In my post about Mondial de la Biere I promised that it wouldn’t take long for my next post. I guess my promises are not worth much. There were some trivial things like work that came in between but here comes part two of the my weekend in Montreal and Mondial de la Biere,
Going to a beer festival is for me much more than visiting the festival. I like to make a weekend out of it and experience the atmosphere of the city, it’s culture and history, restaurants and entrainment and of course the beer
scene. I have found that the best way of feeling the atmosphere of the city is using public transportation or walking every where I go. You’ll get the felling of the city just by listening to the conversations on the bus or metro and the sounds of the city even if you don’t understand the language. Montreal is a fantastic city! It has a great public transportation, a language that I don’t understand but an atmosphere that makes me feel at home. The only down side with Montreal is that it’s way to fare north. I’m starting to like the southern climate here in Durham, NC more and more. Right after I arrived to Montreal I met up with Stephen Beaumont at Le Cheval Blanc. Lets start with Stephen. Stephen is a Canadian and lives in Toronto.
He is a beverage and food writer and writes several blogs and magazines and has written several books. He has a great knowledge about Montreal beer and food scene. He picked a great spot for us the meet. The nineteenth century Le Cheval Blanc is an old neighborhood tavern located in what was called Molasses District. In 1986 it became the first licensed brew pub in Montreal. Their beer is really good. I had the Saison Blanche brewed on the house strain of brettanomyces yeast. After a while Lew Bryson joined us. Lew is also a beer and whiskey writer but from the Philadelphia area. I couldn’t have better company than these two. Both of them have great personalities, extensive knowledge of beer and fun to be with. After Le Chaval Blanc we walked just a few blocks to Le Saint Bock. Le Saint Bock is a brew pub with great in-house beers and a great selection of Canadian and imported beers. We had goal set on Au Pied De Cochon. This is one of Montreal and Canada’s top restaurants with French cuisine the Canadian way. On our way to the restaurant we stop at Les 3 Brasseur. Their beer is not great but still interesting enough to stop to have one. At Au Pied De Cochon we had some of the best food Montreal and Canada can offer. We of course had different varieties of Foie Gras, Marinated Smoked Sausages and many other delicacies. Their beer selection is not really interesting for a beer lover but their wines selection makes up for that by fare. We finished a very pleasant day at yet another of Montreal’s brew pubs Dieu du Ciel.
After a great afternoon and evening with Lew and Stephen it was time for some serious Canadian beer exploring at Mondial de la Biere. The Canadian beer scene has evolved just like it has with it’s neighbor in the south. The difference is that it’s in Quebec it happens in the beer world in Canada. The breweries are more experimental than in other parts of Canada where they are more traditional. Quebec is the fastest growing state when it comes to beer. At the festival they had about 100 breweries with 300 different beers. Most of them were domestic but they had a good selection of imports. The news for this year was 13 micro breweries from Japan. Changes in beer laws in Japan has opened up for more microbreweries. In Japan you had to at least brew a specific amount of beer/year to get a license. The amount was so high that it was not possible for new small breweries to reach that level and still make it work financially. The big 4 had protected this law for many years but they had to give it up and new small breweries are popping up in a rapid pace. The market for Japanese beer in Canada opened up when Sleeman-Unibroue bought Sapporo. There were some
really interesting beer on the domestic side. My favorite was Hopfenstark Postcolonial IPA on cask. This was a very traditional cask IPA and fare from the very hopy American version. Hopfenstark also brewed one of the official Beire de Mondial. The festival always have a few official festival beers and to my great surprice they had chosen a Berliner Weiss. This is an almost forgotten beer style with some delicious flavors perfect for the summer. I’m happy that breweries here on North America are making an attempt to show the world this great beer style. One of Montreal’s best know brew pubs is Brasseur Artisanal Brewtopia. They had a Chocolate Stout that had tempting chocolate flavors.
To my surprise I found beers from Sweden. Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri and Nils Oscar had some of their first class beer at the festival. This was thanks to Jörgen Hasselqvst at OT in Stockholm. He was also one of the speakers at the festival seminars.
When in North America don’t miss Montreal. It’s a great beer town with great food and hospitable people.