Burgundy That’ll Blow Your Mind (without breaking the bank)

by Hailey

“Burgundian” wines are found across the world, from the Willamette Valley in Oregon to Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand. The fact that such a (comparatively) tiny French region has so much global influence isn’t a huge surprise considering the historical weight that Burgundy carries in the wine world. It was one of the first regions of the world to meticulously plot exceptional sites for vines (thank you, Cistercian monks!), and is the country with arguably the most influential legal system for classifying wines and the areas they come from. Not to mention, the term terroir – the buzziest of wine buzz words – is associated with Burgundy more than almost any other wine producing region. Yet the reality of wines from Burgundy is that they aren’t always that accessible to the general public. Thanks to their position as one of the “classic” wine regions of the world, these bottles often go for a pretty penny, and climate change is only exacerbating the problem. So, you might ask (as I have often asked myself), how is the average Joe supposed to explore and enjoy these wines? 

Earlier this month, I had the absolute pleasure of going on a weeklong tour of the five côtes of Burgundy, thanks to Somm Foundation and Bertrand’s Wines. The emphasis of the trip was to highlight producers and sub-appellations that A) are experiencing a bit of a renaissance or are otherwise not fully on the map, and B) are incredible examples of Burgundy wines at a more affordable price. Unfortunately, not everything I tasted is available in the Midwest market, but luckily France 44 has some killer bottlings that can act as perfect substitutes.  

Starting in the northernmost part of Burgundy is Domaine La Croix Montjoie, in the Vézelay AOC within Chablis. If you’ve never heard of Vézelay (I won’t judge you if you haven‘t – it’s not all that well known!), the main thing to know is that it’s a historic region with a rollercoaster history. Prior to Phylloxera in the late 1800’s, Vézelay was an area that was pretty lush with vines, and a fairly regarded one at that. When those damned vine louses bombarded the region, it was almost entirely wiped out – even as late as 1960, only a couple of hectares remained. A decade later, a renaissance began to take hold, with individual producers putting in tireless effort to increase plantings and produce quality bottlings.  

La Croix Montjoie ‘L’Elegante’ Bougogne Vezelay

Winemakers Sophie and Matthieu Woillez are prime examples of how this renaissance is continuing and evolving today. They founded their winery in 2009, converting what was once a cow barn into their production site. Their ‘l’élégante’ bottling is a showcase of their philosophy: minimal intervention winemaking to produce fresh, crisp wines that are true expressions of terroir. Expect menthol and acacia aromatics with lemon, supple pear, and peachy fruitiness. Ageing in old oak adds a quiet touch of spiciness alongside other subtle savory notes of almond and brioche. Perfect for the hot weather we’re experiencing, or alongside fish in papillote, chicken in cream sauce, or goat cheese.  

Baptiste Guyot Bourgogne Rouge

Moving a touch South to the Côte de Beaune, we find one of our best value Burgundies in house – Domaine Baptiste Guyot Bourgogne Rouge. As a ‘Bourgogne’ classified wine, grapes may be sourced from anywhere in Burgundy, but this bottle pulls from plots focused in Northern Beaune. The Domaine was originally founded in the 1800s and was in a state of disrepair by the time Guyot took over, with only 2 hectares of vines remaining. After essentially restarting it in its entirety and making the shift to sustainable practices, the first vintage was put out in 2011. This wine is light, easy, and juicy but with all of the preserving acidity that you want and a nose full of rose petals. Go to town with a glass of this and a plate loaded with snacks and I promise, you’ll be happy as a clam. 

Further South still, within the Côte Challonais, is Rully. Like Vézelay, it was affected particularly badly by both Phylloxera and the World Wars, but Rully is experiencing a lot of growth right now. That means that wines are only increasing in quality, while prices haven’t quite caught up yet. The particular area that this wine is coming from is known for having brown or limey soils with very little clay: if you’re the type of nerd that I am, you might know that wines coming from clay soils tend to carry more weight and power, whereas those from limestone are more mineral driven, fresh, and often have more aromatics. If you’re a normal person who doesn’t spend hours reading about soil types in their free time, now you know! 

Maison Chanzy Rully et Rosey Rouge

Maison Chanzy’s ‘Rully en Rosey’ is more the latter, but with a surprising amount of tannic oomph. Rully en Rosey is the highest elevation site in Rully, so temperatures are cooler here. In the wine, this translates to crisp acidity and a bit of tension, while also preserving a beautiful herbaceous and red blossom profile on the nose. 40-year-old vines lend some concentration of fruit – think ripe strawberry and black cherry, while 10 months aging in large oak barrels helps to soften the tannins a touch and gives a palate full of earth and baking spice. This is a super food friendly wine: grilled duck breast, sweetbreads, and anything umami-rich will be perfect matches the fuller texture and higher acidity of this wine. 

