The winter has finally gone and the sun is shining its rays upon the exhausted people of Montreal. A consensus flows through the minds of everyone, “I must drink more beer”. After a winter full of porters, stouts, and belgians, it is time to revel in the midst of IPAs, Pilsners, Blondes, and the many other light beers that Quebec has to offer. Rush to the store to pick up some Dieu Du Ciel Solstice D’ete or some Maltstrom IXPL kick back on your balcony, porch or backyard and enjoy a cold one. Every day in summer I dream of beer, well… I take that back, every day of the year I dream of beer. There is something so captivating about craft beer, something so visceral, your entire body reacts, all your senses heighten with emotion. How can anyone resist that? Coupled with the excitement to try new different beers and the passion becomes unstoppable. Since summer has begun, there are a large amount of festivals for one to enjoy amazing local craft beer made by local hard working folk. Coming this weekend is the yearly Festival des bières de Laval , running from Friday to Saturday.
But, it seems it has become a yearly event for me to trek my way through Mondial. I mean how could I not? Great beer, great people and as always great times. This year was no different than last year, things moved very quickly and by the end of the night my memories got a bit fuzzy. To help me recall my steps I had few friends of mine trekking along with me, without them being there I may not have realized where I had been or what I had done. This is a lesson in drinking responsibly. However amplified my state may have been, I had the opportunity to meet some new brewers and talk to some other breweries for potential coverage on my website. All of whom, were welcoming, friendly and down to earth.
I had an opportunity to stop by Riverbend, and have a chat with Sébastien. I really had not tried much from them besides maybe one of their beers a long time back. So it was refreshing to take a taste of a different brewery. I had the opportunity to sip down a berliner weisse, which was fruity as much as it was refreshing.
Of course, I journeyed over to Avant-Garde and hung out with the mayte Shawn. While at the tent I had a chance to talk with the man behind Ippon, Julien, whom I had met previously, but it was a pleasure to have a chat with him again, and we have something planned coming soon! If you have not heard of Ippon, they made a pretty dam solid Japanese style lager / ginger beer.
Friends from Overhop were back again this year, and I had a chance to kick it with Patty while we walked around and tried some beer together, and later giving a stab at some of the killer brew they make. This year they had a solid line up of beers and without having sat in the SAQ for ages. The beer tasted fresher, and elated the taste buds with an explosion of flavors that ranged from hops to fruits to puckering sour. You can check out my straya mayte, Craig, covering Overhop at the festival here. Something a bit more extensive should come your way soon enough!
Shelton, was present as well, showcasing his full lineup of beers. Although he has gotten a lot of flack for some of his beers, I have seen a marked improvement in the quality and taste of his beers. Many a times I may say some good things about some beers, or individuals or institutions, but I don’t always praise just the taste of a beer, I praise the individuals or the group that are behind the liquid. When I first tried Shelton, I wasn’t extremely satisfied by the beer, it was a good drinkable beer which I did enjoy, but I felt it could have used some improvements. But from that taste, I could sense and judge that something special was happening and I would be sure that in a few months, or a year there would be some great improvements. And the IPA Du Jour that I drank at the festival to me was pretty solid. Naturally, the mix of beers and taste bud fatigue play in grandly, so I will have to try it stand alone to see where my feelings really stand. But I still stand by that Shelton is making great beers, and they will and can only improve from here on up.
Stopping by Harricana is always a treat, you are met by the friendly, welcoming face of Francis, and exploration of their extremely interesting and unique beers. The 7005 line has taking over Montreal, and although it has been tough to catch all of them, I have had the pleasure of trying few of them.
A stop over at Vox Populi was a must, and I had a good opportunity to chat it up with Etienne about the new management and merger with group Glutenberg. I also enjoyed their decadent, creamy cafe stout.
I stopped over at L’espace Public to snag a taste of the Dreamsicle, a collab with the boys from BAOS Podcast, all round solid dudes, and the beer was a blanketed, pillowy, creamy, hop juice wrapped in velvety clouds. Get it in ya!
I finally got an opportunity to stop over MonsRegius and had a chat with Martin about the beers they have going on and what MonsRegius is upto. I had the Bianca IPA a while back and was satisfied with the mix of hoppy flavors, bitter kick, fruit explosions and texture and mouth feel, and am looking forward to trying some more of their stuff.
I did also tried some out of province beers and I have to say some of the Nickel Brook beers were on point! I have always been a fan of their hops but I had never tried any of their Barrel aged beers. It does make me sad that I can’t get the hops that easily from Ottawa. Although they are available they are usually always 8-12 weeks old. And yes peeps it makes a difference, a 8 week old can does not compare to a 2 week old fresh can of Headstock IPA.
The night would not be complete without a stop at Dieu Du Ciel and Les Trois Mousquetaires, and that is where my night seems to go dark. I do recall drinking the Peche Mortel, that she devil of creamy roasty coffee goodness, and then maybe the hype form the caffeine took over and my mind went into overdrive.
Exploration is key in craft beer, it is what makes the beer community fun, fresh and constantly evolving. Whether its new beers from a brewery you stick with or love, or a chance on a new brewery you have never heard of. I encourage you to go out and try anything and everything. Some may terribly disappoint, some may dazzle your wits, and others may drop you to the floor with satisfaction. The beauty of it is that, it elicits an emotional response either way, one you can share with your friends, family, and whom ever you please. There is no better way to explore new beers than a festival of beers. So go catch some! Till next year Mondial, Chambly I’m coming for ya! Taste, Share, and Enjoy!
Words + Photography by Hopcitizen