On our way back to Prague after the Christmas holidays we had several hours to kill in Paris before getting our afternoon flight. We knew fine well what we would do come midday, a trip to the Frog and British Library pub just round the corner from the Bibliothèque nationale de France was in order. For the few hours before that we wandered around the Natural History Museum, mainly to escape the biting cold and because they had an exhibition of whales.
We first went to the Frog and British Library in December 2007, again on our way back from France to Prague, having been to the Frog and Rosbif in Bordeaux a week earlier. The Bordeaux version of the chain had made a good impression on us, decent beer, nice food and excellent staff. I recalled the Frog and British Library being ok, again decent beer, good food and friendly staff, the only bum note had been their lager, which would give Budweiser a run for its money in the bland beer stakes.
What a difference then a year makes, a year in which I have learnt a lot about beer, thanks largely to the input of people such as Evan Rail, and the fact that I am a voracious reader and have a head full of things I didn't know back in 2007. I am assuming here that the Frog and Rosbif chain didn't tamper with its recipes over the course of the year.
First up was the chain's oldest brand, In Seine, which they describe as a "clean, hoppy bitter". It is certainly hoppy, with very noitceable citrus notes, and I guess it is refreshing, but it is very thin bodied and not at all "more-ish" as they claim. It certainly looks nice, a golden amber with a rich foamy head, although served somewhat cold, but looks are deceptive. One pint of this was more than enough, and the name of the beer is probably the best place to put this.
Suitably disappointed, I decided to change tack and have something on the dark side to go with my fish and chips. I choose their Dark de Triomphe, a Guinness clone which while dark does have touches of ruby around the edges, and was topped off with a loose head, and once again it was too damned cold - why? I have drunk a fair amount of stout this year, and what a disappointment it was to stick my nose into the glass and smell virtually nothing. No, I didn't have a cold, I could smell virtually nada - perhaps a hint of Tesco Value instant coffee, but nothing else. Again the body was thin and insipid, although there were some roasted malt flavours, but this was basically dull and lifeless, and I refused point blank to finish the pint.
Thom over at the Black Cat Brewery also visited one of the Frog pubs in Paris when there on honeymoon, his comments are in the same ball park as mine.
In fairness though, the fish and chips was good - but that is not enough to make me want to go back next time I am in Paris, whenever that will be.