Chateau de la Greffiere Macon La Roche Vineuse

Last but not least is Château de la Greffiére’s Mâcon La Roche Vineuse Vielles Vignes. Located within the Mâconnais (the most Southerly of Burgundy appellations before Beaujolais) and just North of Pouilly Fuisse, this wine starts to hint more towards the style of Southern French wines. The climate here is indeed a bit more Provencal, with warmer sun exposure resulting in plumper fruit flavors and a richer palate. Heavy white marls dominate the soils in La Roche Vineuse, which, you now know, is a contributing factor to some of the weight in the wine. Don’t be fooled though! While you’ll notice a honeyed, buttery brioche quality in this wine, this is no California Chardonnay – it’s still full of bright notes of mango, zesty pear, peach, and a burst of blossoms on the nose. Enjoy this baby as an aperitif, or alongside Jambon de Bayonne, shellfish, or with a hefty charcuterie board. 

And there you have it! Go forth, rejoice, and drink Burgundy! Because while you can always spend a hundred dollars on a bottle, sometimes it’s a lot nicer to find those that won’t break your bank, but will still blow your mind. 

Summer Ginspiration

by Tom

Looking for some Ginspiration? We have you covered!

The weather is finally warm, the sun is shining, and gin season is in full swing. We’ve all got our stand-bys, go-tos, and classics for gin cocktails, but if you’re looking for something different to spice up your gin game, we’ve got a few fun ideas…

Hakuto Japanese Gin

Japan has emerged as a prominent location for a few of our best selling gins. A few follow very similar botanical builds: yuzu peel, sansho pepper, green tea, and cherry blossom. Two things separate The Hakuto: Japanese Nashi Pears and the intensity of the yuzu peel. The nose has huge citrus zest and the pear comes across afterwards cooling it off a bit. It works great with lime and a splash of tonic or soda but where it really shines is in a negroni. The citrus and fruit show up well wile being accented by a lighter bitter like a Cappelletti or Negroni Aperitivo. Here’s a recipe:

The Hakuto Negroni

  • 1oz Hakuto Gin
  • 1oz Fot-Li Spanish Vermut
  • 1oz Negroni Apertivo (similar to Aperol, but better!)

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe or rocks glass, and add a twist of citrus peel.

Bimini Coconut Gin

Bimini is a gin distillery out of Maine making a fresh take on American gin where they are toning the juniper down while enhancing flavors of grapefruit, coriander, and hops. Bartenders took notice of the gin’s citrus-forward flavors and began substituting it for light rum in tiki drinks, leading the company to make a coconut fat-washed version of their gin (essentially, the gin is combined with coconut oil and strained).  This is not a coconut bomb, no fake flavorings or additives have been added. It is fresh and tropical but still very much gin. It makes killer classic cocktails, gin and tiki alike. Here’s a recipe for an Army Navy, a gin riff on a Mai Tai:

Bimini Army Navy

  • 2oz Bimini Coconut Gin
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • ¾oz Liber & Co. Orgeat (basically almond simple syrup)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel.

Cotswold Old Tom Gin

Old Tom Gins have a complicated and storied past, but to boil it down, they date back to the 18th century when England was consuming boatloads of poorly-made gin. Many were sweetened with a pinch with sugar or licorice root just to soften their rough edges, but the sweetener also nicely balanced the citrus and juniper flavors. The name “Old Tom” now can connote a wide range of styles, including some that are barrel-aged, but almost all are richer and slightly sweeter than your typical London Dry. Cotswold is a fresh take on an old classic, using licorice to lend a soft sweetness, a bit of fresh ginger, orange citrus and classic cardamom. It’s perfect on its own but it also makes a stunning gin and tonic and a super refreshing Tom Collins. Our pick is the ultimate old-guy drink, gin and bitters:


  • 2oz Cotswold Old Tom Gin
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine ingredients in a rocks glass with a large ice cube.

The “Chillable” Red

by Sam

The dividing line between red and white wine has never been blurrier. Wine color, once relegated to a strict binary that only had space for a fruity rosé as an interloper, has been revealed as a spectrum; red, white and pink have given way to the oscillating splendor of maroon, orange, mauve, cherry, rust, gold, yellow, peach, and just about any other word found on the long line between pale lemon and deep purple (to borrow the official WSET terminology for wine color).

While winemakers’ color fastidiousness has faded, consumer preferences for consumption remain mostly unchanged. Our whites (and oranges, and pinks) still tend to be served colder than our reds. There’s mostly good science behind this; chilling a wine accentuates acidity, increasing our sense of refreshment. And, for a very long time, the wines that were considered “refreshing” were almost exclusively white and pink.

