Montreal beer festival

I missed the previous two years of the Montreal beer festival so this year I decided to go up for the whole five days, to make up for lost time. 🙂

This year was also the 20th anniversary of the festival, so I was hoping for something a bit special; sadly I didn’t see that any special events were organised, and in fact there were fewer breweries than past years (most notably Unibroue), but at least the new venue (Palais des congrès) was OK.

Even though I lugged my camera gear up there, I only took a few shots and most of them were walking to/from the venue rather than inside; I’ll post them soon.

So, what about the beer? The general rule that beer served by guys with beards is normally better than that served by cute girls proved to be true again. 🙂

I didn’t take any notes but here’s what I remember…

  • The good:
    • Benelux – pretty good; wish their sour beer had been more sour
    • Brutopia – I tried most of their range a couple of months ago, when I was in Montreal for the Marillion Weekend so I only had the IPA this time
    • Croce di Malto (via Le Petit Pub) – their Piedi Neri Brune was excellent
    • Dieu du ciel – always great; kept going back for Solstice d’été (Summer solstice)
    • Hopfenstark – tried ~6 beers; really liked the Saison Station 55, the Baltic Porter, and Berlin Alexanderplatz
    • Micro-brasserie Archibald – a bit hit and miss; the stout and American pale ale were quite good
    • Micro Brasserie Le Grimoire – some interesting flavours; the maple was very nice
    • Miel Nature – very tasty mead and they don’t feel the need to make them strange colours (I’m looking at you Trafalgar!)
    • Pain voyageur – OK it’s not beer but they made very tasty bread!
    • P.A. Gargantua – fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches!
    • Le Saint-Bock – great selection of their own beer (see further down for when we went to the pub)
    • La Succursale – all very nice beers, especially 1814 (porter)
    • Les Trois Mousquetaires – tried their maibock, doppelbock and gose … and got into a long conversation with one of the servers who’s also a Marillion fan 🙂
    • Le Trou Du Diable – I tried quite a few of their selection and they were all really good but Dulcis Succubus was my favourite of the whole festival
    • Les Vergers de la Colline – nice range of ciders, especially the cask cider
  • The bad:
    • Beau’s – they’re only in my “bad” section because they ran out of beer halfway through the festival! Apparently they brought twice as much beer as last year (when they didn’t run out) so they must have been extra popular this year
    • Cidrerie McKeown – not actually bad but not as good as CID/Les Vergers de la Colline
    • Creemore Springs – I tried their IPA (Hops & Bolts) which was OK but not great
    • Glutenberg – I kept meaning to try some of their gluten-free range but never did; apologies to my celiac friends
    • Keith’s Single Hop Series – I only tried the Cascade after being warned by Josh about the Hallertauer
  • The ugly:
    • Boris – they’ve expanded their range and now produce an AC/DC branded beer but I just couldn’t bring myself to try it
    • Guinness Black Lager – thin and watery

We didn’t spend all our time at Mondial (the festival) – we also tried out a few bars downtown 🙂 The memorable stops were:

  • Le Saint-Bock – amazing selection of bottles (apparently the largest collection in Canada!) and excellent beers on tap; knowledgeable, friendly staff; wish we could have spent the whole evening there
  • Dieu du ciel – busy as always; they had Cantillon Kriek and Gueuze, both amazing
  • L’Amère à Boire – found this brewpub by accident; wide range of their beer although we only tried a few

We did a really good job of pacing ourselves so no-one was sick or hungover, but we tried pretty much everything we wanted to check out. Next year’s Mondial is at the same venue but a week later (June 11-15), so I hope that doesn’t coincide with the Grand Prix; I’m also hoping the number of breweries increases, including the return of Unibroue.

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