Nearly 16,000 feet into the sky in the midst of the Alps lies Mont Blanc, an imposing peak covered in ice and snow. The “White Mountain” is the highest point in Europe. From the mountain’s glaciers, French brewery Brasserie du Mont-Blanc sources the water for their beers. One of those beers is green.
After my freshman year of college I backpacked across Europe for a month with my best friend. We flew into London and knew we were flying out of London a month later, and everything in between was up to us. With a Eurail train pass in our pockets, we trekked across Europe, going from England to France to Switzerland to Austria to Prague to Germany to Belgium and back to England. It was a whirlwind adventure. I saw museums, cathedrals, castles, and the Alps.
Nothing was more striking than the beauty of those mountains. Sure, we have mountains in the United States, but nothing as awe-inspiring as Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn. For much of our journey we weaved among the mountains of Europe. We spent quite a bit of time in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany seeing castles perched atop cliffs and towns nestled in small valleys surrounded by white rock giants.
Brewing amidst these giant mountains is Brasserie du Mont-Blanc, a brewery that dates back to the early 1800s. They only brew a handful of beers, but among them is La Verte, a green beer. La Verte gets its color not from some unnatural dye but from the addition of Génépi, a French liqueur. A relative of absinthe, Génépi is popular in the Alpine regions of Europe. Made from a variety of wormwood found high in the mountains, this is a liqueur with, shall we say, an acquired taste.
Mixing beer and liquor is nothing new, but the addition of the Génépi to this beer gives La Verte a unique flavor and of course its rare green color. One of my wife’s French co-workers brought some to me among a crate of other French beers that we’ll get to in future weeks. When I opened the box this week I was shocked to see this light green beer.
When you pour the beer, you notice just how clear it is. There’s a small head as white as the Mont Blanc snow, and a good bit of carbonation in the glass. It smells almost medicinal. After I poured it, smelled it, looked up close at the beer, I was really unsure what to expect when I drank it. It’s a unique taste, that’s for sure. You definitely taste some ginger, citrus, and a tad bit of minty cough drop in the beer as well. There is a faint mineral-like flavor in there too, like something you find in certain bottled waters. La Verte is odd for sure, but it grows on you.
There is one key to this beer: drink it cold, and I mean really cold. Some beers, like IPAs, are better when they’re not ice cold. This is not one of those beers. It does grow on your palate as you drink it, but if you take too long and it starts to warm up, then it goes from interesting to awful pretty quickly.
As someone who drinks a lot of different beers, I taste a lot of the same flavors from beer to beer. This beer is unique. It’s genuinely interesting. I wanted to keep drinking it so I could decipher exactly what it was. In the end, I’ve gotta say, it’s not bad. It’s worth a try.
I’m not going to tell you to find some crazy importer to track down La Verte for you, but if you have a co-worker, friend, or family member who lives in Europe and can get their hands on this, have them sneak it in their bag next time they visit. If nothing else, you can say you had a green beer made with water from an alpine glacier.