For the 24th time the Mondial de la Biere is the place to be. It was Friday night in Montreal and there were plenty of entertainment or going our options, but thousands were at the Palais de Congres taking part in the annual beer festival. That kind of attendance says a lot.
Many of the best beers from Quebec, Canada, the United States, and around the world are here to be sampled. They say that variety is the spice of life and the people organizing the festival have heeded that. 468 different drinks waiting to be sampled. So you can imagine there is something for newbies as well as beer connoisseurs.
The atmosphere is like one big party. You can stay inside the huge area or go outside and enjoy your beer or cider there. Lending to the party atmosphere was the live music happening. Both inside the main room and outside in an area adjacent to the terrasse there are live bands or DJs playing. On Friday we took in the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra. If you want something a little quieter and educational then you can take in workshops going on. Many different subjects and types. On Friday evening they offered two – Beer and Chocolate by Alain Thibault and Karine Chretien and Beers and Cheeses by Marilou Caty.
This year was the first one that the Mondial eliminated tickets and took advantage of technology by using cards. You would just purchase a smart card and fill it up at one of the many kiosques. Plus every time you buy a beer at a brewer’s booth they then tell you how much you have left on it. Easy peasy!
Now getting down to the important stuff, here are some of the beers we sampled:
A strong stout with taste of grapes, chocolate and nuts. Also slightly smokey and woodsy. As soon as you put it near your nose you will get a waft of sour smell. Pours dark with thick tan head to it. Based on the strong Russian Imperial stouts. Complex but highly drinkable beer with drier taste and lower hops than you might be used to.
A slightly hazy yellow colour with a decent white head. Smells of oranges, wheat and flowers. Tastes of a mixture of sweet and sour. It finishes sweet. Medium body with decent carbonation. Not a beer you could drink a lot of due to the sweetness and creaminess.
Light and fruity ale. Nice balance between bitterness and malt flavour. Medium amber flavour with a white head. Smells like a combination of tea and fruit. Upon first taste it is smooth and tastes of grass and tea. The finish is hoppy and creamy. Big on flavour while light on alcohol.
A pilsner done in the German style. Nice balance of floral and bitterness once tasted. The aroma is typical of German hops. Refreshing and light. A nice beer to always have in your fridge in case friends drop by.
From this artisanal brewery in Brazil comes a line of beers full of personality. The Kolsch was inspired by the beers brewed in Cologne. Visually it is quite clear and light yellow. Flavour-wise it will make you feel like you are in Brazil with its malt flavour. A beer for the lovers of a quality drink.
White beer that is fermented with 30% strawberries. Offers beer drinkers a different taste without deviating from the traditional ways. All natural made with water, malt, beer yeast, strawberries, and hops. Added bonuses like being a good source of vitamen B, no additives or preservatives and strawberries low in sugar. Winner at the 2004 International Beer Competition. The strawberries work well with the wheat beer taste. Soft and refreshing. Perfect summer beer. Hazy pink colour. Foam does not last long. Good amount of carbonation.
A heavy bang for your buck at 10.9%. As soon as you drink it there will be a warm feeling. Offers a malty and mildly sweet flavour because it has been stored in oak barrels for several months. As a result there is a hint of woodsy in everything. You can drink it right away or in years from now. Stores well. Tastes like dates, chocolate and coffee. Not too heavy. Pungent aroma. Carbonation is fine. Visually it is dark brown with hints of red. Very little lace in glass when poured. Nice value for the money.
A dark and thick beer. The head is tan and frothy. It has good retention. Smells of fruits and tastes of malt, vanilla and fruits. In other words, quite sweet. The finish is a roasted coffee. Aftertaste is bitter. Plenty of carbonation. Imperial stout done the old fashioned way.
Blonde and slightly hazy featuring a thin white head. Moderate retention. Both smell and taste feature citrus and coriander. Some might find it too sweet. Kinda like bubblegum. Body is medium. Carbonation is high but fine. Medium dry. Simple Belgian style but well made.
10) Mad Jack Premium Hard Root Beer – Brewed by Molson Breweries (MolsonCoors)
Style: Malt Liquor
Looks like a cola – brown and carbonated with a head that disappears quickly. Smells and tastes like root beer. Not a beer in any traditional sense. Sweet and forgettable. Will be enjoyed by those who don’t like beer, but enjoy the soft drink.
You still have today and tomorrow to go. So make sure you set aside some time to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the Mondial de la Biere.
Details here: www.festivalmondialbiere.qc.ca
Photos by Jan Giblin