Grab one of these neither-red-nor-white wines off the shelf, though, and you’ll quickly be surprised at just how serious some can be. In some amber wines from Georgia, the tannins are almost as pronounced as a bottle of Cabernet. Technically, this is a white wine made from white grapes–but the science of “refreshment” falls a bit flat; this is a wine for savoring, not for chugging poolside.

All of this is to say that, as our rigid boxes around wine color become more and more permeable, so too should our preferences on wine temperature. Our whites could be served warmer, and our reds could certainly be colder.

So, what makes a red wine fall into this “chillable” category? Stick to a few standards:

The chillable red is low in tannin, high in acid, and medium in alcohol. It can be foreign or domestic, still or sparkling, cheap or expensive, pale or deep in color. It is always, however, very very refreshing. Here, like in white wines, the main textural components being balanced against each other are acid and alcohol, while tannins play a distant third. 

Curious to try one? Here are a few of our favorites:

The wine equivalent of a humble-brag, J Lohr has quietly been making this Valdiguié since 1976, and has never had the price go above $15. Historically known as “California Gamay” before the grape was correctly identified, this is a light, can’t-put-the-glass-down Beaujolais-style red that is loaded with bright cherry and raspberry fruit.

A longtime stalwart of our Italian section, this indigenous Sicilian grape shows bright red berry flavors and an intriguing sweet spice character. It’s ridiculously refreshing, and goes particularly well with antipasto — pack a bottle for your next picnic.

País has a storied history; it is one of the oldest cultivated grapes in the Western Hemisphere, and was said to be the grape that Spanish missionaries planted, hence being known in California as the “mission” grape. This expression from Chile is all strawberry fruit, bursting with juicy acidity and near-impossible to put down.

Don’t Sleep on Pale Ale

by Bennett

American pale ales are the footing beneath the foundation of American craft beer. And yet, they go mostly uncelebrated. Omnipresent, but lingering in the shadows of a well-focused spotlight on their higher gravity sibling, IPA (India Pale Ale). Pale ale, originally a vague blanket term used by 18th century English brewers, encompassed all top fermented ales that weren’t dark in color. Thankfully, the progress of beer has further delineated this category into distinct styles. 

Craft-brewed pale ales materialized in the ‘70s when American homebrewers and microbreweries combined English brewing knowledge with newfangled, expressive American hops. It was a pivotal era in our country’s history, filled with economic and political uncertainty, social activism and most importantly for brewers, individualism—a tenet of the craft beer ideology—focus on self reliance and the freedom of choice. This zeitgeist inspired early craft brewers to challenge mediocrity.

Sierra Nevada first expanded the minds of beer drinkers in 1980 when they introduced their now iconic Cascade-hopped Pale Ale. During a period of diminished choice for beer drinkers, it was quickly recognized by locals as a beacon of bitter hop flavor in the sea of macro-lager mundanity. A piney citrus aroma and bracing bitterness showcased the exciting potential for the new American hop varieties coming out of Yakima Valley. Along with Centennial and Columbus, Cascade became known as one of the three “C hops” that were so fundamental in the progress of American craft beer. These dual-purpose hops were great for bittering and aroma, and effused more intriguing characteristics than their European counterparts.

Over the years, ballooning interest in these flavorful American-hopped beers has led to a sort-of race to the top of hoppy extremes. Pale ales begat American IPAs, Imperial IPAs, Triple IPAs, and the all-popular hazy New England-style IPAs that we are so captivated by today. Though outnumbered by their bigger siblings, pale ales are making a comeback. The finest examples deliver equally exciting hop character and superior drinkability, perfect for the summer ahead. So let’s raise our glasses to the style that got us here!

One of the newer entries into our Market, Daisy Cutter is brewed in Chicago but west coast by nature. Dank and citrusy hops with a touch of tropical flare balance a light biscuit-y malt profile and dry, bitter finish.

Conveniently dubbed “a pale ale in an IPA world” by the people at Fair State, a perfectly suitable description for the topic of this blog. Brewed in collaboration with Asheville’s Burial Beer, this pale ale features the yet-to-be-named experimental HBC 630 hops, a proper nod to the advancements in hop breeding over the years. Candied fruit aromas with flavors of berry, peach and a snappy clean finish.

One of our new favorite pale ales at the store. This Citra and Citra Cryo-hopped hazy pale is fluffy soft on the palate with pulpy tropical fruit character and a gently bitter finish.

The progenitor of the style, the beer that made hops famous. It’s always a great beer to come back to. Perfect balance for a recipe that hasn’t changed since its inception 42 years ago. Pine, citrus and a clean pale malt profile for ultimate crushability.

