It was the turn of the 19th century when a gentleman from the Strasbourg-based Fischer family decided to open a Bordeaux branch of his Alsace brewery. His aim was to cut down on transportation costs to the Sud Ouest as well as to export to overseas French territories from this new outlet for Fischer beers. He chose a peaceful open spot by the river which had decent road, rail and boat access for supplying the city and beyond. So in February 1806 was born the Grande Brasserie de l'Atlantique which successfully operated from 1-6 Quai de Brienne for 173 years until its final closure in 1979; the site is currently occupied by the Point P and M.I.N. (Marché d'Intérêt National).
|View over the brewery as it was with the riverside railway and the scene today.|
The Archives Municipales have recently remastered a copy of the Livre d'Or from the Exposition Maritime de Bordeaux in 1907, including a strong entry on the Brasserie. It is stated that the brewery uses the 'latest technology and machinery to produce Munich-style Pilsen beers'. The brewery is 'good for commerce as beers brewed in Germany don't travel well' and they add that nevertheless it may seem 'strange to see beer being brewed in the heart of wine country'. The brasserie was obviously exporting by then as they advertised having a 'special procedure' to help beers travel well. This refers to the brewing of Bières de Garde with the beer being brewed in winter to create a higher percentage cleaner product. In 1907 they were listed as having 60 workers, 11 delivery drivers, 7 bookkeepers and had the highest production in the region at 25,000HL per year.
The next decent records available are from March 1923 when the brewery published a photo book, which contains a number of fantastic photos from the 1920s and gives a snapshot of the everyday running of the business.
|Scenes from the 1920s: generator hall with a giant grain hopper and fridge condensors for making ice; hangars, barrels and brewing tanks; horse-drawn delivery cart; and team photo!|
|Maxime Peyranne flanked by Vincent |
and Nathanaël, employees
of the modern-day Gasconha
brewery in Pessac.
|Contemporary campaign promoting |
beer for breast-feeding women.
|The Garonne-side restaurant and beer garden, and the modern-day view!|
The search for information about the Brasserie de l'Atlantique has proved to be somewhat of a treasure hunt. I was expecting to go to the library and find a book on the complete history of the place but unfortunately the majority of records seem to have disappeared in an alcoholic haze. Nevertheless the evidence out there gives a valuable insight into local popular history and Bordeaux drinking culture which the new artisan breweries are trying to recreate.
- Find it: 1-6 Quai de Brienne, Bordeaux.