Reflecting on Mondial de la Bière, after three days of tasting (and one more morning to go!) I have determined that this may be the best beer festival I’ve ever attended. Unfortunately I don’t have the means to share photos, but I do have a little (okay – a lot) – to say.
Montreal is a great city. We haven’t seen as much of it as I’d like, what I’ve experienced leaves me wanting more. The pubs are fabulous and plentiful. There is a wealth of culture here – the diversity is outstanding. It is clean, trendy, attractive and eclectic. And the festival – our raison d’être – is c’est magnifique! These are just a few of the things I’ve listed:
- five days of tasting – you don’t have to pack it all into one day or a four-hour session; doors open at 11 AM each day, close at 10 PM and participants have in/out privileges
- taste as much or as little as you like – buy as many tickets as you care to, and taste as many beers as you like; very few of the breweries seemed to run out of any particular beer (we missed out on a rhubarb beer, but that’s about it!)
- BYO-glass is acceptable as long as it is 12-oz or less
- friendly folks running the booths – willing to talk and share
- open door – come and go as you like (well, if you get there late and there is a crowd, they do make a line out the door…)
- tasting areas that are both outdoor and indoor (under a glass ceiling so it feels kind of like outdoor); Windsor Station and Courtyard is a wonderful place for a festival
- the French pavilion, which included 16 exhibitors, 13 of which are microbreweries and one of which was Thiriez (a brewery we fell in love with after Chris and Jen treated us to a bottle at Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, ME)
outstanding restroom facilities – ample, clean, spacious and fully functional (complete with a hook on the door designed just for my mug!)
- five days of tasting where you can taste as much or as little as you like – we like, so we spent a lot of cash!
So what have we had? Well, we made it a point to taste all of the award winning beers and as many of the 15 anniversary mashes created just for the festival.
- Awards were given to twelve breweries for a variety of beers. Among them, I particularly enjoyed Aphrodisiaque from Dieu du Ciel – a stout that tasted rich in chocolate and vanilla (kind of like a stout milkshake.)
- For the 15th anniversary, Mondial dela Bière has teamed with places such as À la fût (creators of La Survivante), Brutopia (creators of African ale Nigerian Nectar), Dieu du Ciel (creators of Double Triple), Broue Pub Brouhaha (creators of Special B) and La Barberie (creators of Sangri-Bière.)
My favorite brewery of the festival? That honor goes to Hopfenstark. They are cool guys with great vision and beer integrity. They work hard to make a perfect product, and won’t compromise for popularity. The Baltic Porter De L’Ancier With Maple Syrup was by far one of the best beers at the festival, and they carried an impressive number of saisons: Station 10 (a sour beer which won a platinum medal!), Saison Station 16 (rye beer) and Saison Station 55(bitter and hoppy.)
Some of the more distinctive beers were La Carotte from Microbrasserie du Lievre (a beer brewed with carrot), Viotlette (made with Aizelles (?) and violets) and Verte (made with Denepi) both from Mont Blanc and Juliette from Brasserie Uberach.
In addition to plenty of beer, we have made plenty of new friends and enjoyed spending time with friend who are not so new to our lives.
- Our Thursday night table at Dieu du Ciel grew from four to fourteen as friends came and left. With sixteen of their own beers on tap, and all of them right on, it was hard to make a choice!
- On Friday evening, we had a great cookout on the deck, which just happens to straddle the property of our friend Josh (party host) AND the bed and breakfast where we are staying. Several of the attendees were MontreAlers, and it was great fun to meet them. Josh bought a wide selection of cheeses and beers (mostly from Vermont), and D brought a large selection of beers from our cellar. One of the stars that night was Stonecutter Scotch Alefrom Renaissance Brewing Company in Marlborough, NZ.
- Saturday morning started with a trip to Metro Joanette – a grocery store where we found an awesome beer selection, which I hope to write about it a later post because of our À l’Abri de la Tempête find…
- Saturday afternoon we left the festival with Beth, Jim, Mark and Matt, and we met up with Cornelia and Ray, forming an impromptu pub crawl! We started out at the microbrewery L’Amer à Boire for Czech lager and stout, then moved down the street to Le Saint Bock, where they brewed their own beers and served plenty of other products on draft and in a wide array of bottles. Next we went to Le Cheval Blanc for a quick visit before taking a cab all the way down to Vices & Versa where 29 Canadian beers were available (and none of them Molson!) I particularly enjoyed Postcolonial IPAfrom Hopfenstark and Hoppy – an IPA from Brasseurs et frères.
- Tired of all the same food at every single pub (nachos, chips, frittes, pizza and pannini), D and I found a nice little Peruvian restaurant called Chicho, where we had a great meal before returning to Josh’s apartment to dig back into the bottle tasting
- My pick of the night was Rock Art Double IPA;
- Josh chose Green Flash Imperial IPA as his favorite;
- Troy liked the Otto’s Double D IPA and the Smuttynose Wheat Wine quite a bit, but his pick of the night was the 2007 Dark Lord Imperial Stout (even in comparison to the 2008 Dark Lord);
- D was most impressed by the 2005 Bushwakker Wheat Wine (which we are calling a “double import”, since it traveled from Saskatewan to PA for cellaring, and now to Quebec.
Obviously I have a lot to say about this trip, and really, I could keep going, but it’s seriously time for bed. I’m going to slack on the links for tonight, and sign off.