For the first time this year I was amongst the masses for the Mondial de la Bière and despite the fact that the Palais de Congrès was wall to wall people it was an enjoyable experience. An event like this really appeals to Montrealers as they appreciate the opportunity to get together to discover new beers that they can enjoy in the future.
For its 22nd year the Mondial de la Bière continued to show why it is the most important festival of its kind in North America. Over 500 different types of beer, ciders and other types of beverages were there waiting for us to sample. It truly is an international festival with beers from around the world. Quebec/Canada breweries are in the spotlight, but you can also sample some from the U.S., Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Austria, Great Britain, Thailand, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Germany.
As the festival is free to enter all you have to pay for is what you imbibe and eat. Coupons have to be bought at $1 each and each tasting ranges from two to eight coupons. A good idea is to buy you coupons online before you go in order to avoid the line onsite. A good gauge is buying between 30 to 60 tickets in order to have enough to sample a variety of beers/ciders. That should last you between 2 to 3 hours. Three different types of glasses are available to be purchased as well to function as your vessel for the evening. Two are glass while there is also a plastic one which is a good idea for those clumsy folks out there. Though in my humble opinion the glass versions are the better choices as beer just tastes better in glass.
Besides the overwhelming amount of beers, etc. at the festival there is also plenty of different foods to try. Most were of the sort that meshed perfectly with beer or cider. Plenty of savoury stuff to fill your tummy. Meat on a stick was very popular. You could get pork, deer, boar, and bison. Not your typical kebab. If that is not your thing then there was also halloumi cheese on a stick. If you have not tried this fried Arabic/Greek cheese then your life is not complete. It is delicious. Besides fare on a stick there was also sausage, poutine, fudge, Bavarian pretzels, and Bad Monkey popcorn. As I am a big fan of popcorn I had to try Bad Monkey popcorn as I have been seeing them all around Montreal lately. For the Mondial they had a special price which was 3 bags for $10. I had their Le Hot Stuff, which is a flavour for those who like it spicy as it is a mixture of cheddar and jalapeno. They also have Cloud Nine Cheddar, Krazy Ketchup, Delicious Dill, Le Big Cheese, and Twister (mix of salt and vinegar and BBQ). It was great, so keep your eyes peeled for Bad Monkey.
The highlight and centrepiece of this festival is the beer. I sampled 9 different beers over my several hours at the festival. Here is a little description of each:
1) Stiegl Radler: Country – Austria. Brewery – Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg. ABV – 2.5%. I started with this grapefruit flavoured beer and it ended up being one of my favourites. It is the type that is perfect for a hot summer day. It is highly carbonated and fresh and light. Light in colour, pretty cloudy and has a nice white head. Plenty of citrus flavour, so you have to be a fan of that. The aftertaste leans towards bitter, but you could expect nothing else from a grapefruit beer. Refreshing, an easy drink and full of flavour. Ideal to pair with a summer afternoon BBQ.
2) Shock Top Raspberry Wheat: Country – United States (St. Louis, Missouri). Brewery – Anheuser-Busch. ABV – 5.2%. I moved on to an American wheat beer and was a little disappointed. As soon as you put your nose near this beer you could smell the raspberry, which was lovely. That was where the lovely ended, however. The beer’s taste let it down. The Belgian-style wheat ale is a light golden and possesses a smooth taste. It is fairly artificially raspberry in the beginning, but has a weird sharp and bitter end. Not a lot of carbonation. A beer that is available year round.
3) Les 3 Brasseurs Pamplemousse: Country – Canada (Montreal, Quebec). Brewery – Les 3 Brasseurs. ABV – 4.4%. My sampling of fruit beers continued and I moved on to a local/Montreal brewery. We all are familiar with Les 3 Brasseurs due to their excellent resto pubs located around the city. Pale and cloudy with a thin white head. Lightly carbonated. Surprisingly I could not taste any hints of grapefruit. Light body and semi-sweet. Definitely a summer beer.
4) Granville Island Hey Day: Country – Canada (Kelowna, British Columbia). Brewery – Granville Island (Molson Coors). ABV – 5.0%. The Bavarian style wheat beer is quite cloudy and yellow in colour with a thick white head. Hints of banana, orange and even yeast/bread in its flavour as well as banana and clove or cinnamon in its smell. Medium body with above average carbonation. It has a fairly dry finish. A refreshing beer that is quite drinkable. Would be a perfect beer to serve with brunch.
5) Jukebox Mélodie: Country – Canada (Quebec). Brewery – Microbrasserie Jukebox. ABV – 4.7%. This local beer is of American Pale Wheat Ale style. It is available year round. A hazy yellow colour to the ale with a foamy head. Smells of wheat hops and hints of citrus. Medium body with average carbonation. The taste is semi-sweet with a definite wheat flavour. The beginning is light and the finish is nice, a little acidic and creamy. Another good choice for a summer beer.
6) Beaus Dunkel Buck: Country – Canada (Vankleek Hill, Ontario). Brewery – Beaus All Natural Brewing Co. ABV – 6.8%. Brewed in the Dunkel Weizenbock style. A dark red and strong tasting Bavarian wheat beer. Cloudy and dark in appearance with a thin head that smells of banana and clove. Medium carbonation. Its flavour involves these two plus hints of mocha and chocolate. The finish is tart and dry. Left me a little underwhelmed, but love the John Candy Uncle Buck reference in the name.
7) Mad Jack: Country – Canada (Ontario). Brewery – Molson Coors. ABV – 5%. This is not a cider rather it is an apple lager. Meaning that although there is a definite apple flavour it is brewed using malt and not fermented apples. The colour is light yellow and has a medium head that disappears quickly. Has a natural taste to it that lasts throughout with nothing beer-like about it. It has a smooth finish. Refreshing and very drinkable. It also was one of my favourites of the evening.
8) Mongozo Coconut: Country – Netherlands. Brewery – Mongozo B.V. ABV – 3.5%. Cloudy and whitish yellow in appearance. Very small head after poured and little carbonation. When you put your nose to it there will be a slight sun tan lotion smell to it due to the coconut. When you taste it the coconut comes through again as well as some lemon. A very unique tasting beer that will only be palatable to a certain segment of the beer drinking population. Could become a favourite of those not usually fans of beer. Will be the go to beer of those who like pina coladas and spend time on the beach.
9) Lacroix Léger: Country – Canada (Quebec). Brewery – Verger Lacroix. ABV – 6%. My evening ended with a high end cider. A cider made with 100% fermented Lobo apples. When you taste it besides the apple you will get hints of cinnamon, mint and citrus. It is dry and semi-sweet. As a result it is an excellent cider to pair with cheese.
You still have one more day to take in the festival. It ends on Sunday, June 14 and it open from 11:30 to 6:30. Go and it will be an excellent way to end your weekend.
Photos by Jan Giblin