You’re likely familiar with this cooler staple but let me remind you if not. False Pattern is brewed with a whole lotta oats thanks to their nifty mash filter, and hopped with bunches of Mosaic and Simcoe hops. Silky smooth body and juicy hop character have made this a Minnesota favorite.

Summertime, and the Livin’ Is N/A

by Tashi

This past weekend I went camping at a music festival and brought along an entire mocktail bar set up to share with fellow attendees.  I learned a lot about what people are looking for in their N/A options, and came up with some fun and creative recipes I’m going to share with you!  My mocktail bar was a huge hit and I am going to continue to do this for other festivals and camping trips I have planned this year.  I truly believe in the importance of offering NA options at festivals, events, and bars and hope this endeavor brought about more awareness about the need to offer non-alcoholic options to truly be an inclusive space.

I got this idea after seeing store reports recently when we discovered that our non-alcoholic sales have doubled in the past year!  This means more and more customers are either going alcohol free or choosing more non-alcoholic options to cut back on their alcohol intake, and we are here for it!  I’m taking a break from alcohol myself as well, but don’t worry, I’m still tasting our products and can lead you around the liquor aisles no problem.  Sometimes we just need a break to reset and that’s okay!  I’ve been working hard to research new N/A products to carry, and we will be offering some new and exciting options soon.  In the meantime, I’ve remixed the non-alcoholic sampler kit with different products that will satisfy those summertime vibes.  This box will be perfect to bring to your next campfire or BBQ, and of course includes two of each product so you can share with friends.

First we had to have some summer beers.  I’m super excited to have my favorite N/A beer in this kit, Untitled Art’s Florida Weisse – an N/A sour beer that will not disappoint!  We also added Athletic Brewing’s Upside Dawn, a light golden ale easy for drinking.  We’re still obsessed with Töst so we included their other flavor, which is made with white tea, white cranberry, and ginger.  Lyre’s in one of the newest additions to the N/A liquor section that I am absolutely obsessed with so I had to include their Dark ‘N Spicy premixed drink.  Their take on a dark and stormy made with two of their non-alcoholic rums, ginger beer, and lime zest.  This is absolutely delicious and my fridge has been stocked with them since we brought them in!  To round out the kit we’ve included Raspberry Superior Switchel.  Switchel is an apple cider vinegar based drink that’s carbonated, good for your tummy, and incredibly refreshing.  Switchel also makes for a good mixer if you’re not totally alcohol free.  I think you’ll really enjoy the summer remix sampler kit, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new products in our N/A section over the next few months!

Lastly, as promised, I want to share some of my personal creations for you to use as inspiration over the summer.  These were huge hits at my mocktail bar.  Cheers!


1 bottle Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher

1 oz Sharab Shrub of your choice

Fill your cup with Hoppy Refresher and add your favorite flavor of Sharab Shrub to taste.  I personally love making this with their Blueberry Poblano or Raspberry flavor.



Coconut Aloe Vera Juice

Cranberry Juice

Tonic Water or Club Soda

Put ice in a cup and fill halfway with Coconut Aloe Vera Juice, a fourth with cranberry juice, and top with your choice of tonic water or club soda.  Use this recipe to play around with your favorite juices and flavor combos to come up with a sparkling mocktail of your own!

Trending Now: Enlightened Drinking (And Eating)

by Karina

Disclaimer: This op-ed piece is not about the political correctness of which glassware to use for various types of wine or occasions. The subject of glassware is merely meant to illustrate various attitudes toward the wine world as a whole. 

We’re ruled by fashion. The wine world is just as caught up in it as any other industry. From the color and style of wine we choose to the vessel we drink it out of (to even choosing to drink wine at all), the pendulum is in constant motion from trend to trend. 

Punch Drink Magazine recently put out an article about the rise of the “tavern glass” as opposed to drinking out of fancy, hifalutin (and breakable) Riedel wine stems. My first thought is, “Absolutely.” Spend more time with the wine in your mouth instead of looking at it through expensive crystal. We have no time for the gatekeepers and the rule makers of the wine world who try to sell wine as a status symbol. Wine to me is communal—a catalyst in bringing people together, in a similar (but not identical) way that food does. Wine nourishes; it is not supposed to be exploited and twisted and manipulated just to suit a bank account somewhere.  

But then I consider my role as a wine educator. If wine, glassware, and the general attitude toward wine are all crashing down off their lofted pedestals, will wine education also get the hook offstage? If the world is trending toward a “don’t think, just drink” mantra, is there any sense in learning about maximum vineyard yields, or soil types, or cold soaking, or century-old barrels that outlive the winemaker who uses them? Drink, be merry, and… don’t think too much? 

And yet, I think that perhaps the pendulum isn’t exactly swinging back the way it came—back to the weird post-Prohibition era when all we drank was Thunderbird and Carlo Rossi Hearty Burgundy, which gave way to all the obscene flavors and colors of Boone’s Farm.  

