F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo taps into the largest craft brewery on the coast.
For over fifty years, drivers have triumphantly sprayed champagne on the F1 podium. Swiss racer Jo Siffert can be credited with the ritual when, at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours, he unintentionally soaked the crowd as the cork shot out of a warm bottle of Moët. These days, it’s far more commercialized as the top three drivers get jiggy with €3,000 magnums of Carbon champagne color- coded gold, silver and bronze.
It’s not just the racers that indulge. Across the Monaco Grand Prix weekend innumerable flûtes of bubbly are glamorously guzzled; one exclusive party goes through 40 bottles (at €300 a pop) an hour. You do the math.
But there may be a new beverage of choice in Monaco—the honey-colored Lager No. 3, a summer seasonal beer brought out on May 4 by the Blue Coast Brewing Company. It’s named in honor of the reigning Monaco GP champion, Daniel Ricciardo, whose favorite number happens to be 3. (There are also 3 hops in the brew.)
The Renault driver, along with 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button and TV presenter Karen Minier-Coulthard (wife of David), has been involved with the craft brewery since its launch in January 2017. American actor Noah Wyle (ER, Falling Skies) has also been a part of the startup.
“Blue Coast is about being a part of a project with good friends with a cool product as the centerpiece,” says Ricciardo, who sometimes drops by the brewery to serve a few pints to guests. “It’s exciting to have an interest outside of the racetrack that I can support and see develop, plus Australians love beer!”
And so do the French. So much so that bierologie and zythologie (a beer expert) were officially entered in the 2019 Petit Larousse Illustrated dictionary. Over the next five years, France is expected to be the fastest growing craft beer market in Europe and, according to the Brewers Association of Europe, in 2017 the French put back 33 liters of beer each, with consumption increasing 3% each year over the last four. The heaviest consumers are the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany (138L, 105L, and 101L per person respectively).
Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button and Noah Wyle
"As a Brit, I know all about the craft beer boom, so this really represented a fun project with good people and a great business opportunity", says Jenson Button. " I could only get excited - it encapsulates so many great aspects of this region that I love.
No wonder the largest brewery in the South of France ran out of beer by spring 2018, just six months after opening. “The good news is that we learned a lesson about thirsty consumers and have quadrupled capacity to ready ourselves for this year, starting with the Grand Prix,” says Monaco resident Natasha Frost-Savio, who cofounded Blue Coast Brewing Company with her Italian-Swedish husband, Roberto Savio.
The idea to open a high-quality artisanal brewery came to the couple during a vacation in the U.S., where craft beer accounts for more than 24% of the country’s $114.2 billion beer market, as stated by the Brewers Association.
“It quickly turned into a business concept,” says Frost-Savio, a 46-year-old American who grew up in Beaulieu-sur- Mer. “It was a golden time. We lived and breathed Blue Coast, creating every aspect of this company hand-in-hand—brand identity, finding a warehouse, finding a brewer—and it turned out we were also expecting our son, Magnus, which added to the fun.”
Last year, Blue Coast was sold in 250 upscale bars, restaurants and hotels along the coast, from Menton to Saint-Tropez. As sales quadrupled in 2018, Blue Coast Brewing has expanded to 350 retail points, and brought on John Philips as CEO “to take Blue Coast to the next level.” A 25-year veteran to the beverage industry, Philips has worked for Diageo, Bacardi and the Fosters Group and specializes in building leading brands internationally.
“Our primary focus is to ‘Own the Coast’ becoming the number one choice in Craft Beer. Beyond that, we aim to achieve ‘Top 5’ Craft Beer status in France and build our international presence,” reveals Philips.
Quality, authenticity and sustainability—“we donate our Brewers Spent Grain to local farmers who feed it to their herds”—play a part in the company’s ethos. At the brewery on chemin de Saquier, in the heart of Nice’s Eco Valley some 15 minutes from the airport, the traditional beer making process is in the hands of beer designer Robert Bush, a Swede living in Nice, who won gold at the Swedish National Championships in Home Brewing. “Robert knows his hops like a nez knows perfume,” insists Frost-Savio. “He regularly surprises us with new creations and ideas.”
The label’s core range is made up of Blonde, Blanche, Amber and IPA. An amber-red Winter Warmer, with its biscuitlike taste and piney nose, is a popular brew for the colder nights.
From grain to glass, BBlue Coast takes 3 weeks, depending on the beer being brewed (lager takes longer, 4-5 weeks, for instance). “We don’t filter, pasteurize or add sugar or carbonation to accelerate the process,” explans Frost-Savio. “Instead we allow our beer to ferment naturally, which creates tiny bubbles—just like champagne.”