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  • When ordering a beer, knowing which brand you want to order (and not just saying "une bière s'il vous plait"), should one use the feminine article une because bière is a feminine word in French or does it instead depends on the brand name itself? For example, do you say "un Erdinger" or "une Erdinger"? (Erdinger is just taken as example, same question holds had I used as brand instead Heineken, Bitburger, Leffe and so on).

  • Finally in case of doubt, what's the best bet, to go with un or une?

  • Related: french.stackexchange.com/questions/13508/… – jlliagre May 12 '16 at 20:13
  • @jlliagre merci pour le lien, il parait, d'apres les discussions que j'ai lu sur la page liee, que le probleme n'est toujours pas resolu, notamment la question: comment on determine l'article quand on utilise le nom d'une biere: est-ce d'apres le type d'objet, la biere dans ce cas, ou d'apres le nom de la marque meme? Bien sur cette discussion peut etre etendu a tout autre objects. Desole pour mon francais, j'essaie de le pratiquer autant que possible... – user929304 May 13 '16 at 9:53
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    Quand on nomme une bière par sa marque, on emploie toujours le féminin en Français, sauf l'exception très localisée Orval. Le vin, nettement plus consommé que la bière en France, est par défaut au masculin (un bourgogne, un côtes-du-rhône) sauf si la désignation du vin lui même, pas du lieu comme dans les deux exemples précédents, est un substantif féminin (une clairette de Die). – jlliagre May 13 '16 at 10:05
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The general rule is that a brand take the gender of the generic name of its product. Because une bière is feminine, we can expect the vast majority of beer brands to be so too. This is true even if the brand name is formed around a masculine noun: for example une Piedbœuf (lit. foot-of-bull), despite pied being masculine.

However, there can be deviations from this pattern, of which we've (thanks Laure) identified two so far. These tend to be local usages, that have to be learned by the uninitiated, since they go against the habitual tendency of the language, and neither of our examples are masculine for every native French-speaker. But of course, there is a certain social cachet in knowing that a luxury product belongs to an unexpected noun class.


Orval, one of the Trappist beers, is masculine.

The traditional explanation is that, since the name is a compound that translate to Gold Valley, it takes the gender of its second element, like any French compound. Un val is masculine, thus un Orval is too. (But compare with Piedbœuf above!)

The locals of Gaume (the region around the brewery) reportedly go so far as to pluralize it on the model of "val" too: "Patron, deux Orvaux, s'i vos plaît bèn!".

Any native speaker who's unfamiliar with the brew is liable to say "une Orval fraîche", "deux Orvals fraîches" though, on the model of every other beer name.


Also from Belgium, there's a particular make of beer that originated from around Brussels called Lambic that is masculine. That too is unusual: we say une Trappiste, une Pils, une Gueuze, une Stout, and une Criek but un Lambic.

This unexpected gender is harder to explain. One possibility is that lambic is a truncation of alambic (alembic), a masculine word, but I haven't managed to trace that etymology back to a scientific publication, only beer literature.

This masculine gender spills over to specific brands of Lambic beers. One can thus find customers in Brussels' bars ordering "un Faro Lindemans".

In closing, and as an illustration of the variability existing in the usage of the speakers, here is a quote from the Brussels daily Le Soir of the 18th of October 1988 :

Et à Bruxelles, cela ne devrait pas vous étonner, c'étaient la gueuze, le faro et la lambic qui avaient les préférences du public, n'en déplaise à Charles Baudelaire lui-même qui qualifia ces bières de «deux fois bues».

  • Nice example, in order to avoid being misled, I have to ask: so you're actually saying, if I understood correctly, that the rule is that: regardless of the object type, beer, tv or whatever, brands in French come with articles specific to the brand name? So this would be opposite to what refreshfr is saying, so his/her argument was that since biere is feminine, all brand names of beer take the article 'une'. Bit confused now :( – user929304 May 13 '16 at 9:47
  • @user929304 I trust a Belgian where beer is concerned. And a well documented answer to boot. – Laure May 17 '16 at 18:13
  • @Laure Indeed, what a great answer, thanks to both of you! – user929304 May 18 '16 at 9:32
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I'm French and I can't recall ever using (or heard someone using) "un", regardless of the beer's brand. I really can't think of a brand where it's "un"... And I know quite a lot of brands!

Since beer ("bière") is a feminine word, always use "une".

  • Wouldn't it be because in fact you want to say: "une (bouteille de) ZzZ", "une (pinte de) ZzZ", since we also say "un demi de ZzZ" (masculine), where ZzZ is the name of a brand beer.? – Larme May 13 '16 at 8:53
  • @Larme Good remark and question. At refreshfr:> thanks a lot for your reply, so you mean as a general rule, the brand name of an object doesn't define whether it is masculine or feminine, instead the object type itself defines it, e.g. 'télé' being feminine, one would say "Une Samsung, une Sony etc", in the same way for other objects, be they tv's, beers, or whatever. Is this really the general rule then? – user929304 May 13 '16 at 9:44
  • @Larme one does not say "un demi de Zzz" when talking about beer, but "une demi Zzz", because beer is not masculine. One would, however, say "un demi Zzz" talking about wine for instance. One does not in fact use de unless we say "Une moitié de Zzz", which is also feminine because "moitié" is feminine. – MorganFR May 13 '16 at 15:05
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    It is not clear whether your answer only applies when talking about a brand name and not about the type of beer? I'm not a beer drinker, let alone a connoisseur, so I'm wondering about about "un lambic"? guide-biere.fr/encyclo/lambic.php or bierebel.com/styles-de-bieres-belges/lambics-et-gueuzes (Plenty more to be found plenty more). I know some people say "une lambic" as well. – Laure May 13 '16 at 17:55
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    @Laure Well spotted. Yes, lambic is often masculine, and I'm getting more hits googling for "du lambic" than for "de la lambic". It's masculine in Dutch too, and If its folk etymology of being a truncation of alambic is true, this would explain the gender. Digging around a bit more, the masculine can spill over to specific brand of lambic beers: See here for "du Faro" for example: leverrelassiette.be/fr/lotte-legumes-autour-du-faro-lindemans Though I must confess I've used "de la Faro" all my life, but I'm not from Brussels or Brabant, which is where lambics come from. – Eau qui dort May 14 '16 at 12:02
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I don't know what the rules are for that. But for my experience, I always order "Une ZzZ". Then eventually the bar tender ask me : "en pinte ou en demi ?". If I want to ask for a demi I always go for "Une ZzZ, en demi".

I think in this case it's because the name of the beer has mixed with the object itself. Like "Passe moi le scotch", in fact is a abuse to say "passe moi le rubant adésif de la marque scotch". And since the object itself is feminine, we say "Une".

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