I think the pendulum might be finding a third path. Much of the wine world has fallen head-over-heels for things like natural wine and orange wine. We haven’t stopped questioning what went into our wine, who made it, where it came from. We shell out on a new pét nat without blinking an eye, or for the latest Martha Stoumen, or on a Teroldego we’ve been pining after. Institutions like WSET are seeing all-time highs in enrollment numbers around the world for those wanting formalized wine education.  

I love that we’re headed for educated, thoughtful drinking out of Mason jars. But I also love that you spent $90 on a single Zalto glass. If you’ve found pleasure in it, then it was worth it. I love that all your glassware was dirty, so you just drank from the bottle. I love that all your glassware was clean, but you drank from the bottle anyways. 

But most of all, I love that you had your wine atlas open as you drank. I love that you did a bottle share with your work friends and you talked about what you were smelling, tasting, experiencing. I love that you didn’t care about using the “right” wine lingo (is there such a thing?) because you were too invested in experiencing the wine on your own terms. I love that someone brought Heggie’s pizza, someone else brought pork rillettes, and you brought a bag of Doritos to dip in Raclette fondue. I love all of that. 

Wine education is not supposed to be a tool to wield power over others. Just like we do with so much of Nature, humans have squeezed this simple agricultural product into a mysterious, intimidating, intangible thing meant only for certain classes of society. But in the meantime, we also stumbled unwittingly into art, cultural intricacies, history, lore and legends, geological fascinations, and all the complexities Nature lays out for us to discover. 

If the pendulum is swinging, I’m hopeful that it’s pioneering a new direction. This “enlightened drinking for the masses” trend is fascinating, joyful, and so powerfully rewarding. Fill up that red Solo cup, grab your Chex Mix, and crack that nerdy reference book open. Drink with joyful curiosity, and don’t let anybody tell you you’re doing it wrong. 

If you’ve made it this far down the enlightened drinking path, here’s your reward: keep an eye out for exciting things happening in June. If you’ve been to France 44 in the last month or so, you’ll know that we’ve got major construction happening as we build our new Event Space. But in the meantime, we’re bringing our public classes and events out into the world! Subscribe to our Dojour page and you’ll be the first to know what’s on the horizon. 

And don’t forget the cheese. If the wine world thinks it’s hot stuff with all their certifications and pins, it could maybe learn a thing or two from the cheese world. Cheese pros are fanatic. Instead of competing for the most pieces of paper or most letters behind their names, cheese pros are all about relationships and connections (and delightfully bizarre competitions). It’s pretty amazing that we’re able to offer experiences at France 44 like deep-dive classes into funky washed rind cheeses, artisan English cheddars, or meet people like Andy Hatch of Pleasant Ridge or David Lockwood of Neal’s Yard Dairy, right here in Minneapolis. 

The 10th Annual DZTE Cheese Tasting & Silent Auction will be held Sunday, May 10 from 6-8pm.

The Daphne Zepos Teaching Endowment is an incredible non-profit we’re throwing a fundraiser for in a couple weeks. Daphne passed away in 2012, but she was nothing short of a zealot who spread the gospel of cheese everywhere she went, creating thousands of passionate cheese disciples throughout her many years of teaching and selling cheese. Our own France 44 Cheese Shop probably would not exist without her influence, and it’s because of her legacy that the DZTE sets up cheese professionals with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to travel, learn, study, and bring back knowledge to share with the rest of the cheese-crazy world. 

And if you’ve made it this far down this rabbit hole of a blog, you have no choice but to buy a ticket to the Wine & Cheese Tasting event we’re throwing in support of DZTE. You owe it to a future of learning about and eating delicious, unique, incredible cheese. 


Tom’s Irish Whiskey Picks


by Tom

Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and we’ve got some brand-new Irish Whiskeys to unveil for the occasion! Two outfits with local ties; Kieran Folliard of 2 Gingers fame is at it again and Brian Nation, one of the most world-renowned master distillers in the whiskey world, moving here to make whiskey right in Minneapolis. Throw some historically accurate peated whiskey in and we’ve got ourselves a party.

Let’s start by introducing Brian Nation. Brian Nation spend the last seven years in Ireland as the Master Distiller of the famed Midleton Distillery. Midleton is known for many whiskeys, prime among them is Jameson, but products like Redbreast, Green Spot, and Power’s are where they really hang their hat. Let’s just say Brian had a heavy hand in the creation of these powerhouses. Brian moved here to spearhead the new O’Shaughnessy Distillery near Surly Brewing. Their first project is Keeper’s Heart, a special blend of an Irish Single Grain, an Irish Single Pot Still, and an American Rye together. Bringing two countries together as one, while jumpstarting the other whiskey projects they have coming down the pipeline. Keeper’s Heart has rich vanilla and orchard fruits with a delightful backbone of sweet spice from the rye whiskey component. A sipper bother American drinkers and Irish drinkers can appreciate.

