It has come full circle for the Mondial de la Biere. They returned to where it all began. Venue-wise, that is. The Mondial, due to scheduling issues at their previous venues (Palais de Congres and Place Bonaventure, which had conferences with 10 year contracts already booked), had to return to Gare Windsor (right beside the Bell Centre).
The people behind the Mondial wanted to keep the festival in the month of May in order not to compete with other events like the F1 race, so it was the only option in regards to a space which could accomodate something which attracts around 80,000 people and has this many booths. They even looked into a venue like the Olympic Stadium, but a priority was to keep the Mondial centrally located.
So it was Gare Windsor. A nice space, though a little too small for the amount of people who attend. During peak hours like 5:00 – 8:00 it is really tight in there. Things were made a little trickier for the organizers as there are renovations taking place in the courtyard outside Gare Windsor, so it could not be used to decrease the traffic inside. It will be better next year (yes, the Mondial will once again be at Gare Windsor in 2020) as the renovations should be completed by then.
Besides what you can drink here there are several other reasons to attend the Mondial de la Biere. First is the atmosphere. It is unparalleled! A place which is electric. You and a group of friends can go, sample drinks, eat food, meet new people, talk to brewers, learn about different beverages, buy t-shirts, caps and hoodies, and listen to some great live music or djs. All this and it is free to get in! You can’t ask for anything better!
When we arrived around 5:30 on Saturday evening the music was in full gear with New Orleans style band Croche Blanche playing. Crowds of people were gathered around listening to them. Filling in the gaps between them playing was DJ Pat the Brat. So the music was continuous.
As for food there was plenty of choice. Rubs BBQ was there where you could get pulled pork, BBQ chicken and beef brisket along with sides like coleslaw and corn salad. Kevy offered bison and boar on a stick. Even as a vegetarian I found things to eat. James Bun Burger had cheese burgers, veggie burgers, grilled cheese, and pulled pork and duck burgers. This is just a taste of what you could have eaten there.
We, being true Montrealers, were immediately attracted to the Saint-Bock’s Poutine a la Biere kiosque. Who could resist? Fantastically cooked fries, just the right amount of cheese curds and a delicious brown sauce flavoured with beer. Jan and I gobbled that up then moved on to bread at Pain Voyageur. Delicious mini flavoured bagettes were not only great, but reasonably priced. We sampled the jalepeno and olive variety. You could also get ones stuffed with cheese and sausage. To round out our food experience we topped off things at the Saint-Donat Micro-Beignerie kiosque where we had delicous and still warm mini donuts flavoured with beer.
Founded in 1994, the Mondial has become one of the most important beer festivals in North America over its 26 editions. This year over its four days it allowed fans of beer and other beverages to sample a large variety of options. In the 2019 edition there were over 500 products from over 90 breweries on hand to enjoy. Here are some small resumes of what we sampled at this edition:
Photos by Jan Giblin
- Amermelade – Quebec – Les Spiriteux Iberville – 18%:
We began our beverage sampling with a non-beer option. Les Spiritueux Iberville brought a slew of spirits. Brewed right here in Quebec. They had a selection of gin, vodka, creme de menthe, reduit de Leo, and there own version of aperol – Amermelade. It was the latter which I gravitated to as I love me an aperol spritz. It is Les Spiritueux Iberville’s version of the Italian spirit. They have put their own twist on it by putting in some sweet gale and sea buckthorn. Its bitter taste will bring you hints of pink grapefruit along with other citrus like orange as well as bergamot finally finishing in rose and eucalyptus. Makes a delicious summer drink with some bubbly and tonic mixed in.
2. Helm Sour Pickle – Montreal – Helm Microbrasserie – 6.5%:
And now for something completely different….a locally brewed beer called Sour Pickle. Helm Microbrasserie taps into a new type of sour ale. I was completely taken by the fact that it really tasted like pickle juice. You get an initial sour then followed by a slightly spicy aftertaste.
3. La Mon Minou – Quebec – Le Caveau des Trois-Pistoles – 4.5%:
Next up was a more traditional beer. Again, brewed in Quebec. Ingredients include water, malt, hops, and yeast. Taking its inspiration from the German Kellerbier (literally “beer of the cellar”!), it is a blonde with a natural boquet of flowers.
4. Milkshake Ananas – Quebec – Cidrerie Lacroix:
Known for their variety of ciders the Cidrerie Lacroix kiosque was always busy. They had plenty of variety there including Apple Jack, Chai, Allez Hop Honey, and others. I decided to go with the intriguing Milkshake Ananas. Even the title is delicious. So is the cider. Despite its name there is no milk here, it is called Milkshake due to its creamy nature. Then you also get the bitterness of the hint of pineapple. A winner!
5. Imperial Stout Choco-Cafe – Quebec – Shelton Brewery – 9.5%:
At the Mondial you got this dark beer served nitro style and that makes a difference. Really delicious! As such, it won a gold medal at the festival. A stout flavoured/brewed with Holycow coffee. Bitter chocolate taste which also has a bit of sweetness.
6. Solstice d’ete – Quebec – Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! – 5.9%:
A sour wheat beer brewed with raspberries. As the name would indicate, it is a great summer beer. I was a little surprised by how tart it is, but not too much. Just refreshing. Nice amount of acidity. Plenty of yeast. Finish is clean. Nice red colour.
7. Triple Hop Casks – Ste-Hyacinthe – Brasseurs du Monde – 8%:
One of the larger kiosque housed Brasseurs du Monde. They brew over 200 beers at this Ste-Hyacinthe based brewery. And with some of the best beer names of the festival including Mauvaise Influence, Concombre Electrique, L’Exploite, and Elixir. I sampled the Triple Hop Casks. A cream ale. A nice discovery. Strong flavour.
8. Frujli – Belgium – Brouwerij Huyghe – 4.1%:
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.
9. Baron Root Beer – Quebec – Les Breuvages Blue Spike – 5.9%:
If you like root beer than this is a must. Takes just like it! Discovered this one a few years ago and have enjoyed it since. Creamy. You don’t really taste the alcohol, so it can get a little dangerous! They also do an orange and cream soda.
10. La Franc Bois – Quebec – Brasserie La Souche – 4.5%:
A refreshing beer with very little aftertaste. Another raspberry beer which seem super popular of late. The mix of wheat beer and raspberry really works. Smells really good! Nice summer beer. Smooth and not too sweet.