Beerstitution Volume 34: ABQ – Anything But Québec

The reason that I chose the theme of anything but Quebec was kind of two pronged… on one hand I had just gotten back from a trip to Alberta and seen the wonders of what a privatized liquor framework can offer in terms of selection from outside one’s own backyard. It was a nice experience to see craft beers from the west coast of the US, neighboring British columbia and other beers from across Canada nestled right next to Alberta’s offerings.

The other factor was the seeming lack of a solid presence of craft brews from outside of Quebec with any regularity, especially when we all know that there is some kick ass stuff out there that can be reached with a short drive in any direction….well except north.  There you will find bugs then ice…in that order.

In my event description on facebook I slapped a satirical SAQ logo on the side of the Deathstar because my knee jerk reaction was to place the blame for the lack of outside craft beers at their feet….and they do deserve some of the blame but also not an insignificant amount of praise.

One of the great things that the government of Quebec allows is the sale of alcoholic beverages at grocers and depanneurs and at an exceptionally reasonable price compared to the rest of the country.  This alone undoubtedly provides a healthy breeding ground for quebec’s craft brew industry to flourish.

Who are the real culprits to blame for this travesty….just like always it was that darn puritanical temperance movement.  That’s right! This problem traces its roots back to the prohibition era, during which I might add, Quebec never fully participated.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, a 1928 law that states “no person shall import, send, take or transport, or cause to be imported, sent, taken or transported, into any province from or out of any place within or outside Canada any intoxicating liquor.”

This act was meant to curb the traffic of bootlegged liquor across the country but following the prohibition era there was a vacuum of liquor legislation and so the province were left to create their own rules and in most cases establish a lucrative monopoly.  At first it was a means to guide the re-implementation of liquor in to the provinces but now is without exception an essential cash injection to all of Canada’s provinces and was upheld right up until two years ago were a new precedent was set in New Brunswick where a man was charged for crossing the border to buy beer in Quebec.

In Quebec’s case one of the main stumbling blocks for getting into the province is the fact that to import in Quebec you must go through the SAQ which means beers getting held up in their warehousing and not being nearly as fresh as well as the fact that the SAQ gets to decide what comes into the province from outside, keeping a comparatively limited stock of beers in their catalogue when one looks at their massive wine selection.

There is a way to get your hands on special imports from outside Quebec but it involves dealing through a third party liquor agents who represent various brands separately.  I won’t go into detail but there is a wonderful breakdown at the exceptionally named Brett Happens, although the blog is named for the negatives that Brett visits upon wine and not the wonders is does to beer, but the rules remain the same when dealing with Quebec’s booze gestapo.

Right… to the reason we are all here.  The drinking.

The Beers:

Cruiser All Day Pale Ale – Golden Pale Ale 4.9% – Amsterdam Brewery (Corey)

“Smells like (indecipherable scribbling)” – Anna

“Good deck beer” – Daniel

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Jelly King – American Wild Ale 5.6% – Bellwoods Brewery (Kristen)

“Smells like childhood” – Anon

“We are a human beer truck” – Anon

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Rhizome – American Farmhouse Ale 6.0% – Folly Brewpub (Anna)

“Needs more funk” – Anna

BRSTº Rating: 3/5

Infinity Mirror – Brett IPA 6.5% – Halcyon Barrel House (Daniel)

“Reminiscent of shart/shark grundle” – I’m going Corey/Daniel

“The flavor left behind from when the dentist puts his gloves in your mouth” – Anon

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Yipee IPA – IPA 6.5% – Picaroons Traditional Ales (Dave)

“Quite Malty, but not in a good way” – Marian

“Stays on my tongue like 5 million seamen and yes I meant sailors” – Anon

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Propeller IPA – IPA 6.5% – Propeller Brewing Co. (Scully)

“1 out of 1 non beer drinkers are lukewarm about this beer” – Corey

“I’ll do it…if they can get it up” – Anon but likely Corey

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Full Time IPA – IPA 6.7% – Beau’s (Ross)

Scene deleted –

BRSTº Rating: 4/5

Blind Test:

  • 1st attempt – Dave, Ross, Chris
  • 2nd attempt – Daniel, Kristen, Anna
  • Abject Failure – Corey


Best in Show: Full Time IPA – IPA 6.7% – Beau’s, with Honorable mentions to Infinity Mirror and Jelly King

Surprise: Split decision – Infinity Mirror/Jelly King

Best Label: Jelly King

Most Sessionable: Cruiser All Day Pale Ale

Until next time Beerstitutes!
That Guy from Beerstitution


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