Rod Locks is the newest foray into whiskey making by none other than Kieran Folliard. Kieran has owned many bars and restaurants around town before giving them all up to launch 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey to remarkable success. After being bought up by Jim Beam and awaiting his time, his newest whiskey is 80% maize (corn) based and sees a litany of barrels, but predominantly Ex Bourbon barrels and some virgin oak. This leads to heady caramel char, vanilla, and green apple. Meant to be sipped or mixed.

Lastly, let’s talk about Silkie Irish Whiskey. Silkie has two distinctive bottlings with one thing in common: Peated barley. Peat is more known on the Scotch side of the isle but there are many peat bogs around Ireland and dried peat was used to malt the barley. Their blue label in their legendary series is mild with the peat, more forward with orchard fruit, orange zest, honey and a whisp of smoke. Their black label start off stong wit peat but after traditional triple distillation the peat goes from 55ppm, phenol parts per million, to 22ppm. That is like going from a big smoky Islay scotch like Ardbeg to a more tobacco sweet smoke more akin to Highland Park. Add that sweet smoke to come salted caramel tones and you have yourself a winner.

We have all theses in stock and more coming, our Irish Whiskey section is certainly starting to boom right in time for Saint Patrick’s Day.


Women in Beer

by Kayla

International Women’s day became recognized as a historical day in 1911, after over 15,000 women marched in New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. Clara Zetkin was the woman who inspired the creation of International Women’s day. It was at a conference in Copenhagen in 1910 where 100 women from 17 different countries voted unanimously to dedicate this day. It was first celebrated in Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland. The United Nations first celebrated theirs in 1975. International Women’s Day continues to be a great opportunity to both celebrate our successes and raise awareness to the work that still needs ot be done to combat gender inequality.

In the world of beer, women have historically been associated with brewing long before men even stepped foot in a brewhouse! Artifacts and documents have been found that show women have been brewing as far back or further as Cleopatra in the Egyptian era. I myself have helped brew three beers from three of Minnesota’s best breweries alongwide a handful of folks from Witch Hunt Minneapolis, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit to help people with marginalized genders and queer folks in the beer industry learn about beer. In addition, the iconic Pink Boots Society has been around since 2007, inspiring and encouraging women and non-binary individuals in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry to advance their careers through education.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I wanted to highlight some women-owned breweries we carry at France 44. Currently, we carry three women owned and founded breweries: Finnegans Brew Co., Urban Growler Brewing Company, and Utepils Brewing.

Jacquie Berglund is the CEO of Finnegans Brew co. and founder of Finnegans SBC, the world’s first brewery to donate 100% of their profits to fund fresh produce to those in need. She’s raised awareness about food security in communities all across the Midwest, awareness about local hunger issues, earning her prominent accolades over the years for all her passion and efforts. Finnegans opened its first brewery and taproom in 2018 in East Town Minneapolis creating all sorts of fun beers! Currently in our store we have a few Finnegans products but their Flagship Irish Amber comes in 6pk cans.

Urban Growler Brewing Company opened up in July 2014 by two women, Deb and Jill. It’s the first women owned microbrewery in Minnesota that has a mission to bring people together through beer. Deb is the master brewer and Jill runs the marketing, taproom and events. They traded their careers in corporate America and sales to pursue their passions in beer. However, 12 banks denied them funding for their brewery, so they traveled all over the country visiting tap rooms, getting jobs in the industry, and did a ton of work. They eventually raised enough money to make Urban Growler Brewing Company a reality! Currently in our store we carry their iconic Cowbell Cream Ale in 4pk 16oz cans.

Utepils was founded by Deb Justesen who at age 8 who gave her mom a mothers day card that iconically says “Mothers day is almost here; so it must be time to have a beer.” Ever since then, she’s jumped right into brewery ownership, being the lead creative person. We carry a few Utepils beers, but today they released a beer as a part of the Nevertheless Series, celebrating women in Minnesota Brewing called In All Places. It’s a 5.6% ABV Brown Ale with a very important message: “A woman’s place is in the brewhouse”.

Drie Fonteinen

by Bennett

The complex, mystical nature of traditional Belgian lambic justifies its reputation as one of the more befuddling beer styles in existence. Born in the gently sloping farmlands of Payottenland and the Senne River valley that surround Brussels, Belgium, lambic beer is a rarity that offers a lense into the past. Unlike most beer styles whose fermentations are metabolized by a cultured yeast strain, lambic is fermented spontaneously by the ambient microflora around the brewery. Lambic brewers and blenders strive to harness the unpredictable, unique nature of wild fermentation to craft astonishingly complex, beautiful beers.

