Saturday 18th January 2014
This was the second brewery we had visited that evening and was considerably more successful that the first. From our base in Brig we had set out to visit La Marmotte brewery in Montana, a ski resort high above the Rhone valley. We caught the funicular railway from Sierre and that was an adventure in itself. I have never travelled on one as long as this. It must have been at least three miles (five km) long and all performed on a single wire!
After alighting from the free bus that operates around Montana we could see our destination, the Hotel du Lac, across the frozen lake it was named after. There is a separate bar in the brewery attached to the hotel, named La Garage. However this was closed, even though it was advertised as being open from 17.00 to 19.00 in winter. On enquiring at the hotel reception they told us it didn't open in January and February. However we were directed to the hotel bar and found Marmotte light and dark in bottled form, a consolation prize!
Back down on the valley floor we made the short journey from Sierre to Sion. This large town is a centre for wine making and all along the valley there a many vineyards. It is only possible to drink Swiss wine in its home country, they don't export. I was with Patrick, Vaughan, Steve and Russell that evening and we walked to the brew pub, taking about 15 minutes.
When we entered the first thing I noticed was that we were the oldest in there! I wonder if there is a university in the town. The pub is quite large with the bar on the right of the entrance door. There was an upper area reached by a few stairs and the brewery is located above the bar with the fermentation vessels on the left. Most of this part of the room was open space so I guess it is the province of bands and dancing. When we left a silent disco was just stating with the DJ and headphone rental being located by the main door.
There were three beers to choose from: Pilsner Blonde (light) (4.7%); Maison Blanche (wheat) (4.5%) and Brune (brown) (4.8%). We thought the Blonde was just a bland light lager, not bad but nothing special. At one point Patrick had the Blanche and declared it was OK but tasted a bit "funny". Which leads me to think is was not like a normal wheat beer. Unanimously the Brune was declared to be the best, having a nice malty body with a bit of a hop kick in the aftertaste. As is often the case a "Spécial" was offered, but it had sold out.
The beers are also available in Brig at the Restaurant Alpina, Belalpstrasse 10. As we were staying in that town, that's exactly where we ended up for the end of the evening. It is a very nice watering hole with more of a pub atmosphere than most in Switzerland.
Les Divins Brasseurs, Rue de Lausanne 27, Sion CH-1950. Tel: 041 (0) 27 322 4610
Open: Monday-Wednesday 08.00-24.00; Thursday-Saturday 08.00-01.00
Sion railway station has a half hourly service of trains that run from Brig to Lausanne, Geneva and Bern.