Beer ye, beer ye!
The date was February 4th, 2015 and Montreal had been graced a one-day reprieve from temperatures somewhere between “glacial” and “heat death of the universe.” To celebrate a quintessentially Québecois February, seven brave Beerstitutioneers and one acolyte met in the rarified air of Mile Ex to celebrate la belle province’s burgeoning beer industry.
Indeed, the Québec beer scene of yesteryear is almost indescribably different from today’s. Up until the 1980s, just three breweries existed in Québec: Labatt, Molson, Carling-O’Keefe. Show up at adepanneur and those were your options. Then, in 1982, a brave North Hatley brewery, Brasserie Massawippi, brewed Québec’s first craft beer. Soon after, the Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) began issuing permits to other establishments around the province to brew and serve their own beer, beginning the brewpub phenomenon.
The first brewpub in Montreal was the Cheval Blanc, on Ontario St. It was so popular, it spun off a microbrasserie to bottle and distribute its most popular styles. Similar microbrasseries started popping up all over in the late 80s: Schoune, McAuslan, Brasseurs du Nord. In 1990, Unibroue, one of Québec’s most stories microbrasseries was founded.
Since then, the micro- and craft brewery landscape in Quebec has exploded, with establishments all over the province: Brasseurs RJ (Ste-Hyacinthe), La Barberie (Quebec City), Hopfenstock (L’Assomption), Trou du diable (Shawinigan), Dunham (Dunham), Dieu du ciel (St-Jerome), Pit Caribou (Gaspé), Trois Mousquetaires (Brossard), Le Castor (Rigaud), and so on.
Some preposterous stats: as of 2009, Quebec had some 59 active breweries producing over 400 different varieties. In just over five years, the number of brasseries has doubled: almost 120 producing an incredible 3300 different beers! Almost half of BeerAdvocate’s highest-rated Canadian beers come from Quebec.
Hard to imagine you could choose only between Molson and Labatt just a few decades ago!
To celebrate this unprecedented choice, the Beerstitutioneers were vouchsafed a quest: to flaunt Québec’s ascendancy by sharing a personal favourite.
Farnham 35 – “They added more HOPS!”.
A British bitter ale from the eponymous Eastern Townships brasserie. Named for a common UK pub beer; very sessionable, tasty caramel flavour. Possibly pronounced “FARN HAM”.
BRST° Rating: 3.33/5
Leo’s Early Morning Breakfast IPA – “Guava… is that bat poop?”
A guava-infused IPA from Brasserie Dunham, with aggressive hops. Sessionability was heavily debated
BRST° Rating: 4.0/5
Alphabet Series: R – “Tastes like the walk of shame feels.”
A Brasseurs Illimité brew at 7.5% ABV, this pilsner exhibited dangerous sessionability, and was easily the most quotable beer of the evening:
- Tastes like cooking oil that needs to be changed
- Tastes like the floor of the bar at last call
- Tastes like chestnuts over an open fire
BRST° Rating: 3.9/5
A red wine barrel-aged trappist beer from Beerstitution favourite Le Castor, which branched into the beer business when their timber business went flaccid.
BRST° Rating: 3.0/5
Dominus Vobiscum – “Such tripel, very Chouffe”
From Microbrasserie Charlevoix, this very lightly hopped 9% ABV went down silky smooth, with honey notes.
BRST° Rating: 3.8/5
La Fin du Monde
An absolute classic, Unibroue’s Fin du Monde is the most-awarded beer in Canadian beer history. First brewed in 1994, it was the first Trappist style beer brewed in North America. Nevertheless, Beerstitutioneer reactions were mixed.
BRST° Rating: 2.9/5
Gros Mollet – “A beer for lumbersexuals”
For a newcomer double belgian distributed in a magnum bottle, reactions were surprisingly positive. That it was the evening’s penultimate beer might have contributed.
BRST° Rating: 3.0/5
Unfortunately, my notes degraded at this point. Around this point in the evening, this was happening (The score: 3.1/5):
|Geneviève||Dominus Vobiscum||Fin du Monde||Barleywine|
|Scully||Leo’s Early Morning Breakfast IPA||Farnham||Sanctuaire|
|Daniel||Leo’s Early Morning Breakfast IPA||Farnham||Barleywine|
|Winners||Leo’s Early Morning Breakfast IPA *||Farnham||Barleywine *|
* won by tiebreaker
The taste test went…poorly. In fact, only Scully managed to successfully identify the beer he’d been poured. But again:
Nonetheless, BV5 was a huge success. Until next month!
To you Scully and TheForest!
That Guy From Beerstitution