Spontaneously fermented beer has existed in this region since before Julius Caesar’s advancement into Northern Gaul over two millennia ago, when the campaigning Romans drank beer made from locally-grown wheat that surely underwent a non-controlled fermentation. After all, early brewers had no knowledge of the microbiology behind fermentation. Flip back to almost two millennia later, Louis Pasteur and Emil Christian Hansen were just making their breakthrough discoveries of fermentation and pure bred yeast cultures in the late 19th century.

Today, a vast majority of breweries have adopted the advancements of science, using pure cultured yeast for a controlled, predictable end product. And why not? The concept of making a living off years long, souring fermentations in expensive barrels, sometimes with whole hand-picked fruit, all to potentially end in disaster is a frightening prospect. I’d guess these lambic bottlers would say, “I’ll risk it for a biscuit.”

Of the less than 15 remaining brewers and blenders of lambic, Drie Fonteinen from Beersel, Belgium is highly revered. Established in 1953, the Dutch “Three Fountains” is an ode to the three hand pumps that once served lambic at the original 19th century inn and lambic blending business on the property. Anton and Raymonde Debelder built a respected lambic blendery and restaurant over the next three decades, eventually handing the reins to their sons Armand and Guido.

Until 1998, Drie Fonteinen operated strictly in lambic blending—purchasing lambic from the surrounding breweries to age, blend and bottle at their own discretion. Armand finally took a leap of faith and installed a leased brewhouse, becoming the newest lambic brewery in almost eighty years. Drie Fonteinen’s most distinguished lambics are now produced fully in-house under new successors to the Debelders, but they still source from other local lambic breweries. You can typically determine if the beer is 100% Drie Fonteinen or a blend from other breweries by the color of the bottle—brown for proprietary lambic, green for blends. 

Making traditional lambic at Drie Fonteinen is a much different process than your average beer. A grist of pale malt and raw, unmalted wheat is used to make a turbid mash, producing a low conversion, cloudy wort with abundant levels of dextrin, proteins and complex sugars—perfect food for wild yeasts and bacteria. 15 year aged Challenger and Hallertauer hops are added to the boil, lending their antimicrobial, preservative qualities but minimal bitterness or discernable hop character. After a lengthy boil, the lambic is transferred to the coolship—a large, open, shallow vessel where the wort cools quickly and begins inoculation by the local non-cultured yeasts and bacteria. Old French oak red wine barrels are then filled with the fermenting lambic and moved to age in a climate-controlled environment. The lambic will age for one to three years in the barrel. During this time, the beer will undergo a series of overlapping fermentations by competing microorganisms that metabolize the nutrients in the wort. In the case of fruit lambics, ripe whole fruit will be macerated with a younger lambic until the desired characteristics have been achieved. 

When barrels are ready, it is time for blending and bottling. Blending lambic is more art than science, something done with experienced instinct. Younger lambics, which offer freshness and the residual sugar necessary for bottle conditioning, are blended with the matured lambic, which brings drying complexity. The best lambics are funambulist efforts—high-risk, high-reward beers that display a sure-footed balance of lactic tang and animalic funk.

Drie Fonteinen lambics are a curious indulgence that every adventurous beer drinker or natural wine lover should consider when that “risk it for a biscuit” mood strikes.


Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze 750mL – Lighthouse Canton


Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze – $14.99/375ml

A traditional oude geuze blend of one-, two, and three-year-old lambic sourced from Boon and Drie Fonteinen. This masterfully-made geuze is a great entry point into the world of lambic. 


3 fonteinen Frambozenlambik 2018 ass 68 | Belgian Whalez

Drie Fonteinen Frambozenlambik – $36.99/375ml

This traditional raspberry lambic uses whole, hand-picked raspberries to macerate for four months with a young lambic. Each bottlecontains over half a cup of raspberries. The raspberries add a gentle pink hue and a bright fruitiness that opens in the glass.



3 Fonteinen Schaarbeekse Kriek 75cl | Beer MerchantsDrie Fonteinen Schaarbeekse Kriek – $69.99/750ml

Schaarbeeks are a tart cherry variety indigenous to the area northwest of Brussels. The fruit has a long history in Belgium but is seldom grown, the diminishing number of cherry trees falling victim to suburban sprawl. Drie Fonteinen crowd sources these special cherries from local family orchards. The handpicked fruit is macerated for 14 months in the barrel with one- and two-year-old lambic. Each bottle contains over a cup of these Schaarbeek cherries. 100% Schaarbeek Kriek is considered a limited specialty from lambic producers.


