Did you know?
Meuse has a rich industrial history as a brewing centre. It had 40 breweries in the mid 19th century but, from the 1870s onwards, competition and industrial mergers led to the closure of many of them. By the end of the First World War, only ten breweries remained, the largest being “La Meuse” and “La Croix de Lorraine” in Bar-le-Duc.
You’re bound to know the famous posters by Mucha and Bastard for “La Meuse” beers. They greatly appealed to the national market for almost a century and were famous throughout the world.
Despite the closure of the breweries in Bar-le-Duc in 1949, the “La Meuse” brand continued to exist, thanks to one of Europe’s largest brewing groups, the Société Européenne de Brasserie (S.E.B.). The mere mention of the name and its various attributes still conjures up the symbolism of the early 20th century, with its elegance, gentle lifestyle and lightness. It creates an image of a noble beer, a reminder of the erstwhile grandeur of Meuse. The spread of micro-breweries in Meuse over the past twenty years reflects the revival of local beers. So experience a unique and unusual mouthwatering trip in search of times past and present.
European Beer Museum
This was the background to the opening, in 1986, of the European Beer Museum (musée Européen de la bière) in Stenay. It is housed in the former store in Stenay citadel, built in 1609 and turned into a malthouse in 1879. It is the largest museum in Europe specialising in the history of the art and traditions of brewing, from its very beginnings to the present day, with an exhibition covering an area of 2,500 sq. metres displaying 50,000 items through the use of interactive terminals.
Take a tour with one of the museum guides for some additional anecdotes and new insights.
The tour begins amid the fragrances of the beer garden where you learn about the herbs and spices used in brewing. This is all about the senses – sight, of course, but also touch and smell. After a brief look at the history of the building, you hear about changes in brewing techniques from ancient times to the present day before visiting the room full of advertising objects and posters that reflect the ingenuity of the brewers in promoting their products. Finally, the “café” area shows changes in attitudes to drinking through a number of replica alehouses, Edwardian “cafés” and 1960s pubs.
Your visit to the museum ends at the tavern where you can taste and buy local produce. You’ll find an extensive range of artisanal and industrial beers made using top, bottom and natural fermentation and local gourmet specialities such as beer-flavoured sausage, cheese, madeleine cakes from Stenay etc.