Ever year a large group of people descend on Salon 1861 for a weekend of fanatical, fantastic consumption of craft beer from Quebec. La Cuvée Hiver usually takes place in March and it’s a no bullshit event with good local brew and a selection of local food. It’s not as massive as Chambly, nor is it outdoors, but the indoor setting inside a church makes this event a tad comical too! The interior set up is as perfect as it can be, yes it does get a bit over crowded but who doesn’t like getting close and personal to their craft beer comrades.
I was not available for the weekend, so I crashed the party on a Thursday night and got completely off track from sobriety as you can imagine. I spent a good while talking with the brewer from La Memphre, ran into other peeps for a quick drink and chat and shot the shit with Olivier from Matera. Besides visiting the brewers I spent the evening hanging with Pierre from La Tete Dans La Fut, my craft beer partner in crime, and Stephane, home brewer, metal head, and all round solid dude. You will hear about some of his beers soon as I venture into a home brew series!
I came, was given some free Boreale Nord Est IPA, and started my evening. Ignored by the waiter and waitresses handing out the nice Gin samples upstairs during a presentation, (did I say there was craft Gin at this festival?) I decided to snag some more Boreale Nord Est IPA samples and finally made way down. After a $3.50 atm charge, I was ready to go get some coupons.
First stop was to get some Auval. But seems I had to wait until they were serving it. In most festivals the breweries showcase their own beers in their own tents, however due to Salon 1861s size there few dedicated stalls for specific breweries whilst the interior had a selection of various beers. So in this case you had to hover and wait for the loud shout of the beer name and then a wave of people would rush the bar! Smart way to work so everyone can get a chance to try some Auval and other rare beers, rather than the beer selling out in the first 30 minutes of the festival. But sure way to start a stampede and it would feel archaic at times. I did not enjoy that part, not because it made it a surprise when I could get that beer, just because it seemed a bit chaotic. I would say just put the beers there randomly without announcement and if it’s there it’s there if it’s not then its not! Avoids a rush and gives equal opportunity and chances to everyone. Granted there would still be problems with that too most likely!
After consuming some Auval, I headed over to La Memphre to meet up with David, the head brewer. We had a nice long chat and I got a chance to taste a variety of their beers. The main take away for me from the festival was the Baltic Porter, it encompassed everything I love about dark beers. It had the amazing roasty qualities mixed with a divine chocolate velvetyness and a voluptuous coffee and tobacco finish.
Of course I had to stop over at the Boreale stand to try some of their beers I hadn’t come across yet.
I also got in a cocktail, which is rare for me. It was creamy and easy to drink. Afterwards it was the usual crowd of run ins, Gabriel from Boreale, Shelton from Shelton, and Renaud from Jukebox. I had a chance to catch up with Alex formerly of Les Trois Mousquetaires, who just recently launched his new project Champ Libre and also had a bottle release this past weekend. I have not had the opportunity to try anything yet and unfortunately I missed the release. But I am sure excited to give this stuff a taste when I get some!
Coupled with good company, great meet ups, ambiance, a selection of limited, but perfect craft beer, and some good Gin, La Cuvée really has it going on! I will see you next year, until then stay classy! For more information about La Cuvée be sure to visit their website and like their facebook page to get updates for next years event! And not to burst your bubble folks….. winter is coming.
Words + Photography by Hopcitizen