Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/6/2016 (1949 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Last week was Festival Mondial de la bière in Montreal and being the beer geek I am, I went. Some of you are saying, "But Cody, you’ve written about your trips to Montreal several times already!" Yeah, I have but this time it’s all about the festival.
My original intent was to showcase the top beers at Mondial that you can find in Manitoba, but honestly, Central City’s Red Racer IPA doesn’t need any more publicity at this point. It’s almost always sold out at local Liquor Marts and vendors, and not only that, the Red Racer we get in Manitoba is several months fresher than the stuff they get in Quebec.
Mondial de la bière is one of the largest beer festivals in the world, with an attendance of more than 100,000 each year. This year the festival happened to be going on during Montreal Formula One Grand Prix, so I really wouldn’t be surprised if attendance soared past 150,000.
Mondial had special imported beers from as far away as Brazil and local beers from local brewpubs as close by as a few blocks down the street. Some of the non-Quebec breweries that made an appearance at the festival include Beau’s Brewing out of Ottawa, Bomber Brewing out of Vancouver, Rogue Ales out of Oregon and a good amount of Labatt/Molson subsidiaries such as Labatt’s Goose Island and Mill Street as well as Molson’s Mad Jack, Creemore Springs, Granville Island and Rickards.
To me, it was the Quebec variety of beers that lured me in. While Unibroue no longer makes an appearance, Quebec’s super popular breweries Trou du Diable, Dieu du Ciel, Brasserie Dunham and Les Trois Mousquetaires all had hopping beer stations with very long lines. But once you paid $4 in tickets to get a four-ounce sample of a Belgian style saison, India Pale Ale or cask barley wine, it’s just all worth it.
What made it even better is that two great friends actually had their own beers being sampled at the event. My buddy Alex, who took me on a craft beer trip all over southern Quebec on Saturday, collaborated with the new brewpub Brasserie Harricana to create a rich, hop forward double IPA simply called "42" — easily one of the top beers of the festival for me. It was floral, with lots of fresh pine and citrus notes, very reminiscent of a West Coast style IPA
One of my other friends, David, a popular beer podcaster/blogger in Montreal, has his beer La King Cogne Rye IPA on tap at a Quebec Oktoberfest booth. David recently wrote an article in Quebec’s go-to beer magazine "Bières et Plaisirs" discussing the top beers he’s had in his life. He said Half Pints’ Le Temps Noir was the best "outside of Quebec" beer he ever had in his life — all thanks to me, as I introduced it to him three years ago.
My absolutely favourite beers and treats I had at Mondial has to be the Barleywine Germanique Cask by Les Trois Mousquetaires, a delicious, creamy, raisin/dark fruit sweetness of a barley wine that just loves to tingle your palate and belly at the exact same time.
Saint-Maurice by Trou du Diable was an amazing saison that ended up being a great refresher between beers, a bit carbonated, fairly light yet citrusy and tasty.
There’s far too many beers from Brasserie Dunham to list that I fell in love with, but their L’assemblage No. 1 and No Tahoma Farmhouse Saison were frequently sampled by me.
Aside from food, Mondial de la bière also had a great selection of food carts and stands ranging from gourmet pretzels, bison sausage, fresh cheese, barbecue, fresh baguettes and, of course, poutine!
On the weekend Mondial also hosted Master Class seminars featuring people in the brewing industry discussing their craft, how craft beer has changed and even how wild and experimental strains of yeast are becoming more popular in the industry.
The main seminar I went to was about finding the right hops in times of hop shortages by Brett Porter, the brewmaster of Goose Island Brewing. One thing I learned is that if you are home brewer or have a brewery/brewpub, become friends with the local hop farmers because they’re always wanting to produce hops that the brewers absolutely want, even the experimental varieties.
To me, Montreal has a true beer culture but Winnipeg is quickly developing a craft beer scene that will influence a smaller craft beer scene here in Brandon eventually.
Next weekend, June 24-25, Flatlanders Beer Festival is taking place in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre. The most exciting thing about Flatlanders this year is that all the new breweries that are opening up this summer are going to be using the beer festival to showcase the beers that they will be brewing once Winnipeg City Hall gives them the green light.
Those new breweries include Barn Hammer, Nonsuch, One Great City and Torque. Barn Hammer is the only brewery of the four that is now brewing beer at their brewery site, while the others are still doing test batches. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling early batches of Barn Hammer and Torque beers in the past and we are in for a real treat. Festival tickets range from $39.95 and $49.95 and can be purchased at Winnipeg Liquor Marts or through Ticketmaster.
Finally, Coast to Coaster has been a huge success this year, to the point that some beers disappeared off the Liquor Mart shelves only a day or two after the event launched.
If your local mart doesn’t have the beer in stock anymore, I recommend checking out the Keystone Motor Inn or Victoria Inn vendors in Brandon, as well as the grocery stores in Austin, Carberry and Onanole.
Cody Lobreau is a Canadian beer blogger who reviews every beer he can get his hands on as he believes that he should try every beer twice to get an understanding if it’s truly good or bad.