La Cuvee is an indoor winter festival that takes place in a gorgeous old church during the middle of the winter. Yes some might say first few days of March isn’t really winter, but it is. Spring is officially today, but in Montreal, there will be a second winter before we can reach spring. So the best way to cope before we enjoy terrasses and copious beers, is to congregate indoors inside a church and drink copious amounts of beers. No better way to sin than that. Even the confession booth would not go well in this church on these days.
I was happy to return to this years La Cuvee, I attended last year and had an absolute blast. I did make one fatal mistake this year, and the affects were felt into the night and well into the next day. Always eat a meal before drinking beer. Period. That is the lesson I can teach all of you from this experience. Although it should be a no brainer.
Although I recall most of my night, the end of it, as some that saw me in the end might have figured I was on a different planet past the dark side of the moon. For the occasion I dragged my friend along who took photos for me again like he did at Chambly festival. So while the end was a blur, I do remember introducing myself to new faces, enjoying new beers, and meeting old faces along the way.
La Cuvee has become my opportunity to try some new beers rather than continually have older favorites. Not all microbreweries have a stall at this festival, as it is not a large one, so they have pours out of cans and bottles from various places. This idea of not giving every microbrewery a stall actually plays to benefit them, because instead of having 10 different options for Le Castor you have one or two. Which is perfect to explore new beers and new breweries, it forces you to try just the one or two beers from a brewery and move on to a different brewery. I would say this set up saves you from getting too drunk and missing out on some breweries, and it does. But in my case I feel like I still missed out, because there are few I can’t recall drinking, but I have proof I drank.
I hope to introduce to you my take on some of these fantastic beers I drank at the festival but for the moment here is my night and how it progressed, from the wretched cold to the wretched darkness.
I began my night running straight to Brasserie Du Bas Canada hoping to get my hands on their Crime & Chatiment, but instead they had Guerre et Paix, which was a solid trade off. I had no complaints there, this beer absolutely blew my mind, from its woody bourbon roastiness, to its delicate, balanced mouthfeel and finish. Of course I had to become a glutton and devour all of their offerings one by one. But this one stood out to me the most, and I hope I can get my hands on some of their barrel aged stouts in the future, they truly are on par to my taste and liking. I was able to have a chat with Marc-Andre Lima and there is definitely something in the works soon.
I then headed to the center bars where I was met by a friendly face, Paul-Andre Mailhot from Le Bierologue. Where I had the opportunity to taste Noctem Bismark and Mabrasserie Momo, both of which were surprises to me. I have stuck to the regular hop kings from Quebec in recent times, and forgot about the unmentioned ones who certainly deserve credit. I had previously had Noctem Catnip, and was blown away buy its similarities to our friends down south. But both of these options are very similar in their mouthfeel, softness, hoppy and tropical nature.
I quickly hopped over to the Boreale tent and snagged a glass of the Double Decente DDH. I preferred this far more than the regular, as the hoppy, tropical notes were more dominant. The regular version to be seemed a bit strong and bold.
Right next to the Boreale tent another friendly face caught my eye, David from La Memphre. The conversation we had is like the conversation we always have, just friendly banter. Out of the several Memphre options I drank, the one that really stood out to me was their Nordostweizenlager and Demi Menton. We were cordially joined by Alex, or shall I say David? As his large name tag dictated.
Another stop to the Bierologue tent led me to a discover something new, I am truly excited to try again and write about this beer in proper form. Larvikite from Epitaphe. There was something about this beer that just really hit the spot for me, everything you desire in an NEIPA. If anyone knows how to get some more, or if the peeps over at Epitaphe come by this, hit me up!
After a bit of a break, and wandering around upstairs, things started to get fuzzy. But I do recall speaking with Etienne Lapointe, from Mille Iles and I can’t wait to cover some of their beers. They hit me from left field, I had been seeing their Sabro IPA on shelves here and there but never was pulled by the story it told, until I actually experienced it first hand. And now I’m interested. I want more experiences with this brewery and I am certain I will.
So the journey continues with a taste of Le Castors Saison Maceree, a lovely example of what Le Castor does splendidly, barrel aged sours. Le Castor has always been one of my first favorites starting out here in Montreal, namely for their Yakima IPA, which no one really talks about anymore because of the haze craze. I too am at fault, because there are so many options out there now, it certainly has been a while since I picked up a bottle of fresh Yamika IPA, maybe soon. I think I’m feeling nostalgic.
Now things really start to flash and fade in and out, like a terribly directed zombie horror film. Everything goes hay wire. But we stopped and drank some heavy as all hell yet definitely delicious stouts from Beauregard Brewery served to us by another friendly face, Maximillius from The Wild Shack. After my mind peaced the f**** out. Not me physically, but just my mind. Apparently I stayed and consumed more delicious beer.
Some more walking around took place ran into Hugues from Matera and Tatiana from Overhop. Spoke with Etienne from Vox Populi. A full pour of Boreale Nord Est and apparently a purposeful dive into a pile of large snow, a Metro ride, attempt at making food, failing. Bed time, then waking up at 6am and going to work. Lets just say I was not straight at work. And no, I was not hung over. Not one bit. Till next time La Cuvee, hopefully I will be in better shape. Or perhaps ill be feeling nostalgic. Only time will tell.
Words by Hopcitizen + Photography by Kendrick Khoo