Size: 250 ml
ABV: 8 %
Pave de L’Ours – a remarkably splendid name for a beer, and one which loses much of its meaning in translation. The ‘pave of the bear’ means very little in English, but in French tends to mean ‘to do more harm than good’. Its origin comes from a famous proverb by the renowned fabulist and poet Jean de La Fontaine entitled ‘The Bear and the Lover of Gardens’.
In a nutshell, two unlikely characters; a man and a bear, become friends and agree to look after each other following prolonged periods of loneliness and unhappiness. The man agrees to do the gardening while the bear does all the hunting. Perfect, what could possibly go wrong?
One day, when both the man and bear have finished their chores, they both relax in the garden, and while the man sleeps a fly begins to buzz infuriatingly above his head. Remembering his promise to look after the man, the bear decides to rid his friend of this nuisance thus allowing him to catch up on some uninterrupted sleep. He reaches out for the nearest item to him, a rather large paving stone, and in one unwieldy movement, throws it at the buzzing fly. The fly managed to avert itself from the hurtling piece of pavement, however the sleeping man was less lucky, his skull being crushed on the spot. A tragic tale of how harm can come even from the best of intentions.
This fable is a well known tale in France, and has even been the inspiration for a novel by Toshiyuki Horie, who brings the tragic story to a conclusion in Normandy. Bears are rare in Normandy, so Horie uses two friends, one a Frenchman, the other a Japanese translator.
I had been looking forward to drinking this strong honey beer for some time. What a complete disappointment to discover that the beer so romantically named, ended up as tragic as the tale on which it was based. I have never drunk the urine of a bear before (strangely) however if somebody had told me they had mixed bear piss with honey I wouldn’t have disbelieved them. It was foul. The one saving grace I suppose was that at least it did taste somewhat of honey. I couldn’t even finish it, which is just as well as I probably saved the bear from another deeply distressing manslaughter trial !