a good mouthful in your mouth, move it over your tongue, then swallow it, in order to detect the flavours: sweet, savoury, bitter and umami, a new taste, very full and smooth. Then you taste the flavours (flavours and aromas) detected by the retro-nasal passage.” Floral, herbaceous, fruity, smoky, caramelised, mineral… there are fifteen or so of them.

Indulge yourself

That day, I tasted four craft beers, all of different styles and tastes: The tart table beer made by the Brasserie Thiriez (Esquelbecq), the Bonnette IPA from the Brasserie des 7 Bonnettes (in Etaing just outside Arras), the Flanders Red made by the Brasserie Thiriez (Esquelbecq) and La Tripel brewed by the Brasserie De Katsbier (Méteren).

To accompany all this, I treated myself to a tray of local terroir produce, with cheeses selected by the fine delicatessen La Prairie, located next to the Belfry, and cured meats, including an authentic garlic sausage made by a butcher in Biache-Saint-Vaast. All enjoyed with a sourdough bread from the Hélios bakery just next door. In terms of quick tours of the local area, you couldn’t do better!

Get your fill of interesting facts

Je sais maintenant que pour fabriquer une bière, il faut 400 kg de malt pour 1 000 litres d’eau.

I now know that you need 400kg of malt to 1,000 litres of water. I know how to tell the difference between top fermentation and bottom fermentation, a stout, an ale and a lager. That the hop is a member of the Cannabaceae family. That a beer brewed without hops is called a barley beer. That India Pale Ales (IPAs) originated in the eighteenth century in England, destined for the Indies.

They contained 1,000 times more hops than traditional beers in order to prevent them from spoiling during the voyage. That before the First World War, there were 3,000 craft breweries in the region. Want to know more? Then do as I did and book a place today for the upcoming workshops at Chez Marcel.

Chez Marcel, in practice

  • 30 rue de la Taillerie (between the Grand’Place and the Place des héros), 62 000 Arras
  • Tél. : +33 (0)9 87 07 37 29. chezmarcel.arras@gmail.com
  • Introduction to beerology’ workshops and mystery tastings. For the programme, find us on Facebook @chezmarcelarras .
  • Open from Monday to Thursday, noon to 2.00pm and 5.00pm to 11.00pm. In the afternoon for groups, Fridays from 5.00pm to midnight and Saturdays from 12 to midnight.