3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston – CraftShack - Buy craft beer  online.Drie Fonteinen Cuvée Armand & Gaston – $99.99/1.5L Magnum or $34.99/750ml

This cuvée, named after the son and father who have led Drie Fonteinen throughout its history,  is a traditional oude geuze made from a blend of one-, two- and three-year-old lambic all brewed in-house. No two bottlings are alike, as there are many variables in the blending process.

The Even Wilder, Wonderful-er World World of Rum (Part 2)

by Sam

Pre-Pandemic (oy) I wrote a popular blog post about the really incredible rums that were appearing on our shelves at France 44. Those bottles were (and are) fabulous, but they mostly stuck to the more well-trodden locales of rum production—Barbados, Guyana, Cuba, Jamaica, and a smattering of other Caribbean locales.

For this blog post, I wanted to highlight a few amazing rums from some more off-the-beaten path rum producing countries. Many of these are still in or near the Caribbean (sugarcane only grows in so many climates, after all) but they all offer something new and unique to even the most advanced rum tippler.


Uruapan Charanda Blanco Rum | Technically this isn’t rum: it’s charanda, a sugarcane distillate from Michoacán, Mexico with protected status (just like Champagne!)Uruapan Charanda Blanco Rum — Bitters & Bottles, but this is splitting hairs. What’s important is that this Mexican sugarcane distillate (don’t censor me, rum gods) has a hard-to-pin-down style that almost tastes like a tequila-rum hybrid. The raw material here is a mix of both fresh sugarcane juice and molasses, with the former contributing fruity and grassy aromas to the aroma. Fiery, with some definite burn on the first sip, the palate eventually mellows into a drying, vegetal finish that tastes a lot like a tequila or non-smoky Mezcal. This would be killer in a very un-traditional Margarita.


Rhum JM 110 Proof Rhum Agricole Blanc | 1 L Bottle

Rhum J.M White Rum | Rhum Agricole is a category of rum that persists in many of the French-speaking nations of the Caribbean. What sets it apart from other rums is its use of fresh sugarcane juice (in lieu of molasses) as the raw material. These rhums all have a distinct set of grassy aromas that are unmistakable, lending a lovely brightness to all kinds of drinks. Rhum J.M, a historic producer from Martinique, released this 110-proof bottling of their flagship product just a few years ago. It’s bold and aromatic, with huge hits of pineapple, fresh-cut grass, jalapeño pepper, and overripe papaya. The best way to experience it is in the traditional drink of the region: Ti Punch.



Cave à Rhum - 100% Haïti, rum cellarAny Bottle of Clairin | Thanks to the enterprising work of La Maison & Velier, a joint Italian-French spirits company, a raft of clairins have become available in the U.S. that have previously never been seen outside their home country of Haiti. Clairin is an agricole-style rum made from fresh sugarcane juice that is produced in rustic pot-stills in villages around Haiti. Despite the small-scale production that defines its production, clairin is a lot more than just Haitian moonshine—each bottle on our shelf is a distinct expression of a single producer. If you are already a fan of funky Jamaican rum, clairin should be your next adventure. Some show overripe fruits and caramel notes, while others veer into savory notes of green olive and fresh herbs.


Hamilton Beachbum Berry's Zombie Blend Rum — Bitters & BottlesHamilton ‘Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend’ Rum | Ed Hamilton is a Minor God in the world of rum, having leveraged his travels around the Caribbean into an ever-growing line of rums which he meticulously sources from distilleries around the region. His rums have garnered the love of bartenders across the country, to the point where he often makes custom blends for specific bars that want a particular rum style for a particular cocktail. This is one such innovation, a blend of three different rums that was expressly made for bartenders looking to re-create Beachbum Berry’s (a Major God in tiki cocktails) Zombie recipe. It works for that recipe beautifully, but this also subs in anywhere you might need a rich, full-bodied dark rum for mixing—it’s unctuous and smooth, full of spice, caramelized banana, and roasted toffee notes.

Privateer Navy Yard Rum | Total Wine & More


Privateer ‘Navy Yard’ Barrel-Proof Rum | New England rum was once one of the cornerstones of American booze production. The history behind this is dark, and deeply entwined with the Atlantic slave trade (not to mention the de-forestation of much of New England, which was a convenient source of rum barrels). Privateer Rum—a small distillery led by distiller Maggie Campbell—takes this complicated history in stride, aiming to turn the massive ship that is the international rum industry back towards high-quality products made by thoughtful producers. Their sugarcane is ethically-sourced from farms in the Caribbean, and then distilled in Ipswich, Mass. Bottled without any colorings, sweetness, or filtration, this is real-deal American rum at a whopping 55% ABV. This is a seriously satisfying sipper.